Hospice House Receives National Recognition

Posted: July 20th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Office News | No Comments »

Greetings Friends!

We wanted to share our recently published article on the Hospice House that we wrote last spring and was ultimately issued in the national publication of Healthcare Design.  Wow, what a wonderful opportunity this was to showcase this facility and to share this with the healthcare & design community across the country.

As Cooler Design’s first national publication, we are very excited to share this with you and others.  This building will house up to 12 inpatients during their end of life stay and was entirely funded by the surrounding community by means of the Hospital’s Foundation having received donations of greater than $3.0 m.  Please read the attached article and let us know if you have any questions we can answer about the facility.

(click on photo to read entire article: if asked to go to page last viewed click yes or go to page 40)

Text says: ” A Tranquil Environment for Hospice Care: An Experience that Exceeds the Communities’ Expectations, By Audrey Millar, ASID, RID.  Like many healthcare institutions today, Indiana University (IU) Health Bloomington Hospital has long desired a dedicated location outside of their main hospital to care for terminal patients and their families.  Today, they are fortunate enough to be providing these services in such a facility.  Through hard work and dedication of the project team and funds raised entirely by the hospital’s…”

Vapor Barriers

Posted: February 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Architecture, Building Materials | No Comments »

Vapor Barriers are a big topic these days in the construction industry.  And the issue, whether to include a vapor barrier or not, came up during a roof assembly discussion on one of my latest projects.  The roof supplier and installing contractor recommended that the vapor barrier be omitted.  But they were not able to provide anything more than field experience as for reasons why.  It’s just what they had successfully installed over the past 10 years with no major maintenance issues.  All of my reference information, created to provide architects with good rule of-thumb-guidance, said the roof should have a vapor barrier on the warm side, but not a lot else.  Again, I could find no real reasons why.  So, I decided that I needed to have a better understanding on the subject and started researching the need for vapor barriers.

For some basic background information vapor barriers are included in the building envelop, exterior walls, roof, and floor, as a way to prevent the migration of moisture through the process of vapor diffusion.  Vapor diffusion is the migration of water vapor from higher concentrations to lower concentrations.  Water vapors naturally move from more to less.  The traditional response to fight this process within a wall system in a cold climate is to place a vapor barrier on the warm side of a wall assembly forcing the vapor to move from inside the wall system to the outside of the building.  However, out is not always where the vapor wants to go.

Water in the building envelop is a major concern.  Architects strive to design buildings which do two things.  First keep water out, and second, let water out when it gets in.  This is easy enough with liquid water or even solid water, that’s snow and ice of course, but it gets more complicated when we think about vapors.  One way of dealing with these tiny droplets of water in the air is to allow air movement within the assembly to dry out any moisture that does get inside the walls.  However, this air drying method has gone by the wayside as building shells get more energy efficient leaving us to re-open the question of vapor barriers.

The industry has found that by adding air barriers to building exteriors, the energy consumption of the building can be greatly reduced.  We’ve also discovered that moving insulation farther outside the wall assembly can reduce energy usage even more.  Both of these changes reduce air movement within the wall assembly so using air to dry out the building envelop is no longer a smart option.  This is a significant change to envelop design and the architectural rule-of-thumb guidance on vapor barriers does not seem to have caught up yet.

I am over simplifying here.  Engineers have argued about the placement of and need for vapor barriers within building envelopes in different climates for years, but I am an architect in search of a broad understanding.  So, armed with this knowledge of why traditional vapor barrier placement is now in question, I decided to figure out how to determine whether or not they are needed at all.  What I have discovered is that I have to let go of the overarching rule-of-thumb vapor barrier placement that I love so much.

To determine vapor barrier placement each building assembly must be considered independently.  To do this, I’ve used the Dew Point Method for calculating the anticipated point of condensation within a wall system.  Again, engineers have modeling programs that take into account a multitude of variables with incredibly accurate results.  As an architect, I’m okay with the less precise but conservative Dew-Point Method.  This method is explained in Chapter 22 of the 1997 ASHRAE Fundamentals Handbook.  After performing a series of these calculations, I have a much better understanding of how vapor moves through a wall.  Here is some of what I’ve learned:

  • Figuring out the anticipated migration of moisture in a wall or roof assembly is dependent on three things: the assembly, the indoor conditions, and the exterior conditions.
  • It’s okay to have some moisture in the building envelope, as long as it doesn’t exceed the maximum safe moisture content of the material where condensation occurs.   Construction materials in building assemblies inherently store and release water vapor.
  • All materials have a water vapor permeance (perm).  If this permeance is low enough, generally understood to be less than 1.0 perm, the material is considered a vapor barrier.  Some only consider a vapor barrier any material with a permeance under 0.1 perm such as polyethylene sheeting.
  • A material is a vapor retarder if it has a permeance greater than 0.1 and less than 1.0 like kraft facing on batt insulation.  Materials in this category are sometimes referred to as “smart vapor barriers.”
  • Any material with a permeance under 10 perm but higher than 1.0 perm is considered a vapor retarder.  Lots of materials fall into this category including different types of foam insulation and paint.
  • Vinyl wall coverings, which tend to act as vapor barriers, on the interior side of exterior walls can be very problematic.

Now that I’ve run these calculations, I understand why a vapor barrier on the warm side of the wall can do more harm than good.  As we incorporate new energy saving techniques in wall construction, there is more of a chance that water vapor will get trapped within the wall assembly leading to the degradation of materials.  If vapor does get into an assembly, it must be allowed to dry either to the interior or the exterior of the wall system.  Often times the construction materials themselves act as sufficient vapor retarders and additional barriers only cause problems.  Where to place the vapor barrier, and whether or not one is needed at all, is something to be determined by the design team for each individual building project.  Consult an architect familiar with these issues before jumping to a decision on the location of a vapor barrier.

The question of whether or not a vapor barrier is needed on the warm side of a flat roof, the recent issue which provoked my interest in vapor barriers, is actually a little simpler.  Oh sure, calculations can be performed to determine if a vapor barrier is needed and where condensation is likely to occur, but I think this can also be addressed through a bit of common sense.  Since most low slope roof membranes have very low water permeance, the majority of drying must occur to the interior of the building.  When a vapor barrier is placed on the warm side of the roof, there is a good chance that water can be trapped within the assembly.  Moisture actually degrades elements of a roofing system, reducing insulation value.  For these reasons, I tend to agree with the installers about omitting the vapor barrier.  I’m thinking the better question might be, “How much water can be safely stored in the roof assembly materials to prevent condensation?” but that’s another topic.



1997 ASHRAE Handbook Fundamentals Inch-Pound Edition, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc. copyright 1997.

Building Science Digest 106, Understanding Vapor Barriers, 2006-10-24, Joseph Latiburek, Building Science Press copyright 2006.

The Influence of Low Permeance Vapor Barriers on Roof and Wall Performance, Research Report-1101, John Straube, Building Science Press copyright 2011

Happy Holidays

Posted: December 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: General Information | No Comments »

From all of us at Cooler Design, we wish all of our readers happy holidays!

Text says:

Whatever is beautiful, Whatever is meaningful, Whatever brings you happiness, May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year. We at Cooler Design would like to wish you the special gifts of this holiday season. Peace, joy and lasting happiness. Audrey, Bill, Branden, Brianna, Chuck, Don, Maegen, Scott, Toni

News Release

Posted: December 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Office News | No Comments »

Cooler Design, Inc. is excited to announce some big changes happening in our office!  First off, we would like to welcome Mr. Don Hellem to our team!  We also have expanded our services offered to allow our staff  to aid our clients through the initial design to the construction stage until the opening of their new facility! To find out more about Don and our new services please see the page below, or check out our website!

This is what the text says:

• News Release •

Cooler Design, Inc. (CDI) has been working with clients as a leader in healthcare planning and design, to deliver creative solutions to their complex needs for over 6 years. We have enjoyed working with administrators through their strategic initiatives to develop master site and facility plans for their campuses. From ideas to concepts, our staff creates holistic design solutions meeting their needs and exceeding their expectations.

CDI is excited to introduce the latest addition to our team, Mr. Don Hellem. Don brings with him over 35 years of experience as a healthcare planner, designer and owner. His background includes 9 years as the Director of Facilities, Design and Construction at Wishard Memorial Hospital, where he was in charge of over $200m worth of construction projects for inpatient and outpatient facilities.

In subsequent positions he has been instrumental in developing and expanding healthcare services in the areas of Master Planning, Medical Equipment Planning, Owner’s Representation & Project Management, Transition Planning & Move Management, Facilities Management, and Interior Planning & Design. With his experience as a planner, designer, architect and an owner, Don brings a unique perspective to his projects. He has the understanding for budgets, federal and state regulations, and the knowledge of how to deal both with great sensitivity and insight when addressing the needs and wants of a facility.

We are now expanding our suite of healthcare planning and design services to include:

Facility Planning
Functional & Space Program Planning
Master Site & Facility Planning
Clinical Planning

Pre-Design Services
Architectural Design
Interior Design
Landscape Design
Construction Administration

Graphic Design
3D Modeling & Computer Rendering
Emergency Evacuation Plans
Presentation Materials
Branding & Intellectual Properties

Enhanced Services:
Medical Equipment Planning
Owner’s Representative
Project Management
Transition Planning
Move Management
Facilities Management
Asset Management

With these fully integrated services Cooler Design can now oversee any portion of a project from the initial design concepts through the training of staff in the use of their new facilities.

Collectively, Cooler Design has over 140 years of experience in healthcare design and would be excited to partner with you on your future project needs.

Edible Weeds?

Posted: November 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Around the House | No Comments »

As a gardener I’ve always been amazed at the vast number of weeds that plague most gardens! And to add insult to injury is the sad fact that these weeds all seem to thrive, even during droughts, and tend to outgrow the very plants we baby.

We do not use industrial chemical pesticides, weed preventers, or fertilizers in our yard. It’s all organic.

As a lover of nature and having an interest in human history relating to herbs I’ve realized that there are some wonderful culinary uses for many of the weeds that grow in our yards. Here are a few:

Chicory Root – cultivated in Egypt for 5 thousand years and found along roads throughout the United States, but it’s not a native plant. Yes, this weed was purposely brought to North America. Chicory grows as a thin, usually tall stem with small leaves and star shaped blue flowers with a violet cast. Easy to spot along most roads when in bloom. The root of this plant can be washed, roasted, ground fine and used as an additive to coffee. I’ve always thought this added BOLDNESS to my coffee, but it is more of an acquired taste. The leaves, when young, can be chopped fine and added to salads. The taste of the leaves is strong and ‘green’.

The stem, leaf, and flower of the Dandelion plant are considered edible. This lawn pest is native to Greece and like the chicory plant it is also not native to North America. Brought here as a food plant, it quickly escaped and spread across the land. As a child I often took great delight in helping spread this plant. Through the ages some names of the plant have been: Herba Taraxacon, Swine’s Snout, Irish Daisy, puffball, Priest’s Crown and Lion’s Tooth. Most everyone has heard about dandelion wine, made from fermented flowers and tastes like sherry. The young leaves of spring are very tasty in salads, older leaves can be steamed like spinach. And like chicory, the roots can be dried, roasted, ground and added to coffee.

Common Blue Violet anyone? The flowers of this plant are rich in vitamins A and C. An early spring bloomer, the flowers can be added to salads and have a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. Several ancient Greek legends concern violets, and the flower was the political emblem of Napoleon Bonaparte. Experiments carried out in the 1960′s indicated that violet extract actually damaged tumors in mice. Many of my neighbors wonder why I grow this ‘weed’ in the garden.

 Queen Anne’s Lace or wild carrot can be found in most open uncultivated fields and in the untended corners of my garden. This is another import that has naturalized throughout the United States. Yes, the seed of the domestic carrot allowed to naturalize devolves into this plant. The roots are usually pencil sized, white fleshed and stringy, these roots are generally not considered worth gathering – but in a pinch can be harvested, cooked and eaten. The taste is very mildly carrot like.  It is the second year of growth that sends up the seed stalk. Sometimes two to three feet tall, it blooms from late May until mid September. The small white flowers are densely clustered on the main stem, called a ‘terminal umbril’, and can be as large as a small plate. Very lacy and beautiful while in bloom, hence the name. 

Wild Garlic likes to hide in stands of grass. The smell of freshly mowed garlic certainly overpowers the green smell of new mown grass! I’ve used the green tops of these odorous weeds as a substitute for garlic in cooking and in salads.  Many healthy attributes are associated with the use of garlic – it helps fight infection, detoxifies the body, enhances immunity, lowers blood fats, assists against yeast infections, helps asthma, cancer, sinusitis, circulatory problems and heart conditions, but best of all it can be a tasty substitute in cooking.

A note of caution: Every year many people across our great land misidentify herbs and are sickened, some very seriously, by exposure to dangerous herbs. Allergic reactions can also result. The herbs I’ve described above are fairly easy to identify, but caution must always be taken – if you are in doubt, do not use.


Hospice House Article

Posted: October 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Projects | No Comments »

Check out this great article about one of our recently completed projects the Hospice House: http://www.magbloom.com/PDF/Bloom_LookGood2011.pdf

For more photos of this project under construction please see our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooler-Design-Inc/115202045223141

Pink Glove Dance

Posted: October 10th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Events | No Comments »

PLEASE VOTE FOR INDIANA UNIVERSITY HEALTH BLOOMINGTON, BEDFORD & PAOLI! They are trying to raise money for their cancer education and treatment. It is a wonderful competition to help raise awareness about breast cancer plus a great way to give money to a hospitals to improve their programs to fight this awful disease.  IU Health Bloomington and Paoli have been wonderful clients of ours at Cooler Design, Inc. and any little thing we can do to help would be more then appreciated!

To vote go to:  http://pinkglovedance.com/competition/entry-94

Resettling UN Refugees in Indianapolis with Community Help

Posted: September 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Community Involvement | No Comments »

In 2010 73,000 UN refugees departed for 28 counties for resettlement.  Since 1975, Catholic Charities’ UN refugee program in Indianapolis has resettled over 18,500 people in our area.

In May I posted a blog about the design community joining together to help set up apartments for UN refugees in our community.  Since then ASID has continued on with additional projects to assist with the refugee resettlement.  Earlier this summer ASID Indiana volunteers joined Catholic Charities and volunteers from the United Way, the Lilly Endowment, and refugees to set up the community center at the apartment complex where the 10 apartments we set up this past spring are located.  We hope to do more work on the community center in the near future.

(Left to right) Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites General Manager Paul Wilson and Director of Operations Andy Markus

We have also been reaching out to more people in the design community for help with the project.  The design community is very caring and we know there are others who would love to help any way they can.  When we contacted Host Hotels and Resorts they searched through their portfolio of projects looking for upcoming renovations in the Indianapolis area.  They found that the Sheraton Indianapolis Hotel and Suites was converting one of their two towers to apartments.  Host and the management team at the Sheraton sprang into action and secured 10 suites of furniture for the UN refugees.  The refugee program was THRILLED to get not only furniture, but lamps, artwork, TVs, and trashcans – all necessities in creating inviting homes, but not always available from the donations they receive.

Everyone involved felt so good about helping out, they wanted to do more!  Host knew that with the impending 2012 Superbowl event being held in Indianapolis, there was bound to be another renovation project in our area.  As it turns out, the lobby of the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis was slated for a renovation, and the existing furniture and accessories are the latest donation to the project.

 We think there is a lot more potential for this project and are working to do more.  In June, Amy Doherty, from Host Hotels and Resorts corporate offices in Maryland came to Indianapolis to meet with Gabrielle Campo, Refugee Program Director for Catholic Charities and me to discuss the project ways to reach more people and expand the program.

The design community has been helping out setting up homes and community spaces for the refugees, but that is just a part of what goes into resettling refugees.  When I talk to people about helping out with the refugee project, they always have lots of questions. Who are the refugees?  Where are they from?  How have they been selected to come to the US?  What the process is once they arrive in the US?  So, I thought I’d share with you what I have learned.

UN Refugees, like those being resettled in Indianapolis are selected for resettlement by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).  Of the 43 million people uprooted worldwide today, 10.4 million are considered refugees by the UNHCR.  They define a refugee as a person “owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.”

Each year the UNHRS submits refugees for resettlement.  In 2010, 108,000 refugees were submitted for resettlement, and of those, 73,000 were resettled in 28 countries worldwide.  .   Last year, the largest number of refugees resettled worldwide with UNHCR’s assistance departed from Nepal (14,800), followed by Thailand (11,400) and Malaysia (8,000). Since 1975, the U.S. has resettled approximately 2.6 million refugees, with nearly 77% being either Indochinese or citizens of the former Soviet Union.  The main ethnicities of the people currently coming to Indianapolis are Burmese, Bhutanese, Cuban, Somali, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Sudanese, Congolese and Eritrean.

When they arrive here, the refugees are met at the airport by people from the agency overseeing their resettlement.  Catholic Charities is the group coordinating the resettlement process in Indianapolis.  Meeting the refugees at the airport and settling them into their new apartments, is the first step in integrating the refugees to their new lives.  After being settled, they learn how to assimilate into their new surroundings, find a job, enroll their children in school, and, if they don’t already know how, learn to speak English.   The new community center will serve as a classroom for their training.  Learning all of the obstacles the newly arrived refugees must overcome; it feels good to be able to help out in a small way to make their lives better.

I got a much better idea of what the resettlement program is all about when I attended the World Refugee Day dinner hosted by Catholic Charities this summer.  That night, many of the refugees were present at the dinner.  The celebration included Karenni dancing, Iraqi dancing and Chin singing.   John Dau, the evening’s keynote speaker, was one of the “lost boys of Sudan” and his journey to and resettlement in the US is chronicled in the movie, God Grew Tired of Us.  The movie gives tremendous insight into the people being served by this project.  Since arriving in the US, John has become a human rights activist for the people of South Sudan.  John has received many awards including National Geographic’s Emerging Explorers Award.  He spoke about the opportunities available in the United States for those who are willing to work hard, and he encouraged the refugees attending the dinner to make the most of that opportunity.

It’s amazing to see how some of the small things we take for granted on a daily basis can make a huge difference in someone else’s life.  Helping out those with so little except the determination to make a better life for themselves and their families is truly humbling.  You won’t find a better way to appreciate the life you have.


For more information:



If I could design any house I would design a country cottage!

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Architecture | No Comments »

If I could design any house without any regards to budgets…I would design a country cottage.  Why?  I love the simplicity, the small size and the unique architecture of the style.  The Cotswold Cottage was derived from “cot” (cottage) and “wold” (wood) – cottage in a wood.

My favorite characteristic about the style is the simplicity, with a stone exterior, wood windows and doors, and a thatched roof with a prominent chimney.  Standing out is the unique sloped roof at each end of the gable ends that adds just enough to draw your eyes to the roof and then the pattern within the roof materials drags your eyes across the entire roof line.  The building makes you notice it and draws in your curiosity.


The cottage style also revolves around its asymmetrical design.  Why is this? Cottages were originally built on the rolling hills of West Central England.  With this location, came small and irregular-shaped rooms with a dominating chimney on the front side of the house as it was common to tuck the cottage onto the hillside.


Done correctly, the unique architectural accents can turn these simple cottages into something playful.  The Cotswold style is also known as the Hansel & Gretel cottage and the Storybook style amongst others.


As a little girl running through Knott’s Berry Farm and Disney Land, I had always loved the little fairy tale homes and wish I had one.  I believe this is where I first truly began my love of architecture.  So to this day, if I could design any house without any regards to budgets…I would design a country cottage.

IGPR Needs Your Help

Posted: July 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Animal Rescue, Events | No Comments »

You may remember reading Chuck’s recent blog post about the Indianapolis Great Pyrenees Rescue (IGPR), what a wonderful organization it is, and how it has changed his and his wife’s lives. Many of us here in the office are pet owners and our furry four legged friends have become key members in each of our families. We were sad to hear that the IGPR is currently struggling to survive and continue helping all these dogs find great homes.  As pet lovers and members of the Indianapolis community we wanted to do our part in helping this great organization stay alive by spreading the word on how you can help.

The continued down turn in the economy has significantly impacted the number of adoptions they have been able to generate this year. IGPR have approximately 50 dogs in rescue that need medical care, food, and heart worm and flea preventative on a regular basis. Some of those in rescue have been returned to IGPR because their previous owners could no longer afford to care for them. Many of the current foster homes have multiple dogs they are caring for, and unfortunately IGPR’s coffers are dry with bills still needing to be paid.  Adoptions are down 53% compared from last year with a larger number of dogs in need of rescue. From January to June of 2010 they adopted out 85 dogs compared to this year they have adopted out only 45 dogs. IGPR wants to be able to continue to care for those in the rescue until each dog finds his or her forever home, but it does cost money to care for them. If you can make a donation, no matter how small, it will help the IGPR to continue to help them.

If you would like to make a donation, you can do so using PayPal, www.paypal.com, by making a payment to info@igpr.org. If you would like to send a check, the address is IGPR, Inc. 1102 W. 78th St.  Indianapolis, IN  46260.  They are a not for profit organization, and your donations are tax deductible. Also they welcoming to any ideas for fundraisers, so if you have one please contact Jane and John Rose at the emails below.

Why Rescue? “If you consider that we cannot save them all, and what difference does one make, you ought to know the joy of the one who is saved.” -Jim Willis
If you have any questions or would like more information please contact:
Jane & John Rose

Indy Great Pyrenees Rescue, Inc.

Phone: (317) 251-3179

Website: www.igpr.org

E-Mail: info@igpr.org or pyrlover1@gmail.com

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