Better desigh through universal concepts


1966 I got together with some architects, another designer and some lawyers and built an office building and moved in. After a few months, an Architect from Westinghouse in Pittsburgh came in to interview me, without notice, to work on a project for them, offices in a factory to be built near Ft. Lauderdale. The Architects for the project were Reynolds, Smith & Hills of Jacksonville, FL. When I started working on the Westinghouse project, RS&H asked if I would like to work with them on an airport in Tampa. It turned out to be even another once-in-a-lifetime design jobs. I could never gone out and gotten it under normal circumstances. Joseph A. Maxwell and Associates was small and made up of myself, Bob Waters '54, an Interior Designer, Pam, another Interior Designer, a draftsman and secretary-bookkeeper. I had to add more staff.

Since the Architects for Westinghouse and the Tampa International Airport were located in Jacksonville, FL, we were doing a lot of driving. The Mercedes dealer in Pompano was building a new showroom and asked us to design the interiors. We did it for a new 4 door Mercedes diesel that made the trip much nicer and less expensive at the time.

Working with Reynolds, Smith & Hills, Greiner, Leigh Fisher & Associates, the HCAA staff and the other members of the Airport design team was a great experience and a wonderful team effort. We first worked on the interior architecture and then got a contract to do the furnishings including carpet research and bid documents. I had never thought rows of seating, especially with shared arms were nice or worked well. We designed the seating in six seat conversation groups forming a hex with three sets of 2 seats and a table. We were not sure we could get enough seating with this arrangement. After presenting our layouts, Leigh Fisher, the originator of the landslide airside terminal concept, told us to remove some of the seats there were too many. The Tampa International Airport's new midfield terminal opened in 1971 and became the most liked airport in the world. Even in 2002 it was still listed as the best in the USA.

1972 With the Tampa International Airport open, Behring moving to California and my oldest son having to start public school, Nancy and I thought Ft Lauderdale was not the place to raise children. Neither of us ever liked Florida and thought a move to our place in Burnsville, NC would be a good change. I was burned out having to employ so many people and all that goes with it. I wanted a simple life, so I took off two years to spend with my family. I decided to never hire staff again.

1980George Bean, Director of Aviation for The Hillsborough County Aviation Authority, asked me to come back to work on The Tampa International Airport after being away for almost 9 years. The following is a copy of his letter.

I'm afraid the quality of these pictures is not good but the letter is old and not in the best shape.  The colors and values are for best reading and are not true colors.  Almost all of the letter shows when this is printed.

It started with replacements for area rugs and went on for 15 years and a little of everything. George kept me on for as long as he was there. There was landslide expansion and renovation. There was Airside F and Airside A. There was the ADA compliance evaluation and solutions along with a Way finding and Effective Communications Study and recommendations.

Highlights of this second time at Tampa were:

Hand woven tapestries for the bag claim level. There are 22 tapestries 34' X 8' each. They were designed by Ron Renmark and woven in Virginia by Swaziland weavers under the supervision of Ron. I had to write competitive bid documents, determine the lowest responsive bidder and approve each tapestry, as it was completed owner a 2 years period. At the time it was the largest tapestry project ever.

Develop an updated carpet spec. The original carpet had to be replaced after 15 years, not for wear but for color change (ozone). After a very intensive study and product development, a new specification and pattern was designed. This spec had never been woven before. It was a 216 pitch 3 frame, through the back Wilton with a .22' wire size with 54 ounces per yard of 3 ply continuous filament solution dyed BASF nylon yarn. Two mills in this country could make it but Tampa only accepted Bloomsburg Carpet Industries. This carpet in 2 different patterns and 3 different colors was used in the Landslide Terminal and Airside F and Airside A. Even under heavy airport traffic, after 30 years the carpet should show no wear or color change, only slight packing and dulling of the surface.

From the time I first started the Tampa project, I knew that long rows of seats was a poor idea. I solved that in the Landslide Terminal and also at Phoenix But Airsides were under the control of the airlines. Airside F was the first to be designed and furnished by the airport. I wanted to do the interiors to it but the Architects wanted to control the entire design. They did use my carpet design and specs but in their own colors, mauve and turquoise, which was dated, even at that time. When Airside A came along, I did the interiors that included the seating. This led to an intensive evaluation of tandem seating and found out that only a little more than 50% of the seats were filled at one time. I came up with a way to form 6 seat seating groups and even increase the number or usable seats by 60% in a given space with fewer seating units. I was able to get a utility patent on it. I called it cluster seating. It was used throughout Airside A and has worked just as predicted. You can have a copy of this study if you would like.

Everyone knows that women often have to stand in line at restrooms but no one at that time had really studied the problem. Florida was considering a potty parity law but did not address how many toilets are needed for a given situation. For Airside A I devised a method for determining the number of fixtures needed for both Men and Women. For years I had worked with Bob Woods who was in charge of writing and administering janitorial contracts for the HCAA. He helped me to get some janitorial staff to do a survey and tabulation sheets, on a minute by minute basis, of what fixtures were being used and how many people were in line during the most active hours in Airside F. I knew what flights and number of passengers were arriving and departing. I gave the janitorial participants revenue bonds for their involvement. With the information collected and figures from the Leigh Fisher group, I was able to determine how many toilets would be need for each restroom and how many urinals. On average women need 56% more fixtures than men. This report was never written up in a formal manner, everyone was only interested in the bottom line.

Bob had also worked out a method to determine an almost exact number of arriving passengers per month within a day at the end of the month and a week or more before the official numbers cane out from counting the number of paper towels used.

I was given the responsibility of evaluating all of the HCAA airports for ADA compliance. That included the Tampa terminal as well as several non commercial terminals. This was a very rewarding experience and I was able to hire some of the best outside consultants for my team, people like John DeWitt who was blind and had a wonderful understanding of design. From the evaluation, the team and I came up with solutions for the problems. Next we did a Way finding and Effective Communications Study. Our conclusions required major modifications to the airport signage, especially in the interior. Conventional signage was just not working well even for average people.

1995 George Bean retired. I was especially blessed to have worked and for George. He was by far the greatest airport director in the world and we worked well together. He wanted things to work for passengers and I was able to make his desires come to life. We were not close friends but he depended on me and fought for my ideas. After completing the ADA and Way finding studied, I began organizing all of the ways design had been under George’s leadership, especially those things most important to him. I got all the HCAA staff and the outside consultants who had worked on the terminal interior projects to review and add items to the list. I turned that list into a check list that I presented to the staff for use after George and I are no longer around. I then put on the Web for anyone to use. and it has had lots of viewers. When George retired, the board wanted a Tampa designer not a carpet bagger. His replacement never knew me. George died in 2004 at 79. They named the parkway and a parking garage after him.

1996 My carpet and cluster seating era began. While I was researching and designing carpet for Tampa, I began working with Ray Habib of Bloomsburg Carpet Industries. They are a weaving mill and I knew that Tampa had to have a Wilton carpet. Ray had the most knowledge of woven carpet world. I knew the carpet had to be woven with solution dyed yarn. Ray and his people helped me come up with the specs that would do the job. They were a little overkill but Tampa also thought that was best. The pattern for the remodeling job I did by hand myself. That was very time consuming and not checkable. Samples had to be made and modified several times to perfect the pattern. After that, Bloomsburg went to computer aided design and gave me a copy. Ray brought in his son Tom and we started working together. BASF furnished me with small cones of their yarn in singles so I could ply tufts in the colors that I wanted. With the professional computer program, I could design patterns, print them to scale and check them. I was looking for random match patterns that required no pattern match during installation. I became very good at it with my own tricks. My carpet worked so well at Tampa, other airports wanted me to design some for them. I worked for a lot of airports with mixed success because I had no input with other aspects of the interior. It did pay well but was frustrating.

My cluster seating was has been used in other airports. American was interested in it but when it was purchased it was modified.  The 6 seat clusters were changed to get around my patent and my layouts were not used.  What was purchased ended up with very poor results. (60% vs 100%)  The real Cluster Seating would have given American a third more acceptable seats in the same sq. footage  and with less total seats.  I don't think they realize how badly it has worked.

I have redesigned my seating to incorporate way finding and communication elements and a super seat.  There are some airports showing interest. If I can get one that’s big enough, I should be able to find a quality manufacturer.