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Alan Ruby

Alan Ruby joined Fentress in 2002 and is one of the company's senior architects. He combines an extensive knowledge of architecture and the built environment with analytical skills. Alan is an avid scuba diver and cyclist, and a long-time collector of abstract art.

Recent Posts

The Open Office - Can it be Saved?

Posted by Alan Ruby on Oct 11, 2018

Topics: Deep Work, Collaborative Workspaces, contemplation


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architectural Consultant

Since its advent in the 1960s, each new iteration of the open office has had its critics. The current 21st century version is no exception. Given all of its well-documented deficiencies, should we dump the open office concept and convert back to private offices as some suggest? Maybe not. A new iteration of concepts for office planning is on the horizon as described in Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. The book contains a description of Deep Work principles that seek to avoid many of the deficiencies of today’s open office.

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The Open Plan Office (and the Architectural Drafting Room) – Why Do They Continue to Thrive?

Posted by Alan Ruby on Sep 13, 2018

Topics: open office


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

The form and intended function of the modern open plan office has gone through several iterations since its advent in the 1960s. With each new iteration, previous examples have been viewed with scorn. The 21st century version of the open office has not been spared a similar level of contempt. So with all its well-documented deficiencies, why does it continue to thrive?

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Virtual Office in Paradise - Why Not?

Posted by Alan Ruby on Aug 30, 2018

Topics: virtual office, future office, home office design


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

Our company president recently forwarded me an article that was an opinion piece on the future of the office. The premise of the article was that the bricks-and-mortar office was here to stay despite its shortcomings, simply because virtual office options are just not realistic. I had just published my own article which offered a very different viewpoint. My article touted the benefits of the virtual office. As someone who has telecommuted for 15 years from “unrealistic” virtual office settings, let me explain.

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Is Your Courtroom User-Friendly?

Posted by Alan Ruby on Aug 16, 2018

Topics: Courtroom Design, courthouse architect


By Alan S. Ruby

The features of a courtroom help set the tone for the proceedings that take place within its walls. This article examines the design features that can make a courtroom feel user-friendly versus intimidating, and how a user-friendly courtroom might best support justice in a trial.

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Six Essential Spaces for Stress-free Jurors!

Posted by Alan Ruby on Jul 5, 2018

Topics: courthouse design, jury assembly area


By Alan Ruby, Senior Architect

A much greater number of people serve on juries than participate in the judicial system as plaintiffs, defendants, or attorneys. It is therefore vital that the jury assembly areas be as welcoming as possible. This blog addresses how an architect or courthouse planner can ensure that the jury assembly area provides the spaces needed to create a welcoming and user-friendly experience for prospective jurors.

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Can Courthouse Circulation be User-Friendly - Absolutely!

Posted by Alan Ruby on May 24, 2018

Topics: courthouse circulation, courthouse design


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

Just walking through a courthouse can be a stressful experience for a visitor. Whether being called as a witness or to serve on a jury, or just picking up documents from the clerk’s office, the serious nature of a courthouse can be intimidating. This article focuses on the steps that can be taken by architects and courthouse planners to ensure that public hallways create a welcoming positive impression for the visitor and are user-friendly.

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Creating a User-friendly Courthouse Lobby

Posted by Alan Ruby on May 3, 2018

Topics: courthouse design, Courthouse Space Standards and Functionality, Courthouse Security


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

The current public image of the courthouse is evolving from an imposing, awe-inspiring, and even intimidating symbol to one that is welcoming and user-friendly. I recently wrote about concepts that can be applied to the exterior of a courthouse to make it more welcoming. In my view, a welcoming lobby is an extension of a welcoming exterior. The main entrance lobby is the first interior courthouse space encountered by the public. This article explores some of the techniques used to create a user-friendly courthouse lobby that will likely enhance the visitor’s entire judicial experience.

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Courthouse Design Tips: Creating a User-friendly Exterior

Posted by Alan Ruby on Apr 19, 2018

Topics: courthouse design, Courthouse Aesthetics


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

My first experience with a courthouse was not good. In fact, it was terrifying and the memory has remained with me to this day. And it began on the courthouse steps before I walked through the front door. In my experience, the exterior image of a courthouse can range from an imposing and intimidating symbol such as the one I first experienced, to one that is welcoming and user-friendly. I believe this first impression can affect your entire judicial experience.

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The Building Blocks of Courthouse Organization

Posted by Alan Ruby on Mar 1, 2018

Topics: courthouse design, courthouse circulation, courthouse adjacencies


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

The design of every building is a puzzle. Courthouses are no exception. All the pieces need to fit in a way that make sense and that help guide us through the building. The building blocks of courthouse organization include which pieces are located on the ground floor versus upper floors. And which pieces need to, or in some cases shouldn’t be, located near one another (i.e., adjacencies). A well-organized courthouse has all the puzzle pieces in the right places, which enhances the delivery of justice.

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Pathways to Justice: Courthouse Circulation

Posted by Alan Ruby on Feb 15, 2018

Topics: courthouse design, Courthouse Space Standards and Functionality


By Alan S. Ruby, Senior Architect

The role of a courthouse circulation system is both to connect courthouse components and to separate the movement of the public, judges, court personnel, and prisoners throughout the courthouse. This article provides guidance to architects and court managers regarding the functional objectives and design principles that can lead to an ideal courthouse circulation system.

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