Our thirteenth project to be certified by the USGBC's LEED for Homes program has earned SILVER! The "Riverfront Farmhouse" project, a 6,200 square foot new home features a well-insulated and tight exterior envelope, FSC certified materials, a geothermal heating and cooling system, a stand-alone Heating Recovery Ventilation (HRV) system and an electric car charging station. The home also received HERS Index rating of 34, and participated in last year's NESEA's Green Buildings Open House program.
It’s the nature of our work that architects spend more of their time in the office than we do in the field where our work is getting built, and since we’re not contractors we also don’t often physically build the structures we design. This can lead to a sense of disconnection between what goes in a drawing and what goes up in the field, which is why I jumped at the chance to volunteer at the Madison Cares Raise the Roof event this Mother’s Day Weekend.
The Raise the Roof event is held annually on the green in downtown Madison CT and is basically an all-day build-off in which shifts of volunteers prefabricate walls for houses being built by Habitat for Humanity. Habitat and Madison Cares have a pretty well-oiled machine for how to manage several dozen barely skilled volunteers swinging hammers in close quarters. There were several platforms set up on the ground that were sized to frame walls on and a supervisor would guide us through laying out the pre-cut top and bottom plates, and the volunteers would take studs from a palette, lay them out to pre-marked locations, and start nailing away. Things slowed a little when we had to frame blocking for an interior partition, door or window, but for the most part things went smoothly.
When a wall was finished we gathered extra volunteers to lift and carry the wall into place on a trailer that would take the walls to the actual building site. A few walls were stood up in place to give volunteers a sense of what we building. The building site is on Congress Avenue in New Haven, a tough area of the city that Habitat has built other homes in over the last few years.
According to the Madison Cares website first floor walls for three different homes were completed, as well as 14 sections of porch railing were assembled and prime painted. My family and I worked through the rain on about 7 different walls, completing at least 3 of those start to finish. For me personally it was a great reminder of how buildings go together and to the connection between our drawings and assemblies in the real world, as well as being a great contribution to those in need.
Madison Cares is a non-profit based in Madison CT that works closely with Habitat for Humanity to try to eliminate poverty housing along the shoreline communities of Long Island Sound.
To enhance the modern-rustic aesthetic of our renovated Hingham kitchen, LDa worked with Mike Handrahan and Mitch Powers of Michael Handrahan Remodeling to create non-structural trusses built up from dimensional lumber and then wrapped and finished to evoke the antique timber beams of a beloved farmhouse in southern France.
The trusses were built up from three 2x6s, following the shape of the existing ceiling, with a flat bottom chord and two diagonal web members.
To find the right surface texture and character for the trusses, we worked with Pat Hunt of Hunt Custom Milled Floors to source aged spruce beams from Tom Mann of Mann Lumber. Tom milled the beams into ¾” thick boards with mitered edges. We requested boards with stable checking, or long cracks, for covering the vertical faces of the bottom truss chords, where a solid beam would exhibit checking from expanding and contracting over many years of seasonal change. We also liked the knots.
We experimented with having Tom hand hew the boards, but found that when we tested the finishing on the hand-hewn boards, the texture looked inauthentic. We decided instead that the boards would be hand-gouged and wire brushed once they were in place.
Pat put us in touch with Gregorio Hernandez of Wood Touch-Up Master, an architectural finisher extraordinaire. Based on our description and a photo of the French farmhouse beams, Gregorio created three samples with variations in color and texture for approval. He blends colors, oils, and bleach (but holds his recipes close!), employs wire brushing and hand scraping, and even creates deep knots to mimic true aged timbers. This sample shows the right color but the wrong texture.
Gregorio produced a second sample that was right on the money. He even carefully textured the corner joints to match the chamfered corners of a solid beam.
Meanwhile, the spruce boards were wrapped around the 2x6s by our talented carpenter, Keith Johnson. The mitered joints were biscuited to ensure a tight connection, which was crucial to creating the look of heavy timber members.
When the trusses were completely wrapped, it was time for Gregorio to work his magic. The entire kitchen was tented to protect the new ceiling, cabinetry, countertops, and floors. Gregorio and his team hand textured and finished every surface of the spruce boards wrapping the trusses.
The end result is a spectacular testament to a client’s clear vision and to a fun and successful collaboration among talented team members!
As the manager of our substantial image library I've always thought about doing a blog post on some of the many, many images of stairs that we have taken, but I hadn’t yet found the time. So when the Boston Design Guide emailed looking for blog post ideas for their newly re-launched blog, BDinG, I knew right away I wanted to share our stairs!
A friend and I recently submitted a bench design for Design Museum Boston's "Street Seats" competition. The goal of the competition was to garner sustainable and attractive bench concepts to revitalize Fort Point Chanel and the rapidly growing Innovation District. Our goal was to create an accessible, iconic and beautiful public offering to serve Boston and its visitors well for many years.
My good friend Andrew Mau and I developed a concept for a 100% recycled cast-aluminum bench inspired by the industrial details of the channel. "Forge" bench is modestly masculine, with elegant angles and details. It is cast in four pieces and site-assembled. A low back and angled sides create the perception of weight and density, yet it is unexpectedly refined. The bench is sized for two, allowing for reduced material cost and waste and a more approachable alternative for someone to enjoy the area than the oversized existing seating along the Harborwalk.
A major aspect of the competition was the documentation of the design process. See the fun we had designing, modeling and testing our plywood prototype here:
The 1/8 scale models will remain on display at 63 Melcher Street until April 30th, and the 20 semi-finalists prototypes will be featured along the Harborwalk 4/27 through 10/6. We had a great time and learned a lot throughout the process, I hope you enjoy!
The design for the 20,000 sf Jounce office and lab space begins with an entry lobby ceiling and wall design that expresses the company’s logo, referencing the objective of “raising the survival curve” for cancer patients. Jounce is focused on the discovery and development of first-in-class cancer immunotherapies designed to harness the patient’s immune system to seek out and attack cancerous cells and tumors.
The open office areas are elegant and simple with bold carpet patterns and accent wall colors, all carefully selected to reflect the company’s brand. A company kitchen/café area, with access to a roof deck and a conference room with a movable glass wall allows flexibility for all-company meetings.
Because the finish surface of a concrete wall or floor appears so monolithic, it’s easy to think about concrete as a solid material almost like stone. In reality there are an awful lot of other components inside any structural concrete wall or floor.
Take a look at these images of the preparations for the concrete floor at the St. Bonaventure Parish Church project. We should probably more accurately call it a concrete and steel floor.
This is the floor for the new chapel area; it spans almost 30 feet over the church’s basement. The steel rebar is spaced 12” on center on both the top and bottom of the floor to help carry & distribute the loads to the foundation walls and steel columns located in the basement.
In addition to steel, electrical conduits run inside the floor to distribute power to electrical outlets which will be located below the liturgical furniture pieces, like the altar and lectern in the new chapel.
This one pour needed to have 2 different finish levels. A stainless steel angle was set in place before the concrete was poured to separate the two levels and create the base for the raised sanctuary which will be built up in wood.
LDa Principals Douglas Dick and Michael Waters recently joined Appalachian Mountain Club President John Judge, Senior Vice President Walter Graff, VP of Conservation Susan Arnold, VP of Resources Clare O’Connell and the President’s Society on a winter hut-to-hut ski trip to the AMC Maine Wilderness Lodges Little Lyford and Gorman Chairback.
LDa-designed renovations to the Little Lyford Lodge were completed in two phases; the exterior in the summer of 2012 and the interior in summer of 2011 and the Gorman Chairback lodge and new cabins were completed in 2010.
Doug and Mike jumped at the opportunity to see the buildings in full-on winter operation, experience AMC hospitality and to see first-hand what the positive buzz is all about.
It may not be easy - at this time of year, the only access is by skis or snowshoes – but with great company it is both beautiful and fun!
The Lyford Lodge exterior renovation with porch and deck additions nestles comfortably into the Lyford Camp village.
After dropping skis and stomping off loose snow, guests are welcomed inside by friendly AMC staff and immediately relax with a hot beverage in the new lodge. Everyone is invited to find a cabin, go for an afternoon ski, snowshoe hike or have a sauna. Happy hour starts at 5:00 dinner is at 6:00.
After a cozy night at Lyford and a great breakfast, Doug and Mike join the group for a 6.5 mile ski to Gorman Chairback Lodge.
Gorman Chairback lodge and both old and new cabins overlook Long Pond.
There is nothing like perspective and the best perspective is from a good viewpoint. Doug and Mike help to break trail to Third Mountain for an overlook of the entire weekend ski circuit. Reflecting on the weekend it’s not difficult to see why so many are falling in love with the Maine Wilderness Lodges.