Monday, August 31, 2009

Hare House Framing Progress

Our first design-build construction project is well underway. After a long spring and summer of massive excavation and retaining wall construction, the framing is nearing completion. The second floor framing is starting this week and should be complete by the end of September. Kent Ducote of KDL Builders has taken the lead on the foundation and framing of the Main House. His crew is fun to watch as they tilt the house walls up and into place.
Joe's Welding of San Juan Island handled the steel fabrication and worked closely with KDL Builders for the steel erection. The cantilevered balcony beams were placed with the help of a crane and Kent's framing crew. The close proximity of the steel framed balcony and the existing guest house required much attention to avoid any damage during the process.
We are busy in the office with scheduling and paperwork in order to keep up with KDL's quick framing methods. The roofing contractors and special inspectors are now scheduled for the end of September. Windows and exterior doors are set to arrive in four weeks. The project is now moving right along.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bantering With Clients

One of the simple joys in life of a small design firm is when a client allows you to make a model. Sometimes we do this for ourselves, on our own time, but if a client is willing to engage in the process with you, it's even better.

To our delight, we participated in many months of schematic design on this project, to the point where you know each scheme you have presented inside and out and even dream about it. This is great because you get a sense that the clients understand the drawings and the vision and are aware of everything that is happening in the design (often, this doesn't happen until construction, when changes are costly).

Of course, you never know how things look outside of your own mind. Like most designers, I picture everything in 3d before the mouse moves. But you never know how your clients are experiencing the un-built project in their minds. It's exciting to watch them working with the model, moving things around, taking it to the project site to see how the lights works.

My enthusiasm over these little rough paper models may seem silly to those who work in larger firms with model making shops in house or with on projects with very high budgets. But, for a small firm (2 designers + 1 part time intern) trying to keep costs low for everyone, these little paper gems are a fun way for a project to come alive in 3d.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Untangling the Green Building Certification Web

NAHB, LEED, Energy Star…. Where do you start? What certification is best? Is it all worth it? These are topics that we will be covering. Currently, we are certifying a Built Green 3-Star, and working through the process of NAHB National Green Building Certification and Builder’s Challenge Certification for the Hare House Phase 2, our first Design Build project, currently under construction.

I will admit, it’s tedious. I don’t love doing envelope analysis and having to hunt down U-values and Solar Heat Gain Coefficients from garage door manufacturers who have no clue what I am talking about.

But, the point is, it will get easier. The criteria in the checklists will not have to be as detailed, because our way of building will change. The local distributor for that garage door company said that many people have asked those same questions, but he has not yet been able to find the answers. The important thing is that people are asking. The answers will become standard, and we won’t have to spend as much time thinking about the U-value of a garage door. Which, by the way, I still don’t know.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Clearing the Air on Designer vs. Architect

We try to make it as clear as possible that we are legally “designers” and not yet licensed “architects.” Though the “design” that we focus on in this blog is architecture, we steer clear of the word as not to dip into any murky, technical legal waters. Although we are not yet licensed architects, Anna holds a Bachelor of Architecture (Master of Urban Design) and I hold a Master of Architecture.

Anna has completed 8 out of 9 exams towards licensure, while I am the beginning of the exam process. After Anna’s testing is complete and she receives her architecture license from the state of Washington, you will see a change in our website and in all of our public communication.

Becoming a licensed architect is a very important milestone in the eyes of the state, and will of course be a cause for celebration, but the spirit and day to day matters of our practice will not change. For me, it will be another stop, albeit an important stop, on the journey that began when I churned out my first floor plans on the back of my dad’s scrap sales reports at age 6. Although then I said, “When I grow up, I want to be an architect,” for now, “When I grow up, I want to be an intern architect enrolled in the IDP program with 15% of the ARE completed” will have to do.


Welcome to our blog! As our day to day experience varies, so will the topics that we cover. These will range from our experience at the construction site of our first fully design-build project to the latest in green building, certification processes, and occasional musings about space, urban planning, and design.