Once again I am participating in the let's blog off activity. Today's topic is What makes you laugh? I have always enjoyed the comics and particularly like this Dilbert cartoon. As architects we sometimes tend to take ourselves too seriously and need to laugh at ourselves more often.
I love the radio show Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. Paula Poundstone and Mo Rocca always have me in stitches. The highlight of my year in 2009 was being on the show and winning Carl's voice on my home answering machine. It makes me laugh to hear him answer my phone.
Embarrassed by their premature arrival, Gary & Elaine's decorative Christmas trees made their way back upstairs for another month.
I regularly check out what is happening in the catalog lives of Gary & Elaine in the blog Catalog Living http://catalogliving.net/
"What if every simple act of design and construction made the world a better place?"
"WHAT IF EVERY INTERVENTION RESULTED IN GREATER BIODIVERSITY; INCREASED SOIL HEALTH; ADDITIONAL OUTLETS FOR BEAUTY AND PERSONAL EXPRESSIONS; A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF CLIMATE, CULTURE, AND PLACE; A REALIGNMENT OF OUR FOOD AND TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS; AND A MORE PROFOUND SENSE OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A CITIZEN OF A PLANET WHERE RESOURCES AND OPPORTUNITIES ARE PROVIDED FAIRLY AND EQUITABLY?"
THIS IS THE LIVING BUILDING CHALLENGE. WE ACCEPT THIS CHALLENGE FOR THE FUTURE FORM OF BEAUFORT TO HONOR THE UNIQUE CULTURAL AND ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE OF THE NORTHWEST QUADRANT AND TO PROTECT THE NATIONAL HISTORIC LANDMARK DISTRICT. THE 560 SQUARE FOOT "FREEDMEN" COTTAGE IS BASED ON THE CIRCA 1850'S FREEDMEN COTTAGES FOUND IN THE NORTHWEST QUADRANT. THESE WERE THE HOUSES OF THE NEWLY FREED AFRICAN AMERICANS AND NOW IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY WE WILL BE FREE FROM THE GRID OF POWER, WATER, AND THE AUTOMOBILE. EACH HOUSE IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WILL GENERATE AROUND 4000KwH PER YEAR IN ELECTRICITY THROUGH PHOTOVOLTAICS AND WIND TURBINES, WHILE CONSUMING AROUND 2000 KwH PER YEAR; SELLING THE REMAINING ENERGY BACK TO THE POWER COMPANY. EACH HOUSE WILL COLLECT RAINWATER FROM THE ROOF TO TREAT AND USE AS POTABLE WATER IN THE HOUSE. GRAYWATER AND CONDENSATION FROM THE HEAT PUMP WILL BE COLLECTED AND STORED IN A SEPARATE CISTERN AND USED FOR IRRIGATION IN THE COMMUNITY GARDENS. THE PROCESSES, MATERIALS, AND PRODUCTS PRESENTED IN THIS PROJECT ARE AVAILABLE TODAY. AS ENERGY AND WATER FEES INCREASE AND TECHNOLOGY ADVANCES THEY WILL BECOME AFFORDABLE.
We haven't built a physical model since we started with Revit three years ago. It is much faster to build a model in Revit than by hand! For more infomation on the Beaufort 3 Century Project http://www.beaufortthreecentury.org/ Please visit the exhibition at the Verdier House Mondays - Saturdays 10 am until 4 pm (it's free) and vote on the people's choice!
"The Beaufort Three-Century Project & Historic Beaufort Foundation are hosting a public exhibition of architecture and community design to complement the City of Beaufort tri-centennial celebration. The exhibit will demonstrate how the valued built forms of Beaufort can be successfully fused with the future requirements for sustainability of energy, water, materials, human ecology and indigenous vegetation. The design categories will include the Single Structure Infill and the Neighborhood Plan – each on one of three pre-selected opportunity sites in historic Beaufort. In addition to cash awards for these two categories, there will be a People's Choice award, as voted by exhibition visitors during the three-week long event.
This professional competition is open to architecture and land design professionals & students of those disciplines. Submissions should be physical models, virtual or perspective renderings of single structure infill or community plan models for one of three selected sites in historic Beaufort. Each submission should be accompanied by a specification board headlining the fundamental design principles and sustainable strategies used."
We chose to enter both the neighborhood master plan and individual building categories. The site we selected was the four blocks at the intersection of Wilmington and Washington Street.
The gray buildings on the site plan are recognized as contributing structures to the National Historic Landmark District. The are modest one and two story houses generally built right after the Civil War. This neighborhood was started by freed slaves and the majority of the current residents are African Americans. The white buildings are non-contributing structures.
This is the new master plan. We added a gathering place at the intersection of Wilmington and Washington and community gardens at the rear of each property.
As we drove across the bridge into Savannah Thursday afternoon we were hoping that the rainy weather would move up the coast.
The theme of the conference was "Waves of Change" and it was all about water - the first activity was a sunset dinner cruise on the Savannah River. We boarded at River Street across from the convention center and headed up river to the Talmadge Bridge.
The ships were huge close up
The bridge is beautiful from the water.
After a full day of great seminars on Friday we headed to the Telfair Museum Jepson Center for a reception and keynote speech by Jean Michel Cousteau about his work with the Ocean Futures Society. I will write a post later on the critical need to conserve water. The food was excellent, especially the Thai chicken rolls...I ate way too many of them. The photo above is me in front of Daniel Shiffman's interactive video "Swarm" Take a look of it in action...
The color swarms across the screen and mimics the view in front of the camera. The keynote was followed by Pecha-Kucha Night hosted by AIA Savannah at Alligator Soul. A highlight was Ed Atkins presentation on finding unused space in Atlanta to house the homeless and grow food. The billboard apartments were great.
On Saturday we woke to a beautiful day and after the keynote, Michael and I decided to spend the morning exploring Savannah. We left the hotel and wandered down to the river.
We happened upon the 11th annual weiner dog races....there were over 150 dogs racing..it was a hoot!
After trying to watch one heat we realized that we were too late to get a good seat so we continued our stroll. We passed through square after square and came to one of SCAD's classroom buildings..they are all over town. It is an attractive building and maybe was an elementary school in it's former life.
We continued toward Forsyth Park through the Whitaker Street Design District; I love the color of this door.
When we arrived in the park we were detoured around a wedding and discovered two knights jousting!
We headed back to the hotel and an afternoon full of continuing education seminars and the awards gala Saturday night.
I am now back home preparing Jana's 25th birthday dinner!
Many people relocate to lowcountry from inland communities where there are not hurricanes. So often the first question a new resident asks is "What are the best practices for building in a hurricane prone area?". Buildings need to simultaneously resist wind, rain, and flood.
The International Residential Building Code (IRC) made significant revisions after Hurricane Andrew that have been proven to prevent structural damage from wind. In fact, during the 2004 Florida hurricanes, no one died in any structure that was built under the revised code. The code requires that the building is tied together from the roof rafters to the foundation; the building is designed to withstand wind shear; the windows, doors, and skylights are protected from windborne debris; and the exterior finishes are securely fastened to the structure.
The success of the structural code changes highlighted the problem of rain entry into the building. Before when a homeowner was missing a roof, he was not concerned with a leaky window. Preventing rain infiltration is now a new focus in home construction. Many property insurance companies will give homeowners a discount for some of these best practices. The key items include: The roof needs an overhang to keep the rain off the building; provide sill pans under all windows and doors; flash all windows, doors and other penetrations; provide a drainage plane behind the exterior finish material to allow the water to escape and the wall to dry; provide a secondary roofing membrane; design closed crawl spaces that are dry and watertight; and drain the rain away from the house through the use of gutters and sloping the ground away from the building.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has understood for several decades how to prevent flood damage. The basics are general common sense; elevate the livable space, floor structure and heating and air-conditioning ducts above the 100 year flood plane and the potential storm surge; install hydro-static vents to prevent flood waters from collapsing foundation walls; build with materials that tolerate getting wet; and design the walls to easily dry after they get wet.
The ASHRAE Guide for Buildings in Hot & Humid Climates recommends to design and construct buildings in hurricane prone areas using the following steps in order of priority: keep the building from blowing away; keep the rain out; elevate the structure above the flood plane; building with materials that tolerate soaking; and design the wall assemblies to easily dry with they become wet.
As president of the American Institute of Architects South Carolina, I hear regularly from our members about the grim economic environment throughout the state. The Governor's idea to solve the state budget woes and the rising cost of college tuition with a moratorium on construction is short sighted, especially since the universities have said that the lack of state funding, not building projects is the cause of rising tuitions.
Typically, the construction industry accounts for nine percent of the national gross domestic product and the state of South Carolina needs to do everything possible to put our large construction industry back to work. My husband and I are both architects and have had our firm for 21 years. In good years we pay five figures in South Carolina income tax, in 2009 we paid $44 and it looks about the same for 2010. If all the architects, engineers, surveyors, contractors and suppliers in South Carolina were fully employed, it would generated hundreds of millions in tax revenue and the state could appropriate more money for higher education to reduce tuition costs.
The fact is there is no better time for building projects: Interest rates are at an all-time low; construction companies are eager to work at very competitive prices; our state economy badly needs a stimulus; and fully employing our construction industry workers will boost state income tax receipts. Every $1 billion spent on building projects increases the state's gross domestic product by almost $2.3 billion; creates 24,000 jobs with $720 million in personal income. We need jobs - not moratoriums!
This is my second post for a Let's Blog Off topic. http://letsblogoff.com/ This week the question is "Do social sites like Facebook connect the world or isolate people?" My quick answer is they connect the world.
I was introduced to Facebook in March of 2009 I got an excited phone call from my college pal Wayne, pictured above in that stunning lime green paisley sports coat. "I HAVE FOUND GWEN ON FACEBOOK! YOU HAVE TO JOIN!" So I joined. After we graduated from Auburn in architecture in 1982, we lost track of Gwen. The last time I had seen her was at my wedding. We had head rumors that she had married a Spaniard and was living overseas.
The rumors proved to be true. Gwen had lived in Germany, Spain, Switzerland, China and Japan; she was currently living in Spain. She was planning a trip to the states in a few months and we arranged a mini-reunion with Wayne at my house. This would never have happened without Facebook. Since then I have connected with friends and family and enjoy hearing what they are doing.
Around the same time, my marketing consultants suggested that we start a business facebook page to complement my blog...but due to my advanced years we should wait a few months before starting to tweet! I have been tweeting for almost a year and find it to be the most valuable of the social media that I use. On Twitter I follow lots of architects and designers. Since I live in a small town, it helps me stay connected with the outside world.
Most of my clients live somewhere else and are building a retirement or pre-retirement house here, so they find us on the internet. Therefore, the larger presence we have in cyber space the easier we are to find. A great blog that sends quite a bit of traffic to my web page is Houzz http://www.houzz.com/ I don't use LinkedIn much but through a connection on LinkedIn I was quoted in a story in Residential Architect magazine http://www.residentialarchitect.com/architects/off-the-beaten-path.aspx
It didn't result in a new client contact but it might one day!
I just returned from the AIA North Carolina Convention that was held in Asheville. Here are a few of the highlights
There was an interesting seminar on the restoration of the Thomas Wolfe House followed by a tour of the house. Thomas Wolfe last lived in the house in 1916 so the interior is typical of that period. The Wolfe family lived in the house until it was sold to the city of Asheville and turned into a museum.
I can not imagine cooking for a boarding house full of people in that kitchen!
Regional Director Jim Rains and his posse of flower children worked the crowd soliciting donations for the AIA North Carolina Political Action Committee. I don't know if AIA National President, George Miller contributed.
On Saturday afternoon I went on a tour of the Asheville River Arts District and saw these funky stools made from old gears.
I had never seen a rain barrel quite like this one.
The highlight of the convention was the design award's gala that was held at the Biltmore House. What a treat...and the award winning projects were great, too.
This is my first blog-off challenge and the topic of writing about my "Slice of Heaven" was easy because I am one of the lucky ones who lives in paradise. This is the view from my back terrace overlooking the inter-coastal waterway. I live on Lady's Island which is just across the river from Beaufort, South Carolina. I never tire of the view..there is something about a long view that is very relaxing. One of the best things about being on the marsh is the abundant bird population. We see Herons, Egrets, and Wood Storks in the marsh. There is a Osprey that preens it feathers every morning in a snag that I can see from our bedroom. Hooded Mergansers arrive in December and were renamed Christmas Ducks by our girls when they were young.
We hear owls every morning and have seen a Great Horned Owl in a tall pine tree and a Screech Owl on our terrace after he collided with our sliding doors. Fortunately he was just stunned and soon flew away.
The kitchen looks out to the river on the West and into a courtyard on the East. I see a different group of birds in the courtyard. The two most exciting to spot are Painted Buntings and Pileated Woodpeckers. We keeps several birdbaths and they are usually full of Cardinals.
One day when we were out kayaking a manatee swam by us...really cool! Michael, my husband fishes behind our house. A few years ago he found a sweet spot and would leave the house asking how many fish I wanted him to bring home for dinner!
The marsh and river views are always changing and can be very dramatic. We watch rain storms approach down the river. You are probably thinking that it is difficult for me to leave my house and go to work... once again, I am lucky. Our office is on the same piece of property as our house but in a different building. The view below is from the office.
Even though I live in paradise, it is on a flat barrier island and is in a small town. So when I leave my slice of heaven I either go to the mountains or to a city. I grew up in Tennessee, so I have to get my mountain fix and enjoy those long views especially when backpacking!
We have a lush, semi-tropical landscape with huge Live Oak trees draping Spanish Moss but there is very little fall color. The marsh changes from bright green to gold and there is an occasional tree here in there sporting some color. So a trip to the mountains in the fall is a real treat.
My priorities when traveling are great architecture, great art and great food!
My architecture firm, Frederick + Frederick Architects, creates comfortable houses that fit the Southern landscape, climate, culture and client. I have over twenty years experience in residential architecture. Please visit our web site www.f-farchitects.com to see our work.