Monday, November 30, 2009

Green Charrette

Tomorrow I'm leading a green charrette for a historic rehab in the city for a non-profit which provides housing for an underserved population. This is the reason to stay in this industry. Preservation, sustainability is done in service to people. All the analysis needs to point to the people, the end users.

Monday, November 23, 2009

27 Years

I am in the job market for the first time in 27 years. I'll be ok for a few months and I have a lot of connections to help me move forward. In the meantime I'll continue to work in the community to move a sustainability agenda forward for the built environment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pervious Surface

This may be a nice alternative to expensive pervious paving. Has anyone seen it installed? I have talked to a local rep and the cost/sf seems reasonable enough, plus the substrate does not have some of the same onerous requirements as other pervious paving solutions I have seen.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

University City Project Gains Recognition


The East-West Gateway Council of Governments presented an award for Leadership in Planning and Design Innovation for our uHome uCity Project. http://uhomeucity.com/contact.html is the place to find out about the team.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fresh from Greenbuild in Phoenix

Congratulations to Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis!




Award of Excellence for Affordable Housing Built Responsibly
2009
Homeownership Category Winner—
Habitat for Humanity St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Download the Case Study View Press Release

75k to continue the work! As a volunteer and Board Member I continue to be inspired by the work, the staff, and the homebuyers. Our goal is to build 30 in 2010 and 50 by 2015. Click on the Habitat link above and get involved. You will not regret it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

West End Word on U City Project


University City partners with Washington U. to build green homes
University City is moving forward with a plan to build new “green” homes on five vacant lots in the Sutter Heights neighborhood, following the city council’s approval of the “U Home U City” plan Oct. 12. Over the past two years, the city has purchased the formerly county-owned properties on Crest and Bartmer avenues in the northeastern portion of the city with the intent of building homes that achieve the highest level of LEED certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council. “We really believe in the sustainability movement and think this is the wave of the future,” said Assistant City Manager Petree Eastman. “It’s just a very exciting opportunity for folks who want to live in a very sustainable, little-impact-on -the-earth kind of way.” University City will devote $15,000 to marketing the project to potential buyers. Architectural firm Arcturis and Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts will design the homes, with input from the buyers, and green construction firm BOA Construction will build them. The homes will cost between $120,000 and $200,000, Eastman said, but there will be several incentives available to buyers, including eight years of tax abatements and neighborhood-improvement and energy efficiency tax credits. “Vacant houses and vacant lots start to take their toll on entire neighborhoods,” Eastman said. “We hope with the new green houses that a whole new life is injected into these two blocks.” The city plans to continue buying up vacant lots for green homes if the initial project is successful.
Also Sustainable St. Louis picked up the Post article: http://sustainstl.org/green-houses-aimed-at-weedy-lots-in-university-city/

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Faulkner, Art, Construction

3 Bombs is the title of a Friedman post in this blog from mid-October. I was looking back a bit today and it made me think of Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech. I add it here for your consideration:

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work--a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.
Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed--love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, and victories without hope and worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

Wm Faulkner


5 LEED Homes in University City

http://uhomeucity.com/ is now online to describe our award-winning hybrid development process. It brings the custom experience and LEED Platinum homes to the affordable sector. Here is a Process Outline:
The idea has been to create an experienced team in sustainable housing and create some new partnerships that will yield some extraordinary results. University City, which recently won a 'Heroes of the Planet' Award as a forward thinking sustainable community, owns a few undeveloped lots in a strong working class neighborhood with a great location. Arcturis put together a team consisting of themselves along with Boa Construction Company and Washington University Sam Fox School of Architecture to figure out a way to build 5, affordable LEED Platinum homes on these lots. Check it out, consider buying one, spread the word and ask questions. This is the tip of the infill development iceberg; a test case in which a new development paradigm is being created and can peacefully coincide with other neighborhood improvement projects including weatherization of existing housing stock.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

End of an Era

The gasometers in Shrewsbury are being dismantled and scrapped. I have always enjoyed the "slinky effect" of the 2 towers appearing to be intertwined as I went down the road. They have also been a great marker; to see them is to know we're near the city limits.

Friday, November 6, 2009


Thursday, November 5, 2009

Creating an Architecture Forum

St. Louis is a town filled with dichotomies, great buildings, potential and plenty of frustration. We also have opportunity and I have been an eye witness to some of these turned into great successes.

Incremental achievement and advancement accumulates. If one takes heart in this and keeps up the effort the aggregate becomes formidable; it starts to amount to something. We are at this threshold and it is time to come together for the sake of our region and for the sake of the architecture which we love, create and depend on in so many ways.

One way to participate in this is outlined below:


The St. Louis Artists' Guild is divided into 'Sections.' There is one for painting, sculpture, photography, artisans, illustrators and so on. In January 2010 I will present the Guild Board with a proposal for an "Architecture Section.' See statement of intent:

The goal is to create a forum to discuss and exhibit architecture and tangential issues affecting the St. Louis region.

This group would be open to architects, builders, designers, engineers, architectural historians, writers, critics, planners, policy makers and artists who have a passionate interest in the built environment and in our region. I see great value in crossing disciplinary boundaries as a means to advance the level of critical discourse on the built environment.

I am particularly interested in sustainability and preservation and I can easily imagine other topics and areas of interest which would be brought to the table by membership.

What we would get from the Guild:
A meeting space
Occasional section exhibitions/shows
501c3 status
The Guild Director of Finance to keep the books
Interaction with artists, photographers, etc. and ability to enter juried shows from other Sections

What the Guild gets from us:
New members
A different kind of relevance

What I imagine the time commitment to be:
One meeting/month +/- 3 hours
Other work you volunteer to participate in. (Set your own terms)

What we get to create as a team:
Whatever we want
A meeting place for Architecture for Humanity – St. Louis Chapter
Our own by laws under the umbrella of the Guild by laws.

Please comment/contact me if you are interested in being a founding member of this group. I have close to a dozen interested so far and we will need to cap it off soon and get to work on building our foundation.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

St. Louis Heroes of the Planet

The St. Louis Business Journal unveiled the winners of their local Heroes of the Planet Awards this past Thursday. Here is a link to our involvement in the event and the work leading up to the awards.

I was tapped by Habitat to accept if/when we won for Sustainable Alliances and, sure enough, we won. Kyle and the gang are the big reasons for creating such a successful green venture and we are simply glad to help.

University City won in the Sustainable Communities category for a number of remarkable accomplishments including a great renovation of their historic City Hall. We are lucky enough to be a small part of this with our team approach to LEED housing development mentioned previously on this site. I will have more announcements on this in 2 weeks or so.

Finally, congrats to all the finalists and participants for leading the way in our region. It is an honor to be in your company.