Sunday, December 30, 2012

Alliance to Save Energy

The Alliance to Save Energy is celebrating its 35th Anniversary with a series of 35 videos with tips on, you guessed it, saving energy. Give the site a visit and make energy efficiency part of your resolutions for the new year. Here is an example in the series on home energy efficiency:

Saturday, December 29, 2012

SLAM, Gilbert, Chipperfield & Goldsworthy

Cass Gilbert designed the Central Library (featured in a previous post) as well as our St. Louis Art Museum. David Chipperfield (design chief of this year's Venice Bienalle - featured in another post) is the designer of the Art Museum's new addition scheduled to open in the summer of 2013. Andy Goldsworthy is an artist from the U.K. who finished a commission called Stone Sea, situated between the Gilbert & the Chipperfield.

From paper to life...stone defining space - the last 100+ years in a nutshell:

With a Hammer in My Hand

Here are a few projects I built, all in Ladue, while still wearing a tool belt. In the first I made the mantel on site and we installed and site finished shop-made cabinets and paneling. White pine is so soft; it presented a unique set of challenges. One can hardly look at it without a dent or scratch occurring. In this project I also made a round-top pocket door.

In the round room pictured below I made most of the trim on site by attaching a router to a trammel in order to make a repeatable pattern. Round is fairly easy, with a bit of patience - it all emerges from the center.

Finally, here is a cedar screen porch with some nice ceiling details.

I made these scans early in the digital age and I can't find the originals, but  I know they're around here somewhere. These pictures were not on the cover -  I arranged them this way as to remember their origin.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Central Library - Details & More

I finally made it to the Central Library and it is magnificent. It is the embodiment of our civic commitment to the idea that ignorance is NOT bliss. Read. Learn. The renovation is respectful and contemporary. It provides views of the complexity of what a large library entails and needs as a substrate for the activity taking place under roof.

I wish I had brought more than a cell phone camera, but here are a few images taken from the perspective of a carpenter/construction guy.

Restored ceilings, shelving, trim, lighting are a big part of what suggests that learning and research are all but sacramental. There is stuff here that cannot be found on the internet and experience here that bears witness to an inquisitive community looking for answers.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Imbs, Meyer & Fusz

My great-grandfather was born six years before the Alamo. He came to St. Louis in 1860 and founded several businesses. Here is an obit, a profile and a few pix from the archives. He died at age 92 in 1922. It is an interesting part of the family heritage - from buildings & homes torn down when the interstates rolled through to stained glass donated during construction of St. Henry's Church (now gone as well).

Deep roots and echoes of the past are part of our family Christmas celebrations and part of my travels around this storied city.

John Ferdinand Meyer at his desk/office - now that's a desk!

The building above is the one referenced as the 724 Laclede Building - thanks to Michael Allen for the tip! The pic and info are from the city of St. Louis web site.

The firm of Hatch and Miller designed the Merchants Laclede Building in 1889. The building is located at 408 Olive.
The building is of Greek Revival design, with beige granite on the first two floors and soft red sandstone and brick above. Its corner round tower with round glass is an important feature. Inside is white marble. The Newhard-Cook entrance to the building is Egyptian and is probably an addition.

The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2 States, Lewis & Clark x 2: Preservation and Energy Efficiency

Modern StL's blog did a piece on north county's Lewis & Clark Branch Library. It brings to our attention its status as a threatened landmark. As I drove home early this evening from an all-day training session on the new Illinois, state-wide, energy code at Lewis & Clark Community College in Godfrey, IL,  I pulled into the library as night was falling to take a couple of cell phone pix presented here:

I like the juxtaposition of the primary colors and rectilinear geometry with the bare trees of winter. It is a little jewel box. The Missouri side of the river is having a tough time understanding that the 'greenest' building is the one that is still standing.

On the Illinois side new codes are coming on line that will effect the entire building stock in meaningful ways.

Here is a blurb from the training promo of the event I attended today:

The Illinois Energy Office has announced its schedule for a training series for the 
Illinois construction industry. Home builders, designers, code officials and home 
performance professionals can learn about the newest energy conservation 
codes for new construction, additions and renovation projects in Illinois. 

Sessions run from 8:00AM to 4:30PM. Topics include:
 IECC 2012
 Blower Door Testing
 Duct Leakage Testing
 ASHRAE 90.1-2010
 IGCC 2012

Illinois is adopting this code in January. Missouri has nothing.

Preservation and Energy Efficiency and Sustainability should go hand in hand and things like the 2012 IECC provide some of the guidance required to do a good job of it. will take you to a few paragraphs on the code. All this technical stuff is about improving comfort and minimizing usage and this comes with some great externalized benefits in the health care and environmental realms.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sustainable Land Lab Competition

Washington University, the City of St. Louis, Old North St. Louis Restoration Group and others have organized a design competition for sustainable uses of vacant urban lots.

I am part of a team that has advanced to the 2nd round of the competition. Teams have been whittled down from 48 to 15. Here is a link to our entry.

In the next few days I'll check out the other projects and get to work on flushing out details of our plan along w/ a draft of the implementation schedule in anticipation of the next round of submissions.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Look Back to the Farm

This project is from 1980s in Oregon County, MO  - near the Arkansas border. My in-laws moved to family-owned land and hoped to rehab and remodel a turn of the century home with a gable roof into something resembling this drawing that served as their ideal.

They did a good job of restoring and rebuilding the foundation and refinishing floors in the structure which had been used as a hay barn until they began the project.

The old roof was taken down on a Friday morning. It was July and hot as hell. I drove down with wife and young son on a Friday afternoon and laid out the walls and trusses we had designed and ordered several months earlier. The next day another carpenter and a whole bunch of farm hands came around and we got to work. Outside of a pop up thundershower things went pretty smoothly and the new roof was felted in by Sunday afternoon. I came back to St. Louis and ended up in bed for a couple of days - I drank too much well water and it did not agree with me in such large quantities.

This home became a great place to visit as we added a couple of more kids to the crew and we were able to give them (and ourselves) a taste of country living over the years.

The image above is from the early afternoon on the Saturday of the 'barn raising'

The image above would have been from early the following week

Above is a view of the board and batten siding before the deck was built

And here is the house as we were able to enjoy it for many years:

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Look Back III

In the mid-1980s I was working with a guy and we landed a job in Lafayette Square. It was not a big project, but it was my first in a historic district. It is a classic Lafayette Square 3 story with a mansard on the front.

This building sits next to an unusual 2 story house and it was quite rare as it had no dormers in its mansard. The client wanted to add 2 dormers to match existing cornice details and fit into the neighborhood while bring some much needed light into the north end of the house.

At city hall, as best I can remember, I had my first encounters with deep bureaucracy. Several departments were involved in getting permits/approval for the project. I had to research the 'Cyclone of 1896' (see image below - photo credit to website linked here) and provide evidence that it was likely that dormers were a part of the original structure. There was speculation by neighbors that the 2 story had lost its third story in the 1896 storm. This is before the internet - so downtown to the library I went.

I found a book or two and some old newspaper articles that showed the damage on this block had been extensive, but as I recall, no image of this particular house. The powers that be allowed the project to move forward on the basis of the circumstantial evidence and we went to work.

I took the pictures of the finished dormers today - the paint scheme has changed but it appears to be all the material we put in 25 years ago or more.

Here is the 2 story house and the dormer-less house I worked on. I found these photos doing a bit more cleaning of my construction archives.
Here is a another view of the old mansard.

We set up scaffold, which, at the time, was a first for me. I really enjoyed it; carpentry work and a jungle gym and a decent day's pay.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Promoting Energy Efficiency Has a History

Check out these posters from back in the day:

Click on the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Main Library Preview

A video preview of our Central Library by Kevin A Roberts:

Grand Central from St. Louis Magazine on Vimeo.