Here is a bit of insight into our inspirations outside architecture. Below are a few photos from my weekend running adventure in the Grand Canyon, early May, 2013. Having been to Grand Canyon National Park three times in the past, I didn’t think I would be as impressed with its spectacle but my mind changed when Jenn Pattee, Alex Ho and I arrived at the South Rim at sunset on Friday after a 12 hour drive from San Francisco. We looked at our route laid out before us. I marked up the first photo to show the route as we saw it. It’s a bit grainy since the sun was setting. Both Jenn and Alex are experienced runners who have completed numerous ultra-marathons in the past and they are personal trainers here in San Francisco. I hooked up with them when I became a client with Basic Training SF.
What exactly is Mid-Century Modern?
It generally describes a period of style immediately following World War Two that influenced American product design and architecture for a generation. This period had its origins in the 1930s and spanned well into the 1960s. Think of the work of Charles and Ray Eames for furniture design as a good example of the style. Their pieces are utilitarian, functional and were created from readily available materials. Here in the Bay Area, we think of Eichler Homes, Joseph Eichler’s modern 1950′s tract housing developments which made the modern style more affordable.
We present here a recently completed project
for a couple and their dog who live in a house built in the 1950s and whose “Mid-Century Modern” aesthetic comes across instantly. The house and the aesthetic suits this couple- they appreciated the details and the design of the original. They also have a collection of furniture from the era. It was immediately apparent that they loved their house and wanted to preserve some of the more successful features of the original design. We agreed the main goal of this project would be to keep the Mid-Century Modern aesthetic but update and freshen it. The resulting project comes from this really great collaboration.
Construction Administration is one of the services we offer.
As we are contracted to be agent of the owner, we use our intimate knowledge of the project, our vision, and our trained eyes to help the contractor solve inevitable problems that arise during construction. A very thorough set of drawings identifies main issues and communicates the intent of the design, but no single set of plans can ever cover everything because construction is a very complicated thing. Owners sometimes think money can be saved by leaving the architect on the sidelines when its time to start construction. We beg to differ: kick-off is a crucial time. There is potential for the vision to get lost when all the actors try to do the “shared vision” thing. It is the Architect that knows the project best and is most familiar with the drawings and the vision. Challenges spring up during all portions of a project, not just in the early stages, and we strongly believe the act of design is present and necessary throughout the process, including construction. It is a common occurrence that during a site visit we find opportunities to improve or extend the design in a way that was not apparent during the drawing phase. Why is this? It is because during a site visit we are using all of our senses, sight, smell, and touch to take in information and we are seeing the project in reality. All of this translates into the design, and obstacles are overcome. If it is important to have your project run smoothly and to have a team approach to solving problems along the way, keep your architect on board for this phase.
It’s always satisfying when, nearing the end of a remodel project, the client adds a fun mini project to finish off the experience. In this case we were asked to design a new rectangular dining table that would integrate into a dining room that contained both old and new cabinetry and would be used on a daily basis. We subsequently nick-named the table “Coda”
When an opportunity to check on its progress came up two days after Christmas we jumped on it. It turns out it just needs a final sanding then a clear coat and it will be ready for delivery. We were so excited we thought we’d share a preview photo. Look for a final update photo soon!
As for the design, we’ve been exploring the use of plywood in our cabinetry and furniture for a while and this table ended up being a hybrid of expressed plywood and solid wood. The legs are constructed of 2 layers of 15 ply maple veneered plywood (Europly) and the top is made from solid planks of American Walnut selected by the clients. We think the mix of the exposed plies of the plywood and the walnut results in a modern casual elegance that suits the rest of the remodel, more info on this coming soon.
The holiday season is always a reason to have a deadline. This year we are hosting guests. We needed to make our house more comfortable, and we knew we did not have enough seating for everyone, so we focused on building chairs.
One reason we felt we could meet this deadline is that over the years, we’ve created a stock pile of scrap material (mostly wood) from various projects and we now had a lot to work with. The available materials stimulated our imagination and helped us form the concept for a design. Plus, we are always looking for ways to use recycle scrap wood and keep our woodshop/garage clean. This double duty task of recycling wood and getting new seating made for a very satisfying project.
First, we took an inventory and identified the wood we wanted to use. We did not know how many chairs we could get but we knew we had enough to start the project. We then built a prototype out of scrap plywood. We sat on it to get a feel for what dimensions to use and to see how low or high to make it. There was also the matter of testing it for comfort. Once the design was ‘mocked up’ and we decided what to change, we built the first chair and then a second. We hoped to have a total of four, but we ran out of material. Nevertheless, we are happy with the results; these chairs are very sturdy and comfortable and will be useful for a long time.