Archives for the month of: April, 2011

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Spokane Preservation Invitation

In 140-characters or less, tell me in 30 seconds, always-on kind of world, it bothers me that forums for thoughtful discussion seem to be on the wane.

Sure, some of us listen to Fresh Air during our commute or have a chat on a bike ride or golf course, but I always appreciate the chance to hear opposing ideas and the reasoning behind a defined point of view.

Given this, I was pretty excited to hear about two linked events happening next week centered on modern architecture.

On Wednesday, the MAC is hosting a free showing of Modern Views: A Conversation on Northwest Modern Architecture. I haven’t seen it, but the people I know who have were pretty blown away.

Modern Views: A Conversation on Northwest Modern Architecture from studio/216 on Vimeo.

Then on Thursday a round table discussion/Q&A is being held with a pretty awesome panel. Mortiz Kundig, who doesn’t get enough credit for his groundbreaking mid-century work (BTW, his son Tom has done pretty well for himself as an architect), Matt Melcher who designed our house, Steve Clark and Mark Dailey.

Go support the MAC and Spokane Preservation Advocates. See you there.

And a hat-tip to Anderson Mraz Design. Their work for Johnston Printing on its Proof! magazine issue dedicated to Spokane’s mid-century movement planted the seeds for this event.

I'm not sure what I like more. The new fascia, or the sunset reflected in the windows.

Jesse and Scott have been framing the inside of the house for almost three weeks. All things considered they’ve made impressive progress. They’re just a few walls and soffits away from finishing up, and if all goes well (famous last words!) should wrap things up in the next few days.
We’re having a good time walking around the house. The rooms are all in (save a powder and utility room) so it’s quite easy to imagine the flow, the light and the final finish details. K spends a lot of time quietly looking around, taking things in. Fun.
This morning something exciting happened though. Another milestone. Installation of the roof began.
Of course, as has been the case more than once, the weather foiled carefully laid plans. Today’s culprits were rain and wind. Again. We’ll have a metal roof via our friends at BJ Roofing and Custom Bilt. But given the 30 mph wind, this was sketchy. A 5o’ long piece of metal acts a lot like a sail evidently, so the forming truck that rolls out the metal was sent packing, and instead installation of our metal fascia began.
As an aside, BJ Roofing is one of those Spokane companies that few have heard of in town, but everyone seems to know other places. Brad Hemenway recently returned from re-roofing a Frank Lloyd Wright house in California, and he’s regularly called on to do some pretty whiz-bang copper work. Luckily he lives a few miles from our place and agreed to help us, too.
After some healthy obsession about roof color, we decided to stick with our original choice of “zincalume.” This ties in with the galvanized metal in our brackets nicely and helps keep our palate of materials consistent.  And it looks so stinking cool. My “stinking cool” is K’s “shing-shing sparkly.” Matt’s pretty thrilled with it too.
So over the next couple of weeks we’ll have a literal roof over our heads. And after watching water pour down the wood soffit we so carefully installed, this couldn’t make me more relieved.

As framing continues, sometimes it’s hard for me to keep our focus on the current work. Don’t get me wrong. The boys are doing an unbelievable job framing. It’s just that as soon as we get through one thing, I get even more excited about the next. Plus, the rooms are all nicely defined now, which leads to discussions about fun stuff like final finish details, and we’re looking forward to jumping out of our skin about the promise of next week’s metal roof installation.

I popped by the site yesterday, once again resplendent in inappropriate/non-construction clothes. I was greeted by the sound of progress–the pop-pop of pnuematic nailers–as I carefully navigated the uneven ground like a peacock on an ice-skating rink in my fancy shoes.

Jesse and Scott have been working through the kitchen and dining room framing, installing the final blocking and “pony” walls. Not only do things look great, they also look incredibly fun. Our storage soffits, for the moment anyway, look like the longest set of playground monkeybars I’ve ever seen. My dad said something to the effect of, “Wow, it looks like something they’d use to train Marines.”

In any case, it’s all very cool and exciting. And suddenly, it’s much easier to envision the dance of drywall, plywood, and light that we’ve been working towards for so many months.

The last few days have seen some pretty extreme weather. Sunny skies. No wait, hail. No wait, sun. Look, a blizzard! So when I came to visit yesterday within about 15 minutes we had a good half-inch of snow on the roof. Until it all melted 10 minutes later. So here’s the deal. A 5,000 s.f. roof with a bunch of snow, which suddenly melts.

This is a less-than-perfect video, but Scott and I went running out to the entry court to quite a site. We of course don’t have our gutters installed yet, so had the chance to witness a pretty stunning waterfall/water feature. And yes, we’re thinking about how to create some kind of cool aqueduct thing to make this a regular occurence. Maybe.

Way back when I wrote about our floorplan. See below, but in the public part of the house–dining, living, kitchen–rooms are defined by a series of storage posts. Essentially each room will have four 30″ x 30″ pillars that house cabinetry. These help create the rooms, as well as add functional storage. And storage, I hear, is a good thing.

There are a couple of other interesting things that happen as a result of these posts. First, they help create long hallways with beautiful site lines through the house. Also, the posts create a platform for even more storage–housed above the posts on the south side of the house. We’ve been calling these aptly-named storage soffits and plan to build some pretty slick cabinets accessed by a library ladder.

Click for the big view.

Today Jesse and Scott started framing the living room, kitchen and dining room. They made it through the first three storage posts, and I think tomorrow will work back towards the bedrooms.

We’re pretty freaking excited to see this start to come together. By early next week we should have a pretty defined space to walk through. Fun.

Look, a hallway!

It’s been a week since my last post. While I haven’t logged much computer time, we’ve been busy out on site, and have the progress to prove it.

While I’ve been off of work for the past month playing construction guy, that changed today and it was back to a warm office. To call the change a shock to the system would be an understatement. Even getting dressed this morning was weird. I put on my suit pants and the only thing I could think of is how flimsy they were.

But I digress. Again. The house looks…well it’s hard to describe how amazing it looks. The soffit is complete, the interior framing is well underway, we’re about halfway through staining/sealing the many exterior glulams and my father continues to crank away at our cabinets, among other things.

The interior framing is transforming our space in pretty fundamental ways. Suddenly the long site lines are apparent. Rooms now have scale. And the air is littered with the phrase “damn, that looks cool.” Even cooler? The next few days promise even more transformation.

Bit of a photo dump below, so I’ll let the captions tell the story.


A must for any job site: sketches of design options on the side of the house.

We’ve been working hard. The past week has been marked by great progress though. Whenever we’re working on something big there’s an opportunity for project fatigue to set in.

The soffit is a good example of this. After five or six days of non-stop work, holding heavy plywood and finishing nailers above our heads, the idea of being finished and moving on to something new becomes more appealing.

Last week we made it through a number of big things. Windows? Installed–even the 500 pound monster that just about killed us. Soffit? Complete tomorrow. Support brackets? Installed (well, mostly anyway).

So now it’s on to interior framing (for Jesse and Scott), and installing exterior trim and building a few more cabinets (for my father and me).

What’s up with window trim? Could there be more options to consider, weigh, obsess about and debate? Matt said to K the other day that he can tell how much thought went into a house by how the trim is detailed. If this is the case, we’ll have the most thoughtful house ever.