Archives for category: Architecture

This past August I received an email from a friend that’s the editor of Spokane Metro, a regional fashion/home/food and wine magazine. Metro has especially clean design, fills an important media niche in Spokane, and I appreciate their effort to launch a media vehicle at a time when it’s hard for print publications to get traction. Cheryl Anne wanted to feature our house in the November issue.

I mostly thought this was an idea bordering on insanity. It’s one thing to post pictures on an anonymous blog. It’s another to invite 100 or so people to check out your house on an architecture tour. But to be photographed for a magazine while still under construction? I’ll use the word once more. Insanity.

Alas, I’m a sucker for helping a friend, plus Cheryl Anne agreed that the story of how we worked hand in hand with Matt and Jesse made for an interesting angle. (Well, figuratively hand in hand. I didn’t really walk around holding hands with Jesse and Matt.) K and I agreed long ago that we would look for ways to help our builder and architect, and publication certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Flash forward to the end of September. We spent a three-day weekend finishing cabinets, touching up paint and generally getting organized to find something a photographer could shoot with a straight face. Don’t get me wrong, the house was beautiful. It wasn’t complete though. Trim was missing, there were big piles of topsoil scattered around the landscape…you get the idea.

Angela Parris met us to take photographs, full of enthusiasm and (great) attitude. She spent a couple of hours at the house, taking an approach of shooting what was there, vs. trying to stage something that wasn’t. Not a small thing in my mind.

Last week Metro hit the newsstand and the article looks fantastic. You should buy a copy. Really, support Metro. You can buy a copy at Auntie’s in downtown Spokane, or Barnes & Noble.

Yesterday Angela emailed. She put together a gallery of her favorite shots that didn’t make it into the magazine. This was very, very cool of her, and last night our family had a great time checking them out. We thought you might too, so I’ll post some over the next few days.

Angela was a lot of fun. She was game for heading out on the hiking trail to get a shot from a far. She laid down in the meadow to take pictures of me and L. And she put up with Sacha the dog, who given half a chance would have licked/slobbered on/stolen  Angela’s speedy (and I’m sure expensive) lenses. If you need a photographer, I’d give her a call.

Today…shots of the entry and one of the board-formed concrete walls. Check out the sweet depth of field and sparkly bokeh. These make me want to run out to Huppin’s and plunk down on a digital SLR and a fast lens. Sadly (for me) though it’s the photographer, not the camera, that makes a great picture.

I’d love to know what you think of Angela’s work.

Yowsa. It’s been busy around here lately. I’ve been flying (literally and figuratively) at work, L is of course back to school, gymnastics and lots of playing, and K is cranking on a bunch of fronts too. We’ve been keeping our feet to the pedals at home in an attempt to finish some big projects. So consider this an interim project report. It’ll be light on the details, but I’ll at least post a few pictures.

And speaking of pictures our trusty camera has been a bit funky lately. For some reason the images aren’t quite up to snuff and are all a bit fuzzy. Chances are the lens is coated in sawdust, like so many of our things, but put it on the list of stuff to figure out.

Patio-building. 

OK, I’ve referenced this one a bunch lately, but Jesse is just about through with his part of this project. He and Scott poured a small retaining wall on Friday which will add a really nice detail to the big courtyard. We’ll now have two levels, about 7 inches apart, separated by a step/garden bed. Awesome.

Scott at work. This is taken from our bedroom. The retaining wall will be a nice step to a lower part of the court, and breaks up the pattern a bit.

Cabinetmaking.

I’ve been cranking away on a stack of storage-related items. The shelves in the kitchen storage posts are built, finished and installed. Big exhale on this one, and we love how much this helps make the room feel finished. I still have a free-standing unit to build that replaces the wire racks we have in place temporarily, but am short a big piece of butcher block. Bummer. Soon enough though…

More shelves to the right of the refrigerator. These hold cups and glasses and most importantly, coffee making equipment.

Panel installing.

In the living room we’ve had two big voids to stare at that are filled with crap, I mean boxes of precious possessions. These are designed to have a 3/4″ thick solid panel of vertical grain fir, that I thought would look best with a 1/8″ reveal between the wood and drywall. The first one went in yesterday with one more to come. On the backside of these panels is deep storage that hold books, art supplies and electronic gadgetry, accessed from our office niche. In the soffit above the panel we’ll eventually install a similar fir panel, this one just a 1/4″ thick.

Another fir panel will eventually sit in the recess above.

Art making.

K plans to write a more detailed post at some point, but she deserves a major hat tip for her various art projects. This weekend I hung her most recent, which she’s typically humble about. I’m not though. It’s amazing. K trolled through our scrap wood pile, finding discarded pieces of fir, cedar, plywood and beech. She then arranged and painted them before installing them to a panel, which now hangs in our dining room. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but especially at night it creates a stunning effect.

Check out the shadows. In person this is quite a piece.

Matt came up with it. Jesse and I started it. I continued it. And Jesse will finish it.

What, you may ask, am I talking about? The drip cap that runs around our house. When Matt finalized the window design, he did it in a way that made the top of every window at the same level, and the bottom of every window that sits above the ground also in line.

This design element allowed an opportunity to create a deep drip edge below each window. Here’s my take on what this allows.

First, it creates a window sill, which is super functional, keeping water that might hit the windows away from the siding. And given our windy meadow, water on the windows is a reality.

Second, it adds a beefy horizontal band to an already very horizontal house. Not only does this break up the siding, but it plays to an already strong design theme. In a lot of ways our house is all about the horizontal. The site is wide. The meadow is wide. The hillside behind us is wide.

Finally, it’s a nod to other architectural styles we like. It’s a very Japanese and Craftsman detail. I really love how Matt has pulled in traditional details in a modern way. We have this in a number of other places throughout the house too. Some other time I’ll take a few pictures of these, but realistically need to wait until the finish work is underway.

Installed trim! That's the color the house will be painted too.

As hanging drywall comes to a close the house looks more and more habitable. Well, habitable if you love the smell of gypsum dust. Our dog certainly does. She loves the way it smells and tastes in fact. I think drywall has a bunch of salt in it, so Sacha goes around the house licking the floors which also makes her thirsty. So she drinks water then licks more dust.

As a result, we gave her a new nickname this weekend. Cokehead. Why? Well her nose was coated in white powder and she was frantically running around the house looking for new piles of the powdery white stuff.

I’ve posted a few new pictures below, but they don’t really do the place justice. Taping and mudding start tomorrow. Soon enough we’ll have smooth primed walls ready for us to start finish work in earnest.

I love getting to know the different styles and personalities of the subcontractors working on site. Every now and then I also hear something so funny I almost wet myself. The drywall hangers were rocking out, listening to some relaxing heavy metal blasting loud enough that they could hear it over the scream of their routers and drills.

Jesse and I were talking in the garage, where we could hear, when all of the sudden I hear one of the guys talking/yelling. Here’s the quote: “man, if I quit drinking and lost my gut I’d look like an Ethiopian!”

At the time it seemed especially funny.

On other fronts we’ve also started exterior trim ahead of the siding going up. Jesse and I are collaborating on this part of the project, with K helping out too.

This weekend I got into some compound miter action at the master bedroom. This is always tricky work, but turned out nicely. The integral window sill/drip cap angles down and at the corner also needs a 45 degree miter.

I really love the way it looks. A nice mellow trapezoid shape. Sort of.

A new addition to the wetland.

Before getting to less interesting things, above is a Mother’s Day picture for everyone. We have a seasonal pond at the top of our property that is a temporary home to two Canada Geese. Scratch that, it’s now three geese. A gosling emerged a few days ago. While this has nothing to do with construction, it has a lot to do with the house. It’s going to be pretty amazing to live there.

A lot continues to happen out on our little site. For one, our giant roof and fascia is now clad in zincalume. It’s an amazing thing. We went from a great looking plane of a roof, but sans metal, to something much more extraordinary.

You’ll see this in the pictures, but because of how our house sits on the land you see the roof quite a bit–on the approach as well as anytime you’re walking around the back of the property. Standing on the uphill side of the house is kind of crazy. The roof is just two feet (or so) off the ground, so you end up looking up what seems like a humongous runway. It’s kind of trippy.

Standing above the site, from the driveway, K loves the overall shape. It seems like a series of giant puzzle pieces. It’s really quite elegant.

The crew from BJ Roofing have a couple of more days of work. There are still a handful of flashings to install as well as caps for the corners of the fascia. And our plumber will start his vent work tomorrow, so unfortunately we’ll have four vent pipes sticking out of our pretty roof. But that’s OK, it’s better than the alternative, which is a house that smells like, well the kind of things that get deposited in the toilet.

I don’t have many recent pictures of the inside of the house. In fact it’s hard to capture how amazing the framing looks. And by the way, we’re essentially done framing. Did you catch that? Yes, we’re done framing. a HUGE milestone.

So electrical and plumbing start this week, and we should be drywalling within a couple of weeks. Nice.

Click the link below for the big version.

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.

Hey Matt: nice composition!

Driving into the site this morning I wasn’t sure I’d be able to see the house. No I’m not going blind, but we had a pretty thick blanket of fog covering the site.

On the news yesterday the weather-predictor-people predicted freezing fog for this morning. Our six-year-old daughter was very worried about this. “Oh no! How will we be able to drive through a frozen block of fog?” Funny.

I had the chance to meet with Greg Rehn, from HydroSci, this morning to talk about a couple of things related to the radiant heat system he’s beginning to install. While I was there, I also got to see Alexi’s crew lifting the last couple of roof panels into place. Trust me when I write that everyone is happy to reach this milestone.

The past few nights Matt Melcher and I have been out on site, sometimes by chance, together. From a pure entertainment perspective we’ve both  been anxious to see the final panels get installed over what will be the southside courtyard. Well, we’re there now.

Time to get excited about something else! Here are a handful of cellphone shots from a foggy morning.

Another busy weekend for me at the site for me. And for Jesse too, who spent today finishing up the third and final “Y” bracket. It took four of us to get the steel-covered glulams into place. It didn’t help that we were seven feet in the air and standing on a 16″ wide concrete wall. Good thing we took our macho pills this morning.

I think the crew is hoping to finish the roof tomorrow. They also had the membrane that will cover the roof panels delivered, and my understanding is that will go on too. It’s a big roof, but a shallow pitch and all one plane. So hopefully that helps…

Here’s a stack-o-photos. Some of the site, and some of a few details.