Lifestyle and Effects

Lifestyle and Effects

Situated on an eighteen-foot wide lot in Chicago’s Grand Crossing, a neighborhood notable for its rapid genesis from an open field into a dense, beautiful upper-middle-class neighborhood, this attached, narrow, masonry row house mirrored its apogee and decline. Luxurious and new at the time of the nearby Columbian Exposition, the building was four decades later chopped up into apartments during the Great Depression. A contractor recently restored its single occupancy but cut the rear of the building off from light and air. In his defense, the rear yard was not much to look at: a gravel and dirt pad. We set out to create an inside/outside space employing effects with light, color and material that would create a volume for family, community and mindfulness.

Working Model

Working Model

Here's the working model with the original idea for the table

 

View from Dining Room - Before

View from Dining Room - Before

The approach from Dining Room - After

The approach from Dining Room - After

Window with Sad Paper Curtains

Window with Sad Paper Curtains

This was the original window inside the enclosed back porch looking out to the yard, a.k.a. the dirt pad, if you can believe it.

The view out to the garden

The view out to the garden

Sustainable Architecture looks different because it performs differently. This  shot speaks volumes of the inside/outside effect in this home and entertainment space. While only 6 inches over 10 feet wide, the space is roomy yet fits like a glove. The light shelf bounces natural light deep into the space. A hopper window above the shelf assists with natural ventilation. The flooring and stone bench draw your eye from inside to outside creating a seamless space to watch the seasons unfold. We call it right sizing.

Millwork Wall

Millwork Wall

​We saved tens of thousands of dollars by specifying formaldehyde-free cabinet boxes from an online manufacturer and having the cabinet faces manufactured locally.

Window Detail

Window Detail

The window helps provide another 12" of counter space.

Fixed and Operable Light

Fixed and Operable Light

​The horizontal window opening extends the countertop in the 12" masonry wall and the vertical window is operable.

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Bench Detail

Bench Detail

​The bench passes effortlessly from inside to outside.

The South Side is Ms. Havisham

The South Side is Ms. Havisham

The ramshackle, one-story frame white enclosed porch on the right was ripped down and our addition replaced it, opening up the rear of the row house to the light and air. Note how the neighboring trees and garage are gone. If Chicago is personified by Algren as a woman with a broken nose, then the ruin that is much of the South Side is Ms. Havisham. Please keep in mind that her wedding with its grand festivities and lavish cake was scheduled for 1893.

Construction Photo

Construction Photo

Light-gauge metal framing going up. The light shelf was welded in place and braces the fame. It also bounces light deep into the room and allows for a clerestory window to be open while the terrace door is shut. "What's a terrace door?" you may ask. Shoot us an email and we are happy to explain the role and importance of a terrace door in Sustainability.

Exterior from North at Dusk

Exterior from North at Dusk

Existing and New Plans

Existing and New Plans

From left to right is displayed the existing and new construction plans for each of the floors. Note the 18 foot wide lot dimension that attests to the popularity and allure of Washington Park to the south and Drexel Boulevard to the east in 1884. Horseback riding was popular and Washington Park even had its own racetrack.

House for a Dinner Party

House for a Dinner Party

The desire to have a dinner party for more than 12 guests while being able to connect to them from the new kitchen inspired this gut rehab with an addition, new colors and materials. We gave special attention to "100 year elements" like the masonry patterns that create texture, shadow and delight and the effect of making the addition so seamless and invisible that the dinner guest would ask, "What work did you do anyway?"

Perspective from Model

Perspective from Model

We drew this perspective and created all of the drawings with a BIM or building information modeling program called BOA. It began a mile from Revit in Cambridge, Mass. in the 1990s. Once far ahead as it allowed you to work in section and change the 3-d model in real time, BOA went bankrupt along with Revit. Revit was rescued by Autodesk and the rest is history. BOA remains an elegant, powerful solids to this day.

Front Elevation before

Front Elevation before

Note the asbestos siding and the bay which is as wide as the living room behind it. The small porch deck was rotted through in spots.

Construction Photo

Construction Photo

The new spread footing for the relocated living room wall is on the left. The existing bay and the white vinyl windows were not long for this world.

Structural Axon

Structural Axon

This axon shows the complexity of the structure. The effect was to make a seamless dining space with the new structure hidden in the ceiling. Architecture, in our opinion, is partly about effects and pulling them off is the key to a successful project. The parallam, shown in the previous photograph, supports the wall and 2nd floor. It is deep enough that it sits just below the second floor electrical outlet. It creates a large, unitary dining space which fosters the client's love of cooking and giving dinner parties.

Parallam being jacked into place

Parallam being jacked into place

Parallam being jacked into place. Note the verticals of the balloon frame wall have been cut off above the second floor. The 14 inch deep beam came to rest  just below the second floor duplex wall outlets. We didn't have to move them just as our 3d model predicted. Phew!

Before and After

Before and After

Right-sizing is about making your home fit your lifestyle rather than a preconceived notion of size dictated by real estate values. Thus we only added what was necessary to the first floor to make the dinner party and entertaining possible. We could have extended the addition vertically to the second floor but this would have increased costs without any benefit to the homeowner's lifestyle.

Color Scheme Study

Color Scheme Study

The chosen one of the 10 color schemes that were proposed.

Corner View

Corner View

The copper planters are lush with vegetation. The first riser is curved and was built-up with layers of cypress.

Architecture begins when you put two bricks together

Architecture begins when you put two bricks together

The esteemed Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe taught this to his students at IIT. Alfred Caldwell, his landscape architect, inculcated this into me and my classmates. I had and have other ideas. I believe pattern, texture, color and shadow are four of the elements that create engaging, compelling design. Caldwell rejected this, but I hope you will find this effect as beautiful as we do.

Fireplace Design

Fireplace Design

Fireplace with Shelves

Fireplace with Shelves

Here's the fireplace with a similar sawtooth brick detail and new bookcases with a surround reveal detail that is one of our favorites. The color above the fireplace fades into a deep indigo as the light recedes. Most who come to the house look at this and ask the question,"What work did you have done on the house?" Everything you see is new except for the trim which was salvaged. The original space was much smaller, claustrophobically small in comparison.

Living Room looking toward Dining Room

Living Room looking toward Dining Room

The only original thing in this photo is the pair of doors looking out to a new deck. The column on the left hides a 3 1/2" round steel tube that supports the second floor and roof. You would never know that the house in its previous incarnation ended 12 inches to the right of the fireplace. We craft and make Architecture rather than merely design. The effect desired was to have a seamless space to have company for dinner. Most guests think all of this was originally was there. Figuring this out is what we do and makes it Architecture.

View from the kitchen

View from the kitchen

In place of a wall, a bar was made to connect the cook with her guests.

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Living Room Before

Living Room Before

Looking out bay window. Note how the house is flush with the bay end.

Dining Room with Seating for 10

Dining Room with Seating for 10

​The reason for this project was to create a greatly expanded dining room with seating for a minimum of 10. 

View from the Enlarged Dining Room

View from the Enlarged Dining Room

Our Summer Intern Gives the Project a Thumbs Up

Our Summer Intern Gives the Project a Thumbs Up

The photos for this project are in process and our summer intern helped up do a bit of staging. Here she is expressing her satisfaction with the project.

Color and Pattern make it Beautiful

Color and Pattern make it Beautiful

Color and pattern make it beautiful. Natural materials and plants make it sustainable. The tan bricks were leftovers from an addition to the Cook County Jail. Thus, there were a good value. The solids came from Endicott Brick in Omaha. Endicott makes beautiful bricks and this was our first time working with solids. Solids differ from pavers in that they are fired in kiln differently. Solids are fired so that the brick sides are clear whereas pavers are fired laying in stacks on their 2 1/4" sides.

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Before

Before

The piers are way out of plum and in danger of falling over. The siding is peeling off and there is a serious moisture issue in the balloon frame cavity.

After

After

Note the new brick piers and the stained cedar siding.

Plans

Plans

A master suite on the second floor was the aim of the addition, which was never built. The final design would have been more refined.

Introducing the Super Bikeway

Introducing the Super Bikeway

Now that bicycling is going legit and we cyclists are compelled by law to stop at stop signs and yield for pedestrians, there is a need to create a route for riding at high speed without having to stop. It's sort of like the Autobahn for cyclists.

What if you could travel the 16 miles downtown from Wilmette to Oglivie Station in 45 minutes at the height of rush hour?

You can on the Super Bikeway!

Carroll Avenue Terminus

Carroll Avenue Terminus

Just down the block from the Ogilvie Terminal.

Shared use is the future

Shared use is the future

Shared use is the future. It's how we make the most of what we already have. It's the key to a sustainable future.

Typical section at existing bridge

Typical section at existing bridge

Typical section at existing bridge. Wilson is illustrated.

Existing Bridge Section

Existing Bridge Section

This shows the section at the Balmoral Avenue bridge. When the bridge is replaced with a 2 slot one, am inexpensive prefabricated bike-only one can span the third slot.

The start in Wilmette

The start in Wilmette

The start in Wilmette. The Metra UP-N line is at grade at Linden Street in Wilmette.

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The Front Yard is on the Roof

The Front Yard is on the Roof

Axon from the Rear

Axon from the Rear

Axon from the Front

Axon from the Front

Note the opening for the entry that extends to the roofline and becomes a skylight.

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Conceptual Diagram of the Qualities of the Space

Conceptual Diagram of the Qualities of the Space

​This was featured in Woodbury University's 2D3D show in 2011.

Birch and Zinc Bar for Third Wave Coffee

Birch and Zinc Bar for Third Wave Coffee

 

Third Wave Coffee reveals the inherent flavor, the genius loci of the bean, accentuates the essence of a particular varietal coffee and promotes a sustainable farm-to-table ethos. Architecture is a similarly minded endeavor. Architecture extrudes the unique characteristics in your particular lifestyle and situation and expresses them with effects that delight, energize and renew just like a cup of carefully crafted small batch Coffee. Both endeavors think through every detail of the process to create something beautiful. This philosophy and approach has led to a movement around the integrity of the Coffee experience, and we believe of Architecture. Each link in the chain from the source to the end user is vital. makeArchitecture approaches your project in the same manner. Materials are meticulously specified and sourced to be sustainable and free of harmful VOCs and substances like formaldehyde. Sustainability begins at the source, and a good Architect can help you create a healthy, mindful, well-designed lifestyle. 

Working Model

Working Model

Front

Front

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Display Case with Espresso

Display Case with Espresso

The display case and espresso bar are both birch and the ​latter a niece reveal to set off the birch cap. Shelves that the owner brilliantly salvaged from an old dresser hang on the common brick wall.

Zinc Counter and Birch Edge Detail

Zinc Counter and Birch Edge Detail

The Zinc top floats above the fingered together birch.

Render of the Glass Wall Hinting at the Reading Room Behind

Render of the Glass Wall Hinting at the Reading Room Behind

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

Matthew 5:16

The Christian Science Church investigated returning their reading room to the existing masonry church building. They reached out and we created a glowing wall of the polished green edges of glass that would bring attention to the building without signage or being ostentatious. The light would be consistent with the light of God and the mission of the Christian Science church drawing believers and the unacquainted inside.

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From Parking Lot to a Place Take 1

From Parking Lot to a Place Take 1

Years ago we reviewed a book on affordable housing for Booklist magazine. The book grappled with the tension that can arise between between place and architecture. Specifically, why can non-descript architecture help form great places whereas, sometimes, great architecture falls short at placemaking?

This project captures that tension. A non-descript parking lot by day is transformed into a sustainable market at night. The idea is tap into the node that is the Fullerton L Red Line Stop.

With thousands of riders, we observed and discussed what could be done. Datasets like Yelp! are gold mines for figuring out what people want. Creating design tools that can tap into these existing datasets is what interests us. Augmenting those with our own experience and judgment is what makes Architects like Italo Calvino's Mr. Palomar.

We will keep you updated as to the status of this project.

Scheme lines the existing pathway

Scheme lines the existing pathway

Circling the wagons around the turf

Circling the wagons around the turf

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Sun Tempered by Louvers

Passive solar tuned with louvers as in the previous 200,000 sf office example.

Passive Solar plus daylighting.

A slightly different approach with clerestory windows. 

9 Story 1920s Brick-Clad Highrise

9 Story 1920s Brick-Clad Highrise

We replaced much of the parapet wall on this structure. The existing parapets were masonry only without any steel to resist tension as created by lateral forces such as wind and earthquakes. They are fairly brittle in their original design and begin to lean as the sun and wind take a toll. We saved the face brick and epoxied rebar into the concrete frame that was threaded through the new grouted CMU backup. The limestone coping was then reseated over much more generous flashing.

Nursing Home Mechanicals Challenge

Nursing Home Mechanicals Challenge

We replaced a large 100 person firm on this job and were able to successfully complete it. Originally the individual rooms were heated and cooled via a forced-air plenum that pushed air from a mechanical closet at the end of the hall into the plenum and then into the individual rooms through a louvered opening above the door. This is a classic "fire highway" and was disallowed a long time ago. The air needed to be moved inside ducts that could closed off with dampers in case of fire.  The 9'-0" floor-to-ceiling height presented a challenge as large return air ducts could not be fit into the hallway 1'-6" drop ceiling. So we specified PTAC units for the individual rooms and eliminated them. The hall still had to be mechanically ventilated and the existing drop ceiling could accommodate that. Problem solved!

2 Flat to Single family

2 Flat to Single family

We do these better than most because we make the details right. Placing the steel in the floor cavity doesn't cost much more but it makes the room a single space. It takes some skill and that's what we bring to the table. Please ask us more about this kind of project. We have done several. A contractor who claims he can do the design and the construction will likely underserve you because they do not have your best interest in mind. We do. That's the advantage that pays dividends through the years.

Steel detailing can be beautiful

Steel detailing can be beautiful

Steel detailing can be beautiful. Here's a good example of what our steel contractor colleague can do. He is an artist.

Overview

Overview

Upon visiting Mies’s landmark 1947 exhibition at MoMA, the designer Charles Eames wrote “The significant thing seems to be the way in which [Mies] has taken documents of his architecture and furniture and used them as elements in creating a space that says, ‘This is what it is all about.’” 

The exhibition Messy Mies and the Massive Middle appropriates this way of seeing and elaborates and riffs upon it. Messy Mies explores the relationship between furniture and architecture, viewer and model, effect and detail, document and design, and size and scale. 

The exhibit features three models: the Barcelona Pavilion, a 1940 design of the IIT Campus and one that Charles Eames never saw at MoMA: the Brussels Pavilion. The Brussels Pavilion is the equivalent of flyover country in Miesian architectural histories. It is also an immensely powerful work that is revealed in its fullness for the first time in Messy Mies.

Retractable, analog guides create framed views in each of the architectural models. These frames inform with commentary, illustrations and comparisons without resorting to digital means. This low-fi invitation asks much of the viewer and rewards equally or better in terms of the viewer’s effort. This experience is akin to radio rather than color TV.

Messiness conveys two meanings. The first is literal messiness. For instance, Mies’s Brussels drawings are dimensioned incorrectly. The second is ambiguity–in the confusion of the structural system of the Barcelona Pavilion–that imbues Mies’s best work with magic and élan. 

Massive expresses the Luxor-like scale of Brussels, and the Middle conveys the hybrid nature of its form, massing and detailing. Brussels also stands chronologically midway–the Middle reference–between Barcelona and the later IIT Campus, the two other models presented.

We have taken documents of Mies’s architecture and arranged and riffed on them to create Messy Mies and the Massive Middle. This is what it is about.

Stanley Tigerman at the Opening

Stanley Tigerman at the Opening

Opening night featured some special guests.

A Riff on Furniture and Architecture

A Riff on Furniture and Architecture

Here's a model of a 1940 version of the IIT Campus. It is also a riff on a cantilevered Mies table design

Brussels Pavilion of 1934

Brussels Pavilion of 1934

This design disappeared from 1934 until 1966. It was NOT available the MoMA show that Eames photographed in 1947. It is very powerful and deserves a place in the Miesian canon along with IIT and the Barcelona Pavilion.

Ways of Seeing

Ways of Seeing

Here's one of the retractable, analog guides in action.

Barca Chairs under construction

Barca Chairs under construction

High rise towers or chairs? Exploring the relationship between Architecture and Furniture is a complex, nuanced and, ultimately, a very productive endeavor.

Control layers like insulation are the part that Mies left out of his IIT  and Brussels masonry wall construction. They are "pure, unadulterated" heroic materials. more to follow...