Posts Tagged ‘kitchen design’

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Happily Ignoring the Open Plan

June 30, 2016
for sale

© Gaddis Architect 2016

Visual elements are important to consumers, often to the exclusion of everything else.  Does this seem like a reasonable statement to you?  “No,” you say?  “I check ‘Consumer Report,’ read reviews, make list of features, produce spread sheets comparing quality and cost.  I’m the definition of an informed buyer!”  Really?  Tell that to the car salesmen as you pass up the best deal on the lot because the color doesn’t suit.

tall room

© Gaddis Architect 2016

 There are, of course, in the world of residential architecture, multifarious examples of this behavior, most yielding irksome consequences.  Consider, for example, the unavoidable appeal created by the drama of a two story room,  the particular bane of social interaction, intimate conversation, and acoustic excellence, not to mention disappearing light, receding walls and ceilings that appear grey no matter what their actual color.

party

© Gaddis Architect 2016

Well okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit, although most of these homes are finished in drywall with nothing else to moderate the effects.

Anyone looking for verification has only to observe the behavior of party goers in such an environment.  I stopped counting the times I have found all of the guest crowded into the low ceiling kitchen, happily ignoring the open plan to avoid the soaring space.  I try to warn clients, telling them that what looks good does not always feel/function the same.  They always go for the looks anyway.

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Ever think about working with an architect? Don’t know what they do?

April 3, 2016

As an architect I find myself sometimes reluctant, especially in social situations, to tell people what I do. Sounds crazy, considering it is an honorable profession requiring lots of education, training, testing, not to mention participation in many successful designs, and further considering that I am always looking for new projects. Actually, this is an unconscious reaction that, until recently, I neither recognized nor examined, which begs the question; “why now?”

First a word about teaching: For the past couple of years I have been working to develop and refine a presentation designed to enlighten potential new clients and other interested parties on the details of architectural services performed, not only by my firm, but also design professionals in general. In the beginning the project was unashamedly self serving, done because I found that successful projects often resulted when the client had some previous experience with building. These clients were easy to please because their expectations were well defined. My practice involves working with small businesses, many of whom are startups. I thought that imparting some of this experience could prove immensely facilitating for both client and architect. This lead me look for a way to teach about what architects really do, finally resulting in a two part, two hour long power point presentation, posted on our website, Youtube and presented live in various venues. Although these efforts were naturally directed towards our specialized area of practice, there was a larger unanticipated outgrowth having to do with the pervasiveness of misconceptions about the practice of architecture in general.

The American Institute of Architects: Every year, during the first week in April,  the AIA, of which I am a member, holds a celebration of architecture.   AIA chapters all over the country offer events and activities geared towards architectural subjects of interests to the profession and public alike. In the burst of activity leading up to this event, I came across a request for local volunteer architects able to participate in an event entitled “Working with an Architect.” The event, centering on discussions about the processes and advantages of working with an architect, will consist of local architects making themselves available for free, open, informal discussions on just about any subject having to do with architecture, design, and building. At the time of this post there are ten local architects participating, and considering, my previous discussion, it is not difficult to see why I will be one of them.

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What cannot be defined, cannot be valued: I have come to the conclusion that AIA, its members, and architects in general are facing an identity crisis. One manifesting in the assumption that what cannot be identified, cannot be valued, which speaks to my original question. I sometimes dodge talking about my profession because I fear that the term architect has become and empty word, susceptible to all of the follies, misconceptions and romantic notions of popular culture. Clearly most people understand that the Guggenheim in Bilboa, Spain was designed by an architect named Frank Gehry. On the other hand, how the architect relates to the dry cleaner on the corner or their neighbor’s home addition is often a mystery. AIA, to its credit, is taking steps (beyond the scope of this discussion), toward correction, but we as individual architects bear a lot of responsibly. The profession has become increasingly complicated. In addition to design and construction of the built environment, issues of technology and business must be part of the architect’s skill set. How well these many disciplines are managed and assimilated is an indication of a successful project. And if this is the measure, most architects that I know are successful indeed, because what they contribute, how they accomplish what they do, how they practice their craft, is so essential as to completely disappear into the fabric of a project. In short the craft of architecture is successful not a little by dint of how well it dissolves into the buildings it creates. This, of course, is a very “zen” idea, having great appeal to the artistically and academically inclined, while at the same time making life difficult for the more pragmatic among us. Value is easily assigned to the finished house, barn, school, or office building. Defining how that building was actually accomplished, not so much.

What it is like to work with an architect: Architects know in multifarious detail what goes in to one of their projects, what benefit is offered, what improvement is made, how life is made easier, better. Communicating these numerous, lists, plans, sketches, drawings, products, services, consultations, consultants, research…, into some understandable format is our challenge. “Working with an Architect” is an event designed to help us meet this challenge. I am happy to participate and invite anyone interested, moderately or otherwise, to chat with an architect about their projects, their thoughts, their love of the subject, even about their favorite “starchitect.” Please join us on Sunday April 10th. A link to the event and a list of participating architects is below.  Samples of their work are in the slideshow above.

Refreshments will be served. There is no charge to attend and no reservations are necessary. Additional information may be found here: “Working with an Architect

Participating Architects:

Christine Kelly AIA, Crafted Architecture LLC
Steve Kulinski AIA, Kulinski Group Architects, PC
John Nolan AIA, Maginniss + del Ninno Architects
Rebecca Bostick AIA, Rebecca LG Bostick Architects Inc.
Laura Campbell AIA, Laura Campbell Architecture
Paul Trombley AIA, Studio 66 LLC
Randall Mars AIA, Randall Mars Architects
Eunice A. Murray, AIA, Eunice Murray Architect
Lyndl T. Joseph, AIA, Great Seal LLC
Bridget Gaddis, AIA, Gaddis Architect

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In the Interest of Moderation

October 10, 2012

1500 Square Foot House Plan, copyright © 2012 Gaddis Architect

Here, in the interest of moderation, boring though it may be, is a carefully thought out plan of a little house that meets some very big needs.  If you click on the plan, it will enlarge so you can follow the points below.

  • The main entry is into a foyer and circulation area, allowing for access to additional floors, if they are used, without the necessity of passing through the private part of the house, and allowing a home business or multifamily living arrangement.
  • The living and dining areas are exposed to the outdoors on threes sides giving ample opportunity for light, additional entries & a fireplace.
  • The galley style kitchen, including washer/dryer combination adjacent to the hallway, pantry and  counter with seating,  is open to the main living  and dining space.
  • There are two toilet rooms, one of them handicapped compliant, and a large handicapped accessible wet room with both tub and shower which is intended for use by all residents, pets included.
  • There is a single wet wall serving both kitchen and bathrooms which is a cost effective way to install plumbing.
  • The need for an office, additional sleeping space for company and part time residents, and extra storage is address by using the transition space off of the hallways on the way to the bedrooms.
  • There are two good sized bedrooms, on the same floor as the bathrooms, important for aging or handicapped residents.  Each bedroom has a good sized closet and is exposed to the outdoors on two sides for light and air circulation.
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So Bad it’s Good

August 8, 2012

A-Frame House
MLS/Web ID: 2954874

A-Frame House Interior
MLS/Web ID: 2954874

This circa 1966 Gelleresque vision is so bad it’s good.  In case you are not a history buff, Andrew  Geller was an architect and real working icon of  the mid century “age of optimism,” characterized by capitalization, industrialization, and modernization.  The “Windows of the World” complex on top of the World Trade Center was among the many projects he designed, including numerous summer houses along the East Coast.  He spent much of his career looking for inexpensive ways of providing modern conveniences to lots of people;  and he seems to have succeeded because it wasn’t long before cheap A-frames, like the one in the photo, were popping up all over the country.  These were actually considered a little ugly at the time, and probably still are.  It is  the overwhelming effect of my architectural nemesis, the point, that causes the problem.

Redemption comes along, though, in the complex and interesting interior space created by the A-frame structure.  It appears in the kitchen above and in an original Geller sketch below.  It soon becomes clear how one might both love and hate these little houses.  For myself, the most beautiful house I have ever entered was actually an A-frame, which is a story for another post.

Design Sketch by Andrew Geller

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Reporducing an amazing body of work.

July 13, 2012

Moravian Pottery & and Tile Works Museum, Doylestown, PA, USA

This is a piece of Americana from “the Mercer Mile” consisting of  three early examples of site cast concrete building.  Ironically these building were engineering innovations by American Henry Chapman Mercer who thought that industrialization was damaging American society.  The Mercer Museum, Fonthill, his home, and the Moravian Pottery & Tile Works, house collections of American turn of the century decorative arts, especially ceramics and tile work, influenced by the “Arts & Crafts” movement. I plan to make a visit soon.

I have a more compelling reason for offering this post, though.  The tile in the photo immediately caught my attention for its artistic quality, which is what lead me to examine its source.  I found that it is barely a scratch in the surface of an amazing body of work that is actually being reproduced in the still functioning tile works.  These tiles can be purchased for installation in modern building projects.  I am not one to believe in a bucket list,  but the possibility of installing some of these tiles in a yet to be designed residential project is going a long way toward changing my mind.

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Thermally Treated and Acetylated Lumber and other things architects can’t live without.

July 12, 2012

Cable Rail

I have found that many architects love lists.  I think it comes from all the years most of us have spent cranking out construction documents, which could be the mother load of all lists.  In any case, AIA  recently publish in “Residential Architect”  this very astute list of essential building products.  If you are building or remodeling a house there is a good chance that at least a few of these are going to show up in your project, and if they don’t you may want to look into why not.  My personal favorites are spray foam insulation and high performance windows.  The complete article, here, is short and worth a read for anyone thinking about building.

Thermally Treated and Acetylated Lumber
Cable Rail
Light Quartz Based Surfacing
High Performance Air Conditioning
Fiber Cement Siding
Engineered Structural Products
Low VOC Paint
Spray Foam Insulation
PolyCarbonate/Resin Panels
Energy Efficient Appliances
Tankless Water Heaters
Low Flow Plumbing Fixtures
Energy Efficient Lighting
High-Performance Windows
Radiant Heated Floors
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Escapee from the remodeler’s un-improvement.

June 14, 2012

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Is there such a thing as an “Endangered Species Act” for houses?  If so, this place should be put on it now.  How rare?  A 1950’s vintage retro house that has miraculously escaped the home remodeler’s un-improvement.  A family of 5 could move into this house “as is” and live comfortably by all of today’s standards.  Whoever buys the place might want to meet with an architect to see about returning some of the finishes to their original design.  Check out the ceiling light in the kitchen.  It has to be original.  Here are some ideas for furnishings.

House photos courtesy of Weichert.