BUILD Blog


BUILD build-out
February 26, 2009, 11:35 am
Filed under: Architecture, BUILD LLC, Seattle, Urban Architecture

It has taken us 17 months to finally finish our own office here at the Park Modern, but that gave us a little time to focus our industrious nature on the task.  Through our good buddy Chris, we were able to obtain some unused perforated metal material that was going to be scrapped from a local project.  Keeping this in mind, we employed the same tricks we use to keep our client’s budgets reasonable on our own space- finding reusable or discounted materials and finding a way to turn them into elegant compositions (in our humble opinion).

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Here’s the material breakdown:

BUILD build-out materials breakout

1. Homasote display board attached to vertical slats
2. 1½” x 2” vertical cedar slats at varying lengths
3. Track lights concealed above cedar slats: Juno T12W Trac-Master w/ T359W w/ basic mini universal heads
4. 1 1/4” x 8” cedar slats @ 6”oc (composed of laminating (2) 5/8” slats).
5. 4” deep x 1 ¼” metal flashing “champagne” to match corrugated steel soffit
6. Corrugated, perforated steel panels (off-cuts provided from nearby large project).
7. 4’ long fluorescent lights, boxed out with flashing to match soffit
8. Conference table by SPD; solid laminated Anigre top with steel base
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9. Concrete slab floor with clear sealer
10. Maple plywood cabinets with exposed edges and clear sealed
11. 4’ long fluorescent light boxed out with cedar trim
12. 6062 “Boeing” aluminum alloy, steel plate wall hanging
13. Track lights: Juno T12W Trac-Master w/ T359W w/ basic mini universal heads
14. Orange acrylic panel mounted to wall
15. Corten steel sheet panel mounted to wall
16. Cork panel wall mounted
17. 3-Form Drift Green panel wall mounted
18. Solid fir plank, clear sealed and wall mounted
19. Chalk board panel wall mounted with inset Mockett pull for chalk holder

The construction process vid

The quick cost summary looks like this (in round numbers):
free    perforated metal panels (salvaged and reused)
$350    210 lineal feet of matching edge metal (fabricated)
$225    improperly milled clear cedar material (mill unable to sell conventionally)
$1150    additional lumber, cedar, hardware and materials for ceiling assembly
$1200    additional track lighting, heads and lamps
$1250    conference table base; top was salvaged anigre laid-up by our shop, SPD
$75    homasote panels
free    6062 plate (salvaged from Boeing Surplus many years ago)
$35    acrylic panel, cut to size
$95    corten steel panel
$35    cork panel on multiply base
free    3-Form panel (salvaged)
$295     fir plank (bought from reclaimed supplier)
$85     chalk board panel
$300    general consumables

$5,095    project total

Now granted, the labor was our own.   If you factor the labor in at our normal billing rates, the $5,095 balloons up to $14,000.  This makes our office improvements a tidy $22/ square foot, everything included.  An industrious budget by an industrious group in times that call for industrious solutions.

Cheers from your friends at BUILD



The Irreplaceable Quality of the Architectural Model
February 25, 2009, 12:22 am
Filed under: Architecture, BUILD LLC

There is something about physical architectural models that digital renderings will never be able to reproduce. Don’t get us wrong, we’re no luddites; we use a variety of 2D and 3D software to explore form and to present our ideas. But for each project we design, if we don’t build a physical model there is a dimension of the exploration missing from the process. So today we’ve decided to post some of the physical models that have been produced around the studio lately. While rendering techniques come and go, the basswood and cork architectural model seems to be a timeless method of representation and exploration. These are just a few from our studio – there are some amazing examples of physical models out there, let us know about your favs.

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The Park Modern

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Bainbridge Island Residence

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Magnolia Residence

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Bainbridge Guesthouse (unbuilt)

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Medina Residence

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Whidbey Tractor House (unbuilt)



Liberated Architecture
February 15, 2009, 11:58 pm
Filed under: Architecture, Rural Architecture, Travel

Recently on a trip to South America we visited Tigre, a community about an hour north of Buenos Aires by train. Also known as the archipelago of Argentina, the area is a web of inter-connecting rivers and streams. Within the labyrinth of waterways were hundreds of homes and cabins representing the full spectrum of form, size and design philosphy. There didn’t seem to be any master-plan, development or overall scheme.  Aesthetic covenants seemed to be excluded from the community and, judging from some of the structures, it didn’t even seem like a permit process or building department was involved. It appeared to be a community of liberated architecture. Some projects were clearly built from an architect’s drawings; others could have been crafted on site without a single piece of documentation. Needless to say, we were fascinated.

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[Photo by Andrea CB]

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[Photo by Magdo-50]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by Gabriel Robledo]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by Hanneorla]

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[Photo by Hanneorla]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by BUILD LLC]

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[Photo by bdnegin]

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[Photo by Bloggingsouls]

It’s easy to imagine that an environment like this is the product of a community that solves differences through communication rather than filing lawsuits.  A population of individuals who maintain an open mind about appearances and design rather than trying to control and manipulate the built environment through review boards and covenants.  A society that designs and builds responsibly because it’s the right thing to do, not because a building department required them to do so.

The diversity of architecture and construction in Tigre was refreshing and it seems like there are some fundamental lessons to learn here about society and behavior.




Residential Construction Cost Cheat-Sheet
February 8, 2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Architecture, BUILD LLC

Here at BUILD, we pride ourselves on being industrious- we establish reasonable project costs very early in the design process with our clients and then stick to those costs till the physical construction is complete. We work diligently to maintain the budget, and when circumstances chosen by our clients or brought to us by the nature of custom construction cause impacts to that budget, we are forthright and manage those circumstances immediately. In our spirit of transparency, we’ve devised the residential construction pricing guide below- around the BUILD community we’ve been calling it the BUILD Cheat Sheet. We believe our industry has done a fantastic job of misquoting and/ or poorly enumerating what the actual construction AND overall project costs of a project are going to be. Many of us have experienced something like… “oh I didn’t know that wasn’t included in the construction costs before” or the dreaded “I read in a (fill in the blank) article that they built the (fill in the blank) for $110/ sf.” What is in that number? Who’s uncle was the electrician? Were the appliances and lighting free? Does it include the cost of the cabinets and finishes? Was it built with student or prison labor? Who verified the number anyway? So, in response to these and other pressing questions, we’re giving the guide away below for free. We hope its valuable as you’re looking at your options for the design and construction of your dream house. And if you want more of the straight scoop, feel free to contact your friends here at BUILD LLC.

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The PDF download can be found here.



Structures of the Andes: Architecture without Architects
February 5, 2009, 10:13 am
Filed under: Architecture, Industrial Architecture, Rural Architecture, Travel

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On a recent trip to South America we took the opportunity to cross the Andes Mountain range.  Los Libertadores Pass reaches an elevation of 11,483 feet and connects Argentina’s wine country, to Santiago, Chile.  The 8 hour bus trip was fascinating and we were stuck to the glass like paparazzi for most of the journey.  Of particular interest were the abandoned structures once used to protect outdated train tracks from the snow, ice and wind.  Odd as it may be, these dilapidated structures seemed to belong within this pristine environment.  There is an uncanny harmony that exists between these modest, horizontal skeletons and the dramatic backdrop of the mountains.

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No architect was involved with these structures – they’re too straight-forward and functional.  An architect would have adulterated them by over-designing them.  Ironically, despite the design efforts of architects, it is often the brutally pragmatic, utilitarian structures devised by engineers that fit in most harmoniously with nature.

In order to better communicate the scale and grandeur of these scenes, today’s photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

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[All photos by BUILD LLC]



Special Projects Division Cabinet Shop
February 2, 2009, 12:46 pm
Filed under: Architecture, BUILD LLC, Design, Seattle, Trades

We’re ready! Today marks the official launch of our new cabinet shop.  Several months ago BUILD LLC created a partnership with a master woodworker, acquired an industrial shop space and set up “Special Projects Division LLC”.  Since then we’ve knocked out a couple of sharp, modern cabinet packages and the website is ready to go public – check it out here.  Those of you on our twitter feed got a sneak peak last week.

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The cabinets are designed and constructed to be cost-effective – so that normal people can actually afford nice modern cabinets.  The packages range from single stand alone cabinets to entire house packages.

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There are a couple of  supplements on the website you should know about:

We’ve got a section of smokin-hot details that show how the cabinets are outfitted with stainless steel custom pulls, organizer drawer units, countertops, sinks and appliances.

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Our materials category includes photos of over 30 different wood species from Alder to Zebrawood.  Note to architects & designers: you can download these images for use in your 3-d modeling programs.

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The sawn lumber diagram page has straight-forward diagrams of how wood is sawn and how it looks depending on the method of cutting.

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We figured, as long as we’ve got a cabinet shop with all the cool tools, we might as well crank out some furniture too.  So we’re designing a line of furniture which includes modern benches, coffee tables, chairs, rolling bars, and shoe racks.  Stay tuned, as we’ll be revealing the designs very soon.

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In the furniture designs you’ll notice our BUILD developed joinery which uses a system of aluminum kerf plates and pegs to join a variety of woods – found only in the SPD furniture line.  We’re also developing a line of cabinets from re-used wood products which is even better and more earth-friendly than recycled products.

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So go take the tour and let us know how we’re doing.  If you or anybody you know needs cabinets or furniture – you know where to go.

Cheers



The Architecture of Significance
January 30, 2009, 9:34 am
Filed under: Architecture, Rural Architecture, Travel

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Today’s post is not so much about architecture as it is about what it takes to create a significant place.  Recently on a trip to Argentina’s wine country, we came across Casa Glebinias, a rural bed and breakfast at the foot of the Andes Mountains.  This wonder of a place is extraordinary because of the patience, thoughtfulness and intentionality that went into it.  No amount of money or architectural glamor alone could achieve this level of quality and substance.

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The main house is approached via a dirt road lined with gorgeous lush trees.  Until you actually reach the steps to the home, it’s not clear where the house ends and the landscape begins.

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This assimilation between built-form and vegetation has been a delicate 25 year process for owners Alberto and Maria Gracia.  Setting out on a labor of love, the grounds became a laboratory for exploring the harmony of form, color and aroma.  Each tree and flower has been carefully selected and placed over the years, additional cabins for their guests have been delicately worked into the setting.

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The guest houses, spread out around the grounds, are small heavy structures which shield from sunlight during the day and radiate heat throughout the night.  They are not sleek and modern yet they don’t attempt to reference design styles from the past.  The structures do not subscribe to any notion of today’s fashionable “green architecture” practices, yet they will be standing long after most homes clad with solar panels and boasting greywater tanks have been demolished.  Doors open up to veiled sitting areas carved out of the landscape.  Handwoven shades cover the windows during the hot afternoons.

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In speaking with the owners, the architect didn’t even come up.  I’m sure they have great respect for the architect, and the architecture is an important ingredient to the eventual outcome of the grounds, but this place just isn’t about the architecture.  It’s about going out each day and getting your hands dirty.  It’s about taking care of something you’re dedicated to. It’s about life and friends and plants and gardens.  It’s about cultivation and the process of life.  At the same time there is a tremendous amount for us architects to learn from situations like this.

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There is such a harmony reached by this setting that it may in fact be one of the best examples of minimalism we’ve seen.  Over time, the trees and vegetation grow and flourish until one day the house disappears in the landscape.  The house is just as functional and enjoyable as ever – it’s just become part of the environment.  Something we struggle our entire careers to create.

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Bringing some thoughts back home; there seem to be some lessons that we could greatly benefit from here in the Northwest.

Staying in one place and cultivating a sense of “home” makes for better environments. In our transient society of constantly moving up the real-estate ladder, staying in a home for 25 years must seem absurd.  But it is this dedication to place that creates significance.

Allow living things and the process of weathering to play a role.
We’re not saying that you should leave that moss growing on the north side of your cedar shingled roof, but the culmination of a home should be a process that unfolds over time in conjunction with nature.

Some of the best work never gets published because it’s too mindful.
The Casa Glebinias will never get published in an architectural book or magazine.  It’s too reasonable, to modest and too difficult to encapsulate in a sound-bite.  The architectural press often focuses on drama and fashion, leaving truly significant works by the wayside.  While publications are important, such direct correlation between publication and the success of a project seems unhealthy.

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[All photos by BUILD LLC]

If you’re planning on spending any time in the Mendoza region of Argentina we highly recommend staying at Casa Glebinias outside of Chacras de Coria.  For more information click here or drop us a line, we’d be more than happy to keep blabbering on about how wonderful it is.