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office as art gallery

popup galleryWe had the first popup art install in the office during ArtSpan‘s Mission district open studios – the first of many to come in an ongoing rotation. The goal is to cross-pollinate with other creators in a design-meets-design venue. In general, to meet cool artists, provide them space to show their work and see their work on our wall! It’s a 30′ wide x 12’ high wall…otherwise blank…so it makes sense to use as the backdrop. What to call the popup…hmmm 12×30? There seem to be a lot of something x something galleries already….artist in windowwindowGimena Macri is an artist new to San Francisco from Argentina.  Her show ‘Anonymous Builders’ explores various early types of shelters indigenous to California. Having only met her a little over a month ago we thought this was a perfect subject with its relation to what we do in our office: residential design. (this being the first, was an excellent excuse to give the office a deep clean and transform it into something neutral for the art to be highlighted in.)teepeeanonymous buildersmacriWe had a little opening event, and the art will be in the office through the end of November. Typically available by appointment only but if anyone is walking by, feel free to drop in if we are in! 485 14th St SF CA. art openingopening

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a man i never met (grandparents, part 1)

 

grandfatherMy grandfather was a carpenter, and many of his now-vintage tools are still stocked away in my parents’ garage.  I dug through them last winter and photographed some – see them here.  The man passed away in 1973, and although I didn’t meet him I have to wonder what traits were passed down – general interest in design / carpentry / furniture? Gardener, witty and a had a sweet tooth? He made his living doing odd-jobs of cabinetry, furniture, some larger framed projects over the years.  His name was as big as the figure he appears to be in the photo – Theodore Roosevelt McElroy – born just after the president left office. old chiselsThese old family tools of the trade deserve a spotlight in a time when there is a renewed interest in makers, things handhewn, made in America. I find them inspiring and a reminder to continue to DO stuff with my hands. (I’m using my hands to blog, right now)  Among the items are a number of hand-made wooden toolboxes, many of them long to accommodate longer saws. Now one of them has a horseshoe in it… wood toolboxold toolboxtoolboxI can imagine these time-worn antiques being snatched up by homemakers and designers, hung on walls and stuffed with succulents or tchotchkes. I just gave myself a good idea! (we recently installed old tools / toolboxes in the office windows – post coming soon)drill bitschiselsHe even made the boxes that the drill bits and chisels would be stored in.  I wonder if he had to use the bits to … store the bits? wood rulerI’ve seen some of these things pop up in clothing store displays such as the wood folding ruler.  Because if you buy that flannel shirt you’ll feel capable of swinging an axe : ) wood sawNice carved saw handles…straight edgecoping sawI photographed everything on the concrete floor of my parents’ garage in December…freezing.old house 2One of his projects was to convert a former barn into this cozy home for his own family of 6. (Dad tells us how he had to help excavate the basement, with shovels – or was it spoons?) house additionThe garage and a bedroom were added later.  We spent many holidays here over the years. It really was an ode to Americana. Note the M on the chimney. corkscrewOk not everything here was used for carpentry but it’s some cool stuff. craftsman viceHere are some old photos of him again below, looking both casual and dapper. He’s standing in front of a fieldstone barbecue he built. I like to think there’s some of that woodworking/make/do/stuff of him in me, even if it’s currently manifested as architecture with occasional weekend forays into dead furniture revivals…and yes, I have a few sweet tooths. theodorerooseveltvintage toolbox

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Architizer mention

Our panel discussion about small firm collaboration at AIA SF on August 29 was covered by the folks over at Architizer. Thanks for documenting the topic, and rehashing it as a glowing article – great job, Lamar! 

Happy to see that the page has over 12,000 views so far… 

Read the article here

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wine country retreat

old sidingThis soggy little home has squatted above a creek in Napa’s countryside for about 50 years.  It was once 2 mirror-image units, then combined into one with an awkwardly large kitchen.  My clients converted it back to 2 units, one for their own use, one for a rental.  Here is how it looked just as the remodel was completed:red doorsThe plans below show the before/after layout. The owners wanted  to achieve an open plan and 2 bedrooms in their half.   ModelHere are some ‘before’ photos – the beam in the kitchen shows where the 2 units used to be divided:two kitchenswood panelingWhat’s a fixer-upper without wood paneling?! As we came up with a few schematic plans, I couldn’t resist the pitched roof and empty attic above the flat ceilings: california framingWhy not take advantage of this?  Of course it would have to be re-framed; its 2×4 rafters at 30″ on center with only a thin plate at the ridge wouldn’t span the width of the building…sketchup modelThe idea was to vault the full width of the house at one end over a ‘great room’ with flat ceilings everywhere else. stud framingwood framingWhat a difference to see it opened up. . my client really wanted to keep the wood planks exposed but it would be a more complicated rebuild than they wanted to embark on.  So the new framing dropped below the old 2x4s. Below is the new framing and where the vaulted ceiling meets the flat ceiling, so there would still be an attic over most of the building.  vaulted ceilingBelow, the house just after completion:vaulted ceilingThis is the vaulted-ceiling great room. I pushed for windows above the doors, but the owners didn’t want neighbors looking down into the room…vaulted ceilingThe 8′ tall doors show where the flat ceiling used to be, now room soars to 13′ at the ridge beam.  butcher block countertopSmart decisions such as butcher-block counters were selected without blowing the budget. Below, another before/after angle—->existing frontFront of house repainted - looking good!The color palette instantly launches the house into modern day although it’s the original wood siding. New dark aluminum-clad windows add to the depth of the house.  The small stoop grew into a patio that will have an overhead trellis for shade and privacy.  I’ve been invited and can’t wait to spend an evening there!

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on the boards

I’m pretty jazzed about projects in the office right now – here are two favorites:

1. a FARMHOUSE …. this is really getting at my roots, reminds me of home and I’m so excited for it (see a Pinterest board) ok well it doesn’t exactly look farmhousey right now but it’s in a rural area of Sonoma County and we’re damn well gonna make it that way!  see below for early design renderings – here’s the front existing and proposed: farmhouse before1farmhouse after1The existing house and outbuildings form a cluster of vernacular shapes and styles, having been built over time. We’re playing off that ensemble idea and the addition will look like another piece to the farm puzzle.  farmhouse before2farmhouse after2around back we’re extending the hipped roof (yech) to form a tall gable that will be a vaulted living space with big views out to the lawn and trees beyond.

2. a coffee kiosk in San Francisco – to be squeezed into an existing wedge-shaped lot in and area that really needs coffee, because let’s face it no one is happy until every urban crevice has coffee access, right?  this fun little gem will be simple and utilitarian materials that can take a beating but look good while doing it.  here’s a sketch of the side:Model

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our office windows

one day soon I’ll write about the office and how it’s evolved from a stark shell to a messy center for design, including pictures!  for now check out this great post from neighborhood passerby Jennifer Davidson. thank you for the write-up!

 

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variation on a remodel

monarch butterfly top sideI spend my days designing new spaces and collaborating with inspiring people but here’s a transformation I didn’t have much to do with – but enjoyed just as much.  All I did was give this guy a free flight from NY-SF and a 3,000mi head-start on his brothers and sisters.  Here we have a monarch butterfly, common throughout North America and my parents’ yard in upstate NY. My inner science geek likes to watch the several-week process from caterpillar to butterfly, which goes like this: monarch caterpillarThis is the milk-weed chomping caterpillar that starts out as a dot-sized egg. Milkweed is poisonous / harmful to most animals so the butterfly and caterpillar have no (few?) predators.  It takes about 2 weeks from egg to this stage. Looks like he’s hanging out on my cutting board… monarch chrysalisIn a blink-0f-an-eye moment, the caterpillar sheds its skin and morphs into this creepy yet beautiful green chrysalis with gold trim. This is sci-fi in real life! It resides here for another 2 weeks or so, rearranging itself. Since ours was living in a jar and had no branches/leaves to hang from, we provided popsicle sticks. monarch chrysalis darkToward the end of its dormancy you can start to see the wing colors through the shell.  hatching monarchWhen it first pops out it’s all body and barely any wing, so it pumps the wings up as it hangs.  This happened on the day of AIA SF annual Home Tours and we caught it hatching just in time. monarch hatchingIt hangs like this for a few hours until its wings seem stable enough to start flapping.  Then of course I reach in and grab it for a photo-shoot. monarch butterfly bottom sideIt normally keeps the wings closed so the pale underside is visible, and I took about 40 photos of the second it opened its wings, but most were blurry. The pale colors blend in with the trees that it winters in. monarch walkingIt’s friendly enough to crawl around and hang out until it’s ready to fly away : ) monarch maleFinally a clear shot! Here he is seconds before takeoff, into the San Francisco September sun. Monarchs from east of the Rockies fly south for the winter to Mexico, while those from west of the Rockies fly to Pacific Grove, CA (“Butterfly Town, USA”) and areas nearby.  Knowing this, my mother and I worried that this eastern guy would fly southwest from SF out into the Pacific, thinking it was headed for Mexico! But I asked a butterfly expert (fellow geek) at the Pacific Grove preserve who confirmed that in fact the butterflies’ radar just resets and it will head to the closest spot.  I’ve read that their numbers have diminished from disappearing forests to over-winter in…sad.  I hope he made it, I hope he mated, and I hope they remain part of our gardens forever. This butterfly might just inspire my next roof design…

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