Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 2016 Newsletter - Inaugural Edition of Outside The Box

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Monday, January 25, 2016

21st Century Drafting Dots for Trash or Bumwad

This post is for the fellow architects and designers primarily, those of us who still know how to break out a roll of "trash" and sketch up some concepts anyway.

Trash is the term we used at Ball State for tracing paper rolls.  It is a great tool for quickly sketching over a plan or drawing to quickly sketch and develop concepts.  Other common terms are bumwad, and onion skin.  It comes in white and yellow and while the yellow looks really cool I use white as I often scan these into PDFs.

For the schematic design phase of work to existing structures, I will plot a set of the as-built drawings in red (in most cases we have to field measure and create our own) and then trace over them with a black felt tip.  Then when I scan all can see the contrast between new and existing.

To hold the trace/trash in place, traditional methods are to use drafting tape, which is a lighter stick masking tape.  Cellophane tape with the end folder over to create a removable end works okay as well.  A product called Drafting Dots was more popular for holding down drawing sheets in the days of hand drafting, and I had a box of leftover ones I tried for a while to hold down tracings.  The adhesive on them was pretty intense and damaging when removed.

My accountant uses "sign here" Scotch Flags on tax forms.  I started saving them thinking I might reuse them for documents I send to others, but it eventually occurred to me that these would be perfect for holding small drawings down, and particularly the trace that goes them.  It has just enough adhesive on them to keep them in place, yet not too much to tear off any of the paper.  They also sell plain unmarked ones which I typically use.  They are available at most office supply stores.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Warped Sense of Humor

So we are architect of record for a restaurant project called “Double Gallows” in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago.  It is a small neighborhood bar type establishment, and we inherited the project from another architect to help the client get a building permit.

The interior will be an exposed structure ceiling common in many restaurants nowadays.  There is a small vestibule at the front entrance and the interior designer wanted the tile to come up to eight feet but was uncertain how to terminate it.  It was discussed to put in a drywall ceiling but we would have to rework a mechanical duct to work with the new ceiling. 

So I thought of the name – Double Gallows.  Just how far might the client want to take this concept?  I decided to find out.  I proposed to the interior designer that we put wood trim at the top of the tile, raise the height enough and have a couple of faux trap doors with hinges on either side of the opening.  Then hang two nooses from the underside of the roof deck.  

Voila…double gallows!   Okay, so they didn’t want to take the theme THAT far.

But the interior designer thought it might be cool to do the trim and drape string ropes across the underside of the roof deck to allude to the ropes.  Showing that being a smart arse can lead to unusual but creative solutions.  It also shows that enjoying The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes wasn't for naught.

Monday, December 7, 2015

A Winter Condition

The Blue Book Facebook page had a good question today: What's the coldest job site you've ever been on?  It reminded me not of the coldest site I've been on, but some of the effects doing construction in cold weather can have on a project.

We were fortunate to do a financial planner's office in the South Bend, Indiana area.  It was a new 3,800 square foot office building for two financial planners.  We had six round columns as part of the design.  Rather than create them with a column wrap, we decided to use sandblasted cast-in-place concrete columns.  Four columns were part of the main entrance vestibule and two flanked the reception counter.  We also took advantage of them to use as part of the building structure..  

Construction began in the fall of 2008, and the columns were poured into their Sonnotube forms the last week of December, and wrapped with warming blankets.   A few days later, the Lake Michigan lake effect smow machine kicked in dumping fifteen inches of snow on the area along and bringing a straight month of subzero temperatures.  The site could not be accessed until six weeks after the columns were poured.  

The contractor stripped off the cardboard forms, exposing the raised spiral rings which we planned to remove with sandblasting.  However the concrete became tempered to a point where the rings could not be blasted off.  We discussed options such as adding a skim coat of plaster to them to create a smooth surface.  In the end we decided to leave the columns as they were to keep the exposed aggregate, and used the rationale of "architectural honesty" to justify leaving the rings.

We find the rings to be fine and we're proud of the result.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Parish Center Addition

At Berneche2 Architecture we do both residential and commercial project types.  Most of our project are single-family residences (houses) but for the past two years we have been working with Queen of All Saints Parish in Michigan City, Indiana to develop a new Parish Center.  On Tuesday October 27, 2015 I presented the project to DuPage Referral Network to show an example of our non-residential work.

The initial call was that they wanted to add "a meeting room".  We visited Father Kevin and he showed us a modular classroom building that needed several repairs, and the thought was it would be more practical to do an addition versus spending $50,000 to repair a temporary structure.  So a meeting room became four classrooms, though these would now be used by church groups so Meeting Rooms was the appropriate term.

Next the thought was that a meditation chapel created in a 1999 addition was not very conducive to meditation because the school library was upstairs.  So it was decided to move that into the addition.

Finally, the existing 1965 church was designed with an undersized Narthex.  A Narthex is an entry space akin to a theater lobby, where people can meet and have fellowship before and after a service.  The Narthex for the church was more of an eleven-foot wide corridor that is not very conducive to groups.

The project has several goals:

1. The new facility will connect together a 1950 split-level school building and a 1965 church, which are 70 feet apart.  The addition main floor level will match the church.  

2. An elevator is required for accessibility.  The Americans with Disabilities Act exempts religious facilities from the need to comply as they are considered private entities.  However, other codes adopted by the state do consider churches as public facilities and therefore must comply.  It will be a two-sided elevator situated against the school and the school floor levels will extend into the elevator lobby to make the school wheelchair accessible.  

3. A two-story facility was eventually agreed upon.  The design went through two major versions.  In the first the gathering space was broken up into two parts, a large glass atrium off the main parking lot, and then a carped seating area closer to the church.  The chapel, meeting rooms, and toilet rooms were placed adjacent to the church for structural reasons.  The church committee felt strongly that the gathering space should be located right outside the church.  Concepts were developed to make this happen.  Both one and two story options were presented, the latter with intent to save cost.  While the two-story concept will cost a little more, it will take up less of the site and fewer parking spaces and outdoor areas will be lost.

4. Building codes allow churches to have minimal toilet facilities, likely anticipating that most folks are there for an hour and then leave.  For the 700-seat church there is a single men's and women's toilet.  This is inadequate for the current after hours uses, and will not be sufficient for groups meeting here.  The new facility will have two groups of toilet rooms, one on each level, and 16 new toilets/urinals will be available.

5. The four meeting rooms were designed to work as six rooms, two rooms divided into smaller rooms, as the size of the original rooms is much larger than required by most groups.  There will be two groups of rooms, one on each level, and each will be divided with operable partitions which can be opened to allow all three rooms to become one large meeting room when needed.  

6. Father Kevin truly wanted to have the glass doors between the gathering space and church to visually connect the spaces.  Originally we had these as solid doors with small windows in a three-hour fire wall to separate the two buildings.  However, this became important enough to where we will be adding a sprinkler system to the church, allowing us to eliminate the fire wall and use full glass doors.  We still need to maintain a two-hour fire wall between the school building and addition, and security of the school warrants the separation anyway.

7. One major issue being addressed are the site utilities.  When the building was constructed galvanized pipe was used for the school water supply.  The City is requiring a backflow preventer on this line as well.  There were also some utilities between buildings not documented on older drawings and some of these will have to be relocated.  The Civil engineer notified us that there is a major 

We first met with Father Kevin June 2013 to initially discuss the project.  With the initial concept we worked with their fundraising team to communicate the intent to the parishioners, which included hiring a 3d rendering company to develop a fly over animation of the project.  We were authorized to commence construction documents Spring 2015, and we are currently completing drawings and specifications to be released to bidders December 2015.  Construction is scheduled to begin June 2016 after the Parish Festival.  The construction phase is anticipated to last nine months.

It has been exhilarating, challenging, and very rewarding working on a larger project again.  I worked at a K-12 school planning firm 1995-2004 and it has been wonderful to work on a project of this scale with our own firm.  We look forward to doing many more.

Images of the progress can be seen on our Berneche2 Architecture Facebook Page.

Tim Berneche