Friday, November 30, 2007

OK Tray House - framing done

The framing is all done and the roofing work has actually begun now. I think we will see the builder moving to make the shell weather tight now that the framing up is all but done. Roofing will go on, house wrap, and windows installed in the lead up to the siding of the house. Above we see the front of the house with just a little work to do on the last bay window, but the roofing felt is already down which means the roofer is on site now while the carpenters are finishing up. Here is the corner of the house next to the carport. Yup, that's a Tray house if I ever saw one. The house is turning out very well and the owner is taking some great process shots. A great fish-eye view of the overlook to the living spaces from the hallway above. These photos and more are posted to their Flickr page, and we have begun mirroring them as well on our own Flickr set as well. You can also find all the photos in the LamiDesign House Plan photo pool. Here is a photo stream of all the new shots.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Austin Porch House - framing going gang-busters

When we last saw the Austin Porch House it was a formation of piers in a clearing. Today its framed up to the second floor walls and it already looks like a Porch House through and through. We have over a dozen photos from the owner of the work in progress, a few which we have posted below, and the rest on a slide show. The owners have added some additional windows to take advantage of views on their site. A careful comparison with the design images will make these easier to see, or you can simply watch the results as the house comes together. The owner has explained some of the changes to me in their email. They have made the bathroom slightly larger with space taken from the master bedroom. This will even out the size of the two bedrooms which for them is fine as their masterbedroom will be in the adjacent Plat House. They are connecting both bedrooms to the hall as well so that there will no longer be access to the one bedroom at the kitchen. You can also see at the top of the wall the sloping top plate which will allow them to gather all the rainwater at one side of the house. They say the work on the Plat House will also begin very soon, and I'll have to come up with a new title for this project! We have a new Flickr set for this house which you can see here. And the photos are also part of the LamiDesign House Plan photo pool. Here is a photo viewer for the latest project photos:

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Neutra's iconic Kaufmann House for auction - what's it to you?

A landmark historic modern home, meticulously restored, now to be sold by auction no less. It is said that pricing of the house will reflect its value as a design object in the context of its significant history and cultural value - meaning it won't be priced as real estate, calculated from its square footage and bathroom count, no more than you would price a famous painting on the quantity of canvas and gesso. "So What" you say? What's it to me, an average jane or joe who would just like an outside the average affordable modern house. I say it means a whole lot more than you think. the Kaufmann House designed by Richard Neutra, 1946, photo by Tim Street-Porter for the New York Times I'm not going to repeat the whole history of the house - its been told many times and way better than I can repeat. Start with the New York Times article on the sale, and the associated photo slide show. Its an awesome house, commissioned by Edward Kaufmann who was Frank Lloyd Wright's client for Falling Water, a fantastic award winning restoration by the current owners with architects Marmol Radziner which included the consolidation of surrounding parcels to protect the house from encroachment. This house has everything going for it as a piece of real estate. It seems unthinkable that it could be the victim of a tear-down. Don't be surprised - it has happened to other fine examples of design more recently than I care to remember. But the marketplace is not looking upon this house as real estate - its looking upon it as an object of cultural value, which derives from its design. In short THE DESIGN HAS VALUE. That is a head change for the market, and I know that this is at the elite strata of real estate, but the writing is on the wall. Design is destined to play a bigger part in the valuation of properties. The fall out from that is consumers becoming more savvy about design and demanding better product, just as we have seen in the majority of other consumer products. Less McMansions and poorly designed cookie cutter houses, and more quality designed homes which will include the world of modern homes that we are interested in here. It is inevitable that as more consumers learn about design many more will be drawn to modern design. I am not talking about the displacement of traditional houses. They may always be the main-stay of the market. But the crummy hokey poorly designed pseudo traditional crap that america has come to blindly accept as their image of home is going to increasingly come under pressure from better designed product. Savvy developers and builders will be ahead of the ball - start now during this opportunistic downturn.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

0738 Palo Alto - construction print progress

The construction prints for the 0738 Palo Alto house have been making slow but steady progress in the background while all our customers have been taking center stage with photos of their builds. But after all that is the way its supposed to be. No matter how many drawings we do, no matter how many renderings of a design we post, people always want to see a real house. For some seeing somebody else's house under construction is essential evidence of the viability of the plans, without which there is some undue risk that a house could not in fact spring from those paper sheets. Of course that notion is preposterous. It is a great benefit to be able to see that somebody else has built a given house, and that there is a photo record of construction images that you can access with your builder. It can help remove any uncertainty they may feel if they are faced with building a house that they may consider unusual. But this is an anomaly in an architects practice, that a design would be built repeatedly. Any architect must be capable of designing and documenting a house or building that has never been built before, no second chances, it must come together from the plans on the first try. They have to do that every day, as assuredly as you get up every morning, if they hope to be in business the next day. The vast majority of architects I know are very good at that. So begone any hesitancy to build a house until you see somebody else build it first. You are doing nothing but delaying your own bliss. The documentation of our house plans are very consistent and the construction of any of them should be sufficient validation that the design practices and content of any of the other designs is just as viable as the ones already built. With that in mind I'd like to report that the Palo Alto construction prints are approximately halfway done. The drawing sheets have all been laid out, except for the wall detail sheet. They require notations and dimensions for completion. The holidays usually slow the pace of work which makes an opportunity to advance our work on house plans, so we hope that shortly after the new year the prints will be complete.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

An inspiring photo blog

I got an email last week from a reader and LiveModern member who built his own house taking inspiration from the info he gathered online. I thought man - that's what its all about. A lot of effort no doubt, but he was inspired to build himself the kind of house that he envisioned his family living their life in. Now not everybody is going to have the time, where-with-all, and nerve to build out the bulk of their house themselves, or even design it. Well, that's why there are house plans. There are people whose skills, time, budget only allow a certain amount of DIY, and that's fine. What we need are the tools, whether it be info online or affordable house designs, that allow people to successfully complete a project. And the more that is done, the more likely it is that builders and developers are going to sit up and notice that there is a burgeoning market right under their noses. His note: Hi Greg, Actually we have never met and I've never emailed you before. Nonetheless I have been all through the lamidesign webpage and have read many of your posts on livemodern. The information I gathered was both very helpful and inspirational as I designed and helped build our small house in Logan, Utah. Some shots of the house are at Thanks for all you do out there! Check out his link and see his great house! Post about it here - he will be reading!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

OK Tray House - framing nearly complete

While we've been snoozing here the Oklahoma Tray house has been just booking! Never fast enough for an enthusiastic owner though. The second floor is framed up, and the roof is on. The framing looks right on and they are certainly doing the design justice - exciting to see. The owner is taking a series of fantastic panoramic photos which give you an expansive view of the framing - really the next best thing to being there. They are posted to their Flickr page, and we have begun mirroring them as well on our own Flickr set, and adding them to the LamiDesign House Plan photo pool. A great view of the back of the house - it really looks like a Tray House now! I love this house and its great to see it being executed so well. More photos after the fold. Here is a photo stream of the latest batch.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

New Mexico EcoSteel House - steel stairs

The stairs in New Mexico have been installed, and we have some pictures from the owner. When we were designing the house one thing that was common to all the variations that were considered was that they all had a prominent stair at the entry of the house. It became apparent that this stair was going to need to be an object that made a statement as it was going to be exerting its presence right where you enter the house. The stair consists of a single steel stringer with cantilevered treads and risers. Not a completely unusual configuration, but not as often configured in a U shaped stair. The undercarriage was all exposed and visible, so we did not want to see a post coming down to the floor under the landings. So our posts are actually hidden in the adjacent wall which you can still see here as the wall framing has not received drywall yet. The floor to floor height is high, so the stair needed to be quite long. And we could not have the bottom of the stair crowding the front door. So it found itself pushed back and leading up to a cantilevered landing which hangs off the second floor bridge. The steel work for this landing, and the undercarriage of the stair is all hanging out for view and it has really become a microcosm for the construction of the house - a place where you can get right up to the connections and lay your hands on them compared to the roof and floor beams that are high above your head. More photos after the fold. Included in the photos below are a couple of the alternating tread stair in the observatory manufactured by Lapeyre Stair. This allows for a steep approach to the dome space hatch while still providing a deep tread for solid footing. Remember you can see photos of the entire build on the Flickr New Mexico EcoSteel House photo set, and all the EcoSteel projects in the EcoSteel photo pool.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Re-Modern Movemenet - Dwell ascends?

I received an email today from Dwell's Publisher Michela O'Connor - oh, don't worry - I'm not a personal correspondent with her - it was a mass email. The gist is that Dwell was commenting on the passage of Conde Nast's long lived home magazine House & Garden.. That's right - after 106 years they are shuttering the magazine. It was announced yesterday completely unbeknownst to me as I'm slammed with deadlines this week, and I guess I was surprised that this was how I was finding out about it. Did you get this email today? I'll post the text below if you did not. I'm not sure how to take it? Is it simply the desire to mark a milestone? Is it as significant as they would make it to be - is this a real shift in the zeitgeist? Or just savvy marketing to make an issue of it? And perhaps a drop of gloat in there too? House & Garden had long been the 800 pound gorilla in home magazines, except maybe for Architectural Digest who was more decorator extreme, not mainstream as H&G. Are they claiming Dwell is taking its place in popular culture? I'd be thrilled to think that modern had ascended, but I also don't want to kid myself - loose the "eye of the tiger", the "want" to win - being second and trying harder, et all... What do you all think? Please, comment. 106 years is a long time to maintain relevancy and few have done it. As you already know, Conde Nast has announced that effective with the December issue, House & Garden will cease publication. Despite Conde’s very clear statement that it no longer made business sense for them to continue, much is being written in print and online about why this occurred. I thought it important to write to you about this event because I believe it signals a change in the shelter category; not good or bad just a shift that has been brewing for a few years. And, I don’t think the housing market is the culprit. While a downturn in housing is nothing to brush aside, it is not as fundamental to the change in the shelter category as the changing mindset of the consumer. Ten years ago, Dwell’s owner and founder, Lara Hedberg Deam, went through a very typical home renovation process. The only thing atypical was her desire to have her ideas expressed in a way that only modern design can. During this process she noted a lack of relevant information in existing magazines, which urged her to explore the concept of a magazine and media platform to fill the void. She felt that if modern design was to be covered in media it should have a certain rigor as well as an accessibility of thoughts and ideas. It was this experience that led to the founding of Dwell. Simply, she wanted to bring modern design to everyone and illustrate the design philosophy that she found so vital in her own endeavor. Seven years later we have successfully grown the Dwell brand on five platforms - Dwell Magazine,, Dwell on Design, Dwell Homes by Empyrean, Dwell TV- centered on our founding premise. Design has become a household word thanks to a host of influences, all of which have spurred discussion about the influence of design in every industry. Because of this movement, design professionals and their modern savvy consumer counterparts are engaged in a quest for good design; looking for ideas, inspiration, and great companies to deliver both. Dwell champions their mission, chronicles their journey, and leads them to every corner of the globe where good design can be found. Losing a worthy member of the home and design category should be a reminder that the meaning of house and home has changed in a demonstrable way. Being At Home in the Modern World is what it is all about. Warm Regards, Michela O’Connor Abrams President & Publisher

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Virginia Plat House - foundation complete

The Plat House under construction in Virginia is ready to begin framing as the foundation work is done. The site looks beautiful and we are really looking forward to seeing the house come together. Remember all the photos of this project will be posted at the Flickr set.

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