Thursday, October 27, 2011

some time in alabama

I just returned from a few days visiting my parents. Sadly, my blog photographer could not accompany me on this trip, so you will have to endure my random assortment of images as I try to piece together some sort of summary.

Leaving La Guardia. Apparently terrorism comes in all sorts of packaging.

My parents recently enclosed their garage to turn it into my dad's "pool room". He doesn't even own a pool table yet, so it's a slow work in progress. I'm currently working on a design scheme for the room and will share it here once it is presentable. My parents ultimately won't heed my advice but at least they can't complain that I never "design" anything for them.

Craft project! I love how easy it is to run outside and spray paint something when you have a yard. My craft space is limited here in the city. The only options are the sidewalk or roof (or risk asphyxiation in my apartment). My mom is sending the finished product in the mail. Photos soon!

Spending some time at the barn (which I admit I generally try to avoid) with Annie and my mom's growing cactus army.

Auburn display at Hobby Lobby. I miss seeing those beautiful AUs plastered everywhere. I had to recondition myself to not scream War Eagle at every person I saw wearing an Auburn t-shirt. 

Sigh. The required trip to Chick-fil-a. I miss it already.

I had lunch with my high school friend, Ashlea, one day and she showed me around the new (I mean, just been built kind of new) house that she, her husband, and two little boys are about to move into.

So grown up!  


Mmmmm. Yummy dinner at Mellow Mushroom with the folks. Not that I've spent too many of my drinking years in Huntsville, but I don't feel like too many places (except Mellow Mushroom) try to support local breweries. So whenever we go, I try to get some Alabama-centric beer. This time, my dad and I both tried the Yellowhammer IPA. Very good!

My mom's main event for the weekend was the Parade of Homes in Huntsville. A couple weekends a year, developers and real estate agents hold open houses all over the county of fancy houses that are currently for sale. It's fun to wander around and see what's out there. We especially liked seeing the houses that were staged with furniture and art. Always looking for decorating tips! They need to do this in NYC!

Then before I knew it I was back on a plane to New York. Somehow I managed to snag the only window seat without a window! Then I was too embarrassed to ask to change. Sigh. However, Kurt would be proud of me for invading the row behind me to get a shot of the incredible sunset from thousands of feet in the air. 

Thanks for the great visit, Mom and Dad! See you at Christmas! Save some of that warm weather for me :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

recent work

I haven't done a work update recently, so I wanted to show the two main projects I have been involved with.

A few months ago, I took a drive up to Washington, Connecticut with my boss and fellow coworker. It was such a gorgeous day to visit the lake house site. I can hardly believe it was considered work.

Besides the site being incredibly steep, there are many other limitations on the house, including the Connecticut DOT, zoning regulations, and wetlands control. Luckily, we had a fabulous summer intern who built us several models to figure out what the heck we wanted to do and helped us explain it to the DOT.

The house is practically right on the lake and it is gorgeous.

This is the current house that we plan on completely tearing down. Our clients are amazing. They have gobs and gobs of money (as you will see later) and are willing to do something really interesting and modern.

After our meeting with the DOT, the clients' lawyer offered to show us the other house the family is building in town. Keep in mind, they also have several properties in NYC.

While the lake house will be more of a short term, vacation spot, this house will be a more permanent residence. Sadly, the family used a different architect for this complex of buildings (it really is much more than just a house). 

The house is like a huge castle. Several auxiliary buildings house a garage and squash courts. Somewhere on the site is a tennis court/hockey rink. 

There is an expansive wine cellar in the basement.

Pool and spa area.

The house is located on over 300 acres that also include barns and fields. When our clients purchased the land, it was the largest sum of money paid for a parcel of land in the county EVER (love how I'm up on the gossip? The lawyer was quite a Chatty Cathy). Either one or both sets of parents have houses on the land. They also plan on starting a vineyard.

Our client also owns this cafe in the small town. Obviously it's more for fun than a livelihood. Not to say it wasn't good food. We had lunch there and it was quite delicious :) 

We're still figuring out logistical issues with the lawyer but hope to get moving on the design stages with this project soon. It's going to be very different from the work we typically do and should be exciting! I'll post updates as it goes along.

This project back in NYC has been taking up 95% of my time recently. It is a gut (in all senses of the word) renovation of an entire townhouse in the Upper West Side. Our clients are lovely (how did I get so lucky?) and our contractor is amazing. It hasn't been an easy process but I am learning tons.

When we first started, the house had tons of ornate detailing.

And a couple lovely bathrooms. Anyone in need of a pink toilet?

Or a mint green sink?

Once we really got working on the design for the house, we realized it was in some serious structural trouble and everything had to come out. I mean every finish, wall, floor, and joist. 

Then we realized that part of the foundation and soil underneath were bad. We have to stabilize the ground by driving steel tubes into the soil and then repour a good portion of the foundation. Because of the unsteady soil, one large masonry wall also has to be entirely rebuilt. Our clients have been such rockstars through the entire process. It's been a challenge for everyone but they have remained laid back and pleasant, signing checks with smiles :)

Speaking of rebuilding walls, the rear wall of the house was being changed so much, we decided to rebuild it completely.

It's exciting and scary at the same time to see an entire wall of a building come down. We make weekly site meetings and I am always surprised how much progress is made in that time. If all our structural woes weren't enough to worry about, the house happens to be sandwiched between two of the most ornery neighbors of all time. We are constantly trying to keep them happy and avoid getting sued or slowing down the project.

Sorry there are no pretty, glamour shots. I guess demo isn't that exciting for most people. I will be happy (and more relieved) when the tearing down process is complete and we start building back up. That's when the fun begins!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

twa terminal

Last weekend, the days seemed to be bursting at the seams with events. Besides football watching and cooking competitions, I also wanted to check out some Open House New York tours. I wish I could have fit more sites in, but I'm glad we were able to make the trek out the JFK to see the TWA Flight Center.

It's typically closed to the public since it has fallen out of use. However, during OHNY, like many architectural sites around the city, it was open for people to wander around. Architects from Beyer Blinder Belle were also on hand to explain the extent of the current renovation. 

I love these details!

Seth and Krista, new friends in the neighborhood!

Despite the distance to JFK and $10 Air Train, the building was packed! You could tell the majority of the visitors were architects who had some sort of deluxe camera. I don't blame them. The building was really awesome! Eero Saarinen knew what he was doing :) I'm soooo glad we fit it into the weekend's busy schedule!

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