Form, Function, and Fun – The Round Up

Falling Water Turns 75:

Even if you have virtually no interest in Architecture or Design, chances are when I mention Frank Lloyd Wright, you think of Falling Water.  Designed in 1935 for department store owner Edgar Kaufmann, this infamous home is arguably one of the most recognizable buildings of all time.  It is listed by Smithsonian as one of “43 places to see before you die“, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966, and the American Institute of Architects named the house the “best all-time work of American architecture” in 1991.

Fallingwater infographicAll that being said, even prior to completion, the building was plagued by significant structural problems. Sagging concrete cantilevers were evident immediately and inadequate damp-proofing led the former owners to nickname the famously-leaky building “rising mildew” rather than falling water.  This week the AIA launched a mini-site in honor of Falling Water’s 75th birthday and an interactive graphic that documents much of the repair and renovation required to keep this amazing structure standing.  Good stuff.

Also if you haven’t seen Cristóbal Vila’s amazing animation of the structure above – it’s worth checking out.  More info here.

Timeline Traditional Barn RedTIMELINE // Surface Materials:

In a perfect world, it’s late on Thursday night and I’m musing over my latest design problem with a sketchbook and 3 fingers of good whiskey.  Since I’m off the clock and Thursday is the new Friday, you decide not to judge me.  I come to the conclusion that a rustic accent wall is just what my most recent project needs and as I drift off to sleep, images of wood siding, red and weathered, fill my head. I dream that this magical material is readily available, is uniform enough to be friendly in the field, yet distressed enough to have some character, you know, tell a story.  The next morning after Cinderella’s bluebirds of happiness wake me, I answer a knock at my door to learn my neighbor is dismantling his barn and he wants to know if I need any old growth redwood,  It’s red and weathered, uniform enough to be friendly in the field but distressed enough to… oh you get the picture.

Timeline Cottonwood WhiteIn the real world, all that stuff happens on Thursday night, but Friday arrives with no blue birds, no neighbor with a barn, and 3 or 4 people spend the next week trying to source, preview, and price a specific quantity of reclaimed lumber.  While they’re estimating how much additional labor each candidate batch will require to clean, true, install, and finish they’re saying unflattering things about my whiskey-fueled Thursday night and wondering why I don’t specify more wallpaper.  Enter TIMELINE // Surface Materials.  Using new, sustainably harvested lumber, they color and abuse these planks so I get all the character, none of the headaches, and my co-workers might even say nice things about me.  Sure it feels a bit like cheating, but if you’re considering using a virgin wood product anyway, having a reliable source for distressed siding in a wide range of colors sure sounds like a good idea to me.

Corradi-3Corradi Outdoor Living:

Passive heating and cooling is a basic component of green construction. The orientation of a building and how it relates to the sun and its surroundings can have a dramatic impact on its overall efficiency. Unfortunately, most houses today are not designed with any awareness of, or ability to exploit, the natural pattern of the sun and the seasons.  Instead, today’s homes are essentially generic boxes, with period-themed ornament, designed to be dropped into any site, in any region, facing any direction.  As a remodeler, this can present some specific challenges, especially here in the central valley, where our summer sun can be unforgiving.  Often, our clients want us to include better outdoor space and better communication with their yards as part of their projects, but in the absence of proper orientation or existing adequate roof and shade, sometimes bringing the outdoors in can also mean bringing in unwanted thermal gain and glare.  A properly designed shade structure can go a long way in both improving outdoor space and providing protection for larger windows and doors.

Corradi-1Mass produced shade systems can lean towards the clunky, but Corradi offers a full line of handsome structures and awnings for modern residential applications.  I’m especially enamored with the  Pergotenda® – Move featured above. It’s elegant and dynamic and universal enough to be installed just about anywhere.  In a word or two… Yes please.



Ask the Expert 2022 – Matt K.

MAK's own Matt K. was featured this year as SacTown magazine's construction expert. Read an extended version of his expert advice here!

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