Near my desk I display a small collection of found natural objects from places that inspire me. These objects include a small piece of white marble, a bit of basalt, a stick bleached from the sun and redwood bark ground smooth by the waves. I also have a quote by Rudolph Schindler, an early California modernist architect I admire: Schindler describes one of his projects as fulfilling: “the basic requirements for a camper’s shelter: a protected back, an open front, a fireplace, and a roof.”
Though many of Feldman Architecture’s projects are by necessity more complex than that, I’ve found that the most successful spaces we create have the simplicity in forms, materials and details found in a “camper’s shelter”. To me this nature-inspired minimalism facilitates an appreciation for both the built and the natural world.
In 1943 Herbert and Katherine Jacobs, of Madison, Wisconsin, commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to design a home for them for the second time. The first they had built in 1936, the design that became known as “Usonian I” (or Jacobs I), a home that featured low cost construction, an open interior plan, floor-to-ceiling living room glass, and a slab floor, as well as the first adaptation in the United States of radiant floor heating. Today’s home styles owe much to this original concept.
‘Tis the season for final exams and design reviews, and in this spirit, we’ve collected a list of favorite books from studies past and present. Anyone who enjoys reading about the built and natural environment would enjoy them.
At Home, by Bill Bryson
Matt thinks this book is brilliant! It’s a history of domestic life over the last 150 years; if you’ve ever wondered how incredibly difficult life was for us before electricity, dining rooms, silverware, grocery stores, and even indoor plumbing, read this book. Next time you flush the toilet or open the refrigerator for a snack, you’ll think about just how ‘easy’ home life is here in the 21st century. Enjoy!
Glen Murcutt, by Francoise Fromonot
Elaine loves how well Murcutt integrates basic environmental factors (like light, heat, water) into his architecture. This book provides detailed drawings, capturing how he translates those basic elements into architecture.
Learning from Las Vegas, by Venturi, Scott Brown & Izenour
Even if you are not a disciple of Post-Modern art and architecture, the thesis of Learning from Las Vegas breaks down the distinctions between high and low. Hannah enjoys this book’s wit and humor as the authors demonstrate how much we can learn from what has been traditionally deemed “low”. And what’s not to love about a decorated duck?
Masters of Light, by Henry Plummer
Bridgett finds this book both visually and intellectually inspiring, as it looks at changing thoughts on light across disciplines and at case studies of architecture that are composed of light and shadow.
In Praise of Shadows, by Jun’ichiro Tanizaki
Although we do still prefer our cleanly toilets, we are all inspired to “immerse ourselves in the darkness and discoverits own particular beauty…”
Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, by Leonard Koren
Modernism is cool, wabi-sabi is warm.Modernism romanticizes technology, wabi-sabi romanticizes nature.
Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.
It is a beauty of things modest and humble.
The Eyes of the Skin, by Juhani Pallasmaa
“The body knows and remembers. Architectural meaning derives from archaic responses and reactions remembered by the body and the senses.”
The Poetics of Space, by Gaston Bachelard”
When the intellectual realm, the realm of ideas, is in balance with the experiential realm, the realm of phenomena, form is animated with meaning. In this balance, architecture has both intellectual and physical intensity, with the potential to touch mind, eye, and soul.”
Thinking Architecture, by Peter Zumthor
“Associative, wild, free, ordered and systematic thinking in images, in architectural, spatial, colorful and sensuous pictures – that is my favorite definition of design.”
The Tao of Architecture, by Amos Ih Tiao Chang
This is a light read that Tai found to be a good counterpoint to the more cerebral texts required in his university days, when he was more interested in phenomenology than highly theoretical studies in architecture.
Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino
Informal, by Cecil Balmond
The Death and Life of Great American Cities, by Jane Jacobs
A must read for several of us in the office and for those who love the city. Jane Jacobs brought to life the concept of the “eyes on the street” which can be seen in action in amazing, transformative programs throughout the US, including Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone.
The Bullitt Center, the Miller Hull Partnership, Seattle
41 years ago Denis Hayes, a young activist with a vision for a post-carbon energy future, organized the first Earth Day. That day of celebration and teach-ins was my first realization of how the resource flows through buildings impact the land, air and water.
We’ve had a busy summer/early fall at Feldman Architecture, and would like to share with you some of the highlights.
This spring and summer, we completed and photographed several projects. See the Mill Valley Cabins and the Marin Bungalow on our website. More to follow soon.
Several projects have received notable attention from the press and peers. In September, Old Bernal House was included on the AIA San Francisco Architecture + The City Home Tours. This month, Caterpillar House was one of three homes on tour during the AIACC Monterey Conference. Caterpillar also won both the EcoHome Grand Award for Design, was featured on the cover ofEcoHome in the July/August issue and took the Grand Award for Custom Homes under 3000sf from Builder magazine. The Sea Cliff Renovation took the distinction of Best Kitchen from Remodeling magazine.
In news from the FA staff, we have two new employees on board, Kevin Barden, who joins us from Olson Kundig in Seattle, WA and Christopher Kurrle, formerly of Bernardo Urquieta’s office. The staff has been busy extending the family with Camille marrying Brandon Barker at The Sea Ranch with many FA employees in attendance….
And the same weekend, Elaine became a new mom to baby girl, Carina Greenburg, who arrived Oct. 3rd.
Finally, if you would like to subscribe to our new RSS feed to receive email updates and links to our blog and publications, please visit our website and look for the link in the lower right corner.
Wishing you all the best,
The Team at Feldman Architecture
145-151 Laurel St.
Northern Liberties, Philadelphia
The first LEED for Homes Platinum duplex residences
in the U.S.A.
This eight unit residential project explores the highly efficient and architecturally latent potentials hidden within the traditional form of the Philadelphia “Row” home. The vertical rhythm, regularity yet diversity of this most prevalent residential urban typology was the primary source of inspiration for this experiment. (more…)
LOST IN THE SHADOWS
For me, using LEDs as task lighting is still a developing technology. I am very happy with the lumen output that we are starting to see now, along with the color quality. I personally lean towards a warmer color tone that is close to that of incandescent (2700° Kelvin), but many others do prefer the slightly cooler color temperature like that of halogen (3000° Kelvin). Still others that are doing fine detail work, such as jewelry making, like to have a color temperature close to that of daylight (5000° Kelvin).
Where I am seeing room for improvement is how to deal with the creation of multiple shadowing when more than one LED source is used in a task light. Those fixtures on the market with a single source LED act like a single source incandescent or fluorescent. One source equals one shadow, which is what we have all grown up with what we are used to seeing. But a single source LED may not provide enough illumination for many people. When multiple light sources are used, as we are seeing in the LED task lights that are coming onto the market, you get a shadow image for each light source. The more individual LED diodes you have in a fixture the more shadowing you get as well. When reading a book or a magazine this really isn’t an issue, but if your hand, pen or pencil comes in between the light source and the work surface it can have a lot of disconcerting shadowing with which to contend.
Although I am not lighting fixture designer, per se, I think of myself as an informed consumer who is constantly testing what is available out there on the market. My suggestion to the task light designers is that when multiple LED sources are used then some sort of diffusion material, in the form of a lens, will help ameliorate the problem. As individual LED sources become stronger and only one source is used then shadowing no longer is an issue.
Many manufacturers of recessed LED fixtures have seen that that this multiple shadowing was an issue and have produced fixtures with an integral diffusion lens. It would be a good idea if the manufacturers of LED task lights would take a look at what the recessed LED fixture manufacturers are doing and see how they can incorporate the addition of a diffusion material into their products.
I still am a very strong advocate of using LED sources for task lighting. I would just like to see the next step in refinement; so that when people make the investment they are getting something that they can live happily with for the next 16 or 17 years. Since LEDs last for so darn long I want to make sure that my love will last.
Randall Whitehead is a frequent contributor to Green Architecture Notes.
The Feldman team set out Friday on a field trip of epic proportions: an overnight excursion to the Pinnacles National Monument. Along the way was a stop at the site of one of our projects under construction (see On the Boards: Walnut Farm Retreat) to have dinner and take in the sunset. The following day everyone explore the park at their own pace – hiking, rock climbing and pool-side. – Bridgett (aka Chairwoman of Feldman Social Committee ’11)
DAY ONE – Site Visit and BBQ at Walnut Farm Retreat
DAY TWO – Pinnacles
An easy way to save energy this summer is by foregoing your dryer and using a clothesline to air dry laundry. In the heat of summer, I can’t bear to use my dryer, so I picked up a simple, retractable clothesline from my local hardware store. I am surprised how much I enjoy using my clothesline! There is something romantic about seeing a line of clothes fluttering in the wind. And sun-dried sheets on a freshly made bed is heaven! Of course, being a designer, I couldn’t help search for more design-y clothes-drying products. – Lindsey
Here are my favorites:
Above Left: The Alberto clothesline from Fabrica. Each “tree” is about 6’ tall.
Center: Vintage clothespins are so cool looking. They are easy to find online too, this image is from a shop on Etsy.
Above Right: For those who don’t have the luxury of outdoor space for air-drying, uncommongoods offers an easy mount indoor clothesline.
Below Left: There are even cute ways to store clothespins. You easily could make your own, but this one is from uncommongoods.com.
Below Right: I love this idea. Start them young!
Most of Feldman Architecture’s clients appreciate the importance of sustainably built homes and ask us to help them make choices that use materials wisely and reduce energy use. We know that buildings consume almost half of all fossil fuels burned in the United States, but not surprisingly, transportation consumes the next largest percentage of fossil fuels.
The team here at Feldman Architecture does its part to reduce carbon emissions by making smart choices in the buildings we design and how we commute to work. With few exceptions we all regularly bike, walk, take public transportation, or ride a scooter to our offices in SOMA. One of us even recently started taking a ferry that runs on bio-diesel. Since 50% of our office does not own a car, we visit job sites using City Car Share or Zip Car whenever possible.
We bring this same awareness of alternative transportation issues to our projects. Four projects under construction will offer dedicated 240 volt outlets with upgraded electrical panels for owners’ future electric cars. Several of our completed projects generate sufficient electricity through photo-voltaic panels to charge these vehicles. A project site in Santa Cruz was specifically chosen for its proximity to the beach, schools, transit and shopping. Though this particular client currently lives in Ohio, he has already bought a bike to avoid renting a car on his frequent site visits. For another project under construction, the owners will enter their home – frequently sweaty and muddy – directly through a large bike storage room. These clients have gotten creative with their bikes – see the photos below!
All of these efforts use energy wisely and conserve resources, but they’re also a great way to travel around the City and appreciate the sights. – Brett