Biking In Bishop...

There are often many reasons to embrace the chance of a long weekend. This spring after a yearlong effort, and a dozen design iterations, I happily packed up the truck and headed to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy one of the last waning weekends of spring. With me I packed my newly created 15.25 lbs of custom carbon awesomeness; each screw, painted line, and individual piece of technology researched, scrutinized and ultimately selected/designed by me. IMG_0137

Much like building a home, the process of building a bike like this is collaborative effort, with each person adding his or her expertise, technology and refinement. For this bike I enlisted the efforts of two separate frame-building companies, a paint shop, a mechanic, and over 10 individual component manufacturers.

My destination, Bishop, CA, lies in the Owens River Valley halfway between Mammoth Mountain and Mt. Whitney. Bounded to the west by the dramatic Eastern Sierras and to the east by the White Mountains (boundary between California & Nevada), this beautiful area of high desert has only a few offerings in the way of flat roads. Head off in any direction and you are quickly greeted by miles of climbing. Hopefully you have plenty of time to take in the traffic free roads and the scenery.

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On one of my riding days, I headed north from Bishop for 30 miles and after 4000 feet of climbing was stopped by the snow line. I stretched my neck and shoulders, tucked in behind the handlebars, and enjoyed my well earned 20+ mile mountain descent back towards town, a mix of moderate to steep pitches, with open and technical curves. White-knuckle speeds in excess of 50 mph were moderated only by my mind looking down at 23 mm tires and my not so protective lycra suit. Balanced, predictable and well equipped, the bike was only limited by my nerves and ever-fatiguing arms.

Wow… looking forward to summer!

-Chris

Green Architecture Infographics...

We’ve come across a few good infographics in the past couple of weeks, so we thought we would share them here.

The first comes from Autodesk’s blog, and talks all about how green building is good for small business.

 

 

And the second is all about solid-state lighting and how much energy it saves, courtesy of CREE, Inc.

Urban Greening – Chicago...

This is the first post in a new series about different efforts to reclaim unused spaces in urban areas.

A rendering of the future Bloomingdale Trail.

Chicago is on the verge of something big. The Windy City is working hard to redefine itself into an urban oasis. Ideas for parks and green areas are popping up left and right. Two that stand out are Bloomingdale Trail and Northerly Island Park. Both projects focus on reusing previously vacated civic space; Bloomingdale Trail will take over a former rail line, while Northerly Island Park reclaims a bygone airstrip on Lake Michigan. These projects  are indicative of a larger movement that we are noticing in cities across the globe to convert underused areas into functional destinations that people will revitalize urban centers. (more…)

Spring 2013 Newsletter...


This spring we learned that Feldman Architecture’s Shack, completed in collaboration with homeowner Loretta Gargan Landscape + Design, has been selected for the AIA San Francisco’s Marin Home Tours.  We’re very excited that Loretta and her partner, photographer Catherine Wagner, are open to having visitors tour through the Shack for a day.  Tours take place on Saturday, May 18th, and if you’d like to join, tickets may be purchased here.

At the end of the year, we received copies of the Design Bureau’s special Architecture edition to find that a close up of the Caterpillar House landed on the cover.  The issue also features a nice profile of the Caterpillar House and puts the firm in great company.  The Mill Valley Cabins are featured in the newly published and beautifully designed Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs published by Gestalten.

We were also excited to learn that out of 1000’s of projects on Architizer.com, Caterpillar was selected by a notable jury for a Special Mention in the Architizer’s A+ awards program in the Architecture+Sustainability category.

A new home in Santa Cruz recently completed by Feldman Architecture and Testorff Construction earned LEED Platinum status, the first home in Santa Cruz to achieve this status.  The construction of the home was profiled in the local paper in an article that covers several unique features of the home plus the trials of pursuing LEED status.  Stand by for professional photos soon.


Turning in house at Feldman, the firm is celebrating its 10th anniversary this month and GreenArchitecturenotes.com celebrated its 4th anniversary on Earth Day. Hannah Brown and Chris Kurrle were named Associates at the end of last year.  Additionally, the firm continues to grow with Nik Rael joining our firm after moving to San Francisco from New York City.  Nik’s profile is available on our website.  The team enjoyed welcoming many of our collaborators at the firm’s Open House this holiday season.  If you didn’t make it, photos of our new office are up on our website.

Happy Earth Day: Why LEED for Homes?...

Caterpillar House by Feldman Architecture earned LEED Platinum certification in the LEED for Homes program in 2011. Photo by Joe Fletcher.

At Feldman Architecture, we have been fortunate to have clients coming the project kick-off meeting with a list of ‘green goals’ in mind. Today, with so much being published about sustainable design, the ideas that green design can be beautifully integrated into a project and promote technologies that help rather than harm the environment are widely disseminated.

One of the champions in the promotion of green design has been the United States Green Building Council, USGBC, with its well-known LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, program. Buildings which have earned the LEED designation are known to have met and exceeded the standards of the local, state and federal requirements for green design. Here in California, our Title 24 and local requirements, some of which even require that projects meet the Green Point Rating system administered by BuildItGreen, tend to be quite progressive in terms of protecting the environment, but LEED tends to push the green building practice steps further. (more…)

Sinker Cypress...

Historic photo of old growth Bald Cypress grove in Florida.

Sinker Cypress is one of the most stunning and beautiful woods that we at Arc Wood & Timbers have the honor to reclaim and custom mill for our clients. Its rich color ranges from deep honeycomb gold to dark olive green depending on the water regions where the logs are found. Sinker Cypress (also known as Deadhead Cypress, Heart Cypress, or River Recovered Cypress) describes harvested trees that sank as they floated down rivers in log rafts to the nearest sawmill. (more…)

Follow Up: The New Edible Landscape...

It looks like Leslie’s tips on starting your own edible garden have garnered some serious attention. In the April 2013 issue of Sunset, one of Leslie’s projects is featured as one of ten ways to get planting this spring. You can get a taste of the article on their website, but make sure to check out the magazine for the full article.

Home Economics: The Urban Partnership at the Bullitt Center...

The 1987 United Nations report “Our Common Future,” defined sustainable development as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Since then the design community has debated the meanings and applicability of sustainability and corollary terms such as sustainable design, green architecture and high performance buildings. Sim Van der Ryn offers a definition for ecological design as “any form of design that minimizes environmentally destructive impact by integrating itself with living processes.” What these terms share is the hope for creation of a built environment that might lead to a kind of balance and stability in a world where we have very little of either. (more…)

Book Review – Getting Green Done...

Did you ever wonder how a ski resort can call itself sustainable? Auden Schendler, the Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Resorts, has to answer this question often. In his book, Getting Green Done, he uses his answer as a foothold for a much larger question: how do we tackle the issue of climate change? (more…)

The Troglodytes of the Loire Valley...

Driving on the back roads of the Loire in France, you can’t help but notice the caves throughout the Valley – many of which have windows, doors, shutters, awnings, courtyards, etc.. Dating back to the 11th century, the soft white limestone, tufa or tuffeau, of the area was quarried extensively leaving deep clefts and caves in the hillsides. These caves or troglodytes represent one of the most dramatic forms of adaptive reuse that I’ve witnessed as they have been converted into homes, stables, storage units and even abbeys, hotels, restaurants, and churches. The abandoned quarries and caves were recognized by the inhabitants of the area for their potential as low-cost dwellings and also in darker times for their defensive potential. Several of the caves are said to have been used by the Resistance during World War II to hide those fleeing from the Nazis to unoccupied, southern France.

I had the pleasure of staying in one of the troglodytes for a few nights last month.  The property where we stayed was formerly part of the neighboring castle’s grounds, and the caves were part of the castle’s farm providing storage and stables.  The property included two large troglodytes where two sides of the buildings are honed from the rock that was quarried from the hillside long ago.  Walls, windows, floors and roofs were all added and the castle’s stable has now been converted into a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home.  Two additional caves also exist on the site and are currently used for storage and laundry, but have been plumbed for future use as guestrooms.  Without intervention, the caves maintain throughout the year a steady temperature of 12° Celsius or about 54°Fahrenheit which for the Loire means that the caves are also used extensively for wine making.  Adding to the charm of the caves, you can sometimes see fossils in the walls and remnants of some of the former uses, such as a trough from the former farm which runs the length of one room and now acts as a ledge.  For me, I couldn’t help but wonder about the 1000 years of inhabitants who have occupied the space and think of the stories and history they have seen.   – Hannah

For more information, see this Smithsonian article on the Troglodytes.

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