Tree Bark Siding for your House

September 26th, 2006 by Peter Schmelzer

Bark Siding

This is just too cool not to post. It’s the bark of the poplar tree, harvested by hand when a tree is cut down. The bark is then flattened, dried in a kiln, then graded for thickness. It is then sold as siding for your home.

Long lasting? Yes. According to Highland Cratsmen Inc., it can last up to 75 years. Green? Yep. It is even low-maintenance; no chemical treatments or sealers are required. Expensive? On the higher end of the spectrum. FHB reports costs in the $5-8 per square foot range.

Credits: Fine Homebuilding Magazine, Issue 182 put me on to the material, the photo came from the Highland craftsmen website.

Will interested clients, please step forward!

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ArTech looks to the Future

September 22nd, 2006 by Peter Schmelzer

ArTech Chart School Perspective

The Northfield School of Arts and Technology and Vivus Architecture and Design have collaborated to develop a master plan for their facility.

It was fun and interesting to get to know ArTech through this project, which was funded by a state planning grant and resulted in an application for a state and federal facilities improvement grant. We read and studied “The Language of School Design”, a book written by the internationally acclaimed charter school architecture firm, Fielding-Nair International. With school staff, we attended a four-hour seminar by Fielding Nair, did some sketching, and reviewed our design ideas on site with Jeff Lackney of FNI. This set the stage for a review of the existing facility, prioritization of improvements desired, and honing the facility to fit ArTech’s pedagogy.

ArTech Centrum

The educational model they are pursuing is a wholistic, individualized approach, allowing students to learn as they learn best. It requires a building that follows the “learning suite” model rather than the “cells-and-bells” model (traditional classrooms on both sides of a hallway). To that effect, the design evolved into an advisory area that is visually unified but functionally divided into four distinct parts, each of which is a learning suite. I won’t get into all the details (read the book and visit the school!), but through a series of design and review sessions, we arrived at an affordable and functional plan for improving the facility.

The next step is the application for the improvement grant, which is almost complete. By January 2007, the grant results will let us know if the work is really affordable or not.

If you have children in the 6th to 12th grade age group, you should look into ArTech. We were very impressed with the thoughtful, energetic enthusiasm of the staff and the strength of their program; enough so that our daughter now attends!

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Sustainability Magazine for Home Owners

September 12th, 2006 by Mary Schmelzer

There is a new magazine available to keep you up-to-date on products, services and news in the world of green living. The ecoLogical Home Ideas magazine promotes a healthy family, home and earth by introducing, “homeowners to the enormous variety of sustainable options available for building and remodeling, and to people who have already taken the green plunge.” Being in the industry, we find this to be a great resource for those who want to live more sustainably, but don’t have the time or energy for in-depth product and method research. In addition to green ideas, they also offer articles for do-it-yourselfers to make green changes to their homes.

ecoLogical Home Ideas magazine is in partnership with the Audubon International, a well-known environmental organization.

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