House Raising Underway

July 17th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

SIPS Home in Northfield MN

One of the great things about Structural Insulated Panel construction is that things go up quickly once the panels arrive on site. Yesterday only half of the exterior walls shown in this shot were up. This evening, the exterior shell is finished and awaiting interior bearing walls. Shortly, you’ll see floor trusses above and the second floor walls on top of that.

This home is located on Second Street in Northfield, on one of the lots that had previously housed the Northfield Hospital. We worked hard to make the design responsive to the existing homes on the block, yet be a modern home with a sense of itself and its time. Where the front foundations lie, a gracious front porch will provide contact with neighbors on the sidewalk. A hipped roof will mimic the historic four-square homes of Northfield while providing daylight to the central stairs.

Energy efficiency was high on our clients’ wish list. To that end, we located the garage to the northwest to provide some wind break; focused a large portion of the windows south for solar gain; calculated the overhangs to provide shade in the summer and light in the winter; utilized Insulated Concrete Forms for the basement walls; used Structural Insulated Panels on the upper walls; specified a whole-house fan to reduce air-conditioning needs and a air-source heat pump instead of natural gas furnace.

Stay tuned for more as the home is built.

Also, you might check Northfield Construction’s blog, where more photos will likely be posted as well.

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Screen Porch nearing completion

July 17th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Screen Porch Photo

You’ve seen this porch before in previous posts (1, 2), and it is just about complete.

Screen Porch Interior

The interior is lofty and open, with strong visual connections to the adjacent gardens. Our design intent was to create an interior space that maintained both a sense of connection and a sense of shelter. Screen panels were strategically located to create two distinct spatial zones inside: a dining area (focused outwardly) and a seating area with a stronger interior focus. This photo shows the latter, with space for artwork and furniture to nest against the walls, protected from the elements.

Interior View

This shot shows the openness of the future dining area, with a small deck just outside the screens. Existing the home from the door at your left, you are greeted with a framed view of the backyard gardens prepared by the Owner, who is a Master Gardener. I’ll get a shot of that when the project is finished and the yard is in full bloom next year.

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Economic Benefits of Sustainably Designed Buildings

July 6th, 2007 by Peter Schmelzer

Flowers blooming in Minnesota’s Summer

The lastest from InformeDesign, a service of the University of Minnesota, had a quotable summary of sustainable buildings:

“Sustainable buildings have aided the strategic performance of companies in retaining employees, reducing absenteeism, promoting the organization’s image, improving organizational productivity, and reducing building operating costs.”

Although this statement focuses on the economics of workplaces, we believe similar advantages can be achieved for other building types as well, including residences and places of worship. Wrapped in the efficiencies above are attributes of space with which people thrive, including access to daylight and views; thermal comfort; proper ventilation; connection to the outdoors; and direct experience of the daily path of the sun.

The basic formula is this: architecture than enhances life enhances your bottom line.

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