Holiday Hours are upon us

December 23rd, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

Blessings to you this Christmas!

To honor the season, our offices will be closed or lightly staffed through the end of 2008 and the first few days of 2009. We will return to full strength on 5 January 2009, rested and raring to go!

Best wishes,
peter and mary

Posted in All Entries Comments Off on Holiday Hours are upon us

Merry Christmas to You and your Kin

December 22nd, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

This time of year offers an opportunity to reflect gratefully on the blessings we have received throughout the past year. To keep this brief, I’ll focus on one: The Gift of Work. We are thankful for the opportunity to use our skills to serve our clients and community through design and volunteer efforts.

OK, another: We appreciate living in and working in and around Northfield, a place of vibrant dialog and discussion, beautiful architecture, and engaging people.

Merry Christmas to you and your family. May this season be filled with joy, love and prosperity for you.

Peter and Mary Schmelzer

Posted in All Entries, Community Comments Off on Merry Christmas to You and your Kin

Architects into more than aesthetics

December 18th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

Well, Aesthetics may be at the root of the issue here, but there’s more….

Here’s a shot of St. Ansgar’s Lutheran Church in Cannon Falls, Minnesota. It captures a lot of what we do as architects that doesn’t meet the eye of the building occupant.

The bottom steel beam is new, supporting existing structure above. The upper steel beam (left) and the steel joist are existing (hence the need for the new steel beam!) The concrete block, corrugated decking, and electrical conduits are all existing. The black PVC pipe is new plumbing vent pipe for a new restroom and a new sewage ejector pump.

Our challenge is to bring together all the parts of the remodeling project into a cohesive whole. In this one location, we coordinated with mechanical and structural engineers and the general contractor to make sure we could cover the necessities and keep it all looking good and jiving with the Master Plan. The sewage ejector pump ties into city sewer, so we engaged a civil engineer for that connection.

This project is the first step in St. Ansgar’s Master Plan (of our design) and it consists of a new vestibule, an elevator, a new universal restroom and the required elevator equipment room. It might seem like a lot of consultants for a small job, but that’s what it takes to do a solid job of covering the design bases both for the immediate project and for the future phases of the Master Plan.

Posted in All Entries, Best Practices Comments Off on Architects into more than aesthetics

LEED House Design Underway near Northfield

December 11th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer
LEED-H House

We’ve got a good start on the design of a new home outside of Northfield. This is an exciting project for us for several reasons.

On the macro scale, it is the first house in a new conservation development. The development features enhanced wetlands, native landscaping, community trails, natural common spaces, pervious pavements, onsite renewable energy, community septic system, smaller lots, and a community geothermal heating and cooling system. No fossil fuels will be required for the operation of the development nor the homes in them (unless a homeowner decides on a gas appliance or vehicle.)

On a micro scale, the house will be LEED certified; the actual target is Platinum, and we meet with a LEED-H provider on Monday. This home will be the poster child for the architectural vision of the development:
– Historically sympathetic modern home design
– Architectural design on all sides
– Energy efficient design
– Emphasis on sustainable and renewable materials
– Front porches to foster stronger community
– Smaller homes on smaller lots, allowing larger green community spaces (over 65 acres)
– Native and low-water-use landscaping
– Rainwater harvesting and reuse

Stay tuned as the project develops further!

Posted in All Entries, Best Practices, Sustainability Comments Off on LEED House Design Underway near Northfield

Quote: John Ruskin

December 4th, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

“We require from buildings, as from men, two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it; which last is itself another form of duty.”

Posted in All Entries, Quotes Comments Off on Quote: John Ruskin

AIA Convention Time One More Time

December 2nd, 2008 by Peter Schmelzer

November is the month of the Minnesota American Institute of Architects annual convention and this year was no exception. I attended some very interesting seminars and learned about some exciting new products, too.

Two themes were very strongly present in all of the seminars: Sustainability and Leadership.

The AIA has embraced sustainable design with both arms, requiring AIA members to acquire continuing education hours in this regard. FYI: 2030 Challenge and 2030 Toolkit.

Leadership has been a sub-plot of the architectural community for a long time, but this year it was underscored for me, both by James P. Cramer, the founder of DesignIntelligence and by a local architect with whom I had lunch. As we chatted about our work, and he offered (unprompted) that the leadership of his major client has made all the difference in their success as a national restaurant chain.

These were heartening ideas for me, given my involvement in the Boy Scouts of America and my interest in designing low-impact buildings.

Posted in All Entries, Sustainability Comments Off on AIA Convention Time One More Time