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Santiago Calatrava, Dr. Gail Thomas and Dallas build a bridge

Dr. Gail Thomas, President and CEO of the Trinity Trust Foundation in Dallas, will speak at the Clinton School of Public Service on Tuesday, February 15th at 6:00pm.  One of the features of the talk will be on the cable-stayed bridge designed by the internationally acclaimed architect and engineer, Santiago Calatrava.  Free and open to the public.   Reserve a seat at public[email protected]

The replacement for the Broadway Bridge could be a creative piece, so long as we allow creativity not just in design but also in financing. There’s a way….Come hear how Dr. Gail Thomas, Santiago Calatrava and Dallas made it happen.

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Our House Family Housing Renovation

AMANDA SIMPSON MOVES TO THE FAMILY HOUSE

Amanda Simpson and her 1-year-old daughter Alynnea have lived at the Our House Shelter for one year. Amanda’s story of how she came to Our House is unfortunately not a unique one; she got out of an abusive relationship with her daughter’s father, moved into a battered women’s shelter, and eventually ended up at the Our House Shelter. She was first a resident in the dorms, sharing a room with forty other women, while trying to figure out how to be a new, young mother.

One month ago things changed for the better for Amanda and Alynnea with the opening of the Family Housing unit on the Our House campus. The Family Housing Unit, which has 14 units in two buildings, has allowed Amanda to gain more independence and prepare for the real world. She is able to go grocery shopping for her family on her own and get a sense of what it will be like to live in an apartment in the real world.

“It definitely puts more structure into your life and prepares you for the real world,” Amanda says. All residents do their own chores and share responsibility for the common kitchen and living room.

The most important aspect of the family housing for Amanda is being able to get the much needed quality time with her daughter, thanks to the private family rooms.

“I can see a change in my daughter’s attitude already. Our bond has gotten stronger since we have been on our own. I have been able to take what I’ve learned from the parenting classes taught here and apply it at home without other women interfering with how I parent,” Amanda says.

She looks forward to the day she moves out and has aspirations of becoming a surgical technician, but for now she is just taking it one day at a time, enjoying her new apartment in the family housing unit and rebuilding her life with Alynnea.

“The family housing unit has inspired me a lot; it’s made me more independent and has given me good structure in my life. I would recommend it for any young homeless mothers.”

Our House, Inc. provides family housing to homeless families and individuals.  The Family Housing Program consists of two buildings with 13 units.  Residents stay in private family rooms and share a common living room and kitchen.  The program enables married people to stay together and parents to stay with their children.  Our House is the only program in the state of Arkansas that provides housing to single, homeless fathers with their children and families that include older male children.

So, we were excited to help Our House with  planning, design and renovation of the two existing buildings.  We designed a new porch, organized the existing spaces so that private bathrooms could be provided, not the group bathrooms before, and provided a communal kitchen with private pantries and commercial freezer/ref. for each family.  Many groups came together to provide funding, furniture, kitchen equipment, linens.  A great project all around.

Before

After

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Gluten-free Specialty Bakery

Finally, we will have a gluten-free specialty bakery in town! We are currently working on the design and renovation for this bakery to be located at 323 Cross Street.  Gluten-free birthday cakes, cookies, breads, pizza dough, sandwiches, a place to grab some coffee, a place to hold meetings, classes, a place for the community.  DEMPSEY BAKERY – opening late Spring.  Pass along the great news.

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Modern Infill in Historic Neighborhood

wooten front elev

arch street view

wooten corner view

arch & 13th street view

Above is a single-family residence we designed for review and approval in an historic district in Little Rock, Arkansas.  We submitted for a design review permit to the Capitol Zoning District Commission and the staff report can be downloaded here 1300 S. Arch 9-1-10. Based on our client’s needs and desires, we proposed a modern interpretation of a dogtrot prototype.

Historically, the dogtrot house consisted of two equal one story rooms on either side of a central hall joined by a common gable roof.  The dogtrot was named by early observers who saw the purpose of the passage as an animal shelter – a place where dogs could run through the house.  This type was prevalent in the South, where the passage also functioned as a shady breezeway where meals could be taken in hot weather.  Richard Hulan in an article for Pioneer America wrote: “The true dogtrot house is not so much a way of framing space as a way of living in space.”  Mark Twain in Huckleberry Finn described a dogtrot as, “It was a double house, and a big, open place betwixt them was roofed and floored, and sometimes the table was set there in the middle of the day, and it was cool, comfortable place.”

When approaching this type of house and its relationship to the site, the view through the opening (void) onto the landscape of gardens to the south and to an historic cemetery to the north that dates back to 1843, emphasizes the center of gravity of the house.  It is the clarity of the opening or void which distinguishes this simple scheme and is an emblem of its character.

Not only is the form important, but also the relationship of the form to the street, the block and the neighborhood.  We  located the building within the setbacks established by the historic district as well as took into consideration the rhythm and pattern of the existing historic housing along the street.  We tend to agree with Steve Luoni, Director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center on this thought, “From my point of view the most important considerations for establishing compatibility involve relationships more than materials (both bad and good buildings are made from brick for instance). Relationships would be considered at different scales: the block, street and property parcel.”

Regarding materials, we proposed the use of coated metal for the exterior finish of the roof and exterior walls. Metal is a great product that has been used for decades and we have written about the benefits in our other posts, “Metal roofs with ecological benefits” and “Metal roofs/tax credits”.  Historically, this material was used on roofs, but is less common as a wall material.  However, vertical siding similar to board and batten is represented in the historic district and we thought this approach was complimentary.

During the presentation to the Design Review Committee, Mansion Area Advisory Committee and the Capital Zoning District Commissioners, the conversation revolved around the proposed metal material and discussion about whether or not metal is an approved material for the exterior walls in an historic district.  To some, metal need not be considered, instead Hardiplank horizontal siding.  But to the majority, the metal was seen as an appropriate use of material for the exterior walls.

To conclude this blog:

“Preservation is not about freezing time and ensuring all buildings never change, and places never evolve. In fact it is just the opposite. Preservation helps people understand the evolution. By maintaining older buildings, a place suddenly has a visible history that you can read by simply walking down the street.  Preservation ensures that the city reads with multiple layers of history, rather than solely new development. Attempting to reproduce historic styles in new modern materials and forms is not only confusing, but can also quickly go wrong. Simply put, slapping on a set of columns and decorative ornamentation does not magically create history.” – excerpts from “Will the Preservation Ordinance Stifle Modern Architects?”

Stay tuned for photos during construction.

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Architect’s Choice

We thought we’d put together a list of products and materials that we believe are worthy of mentioning because of their function, design and performance.

Here’s our list of what we feel we can not do without:

Diamond polished concrete floors – easy to clean, feels good on your feet, just plain beautiful. Read more

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Metal Roofs/tax credit

The 2009 Stimulus Package provides substantial tax credits to homeowners who make energy efficient updates to their home. One of the best ways to qualify for the credit is installation of a painted or coated Energy Star labeled metal roof. Homeowners installing qualified roofs in 2009 and 2010 may be eligible for a tax credit worth up to 30% of the materials cost (materials only) up to $1,500 per home.

Not only is metal roof eligible for a tax credit, but can also save up to 40% on energy costs, depending upon your regional climate.

For Homeowners: Confirm that the metal roof you select is a prepainted or coated Energy Star-labeled metal roof with pigmented coating/paint film specifically designed to reduce heat gain, and obtain certification from your contractor or the manufacturer.

Have the metal roof installed on your principal residence between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010 – there’s still time.

Fill out the IRS Form 5695 Residential Energy Credits when filing your taxes for 2010.

Other great websites to visit about this: www.CoolMetalRoofing.org and www.EnergyStar.gov

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Metal roofs and ecological benefits

Metal roofing has been around for a long, long time and worldwide.  There are many handmade metal roofs that date back to the 1800’s.  So what is it about metal that makes this material so fantastic that they were using it many years ago? Well, the roof of a building is a major component of a structure and it is a component where the product chosen can have a dramatic effect on the life cycle costs and energy costs of a building.  Read below for more info/benefits of metal.

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