Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Our superintendent, Pedro, sent these photos of the work he and his crew did this morning, laying out the partitions (interior walls) throughout the house. This gives us a chance to check the locations of all the partitions and look out for conflicts with the pipes and conduits coming out of the floor slab and the beams and purlins overhead. Once we approve the partition layout, Pedro will start putting down the light-gauge steel track which will hold the wall studs in place. This gives us an even better idea of the scale of the rooms in the house, too.

In fact, this is one of those moments when the house will "shrink," at least perceptually. There are points during construction when the project seems to grow - like when the floor slab is poured - and moments when it seems to contract, such as when the foundations are excavated.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

props for Tricky Dick

Could Richard Nixon get the Republican presidential nomination these days? Whatever else Nixon was responsible for, he also signed into law some of our country’s foundational environmental legislation, including the National Environmental Policy Act (1969), the Clean Air Act (1970), the Clean Water Act (1972), and the Endangered Species Act (1973). Without Nixon, many of our iconic animal species – bald eagles, alligators, bison – would be extinct. Remember back when you couldn’t see the Los Angeles skyline through the smog, or when the Cuyahoga River caught fire? Take a deep breath and thank Richard Milhous Nixon.

edible landscape

The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is holding its Edible Garden Festival this weekend. The event includes demonstrations of gardening, composting and cooking, and is intended for people who only have room for one container on their balcony, as well as folks who have an acre to plant. Plus, they've got food trucks.

We had a chance to stop by yesterday and take notes on soil (use lots of rich, organic material and perlite), the need to use raised beds, and good combinations to plant (tomatoes and peppers like to be neighbors).

Saturday, October 22, 2011


An important new report this week gives new urgency to our efforts to slow the pace of climate change. Richard Muller, a physics professor at Berkeley whose critiques of climate science have earned considerable support among climate change deniers, released the results of a two-year study of surface temperature data  from the last two hundred years. His conclusions? The earth is warming, and the pace of warming is increasing at a disastrous pace. As Kevin Drum writes in Mother Jones, not only is the rate of warming accelerating, but Muller's findings are even more alarming than those of some of the other scientists whose methodologies he faulted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

bike lanes

Props to our local governments – the City of South Miami and Miami-Dade County – for continuing to build bike lanes and better sidewalks in the community. We have a long way to go, but the county’s efforts to provide bike lanes, shade and better pedestrian crossings are gradually improving our streetscape.

The recent improvements to 62nd Avenue are – hopefully – a harbinger of a better interventions to come. They show a good grasp of some important urban design practices:

Thursday, October 6, 2011

thinking about Apple

Macintosh 128K Home Computer,
designed by Steve Jobs and  Jerry Manock, 1984.
Museum of Modern Art, via ARTstor.
It is touching to see the volume of tributes to Steve Jobs coming from people like us – not journalists or public figures, but regular folks addressing second-person messages to a man they’d never met, delivered via social media, and typed out on devices that didn’t exist just ten years ago. Since tin box was designed, blogged and filmed on Macs and iPhones, we thought we should share some of the lessons (for architecture and culture) we learned from our computers:

Sunday, October 2, 2011

no biking in the house

It's my house, and I'll bike if I want to.

cutting room floor

Venturi Scott Brown and Associates
Franklin Court, Philadelphia
The most important part of writing is editing. It is also the most painful. As part of a chapter on postmodern architecture I wrote for a forthcoming survey of world architecture since 1960, I wrote a couple of paragraphs on Venturi and Scott Brown's Franklin Court project in Philadelphia, a place I first encountered as a kid, and loved. And then my co-editor chopped these paragraphs out. Fudge.

action photos

Steel construction makes for some pretty cool photos.

Here, one of the erection crew is trimming some of the roof decking. Of the scores of panels of B-decking used in the house, only two needed to be trimmed. This efficiency - less material used, less waste on site, lower transportation costs - is one of the advantages to prefabrication.

One disadvantage is the need for specialized (read: expensive) machinery, like boom cranes...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

roof decking complete

The erectors completed the roof decking this morning. We're now ready for the insulated roof panels to go up (then wall panels, then windows and doors). The house is looking pretty cool.