Tuesday, March 27, 2012

foam insulation, continued

Spent some quality time Sunday with the family at the site, trimming back the expanding foam insulation that we've use to seal the gap between the wall panels and the roof panels. The foam cuts fairly easily, and the ladders help give us better leverage for peeling off the remaining plastic protective layer on the wall panels.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

garage door

Our garage door installer completed the installation of the garage door this afternoon. The house is now fully secure, so we can move ahead with a lot of work inside this week. We're expecting the air conditioning system to be complete (through the rough inspection) and the remaining parts of the interior partition framing should be complete this week, too. If all goes well, we should have drywall going up by the end of the week.

Monday, March 19, 2012

international style

Eytan Fichman, my undergraduate thesis advisor - and the very model of a mentor whose example as an educator is never far from my mind - sends this photo of "the Vietnamese precedent for tin box" in Haiphong. It's nice to see so many of our formal gestures, like shed roofs and deep overhangs, appearing in a building that seems to be designed around functional concerns and the simple modular dimensions of available materials.

Boy do I wish we could have ducks, too.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

fenestration, entomology, ornithology

Yesterday, our window installer (Astor Windows) came by to install the last window, which had to be re-fabricated. The fenestration is now complete, except for the garage door, which is due to be installed this week. Once it goes in, we should be able to move quickly with completing the air conditioning system, then get our framing inspection, and then our gypsum wall board, trim and interior doors.

Monday, March 12, 2012

plumbing, continued

The city's plumbing inspector signed off on our rough plumbing this morning. Everything looks good - our plumber, Ross Terrano, has tested all the lines to make sure they connections are good, and we can now proceed with installing drywall, cabinetry, tile and all the plumbing fixtures. The PEX supply lines are working, and the inspector seemed pretty happy with the graywater and rainwater lines.

At left, Ross and one of his crew installing the supply lines for the kitchen sink.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

foam insulation

We spent much of Thursday and today spraying foam insulation into the gap between the wall panels and the roof decking. Normally, the insulated steel panel system completes the weather seal (and insulated envelope) with a boxed-out soffit detail at the roof, but we thought this configuration would make the roof look too thick and clunky, so we decided to use expanding foam  insulation to provide the moisture and thermal barrier between the wall and roof. So what is this stuff made of?

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Our plumber has been completing the rough plumbing this week. He installed two bathtubs, which involved using a fairly dry mix of cement to level and support the tubs. The photo at left shows one of the tubs filled with water. The tubs are connected to the graywater system, which will eventually provide the flush water for the toilets.

The white box in front of the tub is where the washing machine will connect to the water supply and the sanitary drain (the septic system). The light blue plastic conduit carries electrical lines, including the power for the laundry equipment. The red and (dark) blue supply lines are cross-linked polyethylene (PEX) tubing supplying hot and cold water.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

the sincerest form of flattery, continued

Why yes, that does appear to be our photo of steel reinforcement bars showing up as stock photography in web sites across the Middle East. Don't these people realize Google is a two-way street?

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Flying home from a few days in Boston for the centennial ACSA Annual Meeting offers a chance to reflect on architecture and education. Boston is where Holly and I started studying architecture (at the Boston Architectural Center) and it’s clear that the city itself remains one of the most influential components of our intellectual formation. How so?


Purely at random, sitting in Logan Airport, just saw the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Its composite fuselage makes it lighter and more aerodynamic than conventional aluminum-skinned planes, and since composites don’t corrode, the air conditioning system can introduce more moisture into the cabin air, reducing the dessicating effect of long-haul flights. The cabin’s ambient lighting uses LEDs which are programmed to mimic the change in light throughout a normal day-night cycle, in order to reduce the effects of jet lag. Cannot wait to see this plane from the inside. Some day.