Speaking at MREA Energy Fair: Remodel to Create Your Green Dream House

6 min read I’m speaking at the MREA Energy Fair, Friday May 15th at 2:30 and 5:30 to spread the good word on green design and remodeling.
Here’s what I plan to say!

I’m speaking at the the MREA Energy Fair, in Custer, WI, this Friday, delivering two lectures on green building.  Continue reading “Speaking at MREA Energy Fair: Remodel to Create Your Green Dream House”

In other news: Design for a (ranch like) Passive House

2 min read So I haven’t been making as much progress as I’d like on the Togstad project in August but it is for an excellent reason.  I’ve been designing another project – a new Passive House residence to be constructed in the Bloomington, IL area.

While nothing in the design brief said “ranch” it is no coincidence that it has an elongated single-story profile and flowing open plan layout.  I do have ranches on the brain.  Here are some of my sketches from the Schematic Design phase.

   Continue reading “In other news: Design for a (ranch like) Passive House”

In other News: Just Gave a Talk on Underhill at the MREA Energy Fair

3 min read Saturday, I gave  a lecture at the MREA Energy Fair in Custer, WI about the joy of working with my parents to design their timber frame, straw bale, passive solar house, Underhill, completed four years ago.  Here’s some of what I said.

If you happened to attend that lecture, the work I’m doing now might seem very different.  After all, remodeling a 1950’s ranch LOOKs pretty dissimilar to building a timber frame, sod roofed house from scratch.  However, I feel strongly that both projects come from the same place – a desire to use buildings to live lightly on the earth.   Continue reading “In other News: Just Gave a Talk on Underhill at the MREA Energy Fair”

Basement: the Midwestern Ranch House’s Secret Weapon

3 min read A basement is the secret weapon of the midwestern ranch house.

(This is one clear advantage we have over all those cool, glassy California Pinterest ranches.

Upper midwestern basements secretly expand square footage, storage and differentiation of spaces all without bulking up the house to the street or eating up the building site.

Sure, basements CAN be your extraneous junk space.  They CAN be your quick and dirty work out or project space.  But they they COULD be the inner sanctum – the most private and cosy spot in the house, insulated from temperature, sound and other people’s view.   The secret of an effective basement is not to treat it like part of your home, not a second class space. Continue reading “Basement: the Midwestern Ranch House’s Secret Weapon”

I bought a house!

2 min read This blog will to tell the story of how I succumbed to that most basic of architects’ urges: to get a house of my own and fix it up for myself with no need to transfer my ideas through a client and contractor in order to make them real.

Don’t get me wrong, I love designing for other people.  And I love coming up for ideas for how to create or improve a space and then handing them off to an expert contractor to take care of.  But just this once, the design brief will be my own.  And it will be on me (and whatever help I can cajole out of my friends and family) to manifest my ideas on the world.

This project has been a long time coming, as I have moved from city to city, and apartment to apartment, during the beginning of my architectural career. Continue reading “I bought a house!”