A lesson on doors

My wife likes to argue with me….a lot.  Recently we were talking about replacing our front door with a door that is still in the process of being refinished only the door has a left handed swing instead of a right handed swing, which is still doable, but will require rebuilding the jamb, etc.  This isn’t the point though.

So, I am explaining about the swing direction and I say that we can either have a reverse swing door or have a door that swings out instead of in.  She is adamantly opposed to this idea saying “I’ve never seen a house with a door that swings out”.  And she’s correct – I haven’t either.  This isn’t to say that homes SHOULDN’T have out-swinging doors.  After all, commercial entry doors are required to swing out.

Why you ask?  Well, most will tell you that the simple reason is because commercial doors have to swing in the direction of egress via the building code.  While this is true, it’s not the only or even the most important reason.  There are two reason why any entry door, be it commercial or residential, should swing out instead of in.

#1 – Security

A door that swings out can not be kicked in. The jamb stop prevents it.  For residences this is extremely important in times like these where people are increasingly desperate and are taking to daylight type burglaries like “smash and grab”.

#2 – Environmental

This is perhaps the most important reason for a door to swing out.  When you open a traditional entry door in a home you create a draft of outside air that floods into your conditioned space.  If  you have kids that can’t make up their minds and come in and out in and out 500 times a day, that is a huge load to put on your HVAC system which increases your energy bill.  Also, if you look at your door sill, you’ll see that there is a shallow rise coming in and then a drop at the door.  It’s very easy for driving rain to climb that shallow rise and seep into your house.

Now, if your door swung OUT, both of these conditions would be reversed.  A door that swings out pulls inside (conditioned) air out, letting no outside air in thus not increasing the load on your HVAC which keeps your energy bill lower.  Also, taking the driving rain problem, instead of that shallow rise that the water would easily traverse, there is a sharp incline or barrier that the water can not get up and over without defying the laws of gravity.

So, I think I definitely won this argument.  🙂  Next time you design a home, think about swinging that door out instead of in…seriously.

shortest post ever

I am slowly coming to the profound realization that I DO NOT want to do commercial architecture.

For me, true creativity, true architecture of an intimate and profound nature comes from private residential projects; detailing takes on a completely new meaning and there is a deep sense of pride in designing a home for a family that will use it possibly for several decades to come.

bus shelter

This is a quick rendering that I did for a RFP that I never sent out.  Basically I got too busy with too many side projects that this one slipped right through the cracks and I didn’t even think of it again till I was cleaning out some space on a hard drive and stumbled onto the renderings.

Bus shelters are something of a contentious topic here in Jacksonville.  Which is ironic because we desperately NEED more bus shelters to protect people from the elements.  The reason the subject gets so heated here in good ole Jax is because everyone is in favor of more shelters, BUT on one side are those in favor of adverts and the other side is adamantly opposed to them.

That debate aside, I came across this RFP call to artists to design a bus shelter that would be placed in various sites throughout a small mid western city.  Some initial thoughts that I had on “what makes a good bus shelter” were:

cover from the elements
lighting at night
signage
and yes, adverts

These, to me, make up the basic necessity of the bus shelter.  And I came up with this design which incorporates all of these things.  The shelter provides cover from the elements while still allowing you to see in either direction so you don’t miss your ride; it provides lighting during nighttime hours or during inclement weather via solar power and provides signage and adverts digitally on the rear wall – this is a bit of genius on my part if I do say so myself.  😉

What say you?

daylight render - copywrite 2010 - r | one studio arch

night render - copywrite 2010 - r | one studio arch

Housing – a question/challenge for architects

Driving around any American city you’ll see one gated neighborhood after another.  Enter one of those neighborhoods and you’ll see row after row of the most antiseptic, bland, unimaginative homes ever conceived.  Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of construction and/or architecture could drive from street to street and count the number of floor plans available (If you count more than 3 available floor plan types in a single neighborhood I’ll eat my hat). There is a big difference however when you travel to a historic neighborhood.  Obviously housing design will change with the times in order to accommodate changes in the way people live, but in older neighborhoods there was more of a varied interest in how homes were designed/built.  Where is this varied interest today?  Why, instead of designing 250 homes in a single neighborhood for a fictitious client that you’ll never actually sell a house to, do we not  offer an alternative?

I spend a lot of time shouting at the wind about how architecture is a noble profession and we need to step up for the betterment of our societies, etc etc blah blah blah.  Well, driving to and from Home Depot today (got a gift card as an early Christmas present – SCORE!) I heard two adverts for the same big box crap homes that I’ve been railing against for what seems like years now….I’m really tired of hearing about these large tract developments that seem to surround and strangle our cities all across America.  Architects are helping to perpetuate these crap developments too.  It’s not all on the shoulders of the developers and their greedy tendencies.  Architects, having accepted their fate as nothing more than mere service providers doing the clients bidding, are just as culpable for the sorry state of our built environments.

Where are the architects hungry for design, technology, sustainability and design (yes, I said design twice because it needs repeating seeing as a vast majority of architects have no intimacy with the term)?  Where are the architects willing to step up to clients who try and beat them out of every red nickle at the expense of what could have been a good work of architecture?  Where are the architects willing to take the necessary steps in order to EDUCATE their clients and help them realize that they can still have modern, contemporary QUALITY design and construction at an affordable price that won’t greatly affect their bottom line?  Where are the master builders?

Lots of other designers and even a few architects are talking about this very subject today.  Ironically, it’s the ones that are talking about it that are the answer.  That’s right.  WE are the answer.  We are the next generation of trend setters, envelope pushers, daredevils and malcontents.  No longer will we allow clients to muscle us into designing the next greatest strip mall with the lowest cost and lowest quality materials when higher quality, more energy efficient materials can be had at affordable prices.  No longer will we stand by and let a client tell us that the Spanish/Mediterranean/Colonial/Neo-Classical style is “in”.  We will educate our clients, we will guide them and help them grow to appreciate something more than the last line item on a spreadsheet.  It’s time for all of us who are shouting at the wind to realize that we’re the answer we’re looking for and take our places at the head of the line – put ourselves out there and get this shit done man!