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brickAfter passing the third new construction, four-story, brick condo building on just one block this afternoon, I commented to my friend that we have to stop using brick as a veneer material in Chicago.  It partially made sense when we used it for structure to hold up the floor and roof above (or to an extreme example seventeen floors – see monadnock building), but no longer seems functional since brick is not used to support loads in new construction, typically.  Read the rest of this entry »

straw constructionThe straw in this building was produced a mere 50 miles away just on the other side of Mount Palomar.  The production of straw did not involve the chopping of any trees, a visit to a sawmill, kiln drying, the mining of ore, or the smelting of steel.  This straw was baled at the farm and shipped to the site where it sat until it was installed in the walls of the building.  This assembly produces an R-40 insulation value, something quite welcome in a climate where the summer temperatures range around 105 degrees. Read the rest of this entry »

straw baleSo, the name of the blog.  Strawbales are nothing new and, no, they are not to be confused with hay.  Straw is the dried stalk of a cereal plant after the grain has been removed, an agricultural by-product.  They typically clutter the ubiquitous landscape of the rural world and are usually burned by the farmer as a way to rid themselves of the nuisance.

Here is an opportunity to make use of a waste.  An ethic we must subscribe to more frequently as we are fast depleting places to dispose of waste.

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sun of the first nationsThe inaugural post should explain the header, right?  Right.  The overall vision is to give an insider’s look at the architectural practice through the lens of my own architectural practice (see “about” page).  In doing so I hope to shed some light the the intricacies of the profession, but more specifically where I would like to see it go and the avenues for getting there.  I think that broadest boulevard is paved with straw, metaphorical straw, of course.  Architects are supposed to be on the front lines of innovation since we see the project first, get our hands dirty first, and typically get to control the flow and direction.  However, too many contradictory interests have invaded our once prominent stronghold.  All in all, we have lost our way.  We are no longer the creators of innovation but the proprietors of sameness. Read the rest of this entry »

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