Friday, January 18, 2013

Faculty Housing Goes Up in Massachusetts!

Windigo's Faculty Housing Village design for a private school in Massachusetts has made a lot of progress over the past 6 months. Four new single-family and two-family homes have been constructed to accommodate the needs the school and its growing number of incoming and long-term faculty. From design to near completion, we're here to walk you through the construction process and to show you where the project stands today!

Sitework began during the summer, as earth was excavated and foundations were poured. During the same time the geothermal wells were constructed in order to provide a sustainable heat source for the housing complex. 

 Meanwhile, the individual housing units were being custom-built at a modular facility in Maine. Using Windigo’s designs and specifications, a prefab company constructed the homes in small segments which would later be placed on a truck bed and shipped to the site. 

In Massachusetts the individual prefabricated segments were unloaded from trucks and hoisted into place using cranes and on-site workers.

By using a modular system for construction, the amount of on-site work was greatly decreased. Once all the individual segments were pieced together, contractors worked to fasten and seal the seams in the units. Later, porches for each home were constructed and the Hardi Board siding was installed.

The majority of the interior spaces were already completed when the modular homes arrived at the construction site. This included windows, base molding, hardwood floors, kitchen cabinets and lighting fixtures. 

On-site contractors installed plumbing for the kitchens and bathrooms as well as the stove, refrigerator, dishwasher, and other appliances. Epoxy flooring was installed in the basement of each home providing the possibility for the area to later be finished and used as additional living space.

As the home’s interior nears completion and is cleaned up, we are now able to see the wood accents of home including doors, flooring, and moldings. Many windows provide views to the surrounding landscape and campus and make the interior feel bright and spacious.

The project is currently nearly completed and has already received a lot of positive feedback from the campus community. Our efforts to create an energy efficient housing village have been a success, as the tight envelope and thermal insulation have kept the homes warm during the latest snow storm. There have been many comments on the brightness of the interior spaces which was attained due to a carefully chosen site and solar orientation which maximizes daylighting. We look forward to the springtime when the finishing touches to the homes can be completed and the village’s new occupants can move in!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Manhattan Apartment Renovation

Located on the Western side of Manhattan, this 1500 sf apartment will be undergoing a major facelift with help from the Windigo team. The owner of this 3 bedroom, 3 bathroom apartment is planning to do a series of renovations to update the residence and make it a clean, modern space for his daughter.

Existing Apartment Layout
The apartment is located in a traditional brick building and still has many of its original features including wood floors, wainscoting, and large double-hung windows. The existing layout, although spacious, is not very efficient. A majority of the space is occupied by bedrooms, leaving minimal square footage and views for the living, dining, and kitchen spaces.

Our scheme is able to optimize views from the apartment by mirroring the existing layout and creating an open living, dining, and kitchen space for the future resident. An existing small maid’s quarters becomes integrated into a more functional bedroom space with Jack and Jill bath. Closets are now evenly divided amongst the three new bedrooms, and updated bathrooms will tie into existing plumbing chase walls.

Proposed Apartment Layout
Despite the challenges of varying window types and sizes, our proposal helps to unify the space and give it a cohesive, flowing feel. With updated fixtures, furnishings, and finishes this 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath apartment will be a chic, modern space for a new generation of tenants.  

Existing Apartment
Take a look at the "Before" complete with pink walls and paneling. We think our "After" will provide a much needed style update and completely transform the apartment. What do you think?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adaptive Reuse: The Terminal Stores Building

In 1875 when the Terminal Stores building was originally constructed, it functioned as a freight storage facility in the Chelsea district of New York City. In the 1980’s and 90’s the building became a social destination, its tunnel being used as one of the most popular nightclubs in the city. Today, the building is an example of adaptive reuse, playing a major role in the rejuvenation of the West side of the city. It is now home to a series of art galleries, design firms, retail spaces, offices, and restaurants.

The building still contains many of its original features including the internal tunnel running the entire length of its building, thick brick bearing walls, and sliding fire doors. In addition to these interesting architectural features the building still has some of its original windows, many of which have fallen into disrepair. As new tenants are brought into the building we are tasked with replacing the broken windows to prepare the space to be inhabited.

The Terminal building, which has been designated as a historic landmark, must abide by strict regulations set by the city’s preservation committee. Therefore before any changes are made to the building they must first be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Over the past several months we have been working to develop a master plan for window replacement. This master plan allows us to have all new windows approved simultaneously to make the process easier and faster in the future. We have already had several presentations of our master plan to the board to gain approval and are now on our way to finding a manufacturer for these custom windows.

With more than 600 windows in the building, of which there are 26 varieties the master plan has not been the simplest task. Due to historic preservation regulations all windows being replaced must retain the same shape, size, color, profile, and recess as the originals. Windigo has been working to fulfill these requirements while modifying the mullions to bring in more natural light and updating the materials being used to give the windows higher energy efficiency.

Our proposal aims to make the building historically accurate while preventing homogeneity. We have created a design which gives variety to the fa├žade and establishes a rhythm of window types to give each individual building within the complex its own character. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Designs Underway for a Westfield Residence

Designs for the addition to this residence in Westfield, NJ are well underway! With challenging zoning requirements, we have been battling down the square foot to adhere to local regulations while still giving this family of four the space they need.

Proposed First Story Plan

Our latest design for the home's addition features a new kitchen with a breakfast nook, a much-needed mudroom, and a family room. The open kitchen-family room area provides a much more efficient layout and allows the family to better interact with eachother and guests. The breakfast nook contains built-in banquette seating which provides informal dining in the kitchen as well as homework space for the family's two children. A large southern exposure for the new addition also provides an abundance of light throughout the new spaces.
Existing South Elevation
Proposed South Elevation

We are hoping to have enough square footage to retain the majority of the screened-in porch on the home's southwest corner. The new design will provide much better connectivity to the porch and make it a valuable outdoor living space for the family.

In order to complete the project without a variance we had to reconsider our original intent of creating a second story addition to provide space for a master suite. We have instead reorganized the rooms on the second floor second, transforming the original master bedroom into a master suite with large walk in closet, private bath, and sleeping porch. A new bathroom was added to accommodate the two other bedrooms on the second floor.
Proposed Second Story Renovations

We look forward to bringing this renovation and addition into the next phase of design very soon and to continue resolving the challenges presented by the zoning regulations on this project!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Basking Ridge Residence

Earlier this year we began working with a couple who came to us with the desire to put an addition onto their 1700 sf home in Basking Ridge, NJ. They have been very eager and excited about the project and have brought many ideas with them to jump start the design process.

Their existing home was built in the 1920s as a Sears model home with three bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, kitchen and dining room. Several years later, a one story addition was added to the rear of the home to expand the kitchen and provide additional dining space.

As the home exists now, the spaces and their layout are simply not practical for this family of three. They have asked for their new addition to provide more living space, a kitchen with a better layout, a new dining room, a larger master bedroom and master bath, as well as a better lit playroom for their daughter. The couple also would like their expanded home to have a better connection with the outdoors to contribute to a more holistic lifestyle. 

Revit Model Design Iterations

The project has been challenging in several ways. Firstly, the lot's front setback sits directly in the middle of the existing home, calling for the addition to either be entirely in the rear of the home or requiring a variance to allow for construction in the front of the home. Additionally, the couple wants to more than double the square footage of their home while still maintaining the quaint, traditional look of the 1920s Sears home.

Our most recent design expands the original 1700 sf home to almost 4000 sf to accommodate the family's spatial needs. It includes a library, new dining room, large living room with fireplace, a study, new master suite, playroom, and a fourth bedroom. The sloping site gives us the opportunity to create a walk-out basement with lots of light for their daughter's playroom as well as a terrace on the ground floor and a three season porch on the first floor. 

Working closely with the couple over the last few months we've gone through several design iterations and are starting to narrow down the options for what will become the perfect home for this family of three. We look forward to the continued evolution of this project and will keep you updated on the changes to come!

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Proposal for Eaglebrook's Science and Art Center

We've been keeping busy working on our proposal for Eaglebrook School's new academic center. The proposed building will be home to science and art at Eaglebrook and will contain classrooms, drawing and painting studios, the music department, science laboratories, a wood shop, a stained glass studio, faculty offices and much more. We've spent the past week developing the design and creating a series of printed presentation boards and a physical model for display.

As an interdisciplinary building the new proposal focuses on collaboration between students and faculty in various disciplines. Expanded hallways serve as informal classroom spaces stressing the importance of learning occurring outside of the traditional classroom.

A large atrium serves both as a place to watch music recitals and as an informal art gallery to display student's work.

A series of exterior spaces have been designed as well to function as outdoor learning spaces including a small biopond adjacent to one of the science laboratories.

Sited at the edge of the pond in the center of Eaglebrook's campus the project has a strong sense of place. It draws inspiration from the Berkshire region within which it is sited and brings nature into the building.

In a society which is greatly focused on technology, our design is able to bring these middle school students closer with the natural world and to give them a better understanding of building systems and sustainable practices.

Some of these sustainable systems include:
  • Solar Array
  • Sun Screen Shades 
  • Built-in Rooftop Rain Collection
  • Greenhouse Trombe Wall
  • Large Southern Exposure
  • Radiant Heating and Chilled Beams
  • Ground-Source Heat Pump

In conjunction with the creation of the new academic center we are increasing the efficiency of existing buildings by updating the adjacent Learning Center. This renovation will include an addition to the northern side of the building and a large glass bridge which will help to connect the Learning Center to the new science and art building. The completion of these two projects will create a crucial hub on campus for student and faculty alike and maintain the high educational standards that Eaglebrook School is known for.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Contemporary Twist on a Traditional New England Barn

Being built on the foundation of an old barn on the property of their residence in New Canaan, Connecticut, the new guesthouse for the family of three will be a contemporary twist on a traditional English Threshing barn, with a bright airy interior and an innate connection with the outdoors.

The original barn located on the property was built in the 1870s and collapsed in a snow storm in the winter of 2010. Instead of simply rebuilding the previous structure, the family applied for permit to rebuild the structure with a new use, a guest house. The proposed guest house will fit within the L-shaped envelope of the original structure and will be approximately 3,370 SF including sleeping areas, living spaces, a garage, and greenhouse.

The family has undergone a great deal of planning with the Zoning Board in order to relocate the structure’s footprint from its current nonconforming location to one located farther from both the street and the property line. Additional measures have been made to ensure that the new structure is screened from the view of neighboring properties and that the materials used are consistent with the New England vernacular within which the project is sited.

Although the structure will function as a guest house for the next several years, the family intends for it to one day become the residence of their son. He has been diagnosed with autism and the family hopes that the house will give him the opportunity to live on his own with the assistance of a caretaker when he reaches adulthood.

The reconstructed barn’s exterior will feature traditional materials and elements such as gabled roofs, sliding barn doors, stone foundations, and wood siding, asserting itself as a typical New England barn. The interior of the barn, however, will have a much more modern feel with two walls clad entirely in glass and a large open living space occupying the main leg of the structure. Another glass wall located between the greenhouse and the kitchen will feature a playful mixture of transparent and semi-transparent which will give a personal touch to the space and fulfill the client’s desire to bring color and artwork into the guest house.

A two-sided fireplace is located on the back side of the home fulfilling both utilitarian and recreational purposes for the living space and the rear patio. Large glass pocket doors are located adjacent to the fireplace, allowing the interior to be almost entirely opened up to the back patio. Another main feature of the home includes a loft which serves the function of a bedroom. This loft not only has a functional purpose but also an aesthetic one, acting to provide some differentiation in the living, dining, and kitchen portions of this space by dropping the ceiling height over the dining table.

After gaining all of the appropriate variances and permissions, we are now moving into the design development stage of the project. We look forward to continuing to develop and articulate the project and to attain the unique, sophisticated, and playful space that the family is aiming to achieve.

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Green Village for Teachers

Windigo has designed a Green Housing Village for the faculty members of a private school in Massachusetts with construction scheduled to start in the very near future! The site currently consists of a maintenance yard and several old tennis courts in dire need of replacing. As a growing institution, the school also needed new housing for both incoming and long-term teachers. The objective of the new housing project was to provide single family homes, duplexes, and eight new tennis courts, while retaining the two existing historic buildings on the south of the site and working within the environmental limitations of the surrounding area. The design concept was to create a sustainable community within the school's vernacular that connected the upper and lower sections of the campus.

Each unit was designed to be inherently energy efficient through modular construction, solar orientation, and a thermally holistic building shell. The housing community will also utilize active energy efficient building systems to significantly reduce energy costs and its carbon footprint. The following list provides a glimpse into some of the sustainable features of these homes and the community itself.

  • The dwellings are within walking distance of nearly every facility needed by faculty members living on campus. The houses are situated directly adjacent to the swimming pool and tennis courts. Other sports facilities, faculty offices, the dining hall, academic buildings, hiking trails, and even a ski-lift are all within reasonable walking distance from the housing community.
Modular construction:
  •  Significantly reduces typical construction waste by 50-70% 
  •  Uses sustainable and renewable material resources
  • Ensures a higher quality of construction and tighter envelope – keeping the desired temperature inside the house and minimizing energy loss
Solar orientation:
  •   Passive heating from the sun – the buildings will mainly be occupied during the colder fall, winter, and spring months. The large windows on the southern walls and the low angle of the sun can act to heat the main living spaces during these chillier months.
  •  The natural sunlight will also light the living spaces during the day, thereby reducing the need for artificial lighting
LED lighting:
  • LED lighting is used throughout the home- both inside and out. LED fixtures cut down tremendously on energy bills and last significantly longer. 

Geothermal wells:
  •  A geothermal well system uses the earth as a heat source in the winter, or a heat sink in the summer. As water passes through the system, the housing units will be sufficiently heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, while minimizing energy costs. The payback calculation have shown that geothermal is more cost effective for the school than other standard methods of heating and cooling.
Solar panels:
  • Because the dwellings are all oriented to the south, the southern roofing provides enough surface area to harvest plenty of solar energy. These solar panels not only provide energy for the lighting systems, they also support the electrically run geothermal heating and cooling system and provide an energy source for future electric cars.