Archive for October, 2008

Week 15: Steelworkers Local 1133

It’s steel time! The beginning of week 15 sees Will and Matthew breaking out the big guns and setting to work on the steel brows—the heavy steel bands that will hold the steel and galv-alum overhangs (one above the glass wall downstairs, and one above the exterior balcony outside the master bathroom upstairs).

Meister brow.

Meister brow.

With eyebrows firmly in place by Tuesday, the rafter tails are next. These long projecting arms continue the language of their wooden counterparts on the west elevation.

Steel tails below.

Tails below (over the glass wall).

Tails above.

Tails above (over the exterior balcony).

Tails east.

Tails east.

But it wasn’t all steel for Will and Matthew. Putting in the wooden trim for the windows and doors (upstairs and downstairs) rounded out a busy week, cut short by a cold front that brought Friday rain.

What's more, a door.

What's more, a door.

What's more, another door.

What's more, another door.

Big window, door, little window.

Big window, door, little window.

Friday also brought more visitors…

…on whom, a bit more later.

Wee window, be less wee.

Bigger?

Bigger?

If you’ve been following these last few postings on the progress of our 1133 (worded or wordless), you may have noticed the differently cladded extending structure at the front, west-facing side of the house. A little box… or the beginnings of a box. A box in progress, if you like.

And if you have, you may have also noticed that this shiny little box has one great opening to the west (destined for great glassy and door-ish things) and one lesser so to the north, front-facing side. An opening, lesser not in importance, mind you, but in scale. A window. A wee window.

But, too wee?

In some of the original elevations (particularly the kitchen), the front-facing window is shown much wider—longer and more horizontal—but as design progressed and plans were formalized, the Green Bottle Gang reconsidered this window and how it might better interact with the interior space…

…and arrived at: square (it’s hipper, so we’re told).

Hardie, meet galv-alum.

Hardie, meet galv-alum.

Up and to the left.

Up and to the left.

Like all windows, it will have two lives: exterior and interior.

As seen from the outside, the window lives slightly off-center and to the left, close to where the two types of cladding join. It is designed to be, like its counterpart cousin on the east-side of the house, a moment; a little box within a little box peering through cascading vertical lines of crimped galv-alum. Its inside life—in the space that will be the 1133 dining room—will see it directly corresponding with the central axis of a long, wooden dining table and overseeing many future gatherings of family and friends.

But, cut back to exterior, and the question (again): too wee?

Oui.

But, we hadn’t thought so at first—that is, at the point just after the window and side were framed, but before the cladding had been applied. After the galv-alum was up, though, there was, we thought, something that seemed a bit, well… certainly not bad (Will and Matthew aren’t capable of bad), just a bit… off.

Initially, we put it down to having stared for so long at the elevations; perhaps we couldn’t move past them. But, there had already been a number of other divergences, and none of those had us scratching our heads.

So, what was it about this little window?

Pulling into the lot one afternoon, it hit us: it felt like it was getting lost.

Not a problem, we thought, if we’d been able to stick with the guys’ original plans and clad the structure in steel. A flat, smooth consistent surface wouldn’t distract the eye from noticing an opening of this size (roughly 12 inches by 12 inches), but the strong vertical lines created by the galv-alum now seemed to overpower it.

After thinking and talking, and pleading our case to Will and Matt, we arrived at: bigger…

It growed.

It growed.

…but, not much bigger… just a wee bit bigger. 3 inches added to the top and right.

This subtle, but important, addition should have the window filling a bit more of the left third (so that it doesn’t appear to hug the corner too, too much), and straddling two of the main galv-alum vertical extrusions (still off-center, but in a more centered way… if that makes sense).

As of the end of this week (week 15 for you counting types), the adjustment had been made to the interior framework (see above); and now, we’re anxiously awaiting the return of the roof dude to finish out the exterior.

Until then…

Week 14: forgotten lines

When the framing fellas were cladding up the front of the house last week, seems they got just a little caught up in all the excitement… and went and forgot somethin’.

A line. A long, thin vertical strip of Hardie board placed just to the right of the winking eye window.

We hadn’t noticed either at first.

But now, seeing this extra vertical stroke in action, it feels pitch-perfect.

The missing line near the winking eye.

The missing line near the winking eye.

The rest of the week was a short-ish one for the framers (due to inclement weather), but they made good use of what little time they had finishing up the remainder of the cladding work on the front of the house.

Hardie entrance.

Hardie entrance.

Front door (a little less giant).

Front door (a little less giant).

View from the entrance.

View from the entrance.

Water Works

Diamond in the rough. ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Diamond in the rough. ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Earlier this year, back when Liane and I were in the midst of our seemingly endless search for land or house, our dear friend (and RealtySouth realtor) Jonathan Thompson showed us a property in Vestavia that he was positively sure we’d find to be the end-all, be-all.

The building—an old, disused water filtration station for Birmingham Water Works—was certainly intriguing… no doubt about it. With a long, flat front elevation, and sturdy bones (mighty, mighty brick), it offered ample amounts of space, tall ceilings, and the prospect of living in one of our choice areas. In short, just about everything we were looking for.

But… we were, well, daunted.

I mean, who wouldn’t be just a tad intimidated by a building where one of the largest open spaces was home to two massively ginourmous, not-going-anywhere-without-a-fight steel filtration tanks?

Tanks, a lot! ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Tanks, a lot! ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Much to the chagrin of Mr. Thompson (sorry Jonathan!)—we decided to pass. Of course, we could see the potential. We just weren’t quite sure we had the where-with-all, grit, endurance, or fortitude to make it happen. But the Green Bottle gang? That, along with mucho talent and vision, they got in spades.

And so it was, just after we’d learned of the fortuitous price drop on the lot at 1133, that we received a call from Will at Green Bottle. He and co-captain Matthew had found something “potentially interesting”: an old utility building used for water filtration.

So there we were, reconsidering the possibility that maybe, just maybe this was the place. Or was it 1133 that we wanted?

We discussed with Green Bottle the pros and cons of new construction at 1133 versus a renovation of the Water Works, considering factors such as budget, the stipulations involved in our financing (we might have to live at the Water Works for a time during construction!), and, of course, the end aesthetic.

The Water Works re-do would lend itself more to an open floor plan with lots of exposed brick and industrial touches. We imagined a space not unlike some of the old warehouse loft conversions we had come to know (and enjoy) while living and working in Boston. What 1133 would look like, though, was completely up for grabs—limited only by our budget and the collective imagination of the Green Bottle gang.

We went with 1133… or haven’t you been paying attention? And the Water Works? Well, Green Bottle would still have their day with it. For while we were hemming and hawing and weighing and pondering (sorry Lou!), Matthew, and his lovely wife Mikel, came to fall in love with the diamond in the rough in Vestavia that scared us away.

It’s now the newest Green Bottle masterwork-in-progress… and well on its way to being M+Ms own first/last/dream home.

They’ve started a blog about it (like to hear it, here it go)… and here’s where the Water Works story continues…

Turning on the water works. ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Turning on the water works. ©2008 Green Bottle Workshop LLC

Week 13: lucky for some

Words to follow shortly…

In the meantime, pictures!

Putting on a face.

Putting on a face.

The Lilliputians were here.

The Lilliputians were here.

Exterior balcony and steel lip.

Exterior balcony and steel lip.

The Trojan Duck (back view).

The Trojan Duck (back view).

Cut-out for the glass handrail.

Cut-out for the glass handrail.

East peep.

East peep.

Board expression.

Board expression.

Week 12: eyes without a face

As the cladding adventures continue, distinct changes on the home front… or is that, the front of the house?

Yes, it is the front of the house!

As the Hardie Boys have grown in their ability to reach new heights (thanks to their pump jack scaffolding system dealio), lo and behold, what once was featureless is now feature-full (…was blind, but now can see, etc.).

The house… has eyes! And they seem to be indicating shared, unspoken knowledge.

The Winking.

Wes Craven's The House Has Eyes 2: The Winking.

And to the left.

And to the left.

After the framers have the front fully-cladded, the Green Bottle gang will turn their attention to the area between 1133’s new eyes and the mouth below them (also known as the window wall). This is where the “eyebrow” will go—an overhang that will project outward from the front and, following the line of the window wall, wrap around to the north east side of the house. The eyebrow, like the roof and dining room extension, will also be covered in galv-alum. For now though, the steel supports rest patiently in the red, just beyond the terrace on the east side of the house.

Steel for the eyebrows.

Steel for the eyebrows (or is it a mustache?).

The north east corner (almost).

The north east corner (almost).

And, speaking of galv-alum, 1133 now sports a shiny, new…

…roof!

Is that a metal roof?

Is that a metal roof?

It is! It is a metal roof!

It is! It is a metal roof!

But… no solar panels? Pourquois?

Perhaps, one day, our roof may be able to absorb as much light as it currently reflects, but solar panels now? Sadly, we just couldn’t afford them. But, again, we’re still trying to green as much as our green will allow.

Our trusty galv-alum has also started to make itself known on the west side dining room extension… more a peep really than a full-fledged announcement.

The West Side Diner.

The West Side Diner.

And as the Hardie Boys finish up their exploits in the back of the house, the resulting view is very, very nice. This just may explain why the front was winking.

In the immortal words of Sir Mix-A-Lot…

In the immortal words of Sir Mix-A-Lot…

Week 11: Hardie work

Much more to come… hopefully soon… with more words to go with the pictures… for those who care to know the whys & wherefores.

Until then, highlights from week 11 (taken about 2 weeks ago!). Enjoy.

master bedroom and first floor hallway windows.

West side: master bedroom and first floor hallway windows.

more than halfway there.

More than halfway there.

Peep Lou.

Peep Lou.

Rafter tail's tails.

Rafter tail's tails.

Bare in back.

Bare in back.


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