Thursday, 31 July 2014

ink and REVERIE - Project Update

Well, it's been many months since I've updated my blog, and I'm excited to say, ink and REVERIE is back on the front-burner!

After many protracted meetings with Christine Dovey we've managed to reach a stage in the design where there is to be some major decision making…  It's about to get (more) interesting!!

Please, check-out her blog for her perspective.  I'll be posting my from viewpoint, next week!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ink and REVERIE (No. 3 in a series) - Inspirations

Well, the (Metric) Thanksgiving weekend is behind us now, and it's back to work...  It's Tuesday, and time for another blog in the series "ink & REVERIE":

As Christine bijouandboheme and I are both suffering from a bit of "turkey stupor", we agreed to make this instalment of  our blogs, light and airy...  Much like a crisp, green salad, with dressing on the side.  A respite from the meat and potatoes, gravy and apple pie.

During our last consultation meeting, it became clear that the layouts are close to being resolved, and we are needing to make some decisions on exterior cladding, fenestration, roofing and detailing.  For this, we are referring back to some of the original examples / images that Christine has accumulated, in her foresight.

We're set on stucco:  White, Lymestone from Drivit.  A well-insulated, rain-screen wall system that will look fantastic, provide flexibility in detailing, and perform well in our climate.

Exterior Finish Example

While this example is quite modern, the style and colour of the stucco is bang-on, and there are several cues we will be incorporating into the design:  Hard returns to inset, modern, clear expansive glazing with thin frames, mullions and muntin bars, reminiscent of steel-framed industrial windows.


The plan is to introduce a lantern / skylight into the roof above the upper hallway, in it's entirety.  It will be grand, and will (in addition to the large wall-windows) add to the lightness of the dwelling in spite of some of the massive detailing on the interior and exterior.

This classic facade will be typical of the front elevation:

Classic, Simple Detailing

High-Order Columns and Detailing

Columns and arches will help direct a visitor to the main entrance of the dwelling, along the side elevation...  A tricky scenario, that will use visual cues through architectural details, to guide the flow.

The rear elevation can be less "frilly" and more casual, while maintaining a complimentary language:

Doors and Simple Details

The garage at the street, provides us the opportunity to have a modern intervention into the classical facade:

Modern Intervention

While smaller, it's presence will be unmistakeable!  Currently, we are discussing using a massive, brutal intervention of bush-hammered concrete...  Against the white stucco and classical detailing, it's going to be dramatic.

This week will be spent finalizing the layouts, researching window and door systems, and details to help me present the elevations for review and discussion...  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Into every practice, a little KAOS will fall.

An update on a recently completed project...

A few months ago, a contractor - friend (Jamie Coles - James Coles Renovations) referred me to a potential client, who needed a design plan for tenant improvements to a leasehold space in a local plaza. I was thrilled for the opportunity, as I seldom get a chance to do any design work in commercial spaces as a result of my current BCIN accreditation / classification as a Designer.  Truthfully, the majority of my Architectural experience is in commercial work, and it's where I feel most comfortable as a designer.  So, I priced the job as aggressively as I could and presented myself as the best option to the client.

A brief background on the client:

As an established business with a good following in the music industry, through a successful business on The Kinsgsway, in Toronto - KAOS Music Lesson Studio was looking to expand it's business reach.

The founder (client) and family had recently relocated to a more family-friendly area (Oakville) and it was their desire to open a second location closer to "home".  We met, hit it off, and reviewed the potential CRU (Commercial Retail Unit) together in Maple Grove Plaza.  The existing space was rough, but it's potential was evident.

Existing CRU

Existing CRU

Existing CRU

Existing CRU

After speaking about the potential space, reviewing the Landlord - Tenant agreement, Schedule B and implications, timelines for Building Permit, and their Grand Opening date, the client came to see that the possibility of another facility was, truly within reach.  The authorization to proceed with design drawings was given, and it was full steam ahead!

Immediately, I began by documenting the existing conditions in photographs, and measuring the existing space.

Measured Drawing Example

Measured Drawing Example

Fortunately, the client had a pretty good idea of what he wanted, which made the design process VERY quick...  It was rather informal, actually, and I was able to move straight into Working Drawings almost, right-away.  A couple of clicks of the mouse, and a few key-strokes later:

General Notes and Data Matrix

Existing Floor and Reflected Ceiling Plan

Demolition Plans

Proposed Layout and Reflected Ceiling Plans

Now, as you may notice, due to the classification of the building under the Ontario Building Code, I was required (and had the good fortune) to retain Kenneth Isaac Architect Inc., to assist with the project, legally.  Ken and I have worked together for many years, and continue to enjoy a mutually beneficial and cooperative relationship between our practices.

Certainly, the client on this project was very pleased with the prompt and expert service / consultant coordination that negotiated the process, in rapid fashion...  

Under Construction

Sound Attenuation Batts, in Typ. Studio Partition Wall

In fact, from measured-drawings, design, coordination, to building permit, through construction to completion, the project took less than a six weeks!  KAOS was open for business, on time, and on budget!

Storefront Elevation

Open for business!


Waiting Area and Studio Entrances


Ready for your lesson?

Needless to say, I'm thrilled to have been a part of this project and am very pleased with the finished space...  More importantly:  I have another happy client!

Congratulations to KAOS Music Lesson Studios.  Good luck with your new venture in our town!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

ink and REVERIE (No. 2 in a series) - They said there would be no math!

As the title for this blog series suggests, this project is a classic struggle.  Not in the "good versus evil" sense but, very much in the vein of "dream versus reality".

On one hand, we have the dreamer...  To the ever-optimistic and wonderfully creative client; there is nothing that is not within the realm possibility.  Fact or fantasy, it is of little consequence...  If Christine can dream it, she can breathe life into it, and make it real.  Need evidence?  Christine's Viewpoint

On the other hand, we have the pragmatist...  Me.  The "architect" of Christine's vision.  Born to be a dreamer, trained to be a creative in a dark and cold reality.  Like most designers, I have found that dreams, which enable creation, come with a cost...  Sacrifice.

As dreams move toward reality, the client and designer cannot avoid the sharp, knife-edge cuts of budget and regulations.  The the point of a pen becomes a rapier of reverie.

Experience teaches the designer to anticipate the blood-letting.  Inexperience allows the client to dwell in fantasy.  Consequently and sequentially, the brutal pruning of the branches that reach towards the sun, cuts are made to a project in the darkness of clients budgets, enforced Zoning By-Laws and Building Codes.

This, is the struggle.

As with all projects, I begin with having a topographical and boundary survey prepared of the client's property.  From this, I can delve into the murky depths of Municipal Zoning By-Laws and prepare the all-important "Zoning Review and Analysis":

Subsequently, I meet with a Municipal Zoning Officer to review my interpretations and implications of the applicable By-Laws.  Usually, there will be some conjecture and advice offered to "improve" the "restrictions".  Always, there is some discussion as to the Municipality's Committee of Adjustment and it's openness to (minor) variances.  Christine's situation is no different.  Right-off the bat, I knew the prospect of applying for a variance, would be a very real option.  Truthfully, variances are more the norm than not.  However, should we feel that we have to proceed on this route, this will be the first-time I've had to "quarterback the plays" for a client in this position.  If necessary, I'll be covering the process, in an upcoming post.

Back to the process:

I take great care in reviewing the Zoning Review and Analysis with a client.  As I guide the the discussion through the data and it's meaning, we discuss every facet of the restrictions and implications. This, combined with the survey, define the boundaries within I have to design the dwelling. I see an invisible box, defined by set-backs and building height restrictions.  Right away, my mind begins to envision the volume, preparing to sculpt the mass.  The tools by which the shape will be revealed, are the client's wishes (as well as "needs") and the Zoning By-Laws.

Occasionally, and Christine a prime example, the client has a pre-determined vision of the finished product.  The dream of a particular style, rendered in reverie, realised in photographs, is the mandate which I must endeavour to reproduce.  



However, I "see" the project from the inside, out.  I focus on the interior spaces, places to nurture and sustain, and the flow between them. Circulation and structure are also at the forefront of my mind.  While the client is dreaming of "wisteria draped over a trellis",  I am cognisant of things like "how are we going to heat and cool this place...  i.e.:  where is the duct work going to go, and how will it effect the spaces?".   The struggle continues.

During an initial design consultation, we review photos and discuss styles and interests...  Family life, lifestyle and other considerations, are reviewed are evaluated by me to assist with me "getting to know" my client.  Often, a client will have a list of "wants and needs" that may not accurately reflect the actual requirements of the client and / or family.  Typically, I will sketch as we talk, to help me understand the layout and spaces they want / need.

Typical Bubble Diagram

This consultation forms the basis for "the programme":  The parameters of the project, needs to be met and styles to be presented.  Usually, "the programme" is a formal document, prepared by the Architect to assist designers and drafts persons to create the vision, in absence of the Architect.  Since I am all of the above (in my practice) "the programme" can informally exist in my mind become realised through my sketches and notes, rather than a black and white document or memo.

Eventually, I gain enough knowledge of my client and of the external factors, to prepare a "Preliminary Design" scheme (or two).  Usually created in the style of a "black-line" layout, the "Preliminary Design" is presented to the client for review and comment.

Typically, these are reviewed at the next design consultation meeting, and represent "ideal" and "realistic" scenarios, respectively.  The "ideal" illustrates my interpretation of the client's "dream".  The "realistic" illustrates the dream, within boundaries.

Preliminary Design Layout 01

As you can see in the above, PD-01 presents generous spaces, and lovely flow.  However, it is beyond what can be accommodated on the lot, within the setbacks.  If this is the path the client chooses, we'll have no option but to present to the Committee of Adjustment, and deal with the ramifications.  This, is not a "slam-dunk" process, and is not without cost or risk.  Also, the square footage must be considered with respect to Gross Floor Area (GFA) and the client's budget.  These, too, are exceeded.

Preliminary Design Layout 02

In PD-02, the layout has been "refined" to fall within the restrictions of Zoning, GFA and budget.  Make no mistake, there have been compromises to the layout.  This design can be built, with little consideration or regard to any objections from the Municipality, neighbouring properties or the banker.  But, can the client live with it?

At this stage, I leave it to the client to mull-over, and discuss with family.  I fully anticipate the design to be revised, and some combination of the two will be resolved into the balance we all seek...

The next phase of the process, is Design Development.  I plan on describing this phase in the next episode.  The struggle continues...

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A new series of joint blog posts: ink and reverie

As mentioned in a previous post on this blog, I have been retained to prepare architectural design and working drawings for Christine Dovey's @bijouandboheme new, family dream-home.  Beyond this being a wonderful opportunity to work with such a talented designer, this will be an exciting and dramatic project to enhance to my growing portfolio of residential projects!

Christine and I have come to know each other, over the past few months of design revisions, and have become friends who feed off of the unique characteristics which we each bring to the table.  My more pragmatic, technical and engineering-like mind is responsible to put on paper whatever Christine can dream-of and imagine.  That, my friends, can be a lot!  Hence, we have decided to publish our mutually-respective positions on this exciting process...  Without further ado:

It is my pleasure to introduce this new series!

Christine and I have agreed to blog, from our individual perspectives, about this project as it progresses through preliminary and concept design phases and, ultimately, towards construction and occupancy. Every Tuesday, I'd encourage you to follow Christine's inspirational ideas and opinions on her blog:  bijouandboheme  and check back here, for regular updates!

Please leave your comments, and follow us on Twitter via #inkandreverie

Intense design discussions are challenging and entertaining.  Usually, over coffee, Christine pushes me to incorporate more than I would normally be willing to consider.  Starting with trying to squeeze an (almost) 4000SF house onto a 50FT wide lot!  Dreams are great, reality can be cruel:  Budgets are considered as the "elephant in the room" and zoning by-laws are largely, un-flexible.  Certainly, the layout has everything she dreams of but, something has to give!



This is where it's going to get interesting...  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Busy, busy!

Wow, things have really become busy over the past week, or so!  Two new projects have been acquired, and I'm hopping!!

I'll be making more formal announcements, in the next few days but, for now, I'll just give you the basic details...

  • I've been retained to design a pool house for a local client.  A nice, little job to compliment a lovely house in SE Oakville.
  • I've been retained to redesign and develop an existing commercial, retail unit in a local Plaza, which will become a second location for a growing music teaching facility and studio space.  I'm thrilled about this one, as it's my first venture into the commercial architecture that I love.  While I have much experience in this area from past positions whilst employed by Architects, it's a field that I've yet to manage on my own...  Excited, to be sure!!
I'll be updating, as they progress, and time permits!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Hands-on Renovation

Over the past few months, I have had the pleasure to be working with a client / contractor who is renovating a dated dwelling and preparing it for sale in the active Old Oakville real estate market.  The property has been listed before but was taken off the market, as it was found lacking in various areas.  The client retained me for advice and guidance in bringing the dwelling up to date and renovated in accordance with comments received by the Realtor during open house viewings.

For a frame of reference, here are the existing floor plans:

Existing Main Floor Plan

Existing Upper Floor Plan

Of primary concern was the awkward layout of the rooms in the forward portion of the Main Floor Plan.  The existing spaces (currently labelled as "Living Room" and "Office / Library") were perceived as being small and restrictive to both function and flow.

Office / Library

Living Room

Also, the these spaces were considered to have less than ideal natural light.  In addition, the main staircase to the upper level of the home was very dark, narrow and unwelcoming.  To get an idea, I've included some images of the existing spaces, as described:

Main Stair
As you can see, I suggested removing the partition wall between the two spaces to open-up the plan and address the issue of "flow".  An unused closet was removed and all hardwood flooring was replaced, to match the remainder of the floor level.  New windows (from Pollard Windows) were introduced, to match the existing, which dramatically increased the amount of ambient light in the space.

New Windows

To Match Existing

To address the "unwelcoming" stair, Sun Tunnels from Velux have been specified and are awaiting installation into the flat-roof above the upper stair-hall.  The desire is to illuminate the entire space and fill the stair case with more ambient light.  A lighter paint colour on the walls, a bright coat of paint on the stair and a contrasting stair runner will draw the eye up, create interest and invite the occupant into the upper level.  As this phase progresses, I'll update with photos of the transformation.

The remainder of the main floor level is also undergoing renovation to the kitchen and great-room spaces.  The idea is to check-off the "dream kitchen" must have in a potential purchaser's list, and to address the uncertainty in function of the open area.

The existing Kitchen had uppers suspended from a bulkhead which compromised the view to the massive, wooded lot at the rear of the property.

Existing Kitchen
The remodel includes removal of the uppers, to open the kitchen to the view and access to the renovated breakfast space:

Existing Breakfast Area

These areas are currently under renovation:

Uppers Removed

New Cabinetry Awaiting Installation

There will be a new, coffer / bulkhead detail and integrated lighting introduced into the Great Room ceiling to delineate the spaces and give the occupant an anchor for the intended functions of casual dining and relaxing.

I've been involved in all aspects of this project.  From design planning and decisions to swinging a hammer with the contractor, we've been working together.  It's been a fun project which is ongoing.  I'll update as progress continues!

- Credit to the Realtor, Mark Kirton, for the scanned images used in this post.  Thank you.