I agree with Mr. Foster.
Architects by nature are optimists.
It is how we are trained in architecture school. And in the profession, it is our job to see the bright side of things.
For example, here are some common scenarios.
John Q Client calls up and says:
- "Stevie Boy, I have this piece of dirt I recently purchased. It is next to the old train tracks, it is an odd shape, 30' wide, 150' long, and in a not-so-great neighborhood. I think a hotel would go well there. What do you think?"
- "Steverino, take a look at this old building I just purchased. She ain't that pretty, but she has good bones. No roof though and I believe that the building is full of asbestos. What do you think we can do with it?"
- "Yo Steve, I just purchased this great piece of property. It would be great for some new homes. The only problem is that it is in a neighborhood full of NIMBY's who fight any project in their neighborhood. Do you think we have any chance of getting anything built?"
Seems bleak right?
In each of those scenarios I would likely say the same thing:
"Let me see what I can do."
Let me see what I can do. I don't have any crystal ball. I can't see the future. But I do know that most situations in the built environment can be improved.
Bye Bye Little Brick Box
Being an optimist is a trait that can come in very handy when an architect searches for their own house. It certainly has come in handy with our home.
This is the last chapter of the story that has become a repeat character on BUILDINGS ARE COOL. This is the last post on Our Home Addition and my contribution to this month's #ArchiTalks.
What is #ArchiTalks?
Once a month a group of architect bloggers gather to blog about the same topic. This 'movement' led by Life of an Architect's Bob Borson is called #ArchiTalks. The topic for this month's #ArchiTalks number 16 is New Year, New ________.
And how timely.
We are fortunate to start 2016 in a new home.
In fact most of the interior work was done in time for Thanksgiving. We had 16 of our family members over for Thanksgiving and even set up our Christmas Tree that day.
So it seemed like a no brainer for me. New Year, New House.
Remember that thing about Architects being Optimists?
When we were searching for our first home back in 2013, we had a hard time finding something we wanted in our price range. And to make matters worse, it was a hot market. Any time anything good came out it got snatched up in a day. No joke.
I told the story of our struggles with buying our house in:
We had just about run out of hope when my wife emailed me a picture of this house for sale:
My response was: "That's just the type of ugly I expected for my first house."
It was a dog.
Do you see the pun?
By every stretch this house was a dog.
- It was not historic. Built in 1972. Like much of Charleston, the fabric of our neighborhood is dominated by historic houses, most 100 years or older.
- It was brick. Our neighborhood is predominantly wood siding and the occasional stucco. Brick is very rare.
- It had big setbacks. In our neighborhood the houses are built to the street helping to form the street edge. The setbacks for this house are more suburban.
- Oh. Did I mention that it was ugly!!!!!!!! I mean look at it? It had no detail. It was just a simple box. In fact we lovingly referred to it as a 'our little brick box'.
For those reasons this house really stuck out.
But I saw something.
I didn't necessarily know what this house would one day become, but I knew that it had a lot of potential. And those oddities that I highlighted above. I saw them as opportunities.
- It was not historic. As a result it was in very good shape. Although it needed major updates, the houses utilities and construction methods were of modern standards.
- It was brick. Brick is superior to siding. It will last forever and is effective at keeping the water out. Walk down our street and you will see rotting wooden houses everywhere.
- It had big setbacks. We have a front yard! See that happy dog. This would also make it easy for us to add on in the future.
- Oh. Did I mention that it was ugly!!!!!!!! Well, there is only one way to go. The simple box would be easy to add on to.
So we bought it.
And the rest is history. A history that I have documented on this website. Immediately after we bought the house we gutted the interior and did a very dramatic interior renovation.
And then a year later in 2015, we orchestrated a renovation loan that would allow us to add on a small addition. Here was the original plan sketch:
And here was one of the first elevation sketches.
And here is a final photo taken just a couple weeks ago.
Not bad, right? It turned out much better than that sketch. Looking back at it, that sketch is pretty crappy. But hey, it's just a sketch.
Architects use sketching as a way to document their thoughts.
Some times they are pretty, but most of the time, it is just a quick thought. So when I get that call from the client about their precarious site, I don't know what the answer is going to be because I haven't sketched it yet.
Who doesn't love a good before and after picture? This a series of some before and after transformation pictures of Our Little Brick Box. Some of the before pictures were from way back when we originally purchased the house and some were taken during construction.
Kitchen Looking into Dining Room
Dining Room Looking from Library
Dining Room Looking into Library
So what's next?
The house is finished. How about a little relaxation?
Relaxation???? Are you kidding. We are home owners. Our work is never done.
Funny, but true. I have moved on to focusing my energy on the landscaping. As shown in the pictures above, I am not getting much help from my furry little companion other than quality control. So far he likes everything.
Thanks for joining us on this journey!
The participants of this ArchiTalks blog post series are asking you to help a friend of ours who is dealing with a family tragedy.Rusty Long is an Architect based out of Portsmouth, Virginia, whose son Matthew is fighting for his life. Here is Matthew’s story, as told by his Dad, Rusty:
Matthew Long was born May 29th, 2013, happy, and seemingly healthy. Less than two days later his mother and I found ourselves in an neonatal intensive care unit waiting room, listening to a rushed intensive care doctor explain how our son needed immediate dialysis to save his life. The disease, he briefly explained, was one of a group of disorders called Urea Cycle Disorders, which impact the way the body breaks down protein. We later discovered that Matthew's particular variant is called OTC Deficiency, a particularly severe form of it in fact, which results in a rapid rise of ammonia in the blood, called hyperammonemia, resulting in devastating neurological damage. This form of OTC is so severe, Matthew has virtually no peers who have survived it. Once the immediate crisis was arrested, we came to find out more about the disease and the impact of this initial event.
The disease is inherited, and the damage is permanent. Treatment consists of a combination of medications, low protein medical diet, and ultimately a liver transplant. Matthew was fortunate to experience no additional hyperammonemic events in the following fifteen months of life, and had a liver transplant on August 24th, 2014. The cure for the disease, a transplant, isn't so much a cure as trading one condition for another. While we will never risk the chance of another ammonia spike, Matthew is on a half a dozen or more medications at any given time to avoid rejection. Despite these challenges, intensive daily therapy for cerebral palsy (a result of the initial damage), limited motor function, and various other challenges along the way, our son is remarkably happy and has changed all our lives for the better. He's taught us to be stronger than we ever thought possible, to have faith beyond human understanding, and the immeasurable value of life.
The #ArchiTalks community is hoping to raise $5,500 to help Architect Rusty Long and his family reach their financial goal on HelpHopeLive.org. If each reader of this post contributes a small amount, our impact will be massive and we can make a difference for Matthew’s family. Click here now and donate $2.00.
Don't forget to check out the other bloggers for #ArchiTalks 16: New Year, New______.
Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
New Year, New Community on Business of Architecture
Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
New Year, New CAD
Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
New Year, New Adventures
Nicholas Renard - dig Architecture (@dig-arch)
New Year, A New Hope
Jes Stafford - Modus Operandi Design (@modarchitect)
New Year, New Gear
Cindy Black - Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)
New Year, New Casita
Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
New Year, New Underwear
Rosa Sheng - Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
New Year, New Era
Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
"new year, new _____"
Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
New Year, New Plan
Amy Kalar - ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
New Year, New Adventures
Michael Riscica - Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
New Year, New Life!
Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
New Year, New Home
brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
New Year, New·ly Adult Architect
Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
A Little Premature
Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice AIA (@egraia)
The New New
Kyu Young Kim - Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
New Year, New Office Space