My office is located above the Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Dodgeville. Just look for the "Time & Temperature" clock on Iowa Street, a half block from the Courthouse. You'll find my name on a business directory in a little alcove to the left of the main bank door.
Climb the stairs and go to the back office. If you need assistance or would prefer to meet on the ground floor, just call ahead 608-935-9020 and we'll make arrangements. Even if you don't have a project in mind, or are curious to see my "studio", stop by!
Wow, was I excited when I heard that my teahouse won a spot in Fine Homebuilding! This magazine is the pinnacle of cool for people in my profession. Look for it in the September 2012 issue, page 80....or check out this link to the online gallery http://www.finehomebuilding.com/item/22872/japanese-teahouse. None of this was possible without the vision of my clients, Jim & Cheryl Smeja and the contractors who contributed their talent & expertise, Randolph Fleming, Larry Terrill, and Joel Duncanson...all from neighboring Mineral Point.
It's been another enjoyable year as docent at Taliesin.
When I'm not giving Hillside tours, I love to listen & observe.
Four new tours rolled out this year and I've tagged along:
The Landscape Tour winds around the estate, with a good long look at Midway Barn. Farming at Taliesin has a storied history, and the red buildings hugging the middle hill are picturesque, clever, and quite decrepit. There are several majestic oaks, and I hugged one that may be 300 years old.
A leisurely pace was set by Sidney Robinson on the Exploring Taliesin Tour. As Frank Lloyd Wright scholar and architect, Sidney showed us how to see Taliesin through his eyes. As we sat in the fabled tea circle, we were challenged to put our observations into words. This tour is about sharing ideas. I left feeling invigorated.
The Preservation Tour led us down dank stone steps into the bowels of Taliesin. The basement under the grand living room will one day be rooms for special guests and students as they were in Wright's time, but with more headroom and in-floor radiant heat. The crew often must work at the pace of an archaeological dig, hauling dirt out by the bucketful and shoring up rotting beams with new engineered material while preserving it's story. Fascinating for anyone in construction.
I haven't yet been on the Loving Frank Tour, but hope to soon. In rereading the book, my courisity is piqued to learn about Ellen Kay and the early feminist movement that was so much a part of Mamah Borthwick's life direction. Just out is Ron McCrea's Building Taliesin: Frank Lloyd Wright's Home of Love & Loss, with previously unpublished photos of Mamah's home.
Another amazing Fair wrapped up this past weekend just outside Steven's Point. What I call "Summer Camp for Adults".....tents under the pines in the back 40, biking, and swimming (if there was skinny dipping or pantie raids, I didn't hear about it). Workshops of all kinds, food carts, vendors of the latest model Prius to solar ovens to macrama belts. Live music each night, inspired dancing, and Central Waters beer.
I enjoy being part of the setup & tear-down crew......like a colony of ants, we make a couple thousand folding chairs appear, then dissappear all within hours. Here's the PDF of the workshop I presented:
From Napkin Sketch to Building Permit: How to Plan Your Next Energy Efficient Project (It takes some time to upload....and starts on the "notes" page so you can read my comments. Then you can cycle back through and look at the larger format slides).
Here's what some attendees had to say: "Thank you so much for an excellent presentation. You did a great job. I appreciate how well you selected the information and how you supported it with examples. I really appreciated your thoughtful tips on how to focus on what you really want, how to stir up creative solutions, and how to modify a design to incorporate energy efficient and passive solar design."
"Thank you for the great presentation. So many points you made struck home as useful ways to process our dreams for a new home into reality."
"The information you presented was great. You gave so many helpful points. You are very thorough & knowledgeable about the process from start to finish. The examples were great and showed how the process works in a real application."
There's a terrific workshop in Madison this weekend. Tumbleweed Tiny Houses has made national news (including The Oprah Show) with their homes-on-wheels, some as small as 65 square feet. I attended the workshop in Nashville last year, and found it inspiring.
Owner Jay Shafer was in the River Valley yesterday to tour Taliesin with me. While still closed for the season, with furniture & artifacts draped in bedsheets, we were able to poke around and talk with the Preseration Crew about their work rebuilding the loggia.
As a designer and artist, Jay found many interesting details & spaces. Frank Lloyd Wright's rooms are small by modern standards (with low ceilings), but manage to be both spacious & intimate. And bursting with the odd & quirky.
At last year’s Energy Fair, I teamed up with Alex Greene of Red Beard Woodworks & Artisan Builders to roll out our first Concept House…..a small, smart, sustainable home featuring locally harvested lumber. From my plans, our colleague Eric Wallner built an exquisite wood & cardboard model. Here’s a picture of the model and Alex’s booth at the Fair. We're looking for just the right person or family to customize this home for. Could it be you? Follow this link to find out more:
This Fair is billed as the longest running event of it's kind in the country. In 2011, I presented three workshops. My first time with powerpoint & speaking to a large group. Ignoring a few minor glitches, things went pretty well. Here are the PDF's: (they take some time to upload....and start on the "notes" page so you can read my comments....then cycle back through the large format slides):
The Energy Fair is fun & educational. A great place to spend the weekend…besides top notch workshops, there are children’s events, home tours, hands-on demos, nationally known speakers, dance parties, and a beer tent!
Even more rewarding when you’re part of the action. As a volunteer, you get in free & get a good workout: setting up tents, chairs, staging, hauling recyclables & trash, doing dishes. A great way to meet people and learn new skills. Maybe I’ll see you there. Always the third weekend in June outside of Stevens Point in central Wisconsin.
Midwest Renewable Energy Fair
Natural Home magazine recently published a story about one of my projects. This beautiful Japanese inspired farmhouse was built for neighbors Pat & Gordon Greene by local contractor Rick Hanson. The stunning timber frame structure is by Alex Greene of Redbeard Woodworks & Artisan Builders. Red Beard
Alex felled, milled, and solar kiln dried the wood on site, following Full Vigor Forestry's philosophy, developed by Spring Green’s Jim Birkemeier. Timber Growers
Most designers don’t have the opportunity to work for their client before planning a new building. I just got back from a month in Oakland, California working in my sister’s business. Stationed at "Tools", I picked & packed dozens of orders a day. Here's me with my supervisor.
TKB Trading sells colorants & supplies to makeup artists, soap crafters and other creative types. Situated in a non-descript warehouse in New Chinatown, orders are received online and shipped out daily. Business is booming, and space is tight.
A promising lot came up for sale in neighboring Alameda. Here, a retail presence could be established, as well as an apartment for a shop manager. My weeks working "in the trenches" helped me understand the complexities of the business and the aspirations of my sister.
We worked out a floor plan, and I provided four elevation sketches. Scheme A offers a traditional design, with masonry columns supporting a large cornice and signboard. A repeating cornice defines the edge of the parapet wall. Multiple crown moldings layer to create depth. Scheme B replaces columns with a heavy stucco base punctuated by an archway opening with a metal gate or carriage house style door. Scheme C is a bold departure towards modernism, with stucco panels in a geometric grid.
Scheme D is my strongest proposal, blending traditional elements with contemporary materials. Deeply scored cast concrete columns flank a metal storefront & loading dock door, and support a simple cornice. Horizontal wood slats top the windows, adding a touch of rustic texture & warmth.
Dodgeville began as a mining camp back in 1827. Lead deposits were so abundant that ore lay exposed atop rocky knobs. Miners immigrating from Cornwall dug small shafts into the hillsides, throwing the overburden aside. This is how Wisconsin became known as the Badger State. Besides the odd piles and occasional sink holes (quickly filled in by city crews), physical evidence of the city’s rich history has been erased.
The exception is the Slag Furnace, built in 1876 to extract marketable ore from the waste of initial smelting. Badly deteriorated, efforts to raise funds for restoration were undertaken by the Historic Preservation Commission, the Women's Club, and especially by neighbor Carolyn Meuer. Work was completed in 2010 by Laufenberg Masonry of Highland. Take time to visit & marvel. The furnace is located on East Spring Street just past Singer Lumber, and includes an informative sign prepared by the Iowa County Historical Society.
One of the most interesting design challenges I’ve tackled! Green Squared Builders Association was asked to design and build a chicken coop for a benefit auction in Madison, a hotbed of the backyard urban chicken movement. Sketchup Model
Our design features locally harvested, solar kiln dried aspen, oak, walnut, and cherry….all scraps laying around the woodshop. The broad roof is clad with cedar shingles split from a downed tree at Taliesin and further references Frank Lloyd Wright and the prairie style with repeated geometric shapes and Cherokee red accents.
We paid careful attention to the finicky ways of chickens by providing an indoor to outdoor branch roost, a strutn’ ramp, cozy nest boxes, backside egg doors, and a roof monitor for ventilation. The coop is built on sturdy runners, and can be moved to fresh patches of grass by pulling the roost handles. Two or three chickens are happy here. Plans available for a small fee.
Since 1998, interesting discussions, fresh concepts, and spatial breakthroughs happen around this table. My best work results when you share your ideas and insights. Collaboration raises the bar!
My summer reading has been devoted to the study of Frank Lloyd Wright. In May, I joined the staff at Taliesin in nearby Spring Green as a docent. I give tours of the Hillside School buildings about one day a week. It has been fascinating to learn about the history of the Fellowship, an architectural & allied arts community he founded in 1932. I love walking around, observing the space, and explaining it to people. The esprit de corps among the tour guides is great! Taliesin
Alley Stage began as the dream of a local playwright.
Coleman discovered a forgotten quarry, its towering limestone wall overgrown in brush and vines. Located on a back corner of Shake Rag Center for the Arts in Mineral Point, it was the perfect venue for an outdoor summer theatre. His vision was to create original plays in a rustic, historic setting.
He asked me to design a stage that would work for a variety of backdrops and props, with seating for 120 people. The theatre opened in the summer of 2007, and we were wowed with the amazing talent of the playwrights and actors, many of them our friends and neighbors.
We are now looking at upgrading the audience area with tiered platforms and more comfortable seating. Coleman covets a permanent sound booth and storage for hand props, to replace the folding table and tent now in use. I presented this design concept at a recent winter production, and a generous silent donor offered to fund the project!! Alley Stage