Thursday, July 26, 2007

Penthouse Terrace Garden

Seating with a View
This penthouse terrace was my view from our dining room in our Jersey City apartment in 2007. The terrace was approximately 12' x 10' and was on the 23rd story of a large apartment building. Its exposure was to the south-west, so our microclimate was very warm and very windy. I had a Rosemary plant overwinter in our USDA Zone 7 and we were able to be outside in the afternoon with short sleeves in March.

Small coffee nook
I am an avid gardener, as you may notice from my posts. I was not satisfied with a few pots of ornamental plants. I needed space to grow food, flowers, and space to sit and enjoy my view of the Statue of Liberty.
Concept Plan

Saturday, April 28, 2007

East Hampton NY Residence

Enlarged model courtesy of Cook+Fox Architects
While working at Cook+Fox Architects in New York, I had the unique opportunity to help design and construct an immense single family home in East Hampton, New York.  The owners came to my previous employer, Rick Cook, specifically because of previous work he had done out there as well as his knowledge and passion for green building.  I got to work on the project because I am a die-hard greenie and had a working knowledge of the technical aspects of green building.  And I had time, a precious commodity at any architecture firm.

The East Hampton home was designed to LEED 2.1 standards before LEED for Homes was released.  While this rating system was not entirely appropriate to this project type, we felt it was a good starting point.  And, due to its size, this project would never qualify for LEED for Homes, which is directed more at builders of tract housing.  We also actively pursued passive survivability issues as Hurricane Katrina and her remnants were forefront in our minds.  We also though hard about luxury homes, both the resource intensiveness of them as well as their inevitability, and decided to pursue green systems on this house as a case study for what can be done. 
Green Features Graphic courtesy of Cook+Fox Architects
The concepts we focused on were preserving the natural dune characteristics of this site on the beach, using open geothermal wells for cooling to eliminate the need for noisy compressors, creating movable storm shutters and storm serge mitigation in case of a hurricane event, and working with an award-winning interior designer to use sustainable materials.  We were also proud of our work to educate and work with the contractor on his first "green" home. 

Building Section Courtesy Cook+Fox Architects

Ever the building science nerd, I was excited when we had the fortune to hire Joe Lstiburek for a day to speak to our office and review our drawings to provide insight.  From him we learned about the benefits of rigid spray foam insulation as both an air barrier and an insulator, in addition to other building specific comments.     

My role on this project was largely one of research and coordination.  I coordinated the work of the interior designer, lighting designer, mechanical and electrical consultants, and our in-house team.  I also conducted and coordinated various research tasks and designed  specific tasks, such as the multiple fireplaces.

[insert LEED information]

No project is ever perfect and compromises are always made.  But by the end of the project we felt we had created a beautiful home that the homeowners were proud of while educating the East Hampton, NY, building community about green building issues.