If you know us, you know that we are actually full time designers, full time builders…AND full time animal-rescuers.
On top or our design + build firm, we own a non-profit organization of rescuing and providing food and home for the local strays here in the Houston’s Heights. We are proud of our compassion and we are proud of our successful rescue stories.
Recently, we heard something that was of great interest to us. Christopher Joyce on NPR highlights the on-growing issue of the death of birds with the increase of glass in modern architecture. Find story here.
Sheppard tells us that, “Most birds don’t have a good depth perception beyond their beaks,” and that about “100 million to a billion birds die this way in North America every year.”
More and more, both biologist and architects are putting forth effort to find a solution to bird-friendly glass. Meanwhile, the article informs us that an action as simple as turning off your lights at night can help make your building a much more bird-friendly one.
Outstanding among others, Row on 25th is a development consisting of nine houses. Deceptively minimal, the homes rejuvenate the style of old row houses with touches of light, air, and brilliance. Clean white walls that stretch from floor to ceiling speak a simple vocabulary of sharp lines and edges.
These nine homes move in rhythm as each house is carefully chosen to be set back or forward to complete a single movement of tempo. The exterior paint on each home also differs from one to the other, yet the dissimilarity of each is delicate enough to bypass a sense of tiresome garnish. The variation of the building line and subtle play of color coordination enhance the overall image of the development. And as a finishing touch- a sea of billowing grass that changes from season to season, precedes the homes, completing the experience of its static artistic vision.
We express our appreciation to Dwell Magazine and PaperCity Magazine for their featuring articles on
Row on 25th.
For more on 25th:
Wood is one of America’s oldest and most beloved building materials. It is the same strong, economical, abundant resource our forefathers used.
Today, large quantities of wood are reused pieces. More and more people are choosing to reclaim wood because of the numerous benefits of doing so. The wood’s origins and physical characteristics are strength, stability, and durability. The increased strength found in reclaimed wood also attributes to the lessening of air pollution. But not only does it give back to the environment, reclaimed wood also carries with it a significant piece of history.
Our firm uses reclaimed wide plank longleaf pine as much as possible as it fits to the clients’ taste. Our own LEED office’s fence, floors and stairs are made of this beautiful material. There is nothing quite comparable to the elegance and raw beauty in its rough form- not to mention- the distinctive patina it can give to any interior. But greater than all these is the history it carries with it. Longleaf pine dates back to the 1800’s when our country underwent the Industrial Revolution. It is amazing how we are reclaiming shiplap wood from such a significant era! By reclaiming wood from this epoch, we are taking and preserving a piece of history into our very own work. The Industrial Revolution was a season of invention and growth. The grind of Industrial Revolution makes possible much of our technical and economical advancements today.
Rice Design Alliance (RDA) is featuring architect Rem Koolhaas as their centennial speaker.
Looking forward to this amazing opportunity to hear him lecture this Thursday on the future of architecture. Read more about it here: http://news.rice.edu/2012/08/14/rice-school-of-architecture-looks-to-whats-next/
A Look Back (from our book, HOUSE)
The clients for this home were inspirational. Although they were never schooled in design, their very tone and feeling, their lifestyle, and what this house represented to their family created a wealth of meaning and purpose on which to draw.
Cat Spring sits on a beautiful piece of land that sets a precedent for an old Texas cottage. Although this was an inspiration to the clients, necessity required the home to be two-fold: one part was to function as a quiet retreat, while the other part was to be a grand hall in which family and friends could gather. It was important to have these two spaces converge elegantly interiorly.
Exteriorly, it was essential to build a structure that would embrace the land and not detract from it. With such beautiful grounds, rural and minimal qualities of nature were brought inside as much as possible. The number of doors was maximized to invite views, and a ten-foot porch transitioned the two spaces.
Rustic qualities were captured through the use of reclaimed shiplap on the ceilings and floors. Large horizontal wood planking was balanced with trusses and lamps that expressed verticality. These trusses and hanging lamps softly outlined optional bays that served to divide the space that was both homelike and grand.
The spectacular Cliffs of Moher took our breath away on our recent visit to Ireland.
The striking mountains hold fast against the dramatic crashing of the waters.
Nature is true inspiration and motivation to us: Who can balance the drastic contrasts of mountain height with the soft beauty of the cliff-top heath?
It was a powerful experience to be standing there with my wife and daughter, above the sea -
perceiving both the raging movement and the stillness. -Matt
It’s been an exciting year for Shade House Development.
It is our delight to announce the publication of our book: HOUSE
It contains 8 selected projects by our firm – each very different and very unique in itself.
As a means to fill you in, stay tune for “A Look Back” as we share with you our journey through these 8 projects.
According to the US Green Building Council, “Generally, green homes are healthier, more comfortable, more durable, and more energy efficient and have a much smaller environmental footprint than conventional homes.”
Sustainable properties are the future of the real estate industry. Consumer demand, residential builders, federal government incentives, and local government policy are making this happen. Many consumers, real estate professionals, and property owners are taking steps towards greening their properties.
As the green building movement gains momentum, so does the consumer demand for greener properties. Two-thirds of consumers are paying attention to green homes and buildings; they recognize the link between green properties, cost savings and healthy living.
Consumers also understand the long-term investment and savings associated with greener homes. Homebuyers who ranked energy efficiency as “very important” purchased homes that had a median price $12,400 higher than those who ranked it “somewhat” or “not important.” Help your clients green their homes and their lifestyles by earning NAR’s Green Designation today!
Government incentives and policies are increasing the number of green commercial buildings and retrofits as well. Nearly 25% of all new construction projects in the U.S. are LEED-registered. Additionally, the number of states with green building policies, standards, legislation, and programs increased from 13 to 31 between 2005 and 2008 (Green Outlook Report, McGraw Hill Construction 2009). Help your clients prepare for the future by earning NAR’s Green Designation.
Green building is no longer viewed as a passing fad or some strange notion adopted by militant environmentalists on the fringe of society. In fact, the editors of Harvard Business Review dedicated a large amount of space in their June 2006 issue to explain how green building is now an established mainstream building practice.
Geared mostly toward commercial construction, the article pointed out that even six short years ago, green buildings were generally regarded as interesting experiments but unfeasible in the real world. Since then, hundreds of studies have proven the financial advantages of green buildings (residential and commercial), from reduced construction costs to lower operating costs. There have also been studies that show employers with green buildings experience significant workforce benefits, including better employee attraction and retention, lower absenteeism and improved productivity.
Even so, there are still some persistent myths that keep some in the residential construction industry from accepting that green building is proven effective and here to stay.
Myth #1: Green building is too expensive.
This is a very common misconception. Although it has been debunked many times in the past, it still lingers. “A lot of the high-profile green projects that get builders’ attention are very high-end, and that’s one reason this myth is still around,” says Alex Wilson, president of BuildingGreen Inc. in Brattleboro, Vt. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. “But the simple fact is that there are plenty of strategies for inexpensive green building, from right-sizing the structure to optimal value engineering to reducing waste, among many others.”
Myth #2: Green building is all about material selection.
Wilson says that in the past, people equated green building with using “green materials” such as those with high recycled content, low embodied energy, no VOCs, etc. And while he says that is an important part of constructing a green building, it is still a small part of the big picture. “Other factors such as site selection and energy performance are very important as well,” says Wilson. “People are beginning to gain a greater understanding that green building is a systems approach to the entire construction process.”
Myth #3: Green building products don’t work as well.
Wilson points to low-flow toilets and fiberglass insulation as typical products that continue to get a bad rap. People still think that 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilets don’t work, even though the fixtures were mandated for all new construction more than a decade ago, and that inhaling fiberglass fibers can lead to cancer. “By and large, new green products work as well if not better than traditional products,” he says.
Myth #4: Green Products are hard to find.
Okay, there is some truth to this one; some green products are not manufactured nationwide and can be hard to purchase in some parts of the country. But the number of green products and systems that are available has grown exponentially over the past few years to the point where there are literally hundreds—if not thousands—of mainstream green products. BuildingGreen Inc. publishes two comprehensive directories (GreenSpec and Green Building Products) with performance data and contact information on just about every green product imaginable.
Myth #5: Green homes are “weird” or “ugly.”
No, you don’t have to build a yurt or geodesic dome and mount huge rows of solar panels to be green. The fact is that many of today’s green homes are virtually indistinguishable from “typical” homes. And if you do want to go with solar power, “There are many ways to integrate PV [photovoltaic] panels that both attractive and effective,” says Wilson.
Myth #6: Building a green home is too complicated.
Ron Jones is the owner of Sierra Custom Builders in Placitas, N.M., and a founder and executive editor of Green Builder magazine. In his many talks around the world on green building, he still has to address this myth. “This is a business that is about common sense, and a lot of green building is very fundamental,” he says. “It all begins with a tight building envelope; the rest of it is not very exotic or akin to rocket science.”
Myth #7: To get into green building, you have to sign up for some sort of program or third-party certification.
While programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED and the American Lung Association’s Healthy House are terrific at garnering exposure and furthering the green movement, builders don’t have to get involved with them to build green. “Those programs are great at supplying templates and roadmaps,” says Jones. “But green building is really about one project at a time and a builder’s and owner’s will to make a better choice.”
Myth #8: It’s an all-or-nothing proposition.
Jones says there is often a tendency to separate construction professionals into two groups: good guys (those who build only green) and bad guys (those who don’t build green at all). “That’s not true,” Jones says. “I bet there are plenty of people employing green technologies and techniques who may not even know it. I’d bet just about any builder or manufacturer in this country is doing something for green building.”
Rob Fanjoy is the former editor of Smart HomeOwner magazine and former senior editor of Professional Builder. He lives in Ypsilanti, Mich., where he is using green techniques and materials to remodel his home.
In the city of gas, no-zoning and laissze-faire developers, local eco-sensitive construction will get the Houstonist’s attention. So, when we recently spotted this article in Dwell Magazine, we just had to share the good news with as many Houstonians as possible.
Matt and Tina Ford seem to have figured out a way to make eco-friendly design both attractive and affordable. Having built in the Houston area for a few years under their company Esplanade Homes, the Fords recently sought a way to provide eco-friendly and energy efficient living at a reasonable cost. Shade House, a sleek new 8 unit condo in the Heights, designed and built by the Fords under their new company Shade House Development, is living (standing) proof of their efforts. By smartly combining concrete walls, strategically placed air ducts and a heat reflective barrier akin to one used by NASA, the Fords were able to significantly reduce the air-conditioning needs of each unit. But they didn’t stop merely at energy consumption. To reduce construction costs the Fords used a large percentage of recycled material in the interior – old basketball court floors from neighborhood schools being only one example.
Is this the beginning of a new eco-development trend in Houston? Well, we’re not sure yet. But we’re happy to say that Shade House has been so successful that Tina and Matt have already begun work on the next one.
For more information visit www.shadehousedev.com