Saturday, November 14, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Scattered championship banners, a worn-down scoreboard and graffiti-ridden walls are what’s left of the building that was once a popular roller skating and ice hockey rink. The building’s new owners hope to transform all of that.
“Indoor hockey was a big thing in the 90s, so we were able to find something in Milford … now we found something similar and we hope to do the same with this one, the same vision,” said new tenant Gustavo Flores.
Flores, along with his three partners, was the lone bidder of the space. They have agreed to pay $1,500 a month in rent and renovate the two rinks that have become the target of vandals in the last few years.
The Board of Alderman approved a 10-year lease and Mayor Mike Jarjura made the deal official on Monday.
“It’s going to bring opportunity to all the people of Waterbury that wasn’t available to them,” he said.
The company will build a full-size artificial turf field for indoor soccer or flag football and a fully-enclosed boarded rink for inline skating or lacrosse. It will cost United Athletic $600,000 to $800,000 in renovations.
The sports complex is scheduled to open to the public as early as this year.
POSTED: 7:49 pm EDT September 21, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
I was pleased to find that a site called "Unique Unique Design" reposted photos of our pool house design for the DeCaro-Kaplen residence in Chappaqua, New York.
To see the web page go here:
To see more photos of the pool house project go here:
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The development is an upscale residential condominium in southern Connecticut that is about 25 years old and has cedar clapboard siding. The association let the exterior maintenance slip and now the buildings really need attention. Some owners want to remove the cedar and replace it with vinyl. Some owners want to repair and restain the existing siding. Others are interested in alternative siding like fiber cement as long as it’s not vinyl. Now they look at me and want some guidance based on facts and not just my opinion or personal preference. They are concerned about longevity, continuous maintenance, initial costs, and the effect on their property appraisals and resale values.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
July 6, 2008
By the time Danaher delivered the bad news, Grew had spent about 80 hours of unpaid time in March touring the state and being introduced to groups of builders, designers and building officials by the retiring building inspector, Christopher Laux.
It took 24 hours for Ficeto to call back, Grew said, and she told him that "there was 'nothing of concern' in my background check but that some individuals had concerns about my 'debt ratio.'"
July 9, 2008
July 9, 2008
Thursday, June 11, 2009
What is being an architect all about? That question could illicit a myriad of responses but an appointment of mine today brought it home to a very simple answer.
This afternoon I had an appointment with a prospective client at his home in a suburb of New Haven. They have lived for five years in a nondescript ranch built in 1963 with 1,400 square feet in a lovely quiet neighborhood of similar homes. Nothing very exciting or sexy you might think and you would be right.
Here’s the good part. They need more room. The bedrooms are small for their family and they share one bath. They simply want to get a larger master bedroom and master bath along with another bath for the kids and some additional living space. The constructed project probably won’t cost more than $200,000. What did they do? They didn’t call builders or remodeling contractors. They didn’t call an unlicensed residential designer. They call an architect!
Why did they call an architect? Because they felt they had the best shot of getting comprehensive advice from an architect. Which way to expand- up or out? What range of construction cost could they expect? What implications might there be with zoning regulations and their old septic system? Is their house structurally sound enough to carry a second floor? Could an appealing exterior design be devised?
Now this is not a project that I am going to get rich on. I don’t believe every project has to be a home run. If I can get to first or second base on every time at bat do I win the game? You bet I do! I usually do much larger projects, but frankly my profit margin on the small ones is often better. Very often when I meet with prospects like this one they tell me they called other architects before me and the architects would hang up when they find out the size or budget of the project. Too bad for them. Good for me!
But it doesn’t help dispell the notion that architects are elitest snobs who can only be bothered designing for the rich and famous or when they can rack up a big fee on a big budget. Why are more architects not happy with the notion of ordinary mid-middle class folks calling on them for help? More architecture is seen in ordinary middle class working neighborhoods and some of that is bad architecture simply because architects hung up the phone on the homeowners and so they called contractors who hashed something together or remuddled.
This is what it’s all about. Not masterpieces or monuments. Simply good design for ordinary folks who appreciate it and know it will enhance their family life. There’s a lot that being an architect means but this is actually as good as it gets. What do you think?
Recently it was discovered that some candidates for the national Architectural Registration Examination had improperly shared information on the content of exams and basically cheated on the test. This is the exam that qualifies an architect to be licensed to practice in the states. The announcement regarding the action taken by the national board is found here:
Now one might say this is an isolated event and we should not draw broad conclusions. But hearing about this got me thinking about the continuing erosion of honesty and ethics in our profession, all professions and society in general. Notice an interesting observation made in AWAKE! magazine:
Older persons can remember a time when, in many places, people did not lock their doors. They did not think of stealing from others or of cheating them. If they borrowed money, they felt honor-bound to repay it. And their word was ‘as good as gold.’ True, there was dishonesty, but it was not all-pervasive. Today, however, stealing, lying, and cheating are commonplace throughout the world. And many dishonest acts originate with so-called respectable people who live and work in nice neighborhoods, dress well, may have a religion, and consider themselves good citizens. Indeed, dishonesty has become notorious among officials of government and business. (Nov. 15, 1986)
The Apostle Paul wrote: "We trust we have an honest conscience, as we wish to conduct ourselves honestly in all things". (Hebrews 13:18)
It seems everywhere one turns today we must navigate through a dishonest world. Owners that don't want to tell the truth on permit applications about the construction cost. Clients who want to pay cash or use other means to bury money so they don't have to pay taxes on it. Clients who offer us cash if we keep accounts off the books thinking we would likewise not report the income for taxes. Owners and contractors who don't want to take out permits for the construction. Employment candidates who inflate their credentials. I could go on and on.
Architecture is a noble profession but it does not appear that it is any more noble than others when it comes to ethics. How many architects have read the AIA Code of Ethics or the rules of ethics written into their state's practice regulations? What meaningful education on ethics, honesty and honorable practice is really given to architecture students? I just make a random check of the listing of courses for a prominent university's school of architecture. Not one class on ethics in practice or honesty in life. That says plenty.
Why has honesty and ethics in society and our profession become so unimportant? We create environments to promote the well being of humans, to lift their spirits, and bring them comfort combined with guarding their health, safety and welfare. How could we cheat on anything having to do with our profession?
Name: Phillip Andrew Jessup, RA
It's refreshing to see this note in your blog. I've taught professional practice courses at an accredited design school for just over a dozen years. In the early years, I included some specific modules on morals, codes of ethics, and similar topics but distributed that info out among other topics. Recently, after some observations similar to yours in this post, I added emphasis, but this renews my resolve to add a specific discussion on professional ethics again into this course. On reflection, it may have been a dilution to have spread it across other topics, though we have generated some lively discussions on occasion. Name: Jensen
THanks for this article.
Time has change and human practically changed alot.
You read the bible, seems like ur a religious man.
Well... I can say that, times are not what as it used to be.
We just have to make changes and be watchful.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Here is a news article in the New Haven Independent regarding a current lawsuit in Connecticut that challenges the title law for interior designers.
There is history of this case at this news site:
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Good article by local builder about building it correctly and the deterioration of the building industry. Check it out:
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Our firm is not a real estate brokerage but we can do a lot to help clients find the land, house, or building that will best suit their needs. One of the most valuable services we provide is helping our clients perform proper due diligence. I can't tell you how many times we have found that properties listed by licensed real estate agents had open permits that were never closed out, lacking certificates of occupancy for part or all of the building, serious structural problems with either foundation or framing, potential for hazardous materials to be present, problems with compliance with zoning regulations, and a host of other issues that can affect the selling price, make a client decide not to pursue it, or give us a realistic understanding of what the total investment will be if our client goes forward with the purchase. Home inspectors, real estaste inspectors, and real estate agents are limited in the advise and knowledge they have about a property and often do not have the ability to understand the implications of these issues for the prospective owner whether it involves renovations or new construction. So if you are planning construction for the property you are buying be sure to pay for the assistance of your architect up front so you don't have to pay more later.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The facilties manager for a Connecticut school district contacted me and said I was recommended and he needed a proposal to consult on a failing school roof. So I agreed and met him at the school. The building looked like a nice example of educational architecture. It was designed by one of the largest firms in the state and they do a ton of schools. The building was only 8 years old. Fortunately, he also had the plan and specs for me to review after the tour.
The roof was a gable design of about 6:12 pitch. The roof covering where top-of-the-line architectural grade asphalt shingles with a "lifetime" warranty. The shingles had been installed over felt underlayment, plywood sheathing over air space spacers, polyiso insulation board, gypsum board, and steel decking.
Now here are the problems:
- Leaks all over the place. It's nice to see buckets on counters and floors and water stained ceiling panels in a relatively new building.
- Nail heads backing out and coming up through the shingles.
- Ice dams galore.
The shingle manufacturer has walked away from the warranty based on the design and construction of the roof.
My quick review of the plans and specs revealed the following:
- No mention anywhere of the required thickness or R-value of the insulation. It appears to be about 2 inches for an R of maybe 10 to 12.
- No explanation of why one would put regular gypsum board (Sheetrock) on top of the roof's structural steel decking.
- The spaces for the vented air space under the plywood sheathing are shown 90 degrees to the way they should run for the ventilation to work.
- No detail to prevent the attic within the thermal envelope from letting air escape through the ridge vent, which it does.
- No detail to show how the soffit vents will work.
Hopefully I get this project and get to delve into the causes and cures of these problems. But I would love to know how an architectural firm gets away with such shabby drawings and specifications. A lot of it looked "boiler plate", like they probably repeat these over and over in so many of the schools they design. I could never do this, especially for what they get paid. But, of course, they get so much of the work in school districts through "Quality Based Selection (QBS)". Basically if you are a big firm and have done a lot of a particular building type you keep getting the work. Sadly when problems like this creep up they don't get known because the client goes and hires another architect to fix it.
There is way too much information available to design professionals so that there is no excuse for that kind of practice. Their managing partners should be a little more aware of the legal phrase "standard of care".