Building Schools

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A friend of mine who is in the construction industry visited Uganda, East Africa where there was an existing school that was no more than a shack. He walked away knowing that he had to do something to help build a new school in the area. When he returned to the states, he approached me with a sketch asking if I would like to provide the drawings so they could get a permit and build a school. Of course, the answer was yes. Providing the documents for the new school has been one of the most rewarding projects I have had the opportunity to work on. Nothing fancy or too detailed, but very meaningful. There are 7 classrooms, one small office for the teachers and a small storage room. Clay bricks that were purchased from local families were used for the interior and exterior walls. Windows and doors were also fabricated locally. The next mission is to raise funds to provide a water well. If interested in learning more visit https://buildingschoolsinafrica.com

A look into the design process of the historic Manor House addition

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In 1914 John Shaffer, a self-made man from Baltimore, purchased 2,660 acres of what would become the Ken-Caryl Ranch (named after his two sons) for $100,000. He commissioned the architect Frank E. Edbrooke to design a 12,000 s.f. mansion to be situated at the highest elevation of the estate with 360 degree views. The Manor House entertained frequent guests such as Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

The Shinn and Brinton families purchased the house in 2006. Their goal was to create a high end experience and deliver a one of a kind wedding and events space. The amenities, such as one of the only private FAA approved helipads and a spacious 2,000 sq ft guest house helped deliver that experience. However, with the expanding business, they realized the need for additional space to accommodate client desire for larger events.

In addition to the upper floor ballroom the only other amenity was a structural exterior tent to the West of the Manor House. As you can imagine, the noise levels were too high for the neighbors during evening events, so a new proposed structure was a welcomed addition.

Michelle with jigsaw design was approached to design the new structure to the west side of the existing building. The initial intent was to keep it very simple and design a gazeebo type structure that was open to the elements. However, this would not take care of the noise level problem. The next thought was to design an enclosed building, but keep it detached due to the fire separation requirements. After careful consideration of the long term use and what would be most beneficial to the guests, the owners decided to attach the new building to the existing sunroom of the Manor House, and install a sprinkler system to meet fire requirements. The roof of this connector piece made a perfect location for the air conditioning units that would have been noisy and an eye sore on the ground. This connection also created a grand entrance for the brides.

The design had to be approved by the neighborhood association and Jefferson County Planning and Zoning simultaneously. I worked with the owner to come up with a design that would complement the Manor House and fit in the surrounding site. An open and flexible floor plan was essential to accommodate different types of events and allow the space to be decorated uniquely for each separate party. Approval was granted and permit was received early 2015. Due to the typical wedding season there were major time constraints for construction. In order to save time we designed structural insulated panels for the roof and dormers. The largest panels spanned 24 feet in length. This allowed two weeks to be shaved off of the construction schedule. The building was completed in the Fall of 2015.

Through meticulous coordination between Michelle and the owner, the end result is a timeless piece of architecture that blends in seamlessly with the existing building and site. Great attention was given to every detail, from the exposed trusses to the columns and trim. The building was also strategically placed to salvage surrounding trees. The interior is simple and elegant. Large operable windows are located throughout to create a connection from indoors to outdoors, taking full advantage of the stunning site and views.

If you are interested in additional details of the Manor House project, or how we can help you achieve your project goals, please drop us a note.