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10x10x10 Recap 09.29.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Reviews.
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D+A Studios San Juan Chanel House

D+A Studio's San Juan Chanel House

Well, another year and another 10x10x10 has passed.  It was a great time and a great venue.  (Confidential to no one: SPL Downtown is one of the most interesting pieces of architecture standing.)  A quick recap of the night’s highlights:

D+A Studios presented the home of their principal, Anne Hamilton.  Unique about this context driven project on San Juan Island: sustainability through program adaptation.  As the family changes, the building is flexible enough to accommodate new relationships.

Batt + Lear let us into their own home as well, in the midst of renovation.  They brought up an ominous foam insulation debate that has been going on in the NWEBG circle and showed us their plan to heat their home with…a $360 water heater.  Inspirational, and we’ll be interested to see if it works, come next year.

SMR Architects showed us the Kenyon House, green housing for the homeless in South Seattle.  Crazy that green has gotten into public projects given the overall initial cost.  We guess that these projects probable only happen in places like Seattle.  Christina Bollo did a great job of demonstrating that delegation between lots of disparate parties (the City, subcontractors, consultants, neighbors) is hard work, but really does work.

These highlights aside, the evening made it clear that green building is still based on run of the mill checklists.  Presenters were content, in a crowd of industry professionals to list off the fact that their homes had radiant heat, grey water recycling, or native plants.  Native plants?  C’mon.  These are all no brainers.  The projects that stood out were those that did something new, different, or (if you had radiant heat run off an old clunker of a water heater), exceptional.  We worry that green building is being dumbed down to satisfy checklists disguised as certifications instead of doing what it was intended to achieve, buildings that allow inhabitants to live harmoniously with nature.

Ok, off the soapbox, it was evident the NWEBG is maturing nicely.  Jim Burton, the current president has given the guild an air of legitimacy that had been lacking for years.  And, if the 10x10x10 was any indication, he’s also brought in new members.  I’m looking forward to future events, and hopefully some more guild outreach.  Good job guys!

10x10x10 This Friday! 09.21.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in BnB, Reviews.
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Seattle designers and builders will be interested to know that the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild is hosting it’s annual 10x10x10 slam this Friday, September 25th downtown at the Seattle Public Library.  10 presenters from right here in town are given 10 minutes to show 10 slides of their contribution to green building.  Also, if the event is anything like a couple years ago, it’s going to be a rowdy and wine-fueled free for all.  Is there drinking in the library?

List of presenters, here!

Tix, here!

NWEBG of Central Puget Sound, here!  Check out their monthly education classes, some interesting topics for professionals and homeowners alike.

Styrofoam Art 08.24.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Reviews.
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Don't you just want to cradle it?I was first introduced to the work of Matt Neyens at the esteemed Lighthouse Roasters here in Seattle.  Now, three years later, I have four favorite pieces hanging on my walls.  Each oil painting is a different perspective view of the same styrofoam packaging piece.

Initially what jumps out of each painting is the simple almost ‘pop’ depiction of subject.  Next, is the subject itself: styrofoam.  trash.  It is here that the work becomes deeper because the observer is faced with the questions of “Why?”

Styrofoam is not one of the more regularly depicted objects of the time (any regular visit to Etsy reveals hundreds of birds, power lines, ships, bears, wolves, trees, etc.) but it still elicits a nostalgic and emotional response.  I remember the childhood struggle to save styrofoam forms from the trash (where they never fit) through reuse; as building blocks to complement cushion forts or as massive spaces in which to deploy my Battle Beasts.  Somehow though, these big, light, clumsy objects always found their way (awkwardly) into the trash can.  I was faced with the truth that they were only good for their original use, to house the object that they contained.

Neyen’s work gives styrofoam a second respectable use, as subject.  He does so by depicting it as pure form through gray-scale planes and edges.  Variation in tint (especially in the edges) is subtle, drawing the careful observer into the work.  Looking deeper, we realize that these broad strokes that create edges must hide construction lines.  These drawings are in fact meticulously constructed in perspective.  Such construction transports his work out of the school of pop art and into something else.  Classical?  Architectural?  Perhaps both.

One thing is certain, the depth of Neyen’s catalog betrays his passion.  His work is not limited to styrofoam reproductions, nor oils.  A quick browse reveals renderings of containers, bottles, people, compact discs, and more of the most mundane everyday objects.  Artists performing this level of study are rare in today’s artistic age, where the market demands that work is made quickly so that it may be sold cheaply.  Neyen’s work is quality, and worth taking a look at.

http://mattneyens.blogspot.com/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thegreyworld/page10/

The four perspectives at home