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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!

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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

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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

What was Missed… 06.22.2009

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09-06-24-MooreInsideOut

While we were in New York we missed another fine public art display from Free Sheep Foundation.  Blast.  These are the folks of Motel Motel Motel.  With installations by Bread and Buttress’ favorite local artists, Lead Pencil Studio and Awesome!, Moore Inside Out must have been stellar.  Anyone get there?

Stranger Article

Chocolate Chip Cookie Mashup: Tollhouse vs. Specialty’s Bakery 06.09.2009

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thawing cubes!It’s a great day when you can make chocolate chip cookies, regardless of, well, anything.  The kitchen fills with the cookie smell, all activities outside the home must be put off, conveniently forcing you to relax and bake as the kitchen fills with the nostalgic aroma of warm cookies.  And, of course, there’s the raw cookie dough.

Our favorite recipe has always been Nestle’s Toll House classic cookie recipe.  This is primarily because it is conveniently located on the back of a bag of their bagged chocolate chips.  However, my overwhelming problem with these cookies is that they tend to turn out like little pillows of homogeneity.  (though not nearly as uninspiring as Joy of Cooking’s recipe…what gives Rombauer?).

Fast forward to a few weeks back when fellow cookie lover Nancy posed the following: “How can we emulate the deliciousness of a cookie from Specialty’s Bakery?”  Whoa, great idea.  For those of you that don’t live in the Pacific Northwest, Specialty’s is the de facto source for cookies in Seattle and the bay area.  Their cookies are squarish, super thick, soft creations.  Serious cookies.  The company website even allows you to sign up for email alerts that notify you of warm cookies near you!  We challenge you to find a better chocolate chip cookie.

same ingredients, different results!Most chocolate chip cookie recipes have the same ingredients and method of preparation.  Variation in the final product therefore occurs in two distinct parts of the recipe, ingredient proportions and finishing (aka, forming and baking).  Here’s our variation on the old classic in Bread and Buttress’ attempt to emulate the qualities of a local classic.  Note that we like our cookies chunky, so there are a few additional embellishments in this first effort.

Bread and Buttress’ Chocolate Chip Cookie

  • 2 sticks softened butter
  • ¾ c. brown sugar
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 1 t vanilla

Cream together at medium speed for 10 minutes.

  • 2 c. AP flour
  • ¼ c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. chopped/ground pecans
  • ¾ c. old fashioned or quick oats
  • 1t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 c. chocolate chips

Meanwhile, mix these dry ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • 2 eggs

yes, frozen.  note the remnants from squaring the cookie block.  make round cookies with 'em.Add eggs to creamed butter/sugar.  Once incorporated, begin to add the dry ingredients in three separate batches, mixing each time until just incorporated.  Cover a cutting board that will fit in your freezer with a piece of wax paper.  Spread dough out on the cutting board, forming into a rectangle one inch high.  Place another piece of wax paper over the top and smooth down.  Freeze.  After a couple hours or even days, remove from freezer and cut dough into 1” cubes, allow each batch to thaw on cookie sheet for 30 minutes.  Go ahead and eat frozen remnants of dough raw.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Center of finished cookie should NOT be browned but rather light and raw looking.  This ensures a gooey center.

Oooooooo...

Here are some links:

Flickr user JDong has some shots of Specialty’s cookie selection.

Here’s another emulation recipe without the chunks.

Good Easts episode on chocolate chip cookies via youtube.

Sketching Golden Gardens 05.01.2009

Posted by Dan Sheehan in Recipes.
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View in the North treesSeattle has a number of beautiful and unique parks.  I’m sure all of you have your favorites.  At the top of my list is Ballard’s Golden Gardens.  I was there on a recent Saturday reflecting on why the place is such a draw.

On any given sunny day, the park will fill with folks enjoying the saltwater beaches and picnic sites.  It’s a place for all ages and all activities.  Kiteboarding, weddings, frisbee, drum circles, sandcastles, bench sitting, cruising, dog parking, making out.  My best friend was married in its bath house and recently I’ve been attending underground culinary dinners in its more quiet corners.

I can’t say what draws other to the park, but for the architect in me it has always been one thing, rhythm.  The park possesses these distinct, rhythmic layers along it’s linear site.  Some are placed by man: the masts at Shilshole Marina, the bonfire spots, and the trees.  Others are natural: the profile of the Olympic Mountains, the waves, the trees.  Others (and this is my favorite) are always moving: people, trains, boats, clouds, tides.

Those sunny days are sensory overloads.  Those sunny days call me to the park.  Usually I find myself sketching trying to express the dynamic rhythms of the place.  Usually I fail.  I think someday I’ll get there because the park, always changing, stays interesting from one sunny season to the next.

How do you draw beach sand?  I'm frusterated.View looking towards the Olympics

For full res images please visit BnB’s Sketchbook.