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All photos courtesy of <a href="http://www.kontentpartners.com/kp/story.html">Kontent Partners</a>.

Building the Maxon House: Week 19

One of the cool side effects of hiring a fantastic architecture firm is you get the expertise of not only the architect and project manager but the collective wisdom of the entire group. Olson Kundig has a special culture and part of that is the tradition of their Thursday Night Crits. Every Thursday at 5:00pm the office gets together to put the collective genius of the office to work on a particular project. As they explain on their website, "Over food and drink, a project is presented and discussed. The free flow of ideas consistently makes our projects better, and opens up lively discussions." As our project transitioned from the schematic to design development phase, the office opened up their doors to me and the crew of the documentary to listen in on the critique of our project, Maxon House. This was the first opportunity for most of the firm to hear about our project and it was intriguing to hear the various ideas from everyone on ways to take the existing design and in many places make small tweaks or revisions to improve the end product. And, who can resist free beer and pizza!?   In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 19: Maxon House Critique.
July 13, 2011
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Building the Maxon House: Week 18

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 18: Meet the Contractor.   Having completed the schematic phase of our future residence, our next step was to price out the schematic set and select one of the three contractors Tom Kundig proposed (he'd worked with all three before). During our review process, we used the following determining factors: 1) Price. Obviously this is a huge consideration. Tom Kundig was deliberate in advising us that the lowest or highest prices also come with their own pluses and minuses. It’s important to ask things including: Does this price include applicable sales tax? What is included and not included? Is this a capped price or are there percentage variations on cost overruns? 2) Fit. Just as we interviewed architects and design/builders at the beginning of this process, it's essential that you find a contractor you can get along with, collaborate with, and feel comfortable pushing back on. 3) References. We not only talked to owners who worked with our selected contractor, but we visited their spaces, both completed and in-progress.
July 6, 2011
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'Woodstock Trees' by Sebastian Mariscal

We here at Dwell are big fans of Sebastian Mariscal's work; we've featured his projects in the magazine several times over the years (see here and here) and have an amazing house he designed in southern California for a Japanese couple in our upcoming September 2011 issue, which hits newsstands August 2nd. So I was intrigued to receive a notice that he'd made a video, "Woodstock Trees," to illustrate a recent project he was working on, a vacation house in Woodstock, New York.
July 4, 2011
Step Four: Waiting game. Here our youngest son Charlie checks out the gear in the woods. The days seemed to last forever without much of any good news. I could feel the money just slipping away as we came to the realization we might have to find another s

Building the Maxon House: Week 17

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 17: Drilling a Well. Because we are in a rural setting, we had to set aside additional financial resources to drill a well and support a septic system for sewage. The ability to locate ground water may be equal part skill and luck, but ultimately you don't know what you've got until you start barreling down into the earth. Luckily we heard positive stories about a couple local contractors and ultimately selected JKA Well Drilling to do our well work. Our site location and geology had some extreme challenges and there were no guarantees, even after we sunk tens of thousands into the ground, that we'd hit enough of a viable water source to support our residence. That was the terrifying part.
June 29, 2011
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Taalman/Koch Renovation Recap

For the past six months, Linda Taalman of Taalman Koch Architecture has been blogging for Dwell.com about her hands-on renovation of her family's live-work rental apartment in Los Angeles. The project embodied several challenges: it's a rental, it's in a historic building (a 1952 Craig Ellwood-designed apartment complex in central Hollywood), and their budget is relatively tight ($10,000). The ongoing series covers a lot of ground, from building work stations for their architecture staff, to designing and installing curtains, to landscaping the courtyard. On Saturday June 25 at 4:30 pm on the Sustainability Stage, Taalman will talk about the challenges and rewards of renovation, and impart creative renovation tips drawn from both professional and personal experience. Here, a recap on how her live-work space has progressed over the past few months.
June 24, 2011
Photo by Sayamon Riddang, Bailey/Gardiner Creative.

Free Design Advice!

Good professional design advice don't come cheap—but for two days at Dwell on Design in Los Angeles, it comes free! This coming weekend, Saturday June 25 and Sunday June 26, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, Architizer is sponsoring free intensive 40-minute design clinics with experienced architects, designers, and landscape architects from nine firms. All you have to do is sign up for a time slot, describing your "architectural malady" and stating some preferred day to meet. (You also need to have purchased a ticket to Dwell on Design).
June 23, 2011
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Building the Maxon House: Week 16

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 16: The initial design, unveiled!   Spring 2009 brought the next major evolution in the design of our home. We were presented with a set of schematic design plans that reflected all the tweaks and evolutions in the design. We had settled on a big picture vision of the house. All together, we got a 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home with a guest room, utility room, kitchen, living room, and library space. We didn’t want extra bonus rooms or unnecessary spaces that would add square footage without adding function. Our final development area is around 3-5 acres of the entire 21 acre site. We have 16 acres of managed forest which we are responsible for and cannot develop. Once you start adding all the elements of the site requirements such as the septic system, well, buffers and setbacks for critical areas, things actually end up getting pretty tight. Fitting everything in is like a game of very intense Tetris. And there is a lot of pressure to get it right the first time.
June 15, 2011
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Bruce Bolander on Kitchen Design

Architect Bruce Bolander designs houses with, generally, very awesome kitchens. He's not afraid of color, and likes to clad his clients' cabinets with laminate in bright and electric hues. "My own bias is toward bolder cool colors," he says. "I always let my clients know that right away. But just because red isn’t my favorite color doesn’t mean they can’t have a red kitchen. Either way, I try to have a fairly uniform and limited palette of color and material in the kitchen. Kitchens tend to gather so much clutter and I find that starting off with clean and simple helps when the clutter occurs." Here, we've gathered together some of our favorite of Bolander's kitchen designs, both bold and more muted, and asked him to tell us a bit about each project. If you like what you see, come see Bolander speak in Los Angeles at Dwell on Design on June 25th on the Design Innovation Stage.
June 14, 2011
We spent many hours discussing the project with various county officials in this non-descript building about 45 minutes from Carnation, Washington. Our parcel falls within an unincorporated area so we were directed this special division to deal with all t

Building the Maxon House: Week 15

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 15: Late Summer 2008. By late summer 2008, we hit a couple milestones for the project. First, a year of property ownership. Second, we got approval of conceptual drawings for the house and transitioned into the schematic design process. Our goals for 2008 had been to select an architect or design/builder for our project, to get underway with conceptual drawings, and to do some initial site work. We were on track so far.
June 8, 2011
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