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All photos in this post by <a href="http://www.facebook.com/radford.creative.group">Thor Radford</a> (Radford Creative).

Building the Maxon House: Week 14

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 14: Material selection.   We were drawn to the raw aesthetic and low-to-zero-maintenance materials that Olson Kundig uses in their residential projects: raw and oxidized steel; blackened steel; cast-in-place concrete; floor-to-ceiling glass; off-the-shelf plywood; and simple white-painted drywall. Tom Kundig often takes materials typically used in industrial environments and adapts them for residential use with a completely different application, and a touch of craft. On this particular visit to Olson Kundig we were presented with an edited palette of materials for consideration in our kitchen. My wife and I had wondered how we'd manage spreadsheets with hundreds of line items of materials, not knowing what goes where and why. One of the advantages of Olson Kundig is that they have their own interiors team, as well as an extensive library of projects and samples—so our anxieties were put to rest early on.
June 1, 2011
All photos in this post by <a href="http://www.facebook.com/radford.creative.group">Thor Radford</a> (Radford Creative).

Building the Maxon House: Week 13

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 13: Kinetic architecture: A tour of Turner Exhibits   Stepping into a space designed by Tom Kundig almost always evokes a sense of wonder. As our design got underway, the firm arranged visits for our family to some of Tom Kundig’s built projects, including Delta Shelter and Chicken Point Cabin. Beyond being artfully designed objects in their respective settings, they both featured examples of Tom Kundig’s passion for kinetic architecture. The Delta Shelter has sliding steel shutters that open and close with the turn of a wheel. Chicken Point Cabin has a massive wall of steel windows that raise and lower, also with the turn of an oversized steel wheel powered by human energy and assisted with an intricate set of spinning Willy Wonka-like gears.   Wonder isn’t a solo venture. Kundig’s projects are the sum of his talent, the collective talent in the firm, and the network of artisans and craftspeople he’s come to know over the years. Early on in our project, Tom reached out to the founder of Turner Exhibits, Phil Turner, to engineer “wonder” for our project. The details of this venture will be disclosed in a later post but today I’d like to take you behind the scenes—to Turner Exhibits, founded in 1987 and today owned by Greg Cain and Steve Groves. The company designs and fabricates kinetic architecture systems and museum-quality exhibits and displays. My son Jack accompanied me on a shop visit to learn more about how they’d engineer kinetic architecture for Maxon House and to get a better understanding of what they do, how they do it, and how we’ll work with them on our project.
May 25, 2011
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Building the Maxon House: Week 12

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 12: Building with Kids.
May 18, 2011
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Sneak Peek at LOT-EK's Pier 57

If you're in New York City for ICFF this weekend, stop by the Diane Von Furstenberg shop in the Meatpacking District for a sneak peek at LOT-EK's cutting-edge design for the new Pier 57. As you may have guessed, it's made out of shipping containers.
May 13, 2011
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Building the Maxon House: Week 11

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 11: Forestry 101. Managing a 21+ acre heavily wooded site posed great challenges in terms of forestry management, site preparation, and short and long-term planning. After taking ownership of our site, it quickly became apparent that some immediate healing was required in order to restore the forest to its optimum health. In addition to taking over an existing forest management plan and evolving the program for the site, we reached out to a King County forest project manager who has both guided and educated us throughout the entire process. As part of our plan we designated a number of acres under forest management, meaning that the land cannot be developed and that the owners maintain and manage those acres according to a prescribed ten-year plan.  We also worked with our forest project manager to determine the alloted acreage we'd set aside for actual development of our residence. This entire process required a lot of patience, as there are multiple jurisdictions within the county monitoring forest practices. Our site presented some challenges due to existing road access, a steep slope, and specific setbacks required by the county. As such, we ended up hiring various forestry experts and contractors to help regulate and supervise any clearing, thinning or limbing of trees.
May 11, 2011
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Zaha Hadid's Milan Installation

As part of last month's Milan Design Week, Zaha Hadid Architects teamed with LEA Ceramiche to create "Twirl," a mesmerizing installation in the 18th-century courtyard of the State University in Milan. It was up for only a week and has since been disassembled, but since I just received some beautiful pictures of the piece I figured I'd share.
May 10, 2011
All photos by Lou Maxon. Conceptual sketches and plans are copyright of Olson Kundig Architects. Not to be reproduced.

Building the Maxon House: Week 10

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 Ten: Maxon House Concept Design   In mid-July of 2008, my wife and I made our way up to the sixth floor offices of Olson Kundig Architects. It was one of the most exciting days for us since purchasing the property. We had completed and submitted our house program and now we'd be on hand for the unveiling of Tom Kundig's vision for our future dwelling. By this point Tom had visited our site and our past residence and scouted out the perfect spot on our 21-acre property to locate the house. We were both looking to see how he'd solve the puzzle of outfitting a modern dwelling for a family of five (my wife and I and three growing boys) in addition to creating an office or studio space for my business and a place for storage and parking. One of the things I remember clearly from researching the firm and Tom's work was a quote from his book, thanking his clients "for their emotional and financial risk-taking in a poetic science—architecture is not a return or money-back-if-not-completely-satisfied deal." This sentiment resonated with us. We were ready to roll the dice. We settled into the conference room. The space was decked out with site photos and shots of the kids running and playing on the property. Poster-sized maps locating our site and plans littered the cork walls of the light filled space. Tom Kundig and Edward LaLonde walked in and the show started.
May 4, 2011
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72 Hour Urban Action

The other week I attended a gathering at REBAR in San Francisco, in honor of Israeli architects Kerem Halbrecht and Gilly Karjevsky's cool project, 72 Hour Urban Action. Held last September and billed as "the world's first real-time architecture competition," the 72 Hour Urban Action contest brought 120 architects, artists, students, designers and craftspeople from twenty countries around the world to the city of Bat-Yam, Israel. Teams had three days and three nights to build projects that responded to the needs of their assigned sites, or "missions." The three winning projects will remain on site permanently.
May 3, 2011
Olson Kundig translated our house program into an easy-to-read document that broke down the individual spaces and approximate square footage.

Building the Maxon House: Week 9

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 Nine: Developing the Maxon House ‘Program.’   Before Olson Kundig Architects could get started on the design we had to do some homework of our own. The first step was for my wife and I to measure out the spaces in our existing house and then come up with a wish list or “program” for our future home. We needed to determine which spaces we wanted and what we could do without moving forward (bonus rooms, separate formal vs. informal living areas, etc.). This effort was made easier by the fact that our house had sold and the rooms were pretty much cleaned out and boxed up in preparation for our move to our rental house. It was clear after adding up the square footage in our existing space and then penciling out the wish list for the new house that we didn’t need substantially more space, just better designed space.
April 28, 2011
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