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Building the Maxon House: Week 26

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 26: Overview and Intermission Six and a half months ago I introduced the Dwell audience to our project. Time flies. Four years ago we purchased land and the crazy journey began. In 26 weekly installments I've shared the good, the bad and the ugly with you in the hope that it inspires you to go and take a chance on that project you've always been dreaming of, whether it be a room remodel, house remodel, or a full-on start-from-scratch dream project. This post and slideshow signifies the end of the first half of the series. It's a chance for me to step away and take a break from the weekly blog, and celebrate the milestone of finally receiving our building permit—and a chance for you to go back and read some of the past posts to catch up with our story. There's been a lot of photos shared, some behind-the-scenes video sneak-peeks into the project, some fun interviews with the different players involved and lots of heart-on-the-sleeve commentary from the trenches on what it takes to take on a project of this scale. I've enjoyed the comments (most of them) and questions. We've had a great number of Dwell readers continue to the conversation on our Facebook page and many visit the website for the documentary film series. Both online platforms will continue and the Facebook page is a great way to stay connected to the project. During our halftime intermission we will be securing the final details of our construction loan, helping our kids transition into the school year and generally just taking a big sigh of relief as four years for us of preparation, permits, surveys, drawings, concepts, revisions, clearing, thinning, mitigation, wetland reviews, drainage studies, geotechnical drilling, hiccups, pleasant surprises and more have resulted in the end goal of getting the designs approved and green-lighted for the second half of the project: construction. The Dwell editors have promised to let me come come back and share more stories when we break ground on the house. What took us four years to to achieve you've experienced at light speed in just 26 weeks. I encourage fans of the project to reach out via Facebook; we are more than happy to field questions and share further details about our project. Although we cannot promise to answer every question we will do our best. I look forward to the moment that we can visually walk you through the finished project. Thank you all for the opportunity to share our story. We hope we've inspired some to take the plunge and others to start thinking about their own modern dreams.   Cheers! Maxon Family  
September 7, 2011

Inspired Design

September 6, 2011
The Satélite Towers, Mexico City, Mexico.

Science Fiction Architecture

For this week's "Three Buildings" column I turned to industrial designer Gustavo Fricke. We featured him and his Oaxaca shop Blackbox in our July/August issue's Design Finder ("Hecho in Oaxaca," online here). He currently lives in San Francisco and has traveled a fair bit, so I was curious to hear which three buildings inspire him most. Sure enough, his picks span the globe, from Mexico City to San Francisco to Paris.   When asked what unites the three buildings he selected, Fricke replies: "Since I was a kid I've been fascinated by science fiction. Science fiction explores future scenarios that push the boundaries of our imagination. These three buildings, too, allow for the projection of the imaginary—for the representation in our present time of a future world to come. They are props of a future possibility, frozen in time."
September 2, 2011
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Architecture and the City 2011

This week, the AIA San Francisco kicks off its ninth annual Architecture and the City festival. The month-long event features food tours, home and city tours, film series, exhibitions, lectures, and more. Here we highlight the happenings that we're most looking forward to.
September 1, 2011
This is one of the Maxon family's favorite Tom Kundig projects: a 1,000 square-foot weekend cabin, basically a steel box on stilts, that can be completely shuttered using a hand crank when the owner is away.

Building the Maxon House: Week 25

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 25: Q & A with Tom Kundig. Last week we profiled our contractor Tanner Construction for insights into their process and involvement with the project. For week 25 we turned to Tom Kundig over at Olson Kundig Architects to get the firm's take on working with us on our future residence. When you engage with an architect or architecture firm you spend a considerable amount of time communicating, meeting, debating and making critical decisions that impact your project. A bond is formed between client and architect and the relationship grows over the course of the project, which helps inspire and cultivate new ideas that may find their way into the final built object. It was critical to us during our selection process to find a firm that was willing to listen, respond to our ideas and have the confidence and experience to elevate and inspire the design throughout the process. We found that with Tom Kundig and Olson Kundig Architects. Enjoy the interview.  
August 31, 2011
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Gerald Parsonson's Favorite Buildings

I've admired Kiwi architect Gerald Parsonson's work for some time. There are so many strong projects on his firm's website, including the one we featured in our June issue—his own beach house, inspired by New Zealand's traditional "bach" architecture. So I was curious to hear what three buildings most inspire him and influence his own work.   "I have a very broad appetite for architecture so it was quite hard to choose 'favorites,'" Parsonson wrote in response to my query. Pressed to identify a link between his eclectic choices—detailed below—he said: "I enjoy architecture that explores and expands the resonance of place, that can frame things in ways that are unexpected or beautiful. There is so much generic modernism produced these days that I find it exciting to discover architecture that transforms normal situations into something unique and special and in doing so becomes unique itself. I think these three buildings, even though they are quite different, do this for me."
August 29, 2011
Steve Jobs graced the cover of Inc. in October of 1981.

Friday Finds 8.26.11

In this edition of Friday Finds, a collection of magazine covers featuring Steve Jobs, a video for all those who've ever dreamed of flying, a new product for all the Tron fans out there, and much more!
August 26, 2011
Right: Grand Central Station shot by David Iliff (via <a href="">Wikimedia Commons</a>)

Jeff Sherman's Favorite Buildings

For this week's "Three Buildings" column I turned to Jeff Sherman of the New York architecture firm Delson or Sherman. We're featuring his painstakingly hand-renovated home (a formerly decrepit illegal kennel!) in our September issue ("New Prospects," online here) as well as in an online behind-the-scenes video here.   "If I had to choose just three favorite buildings, I’d say Grand Central Terminal in New York City, the Yale School of Architecture in New Haven, and the Mill Owners' Association Building in Ahmedabad—they all make my heart jump," says Sherman. "These buildings have a couple big things in common:  in all three, form transcends program, and all are subversively occupiable. By that, I mean that the shapes of the buildings dramatically exceed their humble practical requirements, and they all offer access to spaces that feel off-limits. These buildings showed me what architecture could be."
August 23, 2011
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Alex Garcia Exhibit

I met the artist Alex Garcia nearly a year ago (we were introduced by the architect Alejandro Sticotti, who like Garcia is a native Porteño), and since then I've stumbled onto his work in a variety of surprising spots. He makes wall assemblages out of wood—recycled, scrap, veneer, new—and thin strips of metal, creating striking graphic compositions. His work was on view at the San Francisco shop Propeller several months ago; now it's on view at Sticks & Stones Gallery in downtown Oakland through August 31. The other night I ate for the first time at Baby Blues BBQ, a local restaurant, and the lacquered scrap wood tables looked vaguely like Garcia's artwork... turns out he actually made those tables two years ago, as a special project for the restaurant owner. This guy is everywhere! Or maybe it just coincidentally feels that way...
August 19, 2011