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Time Is on My Site

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In Galileo’s day, men counted their pulses to tell time. In 2 A.D., Ptolemy, who understood more about the movements of the sun and the earth than most of us do today, designed a tool called the quadrant that, by measuring heaven and earth, brought the infinite scale of the universe into the palm of the hand.

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  Architects Carrie and Kevin Burke designed their home to be a time-telling observatory. Sunlight is corseted through a 24-inch glass eye suspended just beneath a skylight, making the living room double as a sundial.  Photo by Prakash Patel.
    Architects Carrie and Kevin Burke designed their home to be a time-telling observatory. Sunlight is corseted through a 24-inch glass eye suspended just beneath a skylight, making the living room double as a sundial. Photo by Prakash Patel.
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  Inside the house, the speed of the planet’s rotation is indicated by the rate of the light beam’s movement over the floor and walls. When the Burkes first moved in, the speed of shifting light made them dizzy.  Photo by Prakash Patel.
    Inside the house, the speed of the planet’s rotation is indicated by the rate of the light beam’s movement over the floor and walls. When the Burkes first moved in, the speed of shifting light made them dizzy. Photo by Prakash Patel.
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  Before construction began, the site was surveyed to align the house precisely north to south along the solar axis and to ensure that the roof angle would parallel the angle of the sun at winter solstice.  Photo by Prakash Patel.
    Before construction began, the site was surveyed to align the house precisely north to south along the solar axis and to ensure that the roof angle would parallel the angle of the sun at winter solstice. Photo by Prakash Patel.
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  Since copper is a commodity, its cost fluctuates and installation can be both difficult and expensive. The Burkes bought their copper when it was at a 15-year low. For the first two weeks, the house was as shiny as a new penny, then it began to weather. “It incited a local controversy,” says Carrie. “But we understood that time would prevail. Now we’re happy when people say they don’t know of a copper house on Park Street.” One possible source for copper is Una-Clad. www.unaclad.com  Photo by Prakash Patel.
    Since copper is a commodity, its cost fluctuates and installation can be both difficult and expensive. The Burkes bought their copper when it was at a 15-year low. For the first two weeks, the house was as shiny as a new penny, then it began to weather. “It incited a local controversy,” says Carrie. “But we understood that time would prevail. Now we’re happy when people say they don’t know of a copper house on Park Street.” One possible source for copper is Una-Clad. www.unaclad.com Photo by Prakash Patel.
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  The stairs going up the knoll to the roof garden and to the house’s second-level entrance are made from Cor-Ten steel risers (which develop a rich, rusted patina) and filled with gravel in order to create a nonslip surface that drains well. Steel and steelwork by Virginia Industrial.  Photo by Prakash Patel.
    The stairs going up the knoll to the roof garden and to the house’s second-level entrance are made from Cor-Ten steel risers (which develop a rich, rusted patina) and filled with gravel in order to create a nonslip surface that drains well. Steel and steelwork by Virginia Industrial. Photo by Prakash Patel.
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  The Burkes eliminated glare by minimizing the number of windows on the east and west sides of their house. On the south, though, windows are taller and offer views of trees even though the house is in the heart of downtown Charlottesville. The direct light that enters through the flanks of the house is mediated via a sophisticated array of blinds, tints, a trellis calibrated to cut light from April through August, and several bald cypress trees that provide shade in summer but lose their leaves in winter, allowing light (and heat) to infuse the house. Baby cypress trees, about nine feet tall, should cost around $100 each at your local nursery.  Photo by Prakash Patel.
    The Burkes eliminated glare by minimizing the number of windows on the east and west sides of their house. On the south, though, windows are taller and offer views of trees even though the house is in the heart of downtown Charlottesville. The direct light that enters through the flanks of the house is mediated via a sophisticated array of blinds, tints, a trellis calibrated to cut light from April through August, and several bald cypress trees that provide shade in summer but lose their leaves in winter, allowing light (and heat) to infuse the house. Baby cypress trees, about nine feet tall, should cost around $100 each at your local nursery. Photo by Prakash Patel.

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