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Building the Maxon House: Week 21

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During the process of planning, designing, and ultimately constructing our future home, we discovered inspiration, resources, and motivation in a plethora of places, both online and off. These range from individuals blogging (like us), to companies providing practical information, to brands (like Dwell) that connect those interested in modern architecture. There are plenty of other books and places you can go to find ideas and resources, and I encourage readers to share their favorites in the comments below. Our hope with sharing our story is to not only pass on the things we've found, but to inspire others to make the leap and go after their own dream project.

The trek towards a finished house is a lengthy one and some days you think it will never end. On those days, these inspirations and resources kept us motivated. We hope you find that they provide the same for you, no matter where you are in the process.

 

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 21: Inspiration and Resources.

  • 
  One of the most comprehensive blogs I came across during our project was "A House By the Park," which documented the design, planning, and construction of a modern home in Seattle. The owner was extremely detailed in sharing the entire process, all the way down to the finances. Detailed photos and easy-to-follow category listings chronicled everything from cabinetry to HVAC to how to buy the property. A complete photo gallery and Live Cam time-lapsed the project. Although the site is no longer updated it is a treasure chest of content and inspiration for anyone looking to embark on a modern home project. The architects behind the project were Build, LLC.
    One of the most comprehensive blogs I came across during our project was "A House By the Park," which documented the design, planning, and construction of a modern home in Seattle. The owner was extremely detailed in sharing the entire process, all the way down to the finances. Detailed photos and easy-to-follow category listings chronicled everything from cabinetry to HVAC to how to buy the property. A complete photo gallery and Live Cam time-lapsed the project. Although the site is no longer updated it is a treasure chest of content and inspiration for anyone looking to embark on a modern home project. The architects behind the project were Build, LLC.
  • 
  I found out about the House by the Park blog from the architects Build LLC of Seattle. They have one of the most prolific architecture and design-related blogs online. They often visit major cities and write about some of their most modern finds. The architects are completely transparent in their discussion of all facets of the business, from what it takes to get a job at their firm to how they remain busy during slow periods. They share drawings and thoughts on materials and technologies, discuss opportunities to get involved in architecture, and share their experiences in a candid forum that invites commentary and receives a following. The blog continues to be a source of inspiration, ideas and resources for the design/build firm. Another blog of note in similar fashion although not as detailed is Phinney Modern.
    I found out about the House by the Park blog from the architects Build LLC of Seattle. They have one of the most prolific architecture and design-related blogs online. They often visit major cities and write about some of their most modern finds. The architects are completely transparent in their discussion of all facets of the business, from what it takes to get a job at their firm to how they remain busy during slow periods. They share drawings and thoughts on materials and technologies, discuss opportunities to get involved in architecture, and share their experiences in a candid forum that invites commentary and receives a following. The blog continues to be a source of inspiration, ideas and resources for the design/build firm. Another blog of note in similar fashion although not as detailed is Phinney Modern.
  • 
  Like any new endeavor you dive head first into, learning about architecture was as much about learning the language. Early on I came across the book 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School and it quickly became a companion along the way. During the interview process we found that some architects spoke straight-up architecture lingo while others were more focused on converting insider language to words and phrases the client would understand. Either way, this book became a great resource simplifying the world of architecture. The book delivers insights and concepts of architecture in an informative and entertaining way. The sketches are fun and the concepts are memorable. 
    Like any new endeavor you dive head first into, learning about architecture was as much about learning the language. Early on I came across the book 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School and it quickly became a companion along the way. During the interview process we found that some architects spoke straight-up architecture lingo while others were more focused on converting insider language to words and phrases the client would understand. Either way, this book became a great resource simplifying the world of architecture. The book delivers insights and concepts of architecture in an informative and entertaining way. The sketches are fun and the concepts are memorable. 
  • 
  A Google search early in the process quickly turned up one of the most comprehensive sites of architectural inspiration. ArchDaily is drool-worthy and I found the global scope of featured projects, including brilliant modern residences, to be reason enough to bookmark ArchDaily and visit, well, daily.
    A Google search early in the process quickly turned up one of the most comprehensive sites of architectural inspiration. ArchDaily is drool-worthy and I found the global scope of featured projects, including brilliant modern residences, to be reason enough to bookmark ArchDaily and visit, well, daily.
  • 
  We sought out frequent kitchen inspiration along the way. Early on we fell in love with SubZero and Wolf appliances. The question became, which ones should we pick and how will they look in our kitchen? The kitchen photo galleries on the site provided a great resource and we visited often as the project progressed to find projects with similar material palettes. The general website for both brands also provides resources such as CAD files for the specific appliances. Our architects implemented these into our plan set, including schematics and elevation drawings.
    We sought out frequent kitchen inspiration along the way. Early on we fell in love with SubZero and Wolf appliances. The question became, which ones should we pick and how will they look in our kitchen? The kitchen photo galleries on the site provided a great resource and we visited often as the project progressed to find projects with similar material palettes. The general website for both brands also provides resources such as CAD files for the specific appliances. Our architects implemented these into our plan set, including schematics and elevation drawings.
  • 
  It's a good sign when you open the Sunday New York Times and see the architect you selected has a project featured in the pages of either the NY Times weekend magazine or NY Times T: Style Magazine. Beyond the work of Olson Kundig, the Sunday magazine provided weekly inspiration for projects around the world from various architects. The magazines feature large-format photos and minimal but meaningful editorial insights into the needs of the client and the solutions provided by the respective architect or firm.
    It's a good sign when you open the Sunday New York Times and see the architect you selected has a project featured in the pages of either the NY Times weekend magazine or NY Times T: Style Magazine. Beyond the work of Olson Kundig, the Sunday magazine provided weekly inspiration for projects around the world from various architects. The magazines feature large-format photos and minimal but meaningful editorial insights into the needs of the client and the solutions provided by the respective architect or firm.
  • 
  Setting is a vital part of our project. While ultimately hiring a landscape architect was far off into the future for us, we were immediately impressed with the work of Andrea Cochran after coming into contact with her book, Andrea Cochran: Landscapes. Not only did some of the residences and projects featured in the book have similar aesthetics to what we were after, the landscape design was incredibly inspiring and helped us envision opportunities for our project.
    Setting is a vital part of our project. While ultimately hiring a landscape architect was far off into the future for us, we were immediately impressed with the work of Andrea Cochran after coming into contact with her book, Andrea Cochran: Landscapes. Not only did some of the residences and projects featured in the book have similar aesthetics to what we were after, the landscape design was incredibly inspiring and helped us envision opportunities for our project.
  • 
  Good design has to be experienced. Sat in. Test driven. Lucky for us we have a Design Within Reach store in downtown Seattle. We have had our eye on a few pieces from DWR and on more occasions than I can count we've trekked down to their showroom to see our favorites, experience them, tear out pages from the catalog, and price out options. One of my favorite aspects of the DWR brand is how they celebrate the minds behind the design. The stores are virtual museums of modern design.
    Good design has to be experienced. Sat in. Test driven. Lucky for us we have a Design Within Reach store in downtown Seattle. We have had our eye on a few pieces from DWR and on more occasions than I can count we've trekked down to their showroom to see our favorites, experience them, tear out pages from the catalog, and price out options. One of my favorite aspects of the DWR brand is how they celebrate the minds behind the design. The stores are virtual museums of modern design.
  • 
  We did a lot of reading and a lot of scanning of architecture books. The timing of our project coincided with the release of Visual Acoustics, the story of famed architecture photographer Julius Shulman. The documentary by Eric Bricker told the fascinating story of Shulman's life but also provided context and foundation for the story of architecture itself through various critical moments in time. The case study homes particularly interested us. On a visit to Palm Springs for a commercial shoot, I had the opportunity to visit a few of the projects featured in the film including a drive-by of the Kaufmann House, restored by the architecture firm Marmol Radziner, and the Frank Sinatra residence, complete with a kitchen outfitted with Frank Sinatra's signature baby blue appliances.
    We did a lot of reading and a lot of scanning of architecture books. The timing of our project coincided with the release of Visual Acoustics, the story of famed architecture photographer Julius Shulman. The documentary by Eric Bricker told the fascinating story of Shulman's life but also provided context and foundation for the story of architecture itself through various critical moments in time. The case study homes particularly interested us. On a visit to Palm Springs for a commercial shoot, I had the opportunity to visit a few of the projects featured in the film including a drive-by of the Kaufmann House, restored by the architecture firm Marmol Radziner, and the Frank Sinatra residence, complete with a kitchen outfitted with Frank Sinatra's signature baby blue appliances.
  • 
  There are distinct challenges and opportunities to designing and building in the Pacific Northwest region. Challenging landscapes. Challenging weather. Challenging material selections. We are blessed with a range of talented architects, design builders, contractors and craftspeople that make our region extremely unique and highly sought-out regionally, nationally and globally. And luckily, we have a wonderful local resource in Arcade Journal to document all the above. The quarterly magazine chronicles the architecture and design community with intelligence, high design, award-winning graphic design, and critical commentary and features an honor roll of contributors from the area's best and brightest. Arcade is donor and advertiser-supported and is always highly anticipated with release parties.
    There are distinct challenges and opportunities to designing and building in the Pacific Northwest region. Challenging landscapes. Challenging weather. Challenging material selections. We are blessed with a range of talented architects, design builders, contractors and craftspeople that make our region extremely unique and highly sought-out regionally, nationally and globally. And luckily, we have a wonderful local resource in Arcade Journal to document all the above. The quarterly magazine chronicles the architecture and design community with intelligence, high design, award-winning graphic design, and critical commentary and features an honor roll of contributors from the area's best and brightest. Arcade is donor and advertiser-supported and is always highly anticipated with release parties.
  • 
  Edward LaLonde, our project manager on Maxon House, referred us to My Architect as a good film to watch for more architecture background. It became a film I revisit often. It follows the story of Nathaniel Kahn following in the footsteps of his architect father, Louis Kahn. An intriguing story that provides an informative backdrop to the world of architecture.
    Edward LaLonde, our project manager on Maxon House, referred us to My Architect as a good film to watch for more architecture background. It became a film I revisit often. It follows the story of Nathaniel Kahn following in the footsteps of his architect father, Louis Kahn. An intriguing story that provides an informative backdrop to the world of architecture.
  • 
  It only takes a few hours playing around on Google's SketchUp to realize why you pay professionals to design your house. Crazily addictive and downright instant fun, SketchUp became a cool resource to concept out some ideas before throwing them over the fence to the real pros. 
    It only takes a few hours playing around on Google's SketchUp to realize why you pay professionals to design your house. Crazily addictive and downright instant fun, SketchUp became a cool resource to concept out some ideas before throwing them over the fence to the real pros. 
  • 
  This is a big one. Book that is. The Case Study Houses 25th Anniversary Special Edition is a must-have for any architecture library—as long as you have plenty of bookshelf real estate to house this monster of a coffee table book. The projects featured in Visual Acoustics are well documented here, as is Shulman's photographic mastery. It includes in-depth photos, sketches, and plans of each of the featured homes, as well as timeless photography and insights into the projects. If you gave this book legs it could act as your coffee table—it's that gigantic.
    This is a big one. Book that is. The Case Study Houses 25th Anniversary Special Edition is a must-have for any architecture library—as long as you have plenty of bookshelf real estate to house this monster of a coffee table book. The projects featured in Visual Acoustics are well documented here, as is Shulman's photographic mastery. It includes in-depth photos, sketches, and plans of each of the featured homes, as well as timeless photography and insights into the projects. If you gave this book legs it could act as your coffee table—it's that gigantic.
  • 
  Complete transparency here. This Backstory blog may be posted on Dwell.com, but we'd be lying if we didn't identify Dwell as a source of inspiration for our project. While there are other home and architecture magazines out there (the numbers continue to dwindle), no magazine is as laser-focused on modern architecture for the masses as Dwell. We are long-time subscribers and we go out and buy the special issues that have become invaluable resources. I find myself checking out the Dwell app daily to see what other projects, ideas, and events are being featured.
    Complete transparency here. This Backstory blog may be posted on Dwell.com, but we'd be lying if we didn't identify Dwell as a source of inspiration for our project. While there are other home and architecture magazines out there (the numbers continue to dwindle), no magazine is as laser-focused on modern architecture for the masses as Dwell. We are long-time subscribers and we go out and buy the special issues that have become invaluable resources. I find myself checking out the Dwell app daily to see what other projects, ideas, and events are being featured.

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