Archive for May, 2010

SmithBuilt Project: Radius House on the American Institute of Architects Tour 2010

Posted in Design/Building Portfolio, Press on May 18, 2010 by smithbuilt

Marin Home

Tour lets

nature be

your guide


Tracey Taylor, Special to The Chronicle Wednesday, May 5, 2010

If there’s one thing the houses featured on the American Institute of Architects’ Marin Home Tour teach us, it’s how to work with, not against, nature when crafting dwellings. Each of the five homes on the May 15 tour embraces the landscape in which it is sited to such an extent that the boundaries between structure and nature are often pleasantly obscure. Whether it’s the Sausalito home that gives itself completely to the panoramic sweep of the bay, the crescent-shaped home in Mill Valley designed 50 years ago to follow precisely the contours of a forest ridge, or the newly built house, also in Mill Valley, that tucks itself into a steep hillside and then uses the resulting verticality to stunning effect: All have grabbed the gorgeous Marin scenery and run with it.


SFGate: San Francisco Living Home Tours

Posted in Design/Building Portfolio, Press on May 14, 2010 by smithbuilt

SFGate is running an article about the Ames Cottage on the AIA tour. Check it out here. 

Smithbuilt Project: Little Lane Studio

Posted in Artwork, Design/Building Portfolio, Portfolio on May 13, 2010 by smithbuilt

When my friend Julie asked if I would help her to design Little Lane Studio– a children’s art school, I jumped at the chance. It seemed like a great way to revisit my former teaching career while focusing on something really important-teaching kids art.

Designing a space that is compelling from a kid’s perspective was an intriguing challenge that I couldn’t wait to get started on. Julie and I discussed my collaborative style of working and set up some initial design sessions.

We keyed off of Julie’s inspiration board- a series of images that she had collected to help define the mood and tone of her artistic space.

Through our conversations we decided that building out the space with recycled materials was the appropriate look we were trying to achieve as well as conveying the right inspirational message to the kids.

After deciding that the space should house some large art tables we set out to Heritage Salvage. Our friend and owner of Heritage Michael “Bug” Deacon pointed us towards some re-sawn structural parralam beams that were perfect for our project.

We talked about needing two tables of differing heights and decided that to conserve space that they should be able to nestle.

I welded up some table bases from 2 x 2 x 1/4” galvanized angle iron with 4 x 4 x1/4” galvanized legs and found some heavy duty casters. I sized the smaller table to roll under the larger one for storage when not in use.

I joined the beams together to create a table surface and coated them in an epoxy resin.

We also used the beams as benches and found some beautifully patinaed siding boards that we re-sized and milled for the bench backs.

Lastly, we wanted to create “a nest” serving as a metaphor and a visual focal point -for home and creativity.

And as luck would have it, while on a trip to the San Francisco recycling center, I was able to talk a guy into helping me load a gigantic wisteria vine that he had just pulled out of his mother’s backyard into me truck. Score.

Tillandsia Garden At The Plant Cafe

Posted in Press, Vertical Garden on May 13, 2010 by smithbuilt

When the owners of The Plant Cafe Organic, Matthew and Mark first approached me about a vertical garden they were interested in something dynamic and unusual that fit with their dining concept of “the waiting room of a Finnish sauna set in a Tokyo airport”.

Something modern and organic-I suggested a large boarderless Tillandsia piece composed of nine 1/4” plates of cold rolled steel patinaed with a solution of copper suspended acid wash.

My assistant Jesse and I set to work constructing the large “backer panel” receiver on which the steel plates were to be secured. The backer was then preliminarily fitted with the steel panels to mark the positioning of each panel, and the backer was secured to the wall.

We then constructed transport frames to move the steel in order to receive the patina and later to serve as placement rigs while we worked on the plantings.

During assembly, each panel was numbered and secured to the backer in the corresponding location.

This is one of my favorite pieces as the patina, although tricky, is quite unusual and has continued to grow and change over time just like the plants.