The Green Builder in Little Rock, AR


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Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

I’m At Home in Arkansas

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

The Green issue of At Home in Arkansas is out online and it features an interview and portrait of yours truly.   Photography by Nancy Nolan.

Couple makes designs for sustainable living.

Monday, June 6th, 2011

Now here is a fun project. An Army barracks?  No, a prospective home. The inspiring couple behind this idea want to make all the right housing choices to utilize green ideas and educate others on how sustainable and green one’s house can be.  They have purchased a 40 foot by 80 foot Quonset Hut from SteelMasters. These can be used as airplane hangers, storage buildings, or emergency structures.  They intend to live simply and comfortably in one as their home.  The Quonset Hut will come to the site ready to be lifted in panels onto the foundation to form the structural shell of the house.  These panels are developed from the World War II units that were used throughout the war effort and are still used today.  EnergyStar has approved these structures as an exemplary building material and method.  Its galvalume finished steel shell is reflective as a radiant barrier and is made of mostly recycled material that in the end can be reused or recycled again for that cradle-to-cradle effect.

The couple has come to EcoHouse to make their simple living choices  as effective for being green as for sharp looking aesthetics.  There are many ways to use the panels to configure a home and we will be exploring several to find that perfect site placement and solar orientation.  The site is 11 acres in the Mountains of Arkansas near Russelville.  They were careful to find land with good soil for landscaping and a great view from the top of a gentle ridge.

We will be busy getting the design together and exploring systems and material choices to achieve strength, tightness, health and responsible living in their new home.  Look forward to design sketches.

Springtime porch with movie

Friday, May 6th, 2011

We developed the springtime porch design.  This Federal styled house demanded a rear porch that followed its symmetries and simple grandeur.  A seating area and outdoor fireplace was centered on the interior living room, one corner is canted back to allow for vehicular traffic, while double columns resolve the geometry to center the door.  Detailing with stained  concrete, matching brick and herringbone chimney caps gives the addition a sense of belonging to the original house and tries to uplift the original design with openness and dignity.


Outdoor fireplace in porch addition.

Porch addition seen from backyard

Want to see the design in motion? Welcome. See the movie on YouTube. Come on up to the porch and have a seat beside the fire. Coffee?

Also, you can look back to the original design sketch.


Screen porch in Heights under construction

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

A while back, we designed a screen porch and deck addition to a Heights home in Little Rock.  The structure has been under construction and it is beginning to take form now that the masons have started adding brick to the timber frame.  The interior of the porch boasts a full brick wall for outdoor kitchen and a full masonry wall for a fireplace.  The bead board and exposed rafters are installed along with the gluelam structural beams.  The floor is herringbone brick pavers.

Cantilevered beams for the deck were engineered and custom fabricated in steel in order to leave as much of the yard free of columns.

See the design movie on YouTube


Springtime porch remodel

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

Spring time is a great time to think about adding on an entertaining porch or BBQ patio to your home.  And when Little Rock Arkansas weather brings you winds that lift and drop giant trees in your backyard, that makes the PERFECT time to do some remodeling.

Here are some hand sketches of just such project compelled with those motivations.  The beautiful Federal styled home gets an outdoor salon porch complete with brick fireplace.  Symmetry is important.  Revisions to this scheme include an even simpler but grander porch.

EcoHouse Architects’ latest bungalow design under construction

Friday, March 4th, 2011
Hillcrest Little Rock bungalow remodel designIn the heart of the Hillcrest neighborhood of Little Rock Arkansas, a bungalow home is being restored, remodeled and enlarged.

Hillcrest of Little Rock has always been a rich neighborhood full of art, music and enterprise.  One local musician is restoring a bungalow right near her haunts in Hillcrest on N Palm St. But before she could move in, the entire house needed work.

The structure was in good shape and the rooms proportioned well, but time was cruel to this house.  It badly needed restoration, energy upgrades and a new second story addition.  Rather than making a big box house according to the pervading style of inner city development, the owner decided to keep the lines of the original roof.  Two bedrooms and a family room with barrel vaulted veranda were proposed upstairs.  New insulation, windows, doors and cement siding have already been added to replicate the original style.

You can see the original sketches for the design on here: EcoHouse youtube channel

Progress is well under way on the interior.  Designs for another second story house addition have just been completed nearby on N  Spruce St.

Remodeling a home I designed and built years ago

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

There are not many modern homes out there.  When commercial clients of mine asked me about buying a modern home, I told them about one I had designed and built years earlier for some other clients.  The old clients were moving and needed to sell.  Everyone was happy.  Old clients moved out.  New clients moved in and bought new furniture.  Happy everyone was, until the second child came along.  Now they needed more room.  This will be one of those strange happenstances when I get to remodel one of my original designs.

You can see photographs of the original design on my website. In fact, the home occupies the left most spot on this blog’s titleblock.  It has wood siding, cement stucco and concrete block exterior.  In its nature, the house is simple in its construction, complex in its inter relationships, and rich in garden views on a tight lot.  To change the balance of the forms posed a deep challenge to me.  I love a challenge.

I closed in the porches that the clients have never used and made the master bedroom and guest room larger.  Windows span the entire height from floor to ceiling to view the garden and the courtyard with similar panes as used in the living room.  Drywall ceilings are removed to expose wood trusses and mechanical systems.  Siding and cmu finishes are brought into the rooms to give the feeling that they are outside rooms, but the finish materials are upgraded to match the luxurious feel of the inside: siding goes from pine to walnut, concrete block goes to travatine tile in a running bond.  Floor finishes are upgraded and lighting is upgraded.  Overall, the rooms become more open and polished.

This is still a study of possible finishes.  We have much to develop in terms of selection and budget, but I am glad that the design is coming together.  View the presentation animation on youtube.

Step One to Good Design is Programming

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Tea room with books and art

Real estate is one of the highest costs to a family, so it is a Designer’s responsibility to use it wisely while merging aesthetics and function. Function being the more important of the two. It doesn’t matter how nice a house looks, if you can’t live productively and comfortably. It is very important to learn the intricacies and culture of a family before you start the space planning, so a home may be created; not a track house. To gain the detailed information needed, a trusting relationship with the family must be developed. Clients need to believe through programming, they will gain a more livable and aesthetic pleasing home.. Designers have to merge the requirements of the family members and bring an atmosphere that aligns with their lifestyle and image, providing them with a safe, productive, and beautiful home.

Clients want to feel like they are getting a custom home they helped design and create. Unfortunately, too many Designer’s approach a project with their own agendas and personal style. It is important to sit down at the first meeting and learn more than just how many rooms, bathrooms, and style. How a family unloads from a trip to the grocery store, where homework is done, who creates the most laundry, etc. are equally important and will produce a home that is pleasant and supports the family. They are receiving not only a Designer, but also consulting from an experienced professional who specializes in providing layouts that take into consideration work flow and processes.

There are several ways a Designer should look and inquire about a family’s needs. There’s the family as a whole, which would include things like number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and budget. Equally important is individual interviews with all family members, asking a six year old how you can help him keep his room clean and how many matchbox cars you need to make room for, not only makes everyone feel included, but also makes for a better design. Knowing what their needs are as individuals and a group, the Designer can begin to understand how they fit into the big picture of the way the home should operate. When visiting their existing space note areas that seem to be overwhelmed with clutter. This is usually a sign of space that is not working for them. There may be ways to reshape a laundry room or add tools that would make it functional. Other things to consider is finding out what gets abused, broken, what are their cleaning regiments, how long do they plan to stay in the home, and who seem to be the hardest on their area. This gives clues to how accommodations can be made for a home that will last longer and maintain its look.

Knowing and understanding the requirements of all the family members within a home and how they fit together is valuable information. The Designer achieves a level of understanding in overall operations and needs of specific space which is applied throughout the duration of the project. When the Programming Guide entailing all this data is given to the family it is usually the first time anyone has stopped to think about how they work together and therefor, should sit together. It helps the Designer to lay out the space and create a house that works more efficiently and smarter. Being thorough in programming is well worth the time invested and has measurable success in positive information that creates a custom space plan based on requirements and creativity, achieving more effective home.

Start with a site.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

There is no place better to start than the beginning. Whether you are building from scratch or remodeling, one must look and learn from the site. The way the rain falls or the sun sets on a project will be constant no matter what is designed or what is built. You can’t change that. SO use it to your advantage. A plan pulled from a drawer or bought at a grocery store magazine rack will only be as good as how you place it on the site. It is the fundamental beginning for fung shui, and still important for western designers. The sun can be good or bad for the house solely on how the building relates to it on the site.

The first architect, the Roman Vitruvius, once blogged his top ten list of siting tips.  My favorite of his wise lessons was, “never build a city downwind of a swamp.”  Truer words have never been spoken.