Blog Notes From Leo Marmol Lecture in Dallas (10/14/2006): Prefab + Environmentalism

Other_front On Saturday at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Leo Marmol was kind enough to spend an hour and talk about his firm‘s work in the design-build and prefab context.  I was looking forward to this lecture for about 2 months and was not disappointed.  Marmol lectured on his firm’s work with mid-century modern residences and the four standards (Secretary of Interior Standards) for renovation:  preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, + reconstruction.  Towards the end of the lecture, he started to get into his firm’s prefab work and environmentalism. 

Here are some notes…

  • As a site-build firm, we know very intimately how inefficient and stupid architectural processes are.  We live with that stupidity everyday.  It’s a really inefficient, wasteful, cumbersome process that we use to build today.  There’s a lot of reasons why we still do it, but it’s inherently wasteful, so our goal is to build as much as possible in the factory. 
  • We’ve seen lumber + steel prices climb, and even labor is a little strained.  Materials are getting more and more scarce, more and more, therefore, valuable, and more and more expensive.  That will continue in the future. 
  • We’ve seen the rise in design with the iPod and with Target enlisting Philippe Starke to create a toothbrush.  Design is a marketing opportunity to set your firm apart from the norm. 
  • With Prefab, the goal is to provide clean, simple, modern living and do it as cost-effectively as possible.  So prefabrication is a means to deal with the rising construction costs. 
  • If you’re an architect and a builder, and you don’t have guilt, you’re not paying attention.  We put so much attention on the auto industry, but it pales in comparison to the architecture industry.  Architecture is the greatest polluting force on the planet.  There is no other industry on the earth that uses more of our earth’s resources than construction and there is no other industry to releases so many polluting, bad things back to the earth.  Prefab allows us to deal with this guilt and be more efficient. 
  • Sometimes the media gets it wrong with regards to prefab, but they are enthusiastic about this technology.  That enthusiasm can lead everyone astray.  Prefabs are not manufactured homes.  Prefabs won’t save the world or deliver homes for under $100 a square foot.  Prefab is not a magic bullet.  They are cheap in comparison to custom, architect-designed homes (LA price:  $400-600 sq.ft.), but they are not necessarily cheap.  Building homes is difficult and takes lots of money + materials. 
Back_and_pool Kitchen_1 Bedroom

It should be noted that Mr. Marmol’s prefab division is making a conscious choice to be environmental in the construction of prefabs.  The prefabs are designed to receive LEED certification, made from recycled steel, employ Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), and use FSC-certified wood, low-VOC Green Seal paint, solar panels, etc.  Each prefab is designed with the site in mind so the structure can be attentive to natural light and shading.  And if you’re interested in seeing one, there’s an open house in California (instructions below). 

Open House of the Desert House:
October 28, 1 pm – 6 pm
Desert Hot Springs, CA
RSVP NOT REQUIRED
Navigate the Website for Map

By |October 16th, 2006|LEED, Modern architecture, Modern design, Prefab, Recycled|1 Comment

Design: e2 "Grey to Green" — Rethinking American Construction Waste

Introducing "Grey to Green."  It’s a snippet from the Design: e2 series narrated by Brad Pitt.  We need a paradigm shift in the methods we employ to construct US buildings!  Watch this video on construction waste and think about the status quo.  Did you know that American buildings account for 10% of the world’s energy use?  They do.

Design_e2_logo_1 Part of the draw to modern prefab, for me, is that it presents the opportunity to efficiently, and relatively wastelessly, produce attractive, sustainable living spaces.  That’s very important.  Technology and process innovation can help us quit wasting energy, supplies, and materials, etc.  Construction waste is not only damaging the earth, but by continuing on the current path, we’re just throwing money away (both at purchase and trash points).  We need to understand the issues and find creative, innovative, positive, and attractive solutions. 

This video is extremely informative, and you can order the PBS series DVD from their website for $29.95.  The DVD includes all six episodes (The Green Apple, Green for All, The Green Machine, Gray to Green, China: From Red to Green, + Deeper Shades of Green).  I can’t catch it on TV, so I’m going to go ahead and purchase it.  Really, watch the video and you’ll realize why it looks to be a good series.

Extra Links:
Design: e2 Website
ABC News Article about Brad Pitt’s Narration
Wikipedia Entry for Design: e2

By |September 29th, 2006|News, Prefab|1 Comment

There's a New Prefab in Town: Michelle Kaufmann Designs + mkSolaire

Mksolaire If you haven’t noticed, there’s a new prefab in town.  But if you’ve been following the modern prefab movement, you’ll recognize this newest installment comes from an experienced architect:  Michelle Kaufann Designs.  MKD is behind the glidehouse and sunset breezehouse prefabs that have become the talk in modern + sustainable building circles.  But these aren’t just prefab concepts or designs.  Recently, MKD finished building the first U.S. factory dedicated to sustainable, modular custom homes (www.mkConstructs.com).  This Washington (state) factory is wholly-owned by MKD and will serve California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii. 

Solaire_interior The mkSolaire is an open, loft-like home designed for healthy, green living in the urban context.  The architecturally designed roof and windows allow a perfect mixture of air and light to enter the home.  Initial design to completion lead time is roughly 8-14 months, which varies depending on a variety of factors specific to your design and location.  Some of the things that will be available include solar panel roofing, geothermal system, wind generator system, hybrid system, icynene insulation, bamboo or reclaimed wood flooring, recycled paper countertops, recycled glass countertops, on-demand water heaters, water-saving dual-flush toilets, non-toxic paints, and formaldehyde-free cabinetry, etc. 

Solaire_roofSolaire_18  Solaire_17

Because the mkSolaire is built from a modular system, there are endless possibilities as far as layouts and floorplans.  The website has 5+ floorplan options, but it looks like those can be further customized.  And if you’re really interested in taking the plunge, MKD has tried to take the sting out of prefab costing by explaining how it all works.  This stuff isn’t cheap:  factory costs ($150-175 square foot), transportation + installation ($3,000 – $8,000 per module), site costs (depends on location), and miscellaneous costs (permit fees, architectural and engineering fees, sales tax for some states, appliance costs, add-on costs, etc.).  That said, homes do come with high-end Kohler  and Hansgrohe fixtures, Anderson windows + doors, and slate-tile flooring.

I could go on and on, so feel free to visit their site and see if this looks like something you’re interested in.  As far as modern + green custom architectural design is concerned, this is about as good an option as they come.  Source via Linton + Yahoo Finance

By |September 26th, 2006|Gadgets, Modern architecture, Modern design, Nature, Prefab, Solar, Wind|1 Comment

Fab-ulous Friday: October 14, 2006 Leo Marmol Lecture on Marmol Radziner + Associates

Marmol_home On October 14, 2006, the DME (Dallas Modern Expo) Modern Lecture Series will host Leo Marmol of Marmol Radziner + Associates.  Marmol is set to speak on the following topic:  "From Design-build to Prefab:  The Process of Marmol Radziner + Associates."  This event is on Saturday from 2:00 – 3:00 pm, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Lemmon Avenue, and costs a mere $10 to attend.  Tickets can be purchased online, or at the door, but seating is limited.  For those of you that are die hard prefab enthusiasts, you can take a cheap Southwest Airlines flight into Love Field (right next door to the place) and attend the lecture. 

Leo_marmol_lecture_image_1

This is a preview of what Marmol plans to speak about: "Bridging the divide between architecture and construction, Leo Marmol has created a unique design-build practice led by architects that combines innovative design, thorough research, and construction precision into a holistic approach to restore and create meaningful modern spaces. The firm’s multidisciplinary approach combines architecture, landscape, interior design, furniture design, construction, and prefabricated housing to create the ability to manage the execution of designs with the same rigor with which they were designed. Leo will explain how the firm’s experience in restoration of mid-century modern homes has influenced new residential projects as well as the design and fabrication of the firm’s new line of modern prefab homes."

Nevada_house_marmol Utah_house_marmol California_house_marmol

Marmol Radziner + Associates:
Marmol Radziner Prefab website.  As I’m writing this post, a Treehugger feed popped up announcing a Marmol Radziner Factory Tour. Treehugger calls their prefabs "the most beautiful prefab in the world."  In their factory, they produce steel-made homes that are easy to customize to modern + green standards.  Actually, they’ve been designed to achieve LEED certification:  they use structural insulated panels (SIPs), FSC-certified wood, low-VOC green seal paint, solar panels, natural light design, etc.!  These prefabs are the embodiment of everything Jetson Green espouses:  modern architecture + sustainable living.  This will be an awesome lecture event.

By |September 15th, 2006|LEED, Modern architecture, Modern design, Prefab, Solar|0 Comments

miniHome: Modern + Green Urban RV

Minihome

Introducing the miniHome.  Technically, it’s an RV, but it’s also designed for year-round living in extreme climates.  Ask the company, and they’ll tell you it’s perfect as a ski chalet, vacation retreat, cottage, guest cabin, or simple + luxurious home-away-from-home.  The base price is about $107,000 USD (max price $167,000), and if you’re thinking of hauling it around, you’ll need a vehicle that can handle a 14,000 pound haul.

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By |September 6th, 2006|Modern architecture, Prefab, Solar|4 Comments

Linz, Austria Hotel Tubes – Dasparkhotel

Dasparkhotel

I was skimming through one of my favorite magazines called Architectural Review, and I noticed a really cool article entitled "Tubular Troglodytes."  I couldn’t find the article online, but I did some research on the architect and discovered a hotel in Linz, Austria with the name of dasparkhotel.  Some of the website is in German, so I found the Google Translator somewhat (not completely) helpful.  From what I understand, Dasparkhotel is a concept creation of Andrea Strauss. 

As far as accomodations, this place isn’t that bad!  You get a double bed, fresh blankets (or sleeping bags–can’t tell from the translation), lighting, moon/day light hole in ceiling, stow-a-way space beneath the bed, 220 V power connection, and an internet connection. Further, the surrounding area has toilets, showers, and a minibar & cafe. 

Each tubular hotel room was created with redesigned, standardized sewer pipes, with a diameter large enough for normal people to stand up.  Reservations for a "room" can be made online, and you use a code received via email to access the room.  Apparently, the pay rate is "pay as you wish."  I couldn’t discover whether the surrounding area services (toilet, minibar, shower, & cafeteria) were "pay as you wish"–meaning if you use it, you pay for it–or the actual hotel tube was "pay as you wish"–choose the amount and pay it.  Regardless, I think this is a great idea!

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By |September 4th, 2006|Hotel, Modern architecture, Prefab|5 Comments