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Neutra's Kaufmann House, On the Auction Block

Kaufmann House

Do you live in a house that has so much embedded history and character that it would be a major disaster if something ever happened to it?  There are homes like that.  A long time ago, a Pittsburgh department store businessman named Edgar J. Kaufmann, Sr., retained Frank Lloyd Wright to design a weekend home.  That home is the famous Fallingwater.  Kaufmann also commissioned Richard Neutra for home in Palm Springs.  That home is the 1946 Kaufmann House, a masterpiece of glass, steel, and stone.  But, as the story goes, it hasn’t always received masterpiece treatment. 

If the house could speak, I think, it would have an interesting story to tell.  Barry Manilow lived in The Kaufmann House for a bit.  It was neglected and abandoned for some duration of time, when Brent and Beth Harris stumbled upon it.  They bought it for a paltry $1.5 million and hired Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner to restore it.  I heard Marmol talk about its restoration about a year ago — they proceeded cautiously and deliberately to bring all the subtle details back.  The Harris couple acquired some surrounding plots of land and brought the glory of the original back to life. 

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San Francisco's Glassy Green 555 Mission Street (S2)

Night Rendering Rendering

Floor-to-ceiling glass panels, accented with glass and metal fins … this is 555 Mission Street.  The base of the building will have a public plaza with a so called "garden of light"– an organic, living space with fiber-optic light wands.  The 33-floor building is will be state-of-the-art and with all those windows, it’ll need to filter the natural light without burning up the interior in the summer.  Slated for completion in the third quarter of 2008, the building will have dual-panel, insulated glazing windows with low-e coating.  In total, 555 Mission Street will have approximately 550,000 rentable square feet and what seems to be incredible views of the city and the bay — I really like this first image below.  Word is, the building will be LEED certified, although I haven’t been able to verify that or the level of planned certification.  See updates below. 

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Second-Look, Recycled Vinyl Wallcoverings

Secondlook

Watch out!  Second-Look is a new product that has the potential to make a splash.  I’m still trying to decide how I feel about it, but Buildings Magazine gave it a Grand Prize Product Innovation Award in the Environmental Solutions category.  Second-look invested 2 years in R&D to create the first recycling program for vinyl wallcoverings.  The company wants your used vinyl wallcoverings and they’ll take old product from any manufacturer.  Using old vinyl, they’ve developed three new collections of wallcoverings – Versa, Cirqa, and Plexus – all made of 20-percent recycled vinyl content, including 10-percent post-consumer recycled content.  The low-VOC wallcovering produces fewer emissions than paint, uses water-based inks, incorporates a mildew-inhibiting agent, and can be micro-vented for additional breathability.  Plus, Second-Look can be used for LEED points.  Anyone have thoughts?

Agro-Housing Becoming an Option for China

Agrohousing

In China, there’s a massive exodus from the rural to urban areas, but it’s controlled because the country doesn’t have enough housing for everyone that wants to live in a city.  At the same time, urbanization accentuates the air and soil pollution problems.  So, Knafo Klimor Architects proposed an agro-housing project that blends agriculture and high-rise housing in one structure.  This agro-housing project brings the food-supply directly to the building, and to the extent that residents can realize the benefits of urban farming, there is a decreased reliance on transportation for agricultural products (shopping and delivery to stores).  Plus, with the building’s integrated water capture systems, the project has the potential to reduce water consumption and runoff.  Residents could make money off the crops, too. 

This agro-housing project is going to be built in Wuhan, China.  As you can see from the renderings, the building has quite the elaborate labyrinth to control water, air, and heat.  Structurally, it will be made with SIPs and a majority of the materials will come from steel, aluminum, and terracotta — all materials that can be recycled at the end of the building’s life.  Via Dwell

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NewPage Corporate HQ Verifies with Green Globes

Newpage04

NewPage Corporation is a leading producer of coated papers, and you probably have some of their products in your mailbox or magazine rack.  Recently, NewPage moved into brand new corporate headquarters, a building that’s actually the first in Ohio to achieve Green Globes verification.  Company leaders received a plaque with the a three Green Globes rating, in recognition of the building’s minimization of harmful air emissions, its use of energy and water conservation strategies, the integration of recycled materials, and its project management practices. 

Why Verify with Green Globes?

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Sycamore House, LEED Platinum in Pacific Palisades

Sycamore House

Yesterday, Kovac Architects announced the groundbreaking of Sycamore House, a modern ridge top residence in the Pacific Palisades designed to achieve a Platinum level rating under the USGBC’s LEED for Homes Program.  The 3,400 sf home will serve as both a laboratory of learning in sustainable design and the home of Michael Kovac, principal with Kovac Architects.  With construction already in progress (you can view a webcam on their website), the home should be complete in the latter part of 2008. 

By all means, take some time to wander through the Sycamore House online web site, it’s quite informational.  This home will feature a 23-foot tall thermal wall to regulate air temperature and guide warm air to clerestory windows; a building integrated photovoltaic system and green roof to insulate the home and reduce the heat island effect; and a geothermal system for supplemental cooling.  On the inside, all the materials will be sustainably harvested, rapidly renewable, or previously recycled.  Plus, there will be the usual water-efficient fixtures, energy-saving LED lights and appliances, and low-VOC paints and varnishes.  Although still only in rendering stage, it will be exciting to see the Sycamore House become a reality.  Personally, I like the ability to congregate on the living roof and show off the solar panels.  That’s a nice touch. 

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