Urban Living

I have long considered the venerable brick row house one of the great urban living concepts we seem to have forgotten during our long love affair with the automobile.  SRKM now has the opportunity to design a small (12 unit – 1 block long) project of this nature here in North-Central Indiana.  If successful, I would like to think this model may be replicated.  At 11-12 dwelling units per acre, the concept may not be dense enough for large metropolitan cities, but I think it could be a very comfortable fit for small to mid-size communities.

chicago brick row house

Phoenix………..

Pictured is Bridge 52 over Paw-Paw Creek in Miami County, Indiana.  About 15 years ago damaged by a falling tree and since that time disassembled and stored at a construction company.  I recently “found” this bridge and propose restoring it and using it for a pedestrian trail bridge over the Yellow River.  One of a very few bow-string iron bridges remaining in Indiana, seems worthwhile to me to have returned to its former self.

historic bridge 1

Tastes like chicken………………

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Construction is nearing completion of this 50,000+ SF expansion of CTB Industries, one of the largest manufacturers of equipment for the poultry industry.  CTB is part of the  Berkshire Hathaway family of companies.  This building utilizes cool cell technology for summer ventilation and cooling.   The average American consumes about 250 eggs and about 60 pounds of chicken per year.  That’s a lot of foul!

6 15 2015

When it comes to housing………………

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I have seen multiple news stories regarding the lack of housing choices, particularly affordable, or entry level housing choices.  One can argue this deficit is the result of a failure of a community to attract and retain a middle income job base.  If a preponderance of the jobs in a community are earning near poverty level incomes, then it follows that these households require housing assistance.  My experience with programs like rental tax credits is the physical result is often a race to the bottom.  I am a great believer in creating affordable housing solutions that are indistinguishable from market rate housing.  That these projects are best rendered in small public/private partnership.  That these projects incorporate sustainability in every decision.  And, that these projects must be conceived as a part of the neighborhood tapestry, woven carefully and creatively into the urban fabric.

cottage neighborhood

Not glamorous……………………

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library roof

Roofing projects are not “sexy”.   And they can be complex.  And if you get it wrong, the results are not pleasant at all.  That is particularly true in this case where the building is a public library.  But, they are essential to the longevity of every structure. By carefully evaluating this roof, we were able to propose different solutions to different areas.  This photo illustrates an EDPM membrane roof with a partial replacement (to the right) and an existing 19 year old membrane (to the left)   Next step will be to apply a liquid membrane with high reflectivity (white) over the entire roof, giving the library a good (and sustainable) system for many years to come.

Not much of a fan……..

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Read this article by Walter Wuthmann.   I have never been much of a fan of big box stores.  Many times I’ve been puzzled by communities who ask nothing of these giant corporations, then spend extraordinary amounts of local dollars fixing the traffic and utility issues that follow.   Worth reading.

http://grist.org/business-technology/walmart-is-quietly-going-on-a-massive-building-spree/

 

Neighborly neighborhoods

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I have often wondered how the suburban tract home became ubiquitous.  A sprinkle of government programs here.  A dash of the desire for conformity there.  In the end, it would seem many families desire what smart growth principles are supposed to deliver:  a neighborhood that is attractive and affordable, that has a range of housing opportunities and choices, that is compact and walkable.  The classic brick row house would be one of the elements to utilize in smart growth neighborhoods.

Chicago row house 2

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…….

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Just beginning field documentation of the Times Theater in Rochester, Indiana.  A consortium of City, Economic Development, Chamber, Community Foundation and private philanthropy intends to restore this theater to its former glory.  The interior photo is a ceiling and decorative plaster detail at the proscenium.   Orchestra pit still intact.  The intent is to utilize primarily as a movie theater, but also as a performance space on occasion.   Fantastic!   A profound commitment for a City of 7,000.

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