Monday, April 30, 2007

Stove Prairie Training Ride

Howard hosted a training ride for Club Hypoxia on Sunday, and it was a great success. Eleven of us climbed over 4,000 feet of elevation to Masonville, then through Buckeye Canyon on Stove Prairie Road, and back to Fort Collins along the Poudre River Canyon. Total miles for the day -- 71.5.

Here is a photo of the bunch of us at the top of the climb at Stove Prairie Road. From left to right: deadhead, BikePrincess, bmclaughlin, Brinehawk, jxscott, Sunshine, Zin, zcubed, SombraGato, Howard, grubg

Also, here is a video that Howard made of the ride...

And while you're in the neighborhood, here's a video from our trip to Las Vegas...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Post-Occupancy Encomium

Silence is golden, but it can also be disheartening.

Usually when an owner moves into a new custom-designed house or commercial building of some sort, the architect never hears from them again. This is good and bad. Good in the sense that the presumption is that everything works well and the roof doesn't leak. Because if things weren't good, the architect would hear about it. The silence is bad in the sense that the architect never hears all the feedback and reactions to his or her design that could help the architect learn and improve in the future. We call these sort of post-occupancy evaluations... well... we call them post-occupancy evaluations!

Howard heard back again from the owner of the million-dollar house. After living in the house for nearly four months, the owner wrote a long email listing all the things that work well in the house as well as a shorter list of things that work "less well."

One pair of sentences was particularly striking, and I'd like to pass them on to you...
"We have received many compliments from people including neighbors, family, friends and even complete strangers (one woman relocating to FtC actually stopped and knocked on the door wanting to know if we would consider selling to her). I even had a neighbor ask me just this morning if I were an architect because of the design of our house."
Howard loves to hear this stuff!

The list of stuff that works "less well"? Howard will keep those to himself.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Subvert Las Vegas, Save the World

Howard went to Las Vegas this week to celebrate Earth Day.

What the hell did Howard just say?!!

Okay, he didn't go there as part of an Earth Day celebration, per se.
Going to Las Vegas might be considered the antithesis of doing something to save the planet. Other than the fact of Howard's and BalticTiger's flying via Ozone Airlines to Las Vegas Sunday evening, and other than the fact that Las Vegas is practically the epitome of unsustainability in terms of water and electricity use, and other than the fact that the entire city was built post-WWII which means it was built to be utterly dependent on cars as transportation, and other than the fact that the city couldn't exist without inefficient air conditioning, and other than the fact that the place seems to be all about mass consumption and relieving wallets of excess dollars -- other than ALL THAT, let Howard explain why his going to Las Vegas with his best girl is about Earth Day.

Howard and BalticTiger are hacking the system -- hacking in terms of subverting the system.

Howard and BalticTiger will not go anywhere near The Strip. Howard and BalticTiger are staying at the Red Rock Casino/Resort/Spa which is miles from The Strip, at the foot of Red Rock Park, not a particularly big draw for tourists visiting Las Vegas. Unless one is a cyclist. Or one likes great views of The Strip from afar. BalticTiger keeps turning up the thermostat, perhaps to fight off the air conditioner which insists on conditioning our air. Or perhaps she's just chilly because she's a girl with faulty circulation. Doesn't matter. We're still hacking the system. Howard and BalticTiger are renting all-carbon Synapse Cannondales for their transport/entertainment needs. And we HAVE needs, alright. Just not the we're-going-to-depend-on-cars-to-live type. Oh yes, and Howard/BalticTiger turned down the bed-turn-down service because we're just not into conspicuous consumption and pampered poodle privilege. We still did, of course, demand the chocolates.

Pictures and perhaps video from the Save-The-Planet-By-Visiting-Las-Vegas trip are forthcoming.

In the meantime, here's a cycling video that Howard made to commemorate a recent ride with BalticTiger:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Lots of Climbing & Something Else

In between design sessions on the Laramie house, Howard went for a long, hard bike ride up to Horsetooth Reservoir, over three dams, climbing 6%, 10%, and 16% grades. Then he went about 20 miles further. He videotaped his climbing and made it into a cool music video for your bemusement. About 2/3rds of the way through, during a 55 mph descent, something a bit freakish happened and he caught it on video...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What Howard Did Today

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Be Kind

The New York Times writes today:
To Mr. [Kurt] Vonnegut, the only possible redemption for the madness and apparent meaninglessness of existence was human kindness. The title character in his 1965 novel, “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” summed up his philosophy:

“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies — ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’ ”

Kurt Vonneguy died today. Damn. Howard read and adored everything he wrote.
So it goes.

Update: This article, written by Vonnegut in 2004, was referenced in comments, and I think it deserves a more prominent mention and link here.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Real Estate Bubble: Another Clue

For your consideration, please note a graph listing housing inventory versus sales in Phoenix over the past year and a half. I got it from this blog, where they put together similar graphs for similar cities across America. Daunting? Damn right. Discuss.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Next One in the Queue!

It's been a while since Howard posted anything architectural to this blog. One might think by the bounty of cycling posts in past weeks and months that Howard gave up his day job for cycling.

But really I've been busy finishing construction documents for a modest addition & renovation project for delivery to county building departments and builders; I've been dealing with a new client and getting a contract signed; and I've been meeting with that new client couple to figure out exactly what kind of new custom home they've been dreaming of building.

Not exactly photogenic or blogogenic tasks.

A few weeks ago, I was up in Laramie and took some photos of a piece of property that will, if all goes well, some day have a house designed by Howard built on it. The owners have purchased the site and are now ready for design to begin.

Here is a photo of what will someday be the street and sidewalk in front of the house, with the house on the land to the left. Sure looks cold, doesn't it? That's only because it was! This photo is looking south-southeast towards the existing Laramie neighborhood that will one day expand to the north.

The second photo was taken while standing at the far northeast corner of the property looking southwest towards the street and towards Jelm Mountain, which is the peak to the right of the photo (click on it to make it big.) Like I said, it was cold that day. The building site contours drop about eight feet or more from north to south (from right to left), and the property owners want the house located tight to the north and west setbacks of the site to allow the southern and eastern portions of the land to be open for landscaping, gardening, and views.

Design started this past week and could take up to six months -- a long, very involved, but very exciting process. They want a 2,500 sq. ft. two-story house facing west with an unfinished basement, four bedrooms, three or four bathrooms, for the exterior -- a contemporary look with masonry, wood, and plaster, with a more European modern look with lots of light wood trim and detail in the interior. Plus, they want wonderful decks, balconies, and windows to take advantage of views to the east, south, and west.

Someday, this piece of barren tundra on a hill will be the birthplace of a wonderful dreamhome for Howard's next clients. I'll be sure to keep you posted over the next year-and-a-half (design + construction) as photogenic and blogogenic opportunities develop.

Monday, April 02, 2007

May We All Find Such Happiness

Two good friends of ours, Deadhead (Jeff) and BikePrincess (Nona), celebrated their 29th Anniversary on Sunday, April 1st by inviting Howard and his best girl on a long bike ride with them. We rode 48 miles together around areas north of Fort Collins, stopping in Wellington for pizza and ice cream. So Howard made the following video in tribute to them...