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A House to Last for 500 Years

The latest adventure for architectural pioneer Dave Sellers is a house built mostly from concrete

Posted on Sep 12 2017 by Scott Gibson

An Yale-educated architect credited with helping launch the design/build movement 50 years ago is at work on a mostly concrete house with a flexible interior floor plan and an all-but-bulletproof exterior that shouldn't need any maintenance for as long as five centuries.

The Home Run House is taking shape on Prickly Mountain outside the village of Warren, Vermont, not far from earlier experimental works by Dave Sellers and fellow architects who, according to an account published by Curbed in 2015, moved to the Mad River region in the 1960s itching to change the way houses were built. Sellers has been at it ever since.

The house, Sellers explained in a telephone call, is designed to overcome two glaring weaknesses with contemporary residential design: houses don't last very long because they're made out of materials that quickly deteriorate in the weather, and houses have rigid interior designs don't accommodate changing needs very easily.

Sellers is building the house with a $1 million contribution made by two California philanthropists to the Madsonian Museum of Industrial Design, which Sellers founded in nearby Waitsfield. The gift is essentially a revolving loan fund and will eventually be used to build more houses that refine the design. Over time, Sellers expects the fund to accrue many times its current value. "We are serially funded," Sellers says. "No one else has this amazing capacity."

Home Run House has been under construction for two years, says an article written for VT Digger by Jon Kalish, and could be finished in the next three months.

Why the “Home Run House”? Sellers says that name came from members of his design team, the idea being that if they could pull off the project it would be as rare as a home run after so many other house designs "fail or are stupid."

Durable materials, flexible design

Most of the exposed surfaces are stone or concrete, including the pillars that hold up the porch roof, and the gracefully curved sun shades for exterior windows. There is no exposed wood on the building's exterior (and not a whole lot on the inside of the house, either), and exterior trim is made from repurposed slate blackboards. Exterior doors and the windows are clad in aluminum.

“We designed it to last 500 years with no maintenance,” Sellers said. “When you build with wood, the day you walk away from the house it starts to rot. Then you’ve got to maintain it. You’ve got to paint it, and seal it and redo it.”

In this respect, Home Run House looks something like an earlier Sellers work called the "Archie Bunker," a name that evolved from the original title "Bunker of Arches," Curbed said. It, too, is mostly concrete and designed to last 500 years with no maintenance and no fuel bills. At the Home Run House, R-40 exterior walls consist of poured concrete, spray foam, and plaster; the roof is insulated to R-60. Floors and beams also are made of concrete — 100 tons of it in all. Heat comes from passive solar sources as well as a ground-source heat pumpHome heating and cooling system that relies on the mass of the earth as the heat source and heat sink. Temperatures underground are relatively constant. Using a ground-source heat pump, heat from fluid circulated through an underground loop is transferred to and/or from the home through a heat exchanger. The energy performance of ground-source heat pumps is usually better than that of air-source heat pumps; ground-source heat pumps also perform better over a wider range of above-ground temperatures. that supplies a radiant-floor system with hot water.

At 1,800 square feet, the Home Run House also is designed so interior walls can be moved or removed without affecting its structural integrity. As he looks at the political upheaval in parts of Europe and the accompanying migration of many thousands of people, Sellers sees a good case for designs that can handle changing needs.

“This house is designed to handle a single family, or two families, or three families," he said. "Or it could be designed to handle 50 people. There are no interior walls. It’s like a big barn. You sort of fill in. We basically built post and beam out of concrete, and you can build whatever you want in it. It can change over time without wrecking the house.”

It also features walls that swing open to the outside, and a pair of 14-foot-square windows that open above interior plant beds, according to Kalish's account. Electricity will come from a 600-square-foot photovoltaic(PV) Generation of electricity directly from sunlight. A photovoltaic cell has no moving parts; electrons are energized by sunlight and result in current flow. array that Sellers also hopes will power an electric vehicle.

If there is a chink in this 500-year armor, it's probably the asphalt shingle roof. However, Sellers sees this as "interim roofing" that may very well be changed with an expected upgrade in PV panels down the road. "The building is a laboratory," he said.

Costs are relative

Although the house is being financed with a gift to the museum from two California philanthropists, Sellers says the $1 million price tag is misleading.

He put it this way: “If you ask Elon Musk what it cost to build his first electric car, he’s not going to tell you $50,000. He’s going to tell you $50 million. There’s three years of R&D in order to get here.”

Even interior framing is formed with concrete. Interior walls can be moved without affecting the building's structural integrity.

In time, could the cost of a similar house be reduced enough so ordinary people could afford one, say $120 or $140 a square foot? The problem with that, Sellers replies, is the notion of affordability that guides residential construction these days is basically flawed.

“The problem with that idea is that it an unsustainable number," he said. "When you build really shit houses that you can do for that, you take all the embodied energyEnergy that goes into making a product; includes energy required for growth, extraction, and transportation of the raw material as well as manufacture, packaging, and transportation of the finished product. Embodied energy is often used to measure ecological cost. and all the resources and you basically throw it away 15 years later. If you look at a 500-year house and you do it once, as opposed to 500 years of crappy buildings torn down every 20 years, it’s thousands cheaper.

“Right now we’re based on lowest first costInitial cost of buying or building something; does not include operating costs. and cheapest financing," he continued. "That’s all the banks are doing. What happens is you force the economy into building crap, throwaway stuff. Throwing away resources, polluting the environment and having things that are expensive to maintain, and then they get thrown away. That’s where we are now: everyone wants to go cheap. Cheap Cheap Cheap. This is cheap when you say to yourself, 'What would you pay for a house when you don’t have to pay for anything — no maintenance and no fuel bills?' "

A house like this probably could be built for $350 a square foot, he says, and that's a deal when you think about the multigenerational possibilities and next-to-nothing maintenance and operational costs that come with it.

A long and storied career

The Home Run House is only the most recent example of Sellers's zest for innovation, sustainable design, and experimentation. He has won a number of architectural awards over the years for work both in and well beyond the borders of Vermont. He was selected to the College of Fellows of the AIA in 2017, and named to Architectural Digest's list of top 100 architects in 1991.

He co-founded Northwind Power in 1974, a company that went on to successfully develop wind turbines. His other ventures have included the Vermont Iron Stove Company, the Four Elements Corporation, which developed a sewage treatment system, and the Mad River Rocket Company, which makes a plastic snow sled, according to his bio at the Yestermorrow design/build school where he teaches.

Home Run House, like many projects at Prickly Mountain, is not so much a solo endeavor as it is a collaboration — and in this case it included some pretty big names: Peter Calthorpe, the San Francisco architect and urban planner; Doug Kelbaugh, former dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan; and Harrison Fraker, a professor of architecture and the former dean of the College of Environmental Design at the University of California Berkeley. Sellers was the lead designer.

There's no telling where the next version of the Home Run House will be built, although Sellers says that he'd prefer a U.S. location. One idea that he and his colleagues are considering is buying some lots in a Vermont mobile home park and building smaller versions of the house.

The key, Sellers said, will be to ensure that the houses make an artistic as well as a technical contribution to high-performance building.

"You can have the most efficient, net zero, the best-of-everything building, if it's butt ugly it's going to be torn down in 10 years and you've wasted those resources," he said. "The buildings that have lasted for 500 years, the kind that people will lay down in front of bulldozers for, those buildings are beautiful and the craftsmanship in them, people take great pride in that. And that's one of the things we're emphasizing — these are artistic projects that happen to be using technology. But if they're not an art project, they don't work."


Tags: ,

Image Credits:

  1. All photos: Dave Sellers

1.
Sep 12, 2017 5:31 AM ET

Edited Sep 12, 2017 6:16 AM ET.

This is a fun project
by Martin Holladay

Dave Sellers is a lucky guy to be handed a $1 million budget for this project. Like Dave, I've often thought about building this kind of house.

I can't resist a few comments from my comfortable armchair, however.

1. The Pella windows won't last 500 years.

2. Scott's right about the roofing, of course. As a roofer, I wish Dave had specified slate or copper roofing. (Rodd Roofing of St. Johnsbury, Vermont -- the company that installs all of Dartmouth College's copper roofing -- would probably have been happy to bid on a job in Warren.)

3. I wish that the concrete contractor has done a better job vibrating the concrete, especially near that arch-topped window on the first floor.

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Five hundred year house 4.jpg


2.
Sep 12, 2017 6:01 AM ET

Edited Sep 12, 2017 9:40 AM ET.

a litte exaggerated, maybe
by Antonio Oliver

I think it may be a bit of an exaggeration to imply that housing is torn down within 10 or 20 years of being built in this country. All the houses I've ever lived in are still standing, and they range from 16 years old to more than 100 years old, with only one currently under 20 years. The youngest was a super energy efficient place that is very unlikely to be torn down any time soon, even if it doesn't make it to the age of the oldest house, which is also in no danger of being torn down soon. By the way, all the houses (except one) were stick built structures built in climates ranging from the dessert southwest to cold wintered northeast.


3.
Sep 12, 2017 9:36 AM ET

Disposable?
by Lance Peters

Can someone please point me to a housing market anywhere in the US or Canada where the life expectancy of a new dwelling is only 10-20 years? How many people buying a new home are doing so with a 10 year mortgage, certain they will be rebuilding by the end of the term?

Our current home is not too far from as cheap as it gets in Canada; a 2004 built townhouse, brick front, vinyl everywhere else including windows. Assuming the walls aren't rotting from the inside out (I have no reason to believe they are after checking them with an IR camera), this development is doing well. The only remodeling required after 13 years is some units are getting new asphalt shingles. We're fortunate that ours are still looking good. I'm fairly certain these homes will still be here when they're 50 years old, and there certainly wasn't much extra thought or money put into making them ultra durable.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I can imagine many people not liking the look of this concrete art project. If the owner likes it, that's all that really matters. Regarding other high performance houses, as long as they are holding up well they will continue to exist until a combination of age, location, and state of neglect drive the value proposition far enough to warrant tearing them down to facilitate a new build. I tend to think most high performance homes will outlast most code built homes in that respect.


4.
Sep 12, 2017 9:39 AM ET

Looks like one huge thermal bridge.
by John Clark

IJS


5.
Sep 12, 2017 9:51 AM ET

What about ICF & Stucco?
by Peter L

Wouldn't ICF with an EIFS/synthetic stucco exterior, also be considered a 500 year home? ICF is basically a 6 inch monolithic concrete wall reinforced with rebar. Add the synthetic stucco to the exterior and the house concrete walls are basically fireproof, termite proof, rot proof, rodent proof and weather proof.

It's an interesting project and while exaggerated, the builder does make some valid points. Just look at Hurricane Irma that just hit Florida. In areas that were hit badly, the concrete structures survived and the wood frame homes fell apart. All the reporters were staying in concrete high-rises in Miami and those buildings only suffered some window damage.

It must be said that wood frame is easy to do, forgiving of mistakes and can be easily modified if needed. Concrete is not.


6.
Sep 12, 2017 10:14 AM ET

Response to Peter L
by Martin Holladay

Plenty of homeowners are happy with their EIFS cladding. But synthetic stucco is not a 500-year cladding.

All you have to do is walk along the sidewalk in a commercial district where the storefronts have EIFS to see where the synthetic stucco has been breached by the kicks of passing pedestrians, or in some cases by the bumpers of cars trying to park too close to the building. Any 12-year-old kid with a 16-ounce hammer can make a mess of an EIFS wall in about 5 seconds.


7.
Sep 12, 2017 10:35 AM ET

Edited Sep 12, 2017 2:44 PM ET.

1. I'd love to see a section
by Bill Swanson

1. I'd love to see a section view of the wall and roof.
2. Any QC done like a blower door test or infrared camera images in the winter?
3. I agree with Martin that the concrete should have been vibrated better to remove voids.
4. Too many exaggerations. Both in cost and life expectancy. What have they done to manage cracking from the thermal expansion/contraction of the concrete exposed to the elements?
5. $1 million price tag. $555/sf. Any house can be mass produced to reduce the per unit cost. Tesla had plans to mass produce, does this builder? Until then it's an overpriced house. I'm curious what the design vs construction costs were.
6. Location. I'm assuming it's above the 500-year flood line since it's on a mountain.
7. I've known people with ground-source heat pump systems. They don't seem to work well and break a lot. I imagine this will be a high maintenance issue for the home. I also thought radiant floor heating doesn't work all that well in a super insulated home.
8. Any idea about ventilation or hot water?


8.
Sep 12, 2017 10:35 AM ET

Longevity
by Malcolm Taylor

No houses last without regular maintenance. Stone farm houses or stately homes, or palaces in Europe - all deteriorate surprisingly rapidly without human care.

The factors that lead to a house being abandoned or demolished rarely have much to do with the robustness of it's construction. They are demographic, caused by regional economic changes and fashion. Just like pets or clothes, most houses are abandoned because they no longer suit the owner's lifestyle or lose their owner's affection.

Most reasonably well constructed houses can last almost indefinitely if regularly maintained and sporadically renovated. Setting out to design a house to last 500 years seems more about symbolism than any practical outcome.


9.
Sep 12, 2017 10:38 AM ET

We don't have a 500 year history on EPS...
by Dana Dorsett

... and the decades long history shows that it can shrink, is easily damaged by termites & ants, etc. and is slowly breaks down by oxidation.

EPS is definitely not a 500 year product, but if pampered a bit in the stackup design and protected from insects it'll probably make the century mark. There may be test-able CFHC blown rigid EPS around that's made it a half-century of building use now, which might give a clue as to what to expect, but I'm not sure who (if anyone) is doing that work.


10.
Sep 12, 2017 10:57 AM ET

Nice experiment, but
by Armando Cobo

I won't be here in 500 years to see the results, and at the rate we are going, we may not be here in the near future... besides, Elon Musk said few days a go that WWIII will be started by AI.


11.
Sep 12, 2017 10:59 AM ET

Is the concrete reinforced with steel?
by Ethan T ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD

This may become a problem before 500 years are up: http://www.conrehab.com/Cathodic-protection/Corrosion-process


12.
Sep 12, 2017 11:41 AM ET

Edited Sep 12, 2017 11:44 AM ET.

Rebar won't last
by Martin Holladay

Ethan,
You're right. Back in May 2000, I wrote an article for the Journal of Light Construction ("A Concrete Slab for Y3K") about a more ambitious plan: A concrete foundation designed to last 1,000 years. The key to concrete longevity is to omit the rebar.

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AttachmentSize
A Concrete Slab for Y3K.pdf 464.28 KB


13.
Sep 12, 2017 12:31 PM ET

Basalt rebar will go the distance.
by Dana Dorsett

Basalt rebar will even outlast the concrete, and in almost every way except price is superior to steel in this application.

It can't be re-bent on site to make it fit when the architect's dimensions didn't add up though. :-)


14.
Sep 12, 2017 3:47 PM ET

My favorite concrete house is...
by Brendan Meyer

...the almost 100 year old one in Ocean City, NJ at the corner of Atlantic & Plymouth. And then there's the single-pour concrete house Thomas Edison built in Montclair, NJ. Also 100 years old and still standing.


15.
Sep 12, 2017 4:05 PM ET

That's quite a chunk of concrete! @ Brendan Meyer
by Dana Dorsett

https://www.google.com/maps/@39.2780983,-74.5708006,3a,75y,191.89h,87.86t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sx4REW3DLw7E4r70C_2VUBA!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

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Concrete house.jpg


16.
Sep 12, 2017 5:20 PM ET

Wood is Good especially in Vermont
by Rick Evans

100 tons of concrete and R-40/ R-60 Spray Foam = Green Home? Do they heat the home by burning baby polar bears too? ;-)

This reminds me of when Paul McCartney ordered a hybrid car to reduce his carbon footprint only to discover later that the car was flown from Japan to England rather than sent by boat, resulting in 38,000 Kgs of carbon emission.

Durable Hemlock and Spruce is practically free in Vermont. Why not use it??


17.
Sep 12, 2017 6:02 PM ET

Wood & Concrete - Both Have Their Places
by Peter L

Everyone here would agree that wood framed structures and concrete wall structures each have their place DEPENDING on where they are being built and for what purpose.

Wood is NOT a cure all as is concrete NOT a cure all. Everything is relative to where it is being built and what it will be exposed to. A wood frame building will last 100+ years in a climate zone that doesn't experience hurricanes or forest fires. While that same wood frame building will fall apart or burn in a hurricane zone or an area with forest fires.

Both wood and concrete wall structures have their places. What works in one area might not be so good in another area.


18.
Sep 12, 2017 6:16 PM ET

Martin
by Peter L

Martin,

That is true about EIFS. The point I was trying to make is that an ICF wall, even if stripped of its EPS on the outside, is still structurally sound and can be redone with EPS and EIFS if needed. The strength and integrity of an ICF wall home is not in the EPS so the EPS can be compromised but the home still is sound. The concrete is a 500 year structural wall component.

EIFS/synthetic stucco is much more durable and trouble free (properly applied) than wood or vinyl siding. Hardiboard is better but still requires maintenance. It's the GAPS in the siding that poses issues in areas that I am in (Arizona). Bugs, scorpions, termites, combustibility, heat/sun deterioration, etc. are the big problems we face out here. That is why synthetic stucco works better out here. No gaps in the finished wall cladding, nowhere for bugs to enter (properly detailed on bottom), sun/UV resistant and high fire resistance.

On my ICF home there are NO gaps since there isn't a need for a weep screed. So it's ICF from the top of the wall to the bottom of the footing. Where the ICF meets the footing it was completely sealed to prevent any termite/bug intrusion. Synthetic stucco protects the ICF EPS from the footing to the top of the wall. It's all in the details.

Any wood frame home out here that uses a weep screed will have scorpions, ants, black widows, etc living in the gaps and inevitable openings that occur with a drainage plane weep screed detail. This is mainly a southwest desert problem. That's why I chose ICF, among other reasons, to use as my wall structure. If I lived in the upper Pacific Northwest, I would have gone wood frame. It's all about regional specifics.


19.
Sep 12, 2017 9:07 PM ET

what will be needed in 500 years?
by Ethan T ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD

I'm reminded of Stewart Brand's great book 'How Buildings Learn.' The likelihood that the proposed configuration of the exterior walls will be needed in 500 years is also low. If the form was less 'single family residential,' and more 'Pantheon' then maybe I'd find some value in the concept. Until then, this seems literally like the ossification of a formal archetype. Perhaps some more details will make this project seem more worthwhile.


20.
Sep 12, 2017 9:13 PM ET

Martin and Dana
by Ethan T ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD

All cultural commentary aside, isn't the rebar question (assuming they didn't use basalt) central to the 500 year question, and, for that matter, essentially fatal to the prospects in this case?


21.
Sep 12, 2017 9:24 PM ET

all this talk about concrete
by Antonio Oliver

I can't help but wonder what were builders doing differently 60+ years ago than now for concrete pours, at least for slabs. I have yet to find a crack in my slab. A neighbor across the street built a new home several years ago and has cracks in his basement slab all over the place. What gives?


22.
Sep 12, 2017 10:28 PM ET

Aesthetic longevity?
by Benjamin Pries

This does not look like a building with a timeless or intrinsic beauty. What is the point of making a maintenance-free structure if nobody wants to live in it in 50 years, never mind 500? We already have a precedent for beautiful buildings made with natural materials that have lasted upwards of 500 years throughout Europe and Asia. Nothing about this building appears to be informed by place, culture or humanity. It's a mildly interesting project, but ignores the fundamental psychological and emotional nourishment we require of shelter and habitat. With any luck, in 500 years the windows have broken out, and it's a nice place for some ferns, moss and vines in a post-human landscape.


23.
Sep 13, 2017 3:34 AM ET

Photos of actual 500-year-old houses
by Martin Holladay

According to online information -- which may or may not be accurate -- the houses in the photos below are all about 500 years old.

1. House in Argentina, France.

2. House in Brigend, Wales.

3. House in the Troodos Mountains of Cyprus.

4. House in Devon, England.

5. House in Dordogne, France.

6. House in Warwick, England.

.

House in Argentina France.jpg House in Brigend Wales.jpg House in Cyprus.jpg House in Devon England.jpg House in Dordogne France.jpg House in Warwick England.jpg


24.
Sep 13, 2017 3:32 PM ET

Edited Sep 13, 2017 3:34 PM ET.

Concrete Cracks
by Peter L

Antonio,

Pouring/placing concrete is sort of an art and requires special skills. Not all concrete is made the same. Concrete is a complex creature and the ingredients that go in it, the temperatures when it is poured matter, how it is finished matter, how it is cured matters.

Many builders skimp on getting the better mix, fail to compact the soil, they fail to cure it properly, so then cracks happen. On my build I got the 4,000 psi mix and we made sure that the sub-base was properly compacted, the pour wasn't done on a hot or windy day (which is bad for curing), and it was properly moisture cured. All said and done, I have ZERO cracks on either the house or garage slabs. Of course concrete will eventually crack but there's a difference between hairline cracks and structural cracks.

ICF provides the perfect curing environment for concrete as it prevents air, wind and sun intrusion. All of which hurts curing. The EPS on both sides encases it and protects it while it cures.

So the point is that pouring concrete requires skills and unlike wood framing, a lot of thought must go into the concrete mix, pour time, temperatures, curing, etc. All of those will effect how the concrete turns out when cured. One might be an excellent carpenter but be horrible at pouring concrete. It's two different trades and skills.


25.
Sep 13, 2017 7:28 PM ET

Thanks Peter L
by Antonio Oliver

I appreciate the commentary on concrete. You may have a point that is evidenced by the fact that my house was built 60+ years ago by a brick mason (double wythe, brick and block shell), which leads me to believe that maybe he knew something about concrete. Also, he once lived two houses away from my house and built a significant fraction of the houses in my neighborhood, including his own. I learned this from his son, who saw me out in my lawn one day and stopped to have a long conversation. I'm thinking one wouldn't want live among people for whom he had provided shoddy work.


26.
Sep 14, 2017 6:52 AM ET

Ozymandias
by Paul Eldrenkamp

200 years ago Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote possibly the best response to the sort of arrogance that's behind this project:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.


27.
Sep 14, 2017 7:58 AM ET

Response to Paul Eldrenkamp
by Martin Holladay

Paul,
Thanks for sharing the Shelley poem -- the same poem my father recited to me (and to my brothers and sister) when we visited a ruined statue of Ramses II in the Egyptian desert in 1966.

I've written on this topic before. In "Designing for the Future," I wrote:

"It’s very hard to guess what types of shortages, if any, will govern our lives in the future. Energy may be scarce — or energy may be cheap. It’s possible that future droughts will be so severe that no amount of architectural cleverness will allow anyone to live in Arizona in 2060. These droughts may create millions of refugees, even within the U.S. On the other hand, some states are likely to face an increase in precipitation. Climate change may result in bumper crops in Canada and Russia, and food supplies may be plentiful. It’s also possible that future food shortages will lead to famines. New carbon taxes may encourage Americans to live in dense urban areas, where it’s easy to commute to work by public transport or bicycle. On the other hand, food and water shortages may be so severe that urban refugees flee to rural areas, where it’s easier to establish a large garden and keep a flock of chickens."

In "Martin’s Pretty Good House Manifesto," I wrote:

“It’s hard to know what kinds of homes will be desirable in 2214. In 200 years, maybe everyone will be living in electric cars. Or boats. It’s really hard to know whether a 200-year-old Passivhaus building will be considered desirable or a quaint relic in 2214. ... Thousands of solidly built homes in Detroit have been abandoned, and I suspect that in the coming decades, tens of thousands of homes in Arizona will also be abandoned. In the U.S., we demolish buildings at a surprisingly fast clip. Nice homes often end up too close to a busy road, or in a neighborhood where no one wants to live. ... One thing’s for sure: building a house that is designed to last 200 years is guaranteed to be expensive.

“All of these arguments support a building philosophy that Stewart Brand called the 'low-road' approach. Sometimes, a small, inexpensive house makes sense.”

.

Ramses statue.jpg


28.
Sep 14, 2017 8:44 AM ET

Edited Sep 14, 2017 8:45 AM ET.

All seriousness aside...
by Ethan T ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD

...and all questions of what best to do with $1M... What is going on above these windows?

windowhoods123987298374.JPG


29.
Sep 14, 2017 9:09 AM ET

Response to Ethan T
by Martin Holladay

Ethan,
Here in Vermont, we take skiing seriously. The design of those concrete awnings was inspired by the sport of ski jumping.


30.
Sep 14, 2017 9:53 AM ET

Mad River?
by Foster Lyons

This David Sellers fellow must be one of the world's greatest BSers. How he convinced anyone to part with money for this project is the part of the story I'm most interested in. Where I grew up, in New York, we called buildings like that apartment buildings. My understanding is that they have been constructed all over the world and house billions of people. Some of them were even thoughtfully designed.

"....credited with helping launch the design/build movement ..." You're kidding, right? Credited with doing that thing that humans have been doing for the past ten thousand years?


31.
Sep 14, 2017 10:35 AM ET

Edited Sep 14, 2017 10:36 AM ET.

Shibam
by Ethan T ; Climate Zone 5A ; ~6000HDD

Foster, I believe you are also tangentially referring to the amazing mud "skyscrapers" of Shibam (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibam) In Shibam, as in Taos Pueblo and other such sites "[t]he mudbrick buildings are frequently threatened by wind, rain, and heat erosion, and require constant upkeep in order to maintain their structures."

I think there is an interesting point to this thread, which is that within reason, in a cared for and much-needed building, maintenance and upkeep are not threats to a building's longevity, but rather a major component of it. Buildings which need care, will also be able to adapt to changing times and changing climates. Building a fortress to outlast the centuries may expose a structure to other threats, such as obselecense(sp?), disdain, and/or catastrophic failure.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/14/Shibam2.JPG


32.
Sep 18, 2017 7:23 AM ET

Brutalism is not dead
by James Morgan

I blame the architecture schools.


33.
Sep 18, 2017 7:35 AM ET

I don't know whether to laugh or cry
by James Morgan

A 'maintenance free' building with an asphalt shingle roof and persnickety mechanicals.


34.
Sep 18, 2017 7:37 AM ET

Response to James Morgan
by Martin Holladay

James,
Dave Sellers went to Yale -- home of a famously ugly School of Architecture (the brutalist landmark designed by Paul Rudolph). When I went to Yale in the early 1970s, the concrete on the architecture building was already spalling, exposing rusting rebar.

.

Yale school of architecture 1.jpg Yale school of architecture 2.jpg


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