Saturday, December 15, 2012

God's Vault Now

How will individuals and the community change when Christians fill this former bank building in lieu of bankers?

Wait and see: Elk River Lutheran Church in the former First Bank of Elk River. Architect Led Design Build by Vanman Architects & Builders.

How can we help you?

Here are the floor plans for the 2013 renovations. Starting construction after the holidays!

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Drycleaner/Laundromat/Building Maintenance Reuse

My current design for a neighborhood business owner excited to move into the old Hardee's he closed on yesterday.

Go economy, Go!

Plan to open in April...bonus: he and his wife will no longer have two landlords!


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Basement Remodel: Round 3

Still trying to find the right balance between function and square footage...

This is an entertaining kitchen for lots of kids and adults to gather around, not a functional kitchen for meal prep. That exists upstairs already.

individual elements are dispersed into separate work stations for maximum room for helpers.

Key words: British, Formal, Balance.

I love the reading niche, Dibbs!



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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vanman at 2012 AIA-MN Convention

What is Architect-Led-Design-Build?

It is a design build delivery method where the architect takes the lead. It is the right way to do Integrated Project Delivery (IPD).

Vanman Architects and Builders has been doing this for 55 years, and I am proud to be a part of this team.

We also partner with high-design firms needing an architect of record, small firms needing the support of a larger firm, and all sorts of architects seeking a builder partner who works well with others, and believes in the value of an architect at the helm.

Learn more at the Vanman Booth #344 at the architect's convention Nov 6-9, 2012 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Or ask me! We want to partner with more architects in 2013.

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

School into Church Code Study

Keeping people safe one calculation at a time.

When someone yells "FIRE" it better be self evident how to get yourself and loved ones to safety!

One of the most thankless jobs, but THE most critical.

Thank God for calculators!

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

British Basement...phase 1.

The 9 foot ceilings in the basement of this 12 year old home coupled with a patient couple waiting for just the right time to implement their ideas permit a lot of variety within an odd shaped space.

The space becomes a balanced series of unique, defined spaces that explode into a sheltered outdoor room anchored by two unique fireplaces and a two level stamped concrete, stone and iron wood perch to admire their 200 acres and the rum river that runs through it.

Dark woodwork, coffered ceilings, slate and stone create this desired British feeling.

The design also gives more than a nod to the private and public activities of the family and includes a gallery for family photos.

A fun project...get to share with the client tomorrow.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Reduced Scope Required!

When I started working on this project for LJ Level's client wanting to transform a family member's home into their own final home, they had plans to eventually retire in it. Budget was discussed, but priority was to create the spaces and features desired.
A sudden reduction of income changed everything. A strict budget became king. Phased construction became a possibility, significant DIY became necessary, and this home will likely now only be their primary residence for 3-5 years.
Phase 1 is now a new on grade primary entry & stair, master bedroom suite over a two car garage.
Phase 2 is the interior remodeling performed by the owner after moving into the MB suite.
Phase 3, if they decide to remain in the home beyond three – five years, are all of the "extras" not shown.
Pricing underway.
One benefit of working with a designer as well as a builder is you get to make decisions based on real design and real numbers while only paying for the "thinking" time to create these very basic concept sketches on trace paper... rather than starting demolition and hoping for the best.
Want to clarify your concept and get a price? Give me a call!



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Thursday, September 27, 2012

New entry

Wrote a nice long post, and BlogPress crashed. Must not like the new iOs I upgraded to! is the plan and elevation of the final new entry former posts mention.

Thanks Pew for the encouragement....

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How to save a Beautiful Old MN Church

There are three possible futures on the table for this church.

1) limp it along (until nobody attends).

2) brace it's bones and give it a triple bypass and a companion (New HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems and a complimentary addition)

3) Raze it, and not the good kind (raise).

Hoping we get this job so we can execute number two. Based on the limited amount of info provided in the RFP, I have concocted a scheme to hopefully share once short listed further.

Sneak Peak.....if you know the church....shhhh for a few weeks.

(site plan shown sucks, replacing with a simpler less site-intrusive solution that lets the Parsonage remain as rental income for a while longer.)

All 15 ministries and general attendance have been shrinking....they need the Juice...and I gave this thing a large Monster energy drink baby!

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Sketching for Understanding

Until I get my residential standards up to speed in Revit (3d design software) I am still working in Autocad 2D.

To help my clients understand the design better, I spent a couple hours popping up the plan, sketching in the design, and finally shading and rendering.

It may not be art, but it helps get to a decision. Are we done, or do we need to revise the roof form (over the entry).

Stuff on the left is the new entry and kitchen addition (over basement expansion) to this Blooming home.

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Location:Durant St NE,Isanti,United States

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Open, Closed......Open.

Why Design first? To make decisions that can be fixed with an eraser, not a demolition crew!

Original desire of this husband and wife client was to create a series of formal compartments for the various activities on the main floor. Enter, eat-in kitchen, pantry, dinning, study and living room....(not shown...just down past the dining room)

Received and incorporated changes yesterday to "open 'er all up", to use the more casual wording appropriate to this more open, casual, plan.

Now entry opens into a combined great room with just a little more division than a typical great room. Let's call it a "chunkified" Greay Room.

More connected living, more light, more views...

Where you live affects how you live....picture a day in the life inside your paper house before building the dream.

Original Addition and Remodel:

Final Addition and Remodel:

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Mission Possible

My new mission, and I have chosen to select it, is to transform this....into that.

Best part: it is for a class of '87 CHS (note the missing 'I') classmate and friend!

Upgrading my movie references, my first step is to determine if this project needs to be "Shaken" or "Stirred" to stay on budget.

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Start with a Solid Foundation

Cambridge Center For the Arts (CCFA) has rented a storefront art gallery in Cambridge.

Plans for how to use the space, lessons, instruction, gallery, office, salon, coffee shop, etc. will soon be underway.

I measured and drafted up the floor plan. This will become the solid foundation to build on.

Stop in and see the Art. Check out the activities including local and trips to minneapolis!

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Location:Durant St NE,Isanti,United States

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Like this picture I just took?

In an place of abundance, rush and greed. A pause to reflect on the plenty we have could satisfy us....for a while.

This simple twig, to me just a compositional element in a photo, would be a family's highlight where it's discovery lead
to a months worth of fuel for heat and cooking.

What do you think of THIS picture?

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wrap around porch/deck/patio

Getting closer to the solution I think:

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Friday, August 31, 2012

Never Burn a Bridge! Free CEU's for Architects!

Architects - free CEU's - just e-mail Brian (my former boss at Pella and a good guy)

CEU Presenters - there is one spot still open for this, and they do it quarterly. e-mail brian - must be AIA course and prefer HSW credit. Interested - also e-mail Brian anytime - day night, ten times a day - tell him it was my idea!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Building Codes vs. Business

In an earlier post I recommended not waiting to hire an architect to either help guide your move into a new space, or to bail you out if the move-in and use doesn't meet the code.

I found a relatively easy solution so this tutoring office, school, and potential worship space can keep their doors open just as they are.

Or price the cost to stay, change their program/use, expand the amount of space they rent, or move out.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Landlord & Banker as Client

If you are a novice business Tenant, you rely on your banker and landlord for advice on business and space needs.

Don't forget to add an architect to your team, BEFORE you move in.

This multi-functional space is at times an Office, A school, A church.

While zoning permits all these uses, the building code has requirements that vary, and must meet the primary use, and maximum use.

In this case the configuration of the space has been forced to work as-is. Same with the exits.....but the configuration as is doesn't work, and opening up walls makes the situation worse.

Owner will now have to 1) change program, 2) remodel space, 3) rent more space to gain a legal second exit.

This is my as-built plan, and prelim code info....will be a struggle to get plan to work with minimal expense to all.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Church Seating: Quality or Quantity?

Knee jerk reactions usually don't pan out.

After spending considerable time developing and refining a sanctuary seating plan that meets the goals of the entire building committee, a sub-committee directed us to relocate the stage to the corner.

I spent half a day making this work in the computer so occupancy, exiting and row/aisle locations all worked.

In the end we got 70 extra chairs to fit. Success?

While there are indeed 70 additional seats....there are actually 90 less "good" seats, if defined as 8 or less rows from the only 14" high existing platform.

Further, the first 2-4 rows in this new plan only accommodate between 2 and 4 folks sitting together!

They must now also build a back-wall, build two additional odd shaped stairs to behind the stage storage, as well as infill a triangle of space between the existing ramp and stage = $$$$ they don't have access to now.

There is no formal center aisle for weddings.

Overflow seating in the fellowship has half the visibility of the alter.

The ceiling lighting will have to be switched in a staggered fashion rather than front/middle/back creating distractions.

There are also 40 extra seats now under the existing lower ceiling.

Finally, in the original plan almost every seating row could exit to the left or right, and walk around the perimeter to find a seat or leave mid-sermon with minimal distraction to others.

Architects design for a reason. I have yet to have a "new" idea introduced after a solid design process that was actually better than the current solution.

A wasted day?

The congregation now has a seating layout that permits them to "pack them in" on Easter and Christmas, delaying the need for a third service and stalling the need for phase 2....a doubling of this sanctuary in 3-5 years.

Current plan:

Proposed Plan:

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Location:Elk River, MN

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Scary Letter from the Fire Marshall

If you get a letter from a government agency telling you they are going to shut you not wait until the DAY BEFORE they are going to shut you down to call me.

A client received this letter two weeks before calling me. I could have resolved the issue in one week. Now I have one day....and will most likely fail to satisfy the fire Marshall with a preliminary code study. And they are so much easier to work with once irritated (sarcasm).

I hope this tiny Somali specialty school gets to stay open, but I am guessing they will be closed as of 2:00 today until I finish my work by noon Friday, and then wait to see how quick the City staff feels like taking to "process" their plan review, comments, re-review, inspection then issue a certificate of occupancy.

I will update status via comments to this post.....till then: CALL AN ARCHITECT.....planning and asking permission keeps your business in business rather than burying your head in the sand.

Yes this problem was created by "just moving in" and ignoring the change-of-use threshold requiring a building permit.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Hardware Matters!

Goals for commercial projects vary WIDELY, but when it comes to door hardware the goal is always the same.....satisfy everyone and, except for a few specialty doors, stay in the background.

The above is an opening schedule: this and the hardware specification are two of the most important parts of a project.

Who cares about doors and door hardware which includes: hinges, pull bars, push bars, kickplates, deadbolts, delayed egress, electric strikes, magnetic locks, magnetic hold opens, lever styles, color of hardware, type of locks: classroom, storeroom, office passage. Thresholds, hinges, overhead stops, wall stops, closers, panic devices, coordinators, drip caps, wall stops, floor stops, smoke gaskets, temperature rise, hollow metal frames, wood frame, aluminum frames, insulated glass, tempered glass, wired glass, Firelite, number of square inches allowed, fire rating, door swing, direction of travel, various levels of security keys, building security, building control, fire doors, door height, width, type of wall, installation method.....?

Who cares?
#1) the end user, but they have no idea what is behind the decisions made, but it better work the way they expect it to. There is one client and hundreds of end users: workers, customers, guests, thieves, fire/smoke emergency victims, EMT's, funeral directors, furniture movers...

#2) Architect.....not only to best serve #1's and therefore their client, but because they are ultimately legally responsible for #3's concerns.

3) Fire Marshall and Building official....getting people out of, or safe within, a building in an emergency such as a fire, explosion or 747 crashing into the building.

4) Contractor needs a "system" of miscellaneous parts from literally dozens of different manufacturers to arrive on-site, work with each other, be easy to install and adjust, and work long term to prevent call-backs.

So, the morale of the story is hire an architect who appreciates the importance of the invisible details of the project, and strives for perfection.

The next time you walk into a building look at the pull that you touch, the way it locks, how is the door attached to the frame?

What keeps the door shut, helps the door open easily, keeps the cold and wind out, doesn't trip you......

The goal is for you to NOT know what is involved, your operation of the door should be easy if not instinctive. If it is not.....someone screwed up.

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Monday, July 30, 2012

Casura Screen Porch and Deck

Photos of the built design....see prior blogs for design sketches:

Delicious Douglas Fir.
Screens not in yet, including a pair of custom sliding panels at the large front opening. (or Phantom Screens....TBD)

Be cautious using the stainless steel cable rail system shown, not all cities will allow them.... But they are sure nice when permitted

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Church many redlines does it take?

Spent 3.5 hours redlining a freshly printed plan set.

How many licks does it take to get to the center......(all picked up by our team and reprinted)?

Answer posted as comment at the end of the day.

(hopefully long enough for me to do the code review and a quick grocery store kitchen remodel)!

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Kitchen Overhaul: Small to Medium

Small houses are great. But the tiny kitchens that they come with them don't permit the "gathering in the kitchen" lifestyle most of us have become accustomed to.

See what only 8' added to an existing Galley kitchen can do.

This solution also created a sheltering, welcoming, and obvious front entrance.

Every request was met: peninsula seating, pantry, re-use the existing plumbing service, and have room for a hutch. We even ended up with a closet in the entryway.

If there must be stairs, and it snows where the project is, try to move them from the outside to the inside. This worked for this MN home.



The plan:

The Construction Section:

One Before shot of the Kitchen:

Comment if you want to see the after pictures this Fall.

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