Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Condominium Window and Stucco Remediation

Kings Square is a four story condominium project built in the early 1980's. It has been through two previous remediation upgrades involving window and stucco degradation issues. After all of this, they started to notice more issues starting around 2005. As a result starting in 2006, the homeowner's association had a series of forensic investigations done to identify why the were seeing more problems. In 2009 we were commissioned to develop a new remediation design based on what that study found.

What was found was that during the two previous remediation projects an impermeable membrane, or cold side vapor barrier, had been installed over the exterior plywood sheathing along with a stucco coating with an elastomeric coating and sealing of all the stucco joints. As a result, whenever water got into the stucco, either through failing windows, bad flashing details, or pinholes in the stucco finish they would see a bubbling in the stucco finish since the water had no place to escape. Our approach to the project was to see if the impermeable membrane could be kept since it would be very expensive to replace and require removing the existing building sheathing.

At the start of the project we conducted an investigation of the impermeable membrane with a series of test holes to see if there were any signs of moisture damage on the interior face of the sheathing. Luckily we did not find any, so we developed a design that called for keeping the impermeable membrane after drilling holes in it along with the installation of a new rain screen stucco system in combination with a rain screen fiber cement siding system. A prefinished metal cornice was added to portions of the building to articulate the plain and boxy original design. Also since the existing metal clad wood windows were failing, they were replaced with fiberglass windows along with adding a new waterproofing system, tile, and guardrail to the unit terraces. The building's dark and dated main entry was redesigned with a lightweight steel framework topped with glass skylights for an airy feel. The interior atrium was upgraded creating a more sophisticated atmosphere in keeping with the value of the units.

The project started in June of 2010 and was completed in March 2011 and within the homeowners association's budget.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Senior Living Plans

Designing an affordable small unit plan for senior living is a challenge. Many seniors are downsizing from a single family home and many of the pieces of furniture they wish to bring with them are scaled for houses and not small apartments. When a large hutch, dining table or favorite easy chair is placed in a small apartment the result is a home that feels crowded and cramped, making the transition even harder on the individual.

This concept for a 600 sf One Bedroom modular apartment borrows a trick from the RV industry -- the slide out. The common party wall between units does not run straight but is offset adding 18" to the width on one or the other side of the unit, just as a slide out in an RV makes a narrow space more livable. When this additional width is in the living area it allows for a larger couch, when in the kitchen area it allows for a larger dining table. The variety of configurations possible in this common module provides greater choice for the tenant. In unit A3 the kitchen is on the inside next to the corridor as is traditional in most apartments, allowing a larger living area. On Unit A2 the kitchen is placed on the outside wall and has the added width. This allows a larger table to be used and provides a bright well lit working, cooking and entertaining area. Where as the living section is on the interior side for a dimmer environment better for watching TV, etc.

There are no wasteful hallways in this unit. The bedrooms open onto the main living areas with double sliding doors. In this way a person who may be bed ridden for a period of time still feels part of the home and not confined to a small bedroom. It also visually expands the width of the unit making it feel much larger than it's 600 sf would suggest.

Storage is accumulated in two large closets with large sliding doors to make everything easily accessible and to allow for a variety of closet storage components to be placed inside for more efficient storage. The "L" shaped kitchens can have a built in dining bar freeing up more floor space, or incorporate open shelving for displaying the many small treasure collected over a lifetime.

This unit concept was incorporated into the design of the Russellville Park Senior Living project we designed in Portland, Oregon.