Archive for the ‘Design Inspiration’ Category

Mocking Up the Atrium Lights and Celebrating Scott’s Birthday

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

After watching Kate’s soccer game and then having lunch, Bryan and Scott Andersen went to the job site to work on the lights in the Atrium.

It was Scott’s birthday today so we took Scott and Sue Therrien to Nick’s on Main for dinner.

Mocking Up the Lights in the Atrium

We’ve been working with Randall Whitehead on the lighting plan for the  house.  He has explained to Bryan, in no uncertain terms, that each room, including the Atrium, should have the four layers of lighting: ambient, task, accent and decorative.  In working with Bryan, Randall has suggested alternative fixtures to use and, of those alternatives, recommended which fixture he prefers.

In reviewing the Atrium, Randall had recommended strongly that we include decorative fixtures.  Our overriding design concept has been ‘clean and simple’ and emphasizing function over form.  By definition, decorative fixtures do not provide much function although they can often provide accent lighting.  So, we still haven’t made a decision on the decorative fixture(s) for the Atrium.

When creating the lighting design plan, Randall recommended a number of Artemide fixtures in various locations.  To really understand how the fixtures would look, Anita Synovec, who works with Randall, arranged for Bryan to visit the Artemide showroom in San Francisco and Bryan toured the showroom on August 30, 2011.

While in the showroom, there were several fixtures that caught Bryan’s attention.  All of the Artemide fixtures have a decorative element to them, and several fixtures that were of Bryan’s interest were not on Randall’s list of alternatives.  This was no surprise as decorative fixtures are very much a personal preference and it takes a significant amount of interaction with another person to understand their personal preferences.

Bryan has always admired Scott Andersen’s eye for design and Bryan’s personal preferences are very much aligned with Scott’s personal preferences.  So, when Scott and Sue were in San Francisco on Friday morning, Bryan asked then to go through the Artemide showroom and look at fixtures.  Then, when they walked through the house on Friday and Saturday, they could identify additional decorative fixture alternatives.

Last night, over dinner (and wine) at Steamer’s Grillhouse, Scott and Bryan reviewed the lighting plan and what Scott had seen in the Artemide showroom earlier that day.  After some discussion, Scott sketched out how three Mouette fixtures could be mounted in the Atrium.  The three different Mouette fixtures are the Asymmetrical, Symmetrical and Mini.

This discussion continued over lunch today and Scott recommended that we mock up how three Mouette fixtures could be arranged in the Atrium. 

Then, Bryan and Scott spent several hours at the job site and, using cardboard and string, made a mockup of how the three Mouette fixtures could work. Of course, having ‘objects’ for decorative fixtures in 3D modeling software, such as Autodesk’s BIM software (see Green Building) could be used to ‘see’ what the lights look like when designing a house.

And it was time for dinner …

Celebrating Scott’s Birthday at Nick’s on Main

With Jo-Anne back in town after spending several days closing the quarter in Boston, we all went for dinner at Nick’s on Main.  Last year, we were in Toronto on October 1, 2010 to celebrate Scott’s birthday.

We arrived and enjoyed a glass of J Cuvee 20 NV Russian River Valley sparkling wine on the sidewalk while waiting for our table.  After moving inside to our table, we had an excellent dinner with a magnum of Chateau Montelena 1998 Cabernet Sauvignon, from the Napa Valley.  The wine was spectacular.

Scott, using the temporary deck as a craft table, cuts some cardboard to mock up the smallest Mouette fixture. Scott on the ladder hanging the cardboard mockup of the smallest Mouette fixture in the Atrium.

 

Scott on the ladder hanging the cardboard mockup Mouette fixture in the Atrium.

 

 

Continung, Scott hangs the second cardboard mockup Mouette fixture in the Atrium.

 

The two carboard mockups look excellent!

In order to visualize the placement of the three fixtures, Scott used a string line from the temporary deck to the celing.

Bryan, Jo-Anne, Sue and Scott enjoying a glass of sparkling wine in the alley next to Nick's on Main.

 

Enjoying dinner with Scott and Sue at Nick's on Main. Happy Birthday Scott!

 

Diving into the Details

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

We need to button down the outstanding details so we can move forward expeditiously.  There are a couple, ok, lots, of details to button down.

Al wants to have a decision on paint, stain or paint/stain (pain?) for Monday.  And, we need to establish the audio, video, data, security and other wiring inside the house.

March 31, 2012 is our move-in date, which is cast in stone.  Or, more accurately, carbon fiber.

Looking at Black Stained Beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club

Our wooden beams that extend from the outside to the inside need to be one finish.  And, we’d like that finish to be dark.  Importantly, the synthetic wood structural beams that are above the original reclaimed Douglas Fir beams should look the same.  Yeah, a tall order.  Standard on our project.

Craig Rathe, our contact at Kelly-Moore Paints in Saratoga, suggested that we go to see the wooden beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club to see how they look.

Bryan did just that on Saturday morning.

Reviewing the Home Theater Layout at 300 San Jose

We hosted our daughter’s eighth birthday party at 300 San Jose last Saturday afternoon (September 17).  300 San Jose is a very modern and high tech bowling alley.   (Yeah, it was fun!).  We noted that they have a great projection screen and other relevant furniture and finishes for our home theater.

Bryan returned to 300 San Jose with a digital camera and measuring tape.

Reflecting, Green Building with Autodesk’s BIM software could have been used to verify the home theater design using the software’s three dimensional capabilities

Ending the Day at the Job Site

The day ended with Paul Fulton coming to our job site to review our proposed audio, video and data wiring plans.  Paul arrived in this blue Tesla Roadster 2.5 and parked just in front of our Nissan LEAF.  During our research of electric vehicle charging stations, on April 2, 2011 we looked at Paul’s charging station for his Roadster.

Craig Rathe, our contact at Kelly-Morre Paints, recommended that we review the wooden beams at Cinnabar Hills Golf Club. So, we did.

 

The exposed wood beams looked striking against the natural wood of the eaves.

Beams, exposed to the weather.

 

300 San Jose. (It was a beautiful, blue-sky California day!)

 

Screen layout in the lounge area, with the projector. The screen was 120 inches wide and the projector was 96 inches back from the screen.

 

Not being shy, Bryan took out his tape measure to take the dimensions of the room with the seating.

 

Very durable chairs and footstool ...

 

While the screen was flat against the wall, the two televisions were angled down for close viewing.

The screen was made by Da-Lite. Easy to follow up on from here.

Back at the job site, we wanted to document the low-VOC adhesives that we are using. Indoor air quality is very important to us.

Our friend, Paul Fulton, dropped by the job site to review our plans for audio, video and data layout and cabling.

Our Nissan LEAF has white carpool stickers, just like Paul's Tesla.

 

Signing Up for Acterra’s High Energy Homes Project

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

When Bryan was in the City of Monte Sereno’s offices yesterday, he saw a flyer for Acterra’s High Energy Homes Project.  Curious, he took a copy of the flyer and followed up today.

Also, our ferrules arrived this afternoon so now all we need is the pink CAT5 and then we can wire our C-Bus network that will connect all our switches and sensors.

Ferrules and Pink CAT5

We’re at the point where it is time to run the CAT5 around the house to every switch and sensor location, and then back to the six control panels in the house.  Schneider Electric’s C-Bus system requires either a daisy chain topology, star cable topology, or combination daisy chain and star cable topology.

To connect the CAT5 in either daisy chain or star cable topologies, we need to physically connect the CAT5 cables together.  In addition, although there are eight individuals conductors (wires) in a CAT5 cable, two pairs of the wires must be connected together.

For the C-Bus system, the orange and blue wires are connected with a 'bootlace crimp' as are the orange-white and blue-white wires. The green and green-white, and brown and brown-white are not connected.

While trying to find a ‘bootlace crimp’, Bryan learned that the the correct term for the connector is a ‘ferrule’.  Ferrules are used in Europe and other countries to connect stranded and other wires to devices.

At the same time, Bryan learned that, under the Australian electrical code, all C-Bus wiring must use pink CAT5.  This is to identify the wire uniquely so it is not confused with data wiring.

Bryan ordered two boxes of pink CAT5 from ADI, and strips of 500 1.0 mm ferrules (red), 1.5 mm ferrules (black) and 2.5 mm ferrules (blue) from Rob at Ferrules Direct.  Each switch in the C-Bus system come with two 1.0 mm ferrules.

The ferrules and crimping tool arrived today.

Signing Up for Acterra’s High Energy Homes Project

Using his handfree speakerphone, Bryan called the contact name in Acterra’s High Energy Homes Project flyer, Davena Gentry, and learned about the project.  Essentially, Monte Sereno is the fifth highest energy-using towns (based on a per household energy use) out of the 225 cities served by Pacific Gas & Electric.

Acterra is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ‘bring people together to create solutions for a healthy planet.’  Apterra has served Silicon Valley for over 40 years.  Here is a great video clip about Acterra.

Apterra applied for a grant from the California Energy Commission to fund on-line studies for residents of Atherton, Los Altos Hills, Monte Sereno, Portola Valley and Woodside.  These are five of the seven highest energy-using cities that PG&E serves.

Monte Sereno is the fifth highest energy-consuming city that Pacific Gas & Electric serves.

For Monte Sereno, if the average annual electric use per residence is 13,000 kWh and the cost per kWh is $0.40 then the average annual electric bill is approximately $5,200 per year.  Or, more than $425 per month.  This usage is more than double the average electric use of 6,000 kWh per year.

The graph below shows the energy consumption per residence of each of the 225 cities that PG&E serves.

Monte Sereno's average electric usage per residence is ~13,000 per kWh.

Here is a link to the presentation made by Acterra to Portola Valley Town Council on December 9, 2009:

http://www.portolavalley.net/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=2834

We signed up for the remote assessment regarding our rental property at 17740 Vista Avenue so we will see if there are any no-cost measures that we can take to reduce our resource consumption at our rental house.

 

Picking Up Our Ladder and Looking at Artemide Lights

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

September is coming like a freight train!  Along with everything else, we need to finalize our lighting design plan and get our vertical culvert covered.

Picking Up Our Ladder in Merced

One of our major building challenges is that our house is located on a ‘seasonal perched water table.’  During the year, we can have underground water that rises to 5 feet below grade.  Thus, we have a series of underground pipes that flow into a 20 ft deep vertical culvert.  Inside the vertical culvert, we have sump pumps that pump the water into our 3,677 gallon underground cistern.

The vertical culvert will be covered with an aluminum manhole cover.  Inside the vertical culvert, we need an aluminum ladder that can be used to service the sump pumps.

We worked with Ralph Rabbatt at O’Keeffe’s Inc. in San Francisco to have a custom ladder manufactured.  The ladder will be permanently mounted to the wall of the vertical culvert, and allow easy and safe access to the sump pumps.

Bryan drove to O’Keeffe’s manufacturing site in Merced today and picked up the ladder.

Looking at Artemide Lights

After picking up the ladder, Bryan drove to San Francisco to visit the Artemide showroom and look at lights.  We have been working with Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions to create a lighting plan for the house.  Randall is a well-known lighting designer that has published several books on lighting design.

Randall suggested that we include several Artemide fixtures in our lighting plan.  It is difficult to understand the look and scale of lights by looking at photos in a catalog.  Given that Artemide has a showroom in San Francisco, Bryan drove there to see some of the Artemide fixtures that Randall was recommending.

Lots of driving!

Arriving at O'Keeffe's manufacturing site in Merced, California.

 

Our ladder is loaded securely on the rack, and the safety post is in the box.

 

The Artemide showroom at 855 Montgomery Street in San Francisco.

 

Pirce Suspension, by Giuseppe Maurizio Scutella, 2008.

 

Mesmeri wall sconces, by Eric Sole, 2005.

 

Mouette suspension (symetrical), by Willmotte & Associes, 2004. This light is way cool and comes either symetrical (as shown) or in an asymetrical style.

 

Megan suspension system, by Ernesto Gismondi.

 

Floor mounted framed mirror, by Ron Rezek.

 

Working with Randall Whitehead Lighting

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

We engaged Randall Whitehead Lighting Solutions to design our lighting. Eric Westphal of Schneider Electric and Jim Lamberty of TLA-Advantage recommended Randall when they were at our project site in April.

Randall has an office in San Francisco and Bryan worked with Randall from 2:00 to 5:00 pm.  Given the heavy traffic from San Francisco to San Jose, Bryan decided to visit a couple stores and before driving back after the commuter lanes opened at 7:00 pm.

During the session, Randall recommended that we look at some of the lights on display at Room & Board in San Francisco.  It was a great way to get a feel for some lights rather than sitting in traffic.

Noguchi lamps, similar to these, would be striking in the Atrium as they would 'connect' the two levels.

 

These Noguchi lamps are of significant size and work extremely well in this space. They would work in our Atrium.

 

Randall recommends that we have three large pendants over the island in the Kitchen. These pendants show the scale that Randall is recommending.

 

Aside from the lighting, we like the idea of having benches at the foot of each bed throughout the house. Our benches will have sides so we can store linens and other items in each bench.

 

Randall asked us to consider a light such as this over our table in the Dining Room. We are thinking of a similar light, which would be the same length but thinner and not as tall.

 

In the Snack Area, Randall recommended that we have a craft table for Nik and Kate. The problem with having a table in the Snack Area is that the space is not very wide. The solution? Use a bench on one side of the table so it could be pushed completely out of the way. A lamp, such as that shown in this display, could work well over the table.

 

While we may not have these exact pieces, we like the colors and shapes of these couches.

 

This couch has an interesting shape ...

 

We will need a couple desk lamps. Bryan likes this desk lamp.

 

Bryan noticed the camera and wi-fi receiver/transmitter in the store. Note there is no electric outlet nearby as these components are using Power over Ethernet.

 

Visiting Schneider Electric’s Experience Center

Thursday, January 13th, 2011

We are considering using Schneider Electric’s C-Bus Whole Home Control system.  Before making the decision to move forward, we wanted to visit Schneider’s Experience Center in LaVergne, Tennessee (Nashville).  Schneider has a website dedicated to C-Bus Whole Home Control, which includes information on the Experience Center in LaVergne.

The Experience Center is located inside a building that received LEED Silver certification.  It was good to see that Schneider Electric values third party certification and is truly committed to sustainable practices.   

Our local Schneider contact, Neil Moodie, scheduled the visit and arranged for the appropriate people to be available.  Neil came to our job site on November 29, 2010 and spent several hours with Bryan.

The day started with a tour of the Experience Center.  Lauren Henslee showed Bryan the various control systems and how they worked.  She demonstrated how lighting can enhance the artwork and other features of a room through various scenes and lighting controls.

Brad Wills, the Director of the Installation Systems & Control Group, opened up the cabinets and showed how the C-Bus system works.  C-Bus is very compact and has a number of modules that are designed to go into the cabinets.

After the tour of the Experience Center, Keith Richardson took Bryan on a tour to review the manufacturing operations in the facility, which is where PowerLink cabinets are assembled.  The PowerLink product line is for commercial applications, such as ‘big box stores’, drug store chains, parking garages, etc. where there are large electrical loads (lighting) that are controlled remotely and through dynamic programming.  PowerLink cabinets house circuit breakers that are operated by relay switches so large loads can be turned on and off easily.  The relays can be controlled by other means, including the C-Bus system.

It was interesting to see that each PowerLink cabinet is configured uniquely.  After the unit is completed and tested, they photograph the cabinet to document the components that are included in each cabinet.  Having photos of the completed cabinets makes it easier to establish the status of units that are shipped to customer sites and reduces any ambiguity of the configuration and condition of those units.

After touring the Experience Center and manufacturing operations, Bryan then settled into a conference room with Neil Moodie and Duke Dunsford.  Duke is a Field Application Engineer and leads the training group for the C-Bus systems.  As a trainer, Duke has extensive knowledge of the C-Bus product line and has extensive experience configuring complex, integrated whole-house systems for high end residences across the U.S. 

The objective of the afternoon session with Duke and Neil was to review our requirements and go through the preliminary design of a system for our house.  Bryan outlined certain details of our house, including the important requirements and integration points.  For example, we would like our security system and pool systems to be integrated with the whole house automation system.  As well, we have two windows and our three-panel sliding glass door that are controlled by electric motors.  The whole house automation system must control these electric motors.

Importantly, we’d like to have our heating/cooling system, which will probably be an Uponor Climate Control System, integrate with our lighting controls and whole house automation system.

During the meeting, Duke had John Tabacsko, a product manager, join us to review the integration points and product development evolution for the C-Bus system as it related to security and swimming pool controls.  It was excellent to have the resources available with deep knowledge to review our requirements and explain how the C-Bus system could meet our needs, today and in the future.

After reviewing our requirements in the conference room, Dan Loncar, drove both Bryan and Neil to the airport.  Dan was going to Chicago, Neil to San Francisco, and Bryan to San Jose.

It was a very full 24 hours.

The Experience Center is located inside one of Schneider Electric's facilities located in LaVergne, Tennessee (just outside Nashville).  The building received Silver certification under LEED.

The Experience Center is located inside one of Schneider Electric's facilities, located in LaVerge, Tennessee (just outside Nashville). The facility was certified Silver under LEED.

LEED Silver certification plaque on the wall in the reception area.

LEED Silver certification plaque on the wall in the reception area.

Copies of Schneider Electrics patents.

Copies of Schneider Electric's U.S. patents.

Lauren Henslee took Bryan through the Experience Center, demonstrating the functionality of the C-Bus Whole Home Control system

Lauren Henslee took Bryan through the Experience Center, demonstrating the functionality of the C-Bus Whole Home Control system

The Experience Center included an eating nook with pendant lights.

The Experience Center included an eating nook with pendant lights.

The Experience Center included typical kitchen lighting, which our design will have as well.

The Experience Center included typical kitchen lighting, which our design will have as well.

After Lauren demonstrated the lighting controls, Brad Wills showed Bryan the various components of the lighting control system and how it works.  It was very powerful to see the end result and then the underlying equipment and infrastructure that makes the system operate.

After Lauren demonstrated the lighting controls, Brad Wills showed Bryan the various components of the lighting control system and how it works. It was very powerful to see the end result and then the underlying equipment and infrastructure that makes the system operate.

Components and wiring inside the cabinets.

Components and wiring inside the cabinets.

After the Experience Center, Bryan toured the assembly operations, where the PowerLink cabinets are configured.

After the Experience Center, Bryan toured the assembly operations, where the PowerLink cabinets are configured.

PowerLink cabinet that will be customized for a specific retail store branch.

PowerLink cabinet that will be customized for a specific retail store branch.

This PowerLink cabinet passed all testing successfully and the configuration and condition of the cabinet is being photographed before being packaged and shipped to the installation location.

This PowerLink cabinet passed all testing successfully and the configuration and condition of the cabinet is being photographed before being packaged and shipped to the installation location.

A commercial LED from CREE Lighting.  We would like to have LED lights throughout our house.

A commercial LED from CREE Lighting. We would like to have LED lights throughout our house.

Schneider Electric does extensive recycling of packaging and other materials used in this facility, which received LEED Silver certification.

Schneider Electric does extensive recycling of packaging and other materials used in this facility, which received LEED Silver certification.

The weather improved significantly and the skies cleared before our session in the afternoon.  Duke Dunsford (left) and Neil Moodie (right).

The weather improved significantly and the skies cleared before our session in the afternoon. Duke Dunsford (left) and Neil Moodie (right).