You’ve probably heard the horror stories from friends at a party as they tell you about their construction project headaches: Budgets blown. Schedules shot. Questionable quality. And lawsuits. Oh, the joy of building. Sometimes it sounds like the only thing worse would be trying to do it yourself. But there are plenty of success stories too – they just don’t make for as good a story. Here’s what you need to know to improve your chances for a happy outcome.
Seeblick (a play on the German for "lake view") is a single family, passive solar, all electric, Net-Zero Energy custom home on an active hay field in east Boulder County. Overlooking rolling farmland, the ranch home with a walk-out basement maintains a modest profile. Inside, the home expands into an airy & light-filled open floor plan. Giant walls of glass connect the in & outdoors and lead onto a huge deck. The home contains modern details, clean lines, a double sided-wood burning fireplace, induction stove, a steam-shower, a high efficiency hot tub, a high speed electric car charger and gorgeous custom LED light fixtures. Seeblick uses a 10 kWh photo-voltaic solar system, passive solar design, a ground source heat pump, Energy Star appliances & windows, and foam insulation to achieve its HERS 2 rating. The house has no gas or propane. The house maintains excellent indoor air quality with Zero VOC paint, CRI Green Label carpeting, a MERV 8 air filter & an ERV. It conserves water with all xeric planting, and EPA Watersense plumbing fixtures.
Don’t miss this popular 2 hour seminar taught by Scott Rodwin and Jim Kadlecek through the Boulder Area Realtors Assoc. (BARA). Want to know what you are allowed to do with a property? We answer the common questions: “How big can I build?”, “Can I build here?” “How much does it cost?” and a hundred more of the most frequently asked property owner/buyer questions. This information-packed class includes an overview of Historic Landmark designation, floodplain, the latest green building codes, the Compatible Development Ordinance, and the County Site Plan Review process. Boulder has some of the strictest and most complex regulations in the Country. Come get informed (and if you’re a BARA member, it’s free and you get 2 Continuing Ed credits). This workshop often sells out so reserve your spot today. Register here.
We are proud to be a sponsor of the 4th annual Boulder Green Home Tour, Saturday, September 29th, from 10am-4pm. Jocelyn in our office has been Co-Chairing the event hosted by the Colorado Green Building Guild. The tour showcases some of Boulder’s best new custom green homes, plus a tiny home and an affordable housing community. Grab your tickets, and come get an inside look at these fantastic homes, including one of ours (the Seeblick Residence). The tour is donating 10% of its proceeds to Boulder Housing Partners. And join us at the kick-ass After-Party at The Bohemian Biergarten on the 29th from 4-6 pm.
Solutions for Breaking the Link Between Poverty & Education
Chronic poverty leads to lack of education leads to chronic poverty leads to lack of ed….you get the picture. It’s a nasty cycle. And it’s not just in what we often refer to as the “developing world.” There are underserved populations everywhere. Even generally affluent U.S. cities often have a digital divide. In our increasingly information driven world, this lack of access to knowledge results in a barrier to opportunity for those who don’t have the economic, geographical or cultural freedom to participate.
Here is a look at some innovative design solutions to this worldwide problem. All of these ideas face some common challenges: How do you create an attractive, secure, sustainable and affordable solution in areas that have little money, little safety and often little hope for a bright future? Read More
What Makes Me Hopeful for a Sustainable Future
(Editor’s Note: For World Environment Day 2015, Planet Experts asked each of its experts what makes them the most hopeful for a sustainable future. This answer comes direct from Scott Rodwin, President of Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction.)
1) That green building is quickly becoming the only way to build.
2) The meteoric rise in general awareness about the impact that we have on the environment, provided through a multitude of documentaries and online resources.
3) This quote: “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing….after they’ve tried everything else.” -Winston Churchill … Well, we’ve tried everything else.
By Scott Rodwin
There is no such thing as a sustainable home. That’s a pretty provocative statement coming from someone who makes his living designing LEED Platinum, Net Zero Energy homes. What I mean is that the sustainability of a home is more than just the energy and resources that one home consumes; it’s also the lifestyle and total carbon footprint of the inhabitants of the home. I believe that community is the secret ingredient that can make allhomes more sustainable.
Boulder’s rules are complex and constantly changing. When you show a property to your client, unless they love the house exactly the way it is, they probably have asked you, “Can I do ‘x’ with my property? Add an ADU? Pop the top? Convert the garage into living space? Scrape?” There are hundreds of questions – I’ll cover some of the most commonly asked ones here. In subsequent months’ articles I’ll go into greater depth with some of the most common questions, but here’s a quick primer to help you know how to answer the big ones.
Read the full Article here (p.10)
We remodeled a 12,000s.f. office building into a new headquarters for the Brewers Association. We worked closely with the client to take into account their specific space needs and plans for future growth. Our design team opened up the ceiling of the main floor to create a dramatic atrium and grand stair to increase connectivity between departments. The public space has a full bar (of course!) adjoining the state-of-the-art conference room to support the social functions of the organization. We incorporated playful brewery-inspired details like a beer bottle chandelier, raw steel, rustic brick and wood slats to create charm and fully express their unique brand. As with all our projects, sustainability is woven throughout the project including: recycled materials, maximum re-use of existing finishes and fixtures, water conserving plumbing fixtures, Energy-Star appliances, mechanical and shell energy-upgrades, and LED lights throughout.
Tim Hoefling has been a site supervisor with Skycastle Construction for the past 5 years (Happy Anniversary!). With nearly 40 years of experience, Tim is known for his tireless work ethic and genuine, friendly, straight-forward manner. He's the first and last guy on the site every day, and he treats every project as his own. He's a key member of our design/build team, and makes the potentially stressful construction process a pleasure. Knowing Tim is on the job helps us all sleep better.
Tim was also a serious alpinist with climbs in the French and Swiss Alps, and also an early proponent of telemarking on high mountain descents. These days, keeping up with the young Rodwin architectural staff on a snowboard is challenge enough.
The 3300 s.f. Dineen Residence is nestled into a forested hillside glade above Boulder, and combines old world materials with clean contemporary lines. Big southern windows create a strong passive solar design. The Great room features 12 ft tall ceilings, a see-through fireplace, and oversized French doors leading out to flagstone patios. The dining room includes a stunning chandelier and connects directly to the sunny gourmet kitchen. The expansive mudroom is perfect for pets, kids and gardening mess. The second floor features an expansive study/rec room with a large deck to capture the huge views of the forest and plains. Radiant concrete floors, a solar electric PV system and excellent insulation are achieved a HERS 32 (uses 68% less energy than allowed by code). Built by Skycastle Construction.
Todd Fraser asks, “Do you find those working in green building to also be more ambitious with their designs? Also, are there architectural limitations or serious financial hurdles when building ‘green?’ Thanks.”
Scott Rodwin: Adding green design to the host of factors that we have to meet in itself makes green buildings more ambitious (sort of like designing a Tesla instead of a Camero). Read More
Our clients found a dated 1970’s ranch backing to Open Space in one of Boulder’s best neighborhoods. We took the existing structure down to the foundations and then created the modern home that they had been dreaming of. Wedge has 5300 sf. of soaring light-filled space with an open floor plan and huge views of the Flatirons. Enter through a show-stopping custom pivot front door and you are greeted by a suspended sculptural metal stair leading up to the master suite. The bedroom has a private deck supported by a canted steel column that leans into the foothills and provides shade on the western face. The home’s modest stained wood and stone façade hides a wedge-shaped glass box in the back and a large social deck that cascades out to the Japanese garden and backyard. Inside, we used minimalist details, carefully designed lighting and beautiful materials to create a sophisticated contemporary palette. The gourmet kitchen, dining room, and great room all are linked by a double sided fireplace, and open directly to the mountain view and the deck through a wall of glass and over sized sliding doors.The generous mudroom helps the owners keep the house clutter free and provides convenient access to both the garage and back-yard. It’s an efficient HERS 22 home (78% less energy than Code) with 7kWh of discretely placed solar panels and a ground source heat pump.
Don’t miss this popular 2 hour seminar taught by Scott Rodwin and Kirsten Snobeck through the Boulder Area Realtors Assoc. (BARA). Want to know what you are allowed to do with a property? We answer the common questions: “How big can I build?”, “Can I build here?” “How much does it cost?” and a hundred more of the most frequently asked property owner/buyer questions. This information-packed class includes an overview of Historic Landmark designation, floodplain, the latest green building codes, the Compatible Development Ordinance, and the County Site Plan Review process. Boulder has some of the strictest and most complex regulations in the Country. Come get informed (and if you’re a BARA member, it’s free and you get 2 Continuing Ed credits). This workshop often sells out so reserve your spot today. Register here.
KGNU’s Nicole Cheng spoke with Frank Wetenkamp, a co-owner of Living Craft design, and Scott Rodwin, with Sky Castle Construction and Rodwin architecture about how the green home industry could help in reducing our environmental problems.
Visit this link to listen
We are honored to announce that Kirsten Snobeck, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP has been promoted to Principal at Rodwin Architecture. She is the first employee to ever become a Principal and it is a testament to her 10 years of dedicated and distinguished work at our firm. She has contributed to most of the projects that have come out of our office and was a lead designer on some of our best and most sustainable homes (including LEED Platinum and “regenerative” homes). She had a key role on both the Columbine and Whittier Elementary Schools, served on Boulder’s Historic Landmark Board and has a passion for architectural preservation and green building. For the last 7 years she has co-taught our signature seminar, “Understanding the Rules for Building in Boulder” to 700 local realtors, and has helped guide countless property owners and buyers through the complex Boulder process. In 2015, AIA Colorado North Chapter awarded her “Associate of the Year” and in 2016 she was named one of “Boulder Valley’s 40 Under 40”, recognizing her incredible talent and her contributions to excellent architectural design in Boulder County.
We helped the clients find a beautiful lot in North Boulder, then crafted this modern 3300 s.f. house to be their dream home. The clients asked for a warm, modern style home, with an open floor plan that connected to the outdoors and took full advantage of the rare lot. We sited and engineered the house for optimal passive solar design, while simultaneously capturing unobstructed panoramic views of the Flatirons from both levels. The home’s simple, clean lines reflect their unpretentious, easy-going character. The gourmet kitchen, dining and Great room are flooded with sunshine from the 9ft high ceilings and walls of glass. A gracious covered west porch flows seamlessly out from the Great room through a giant bank of sliding doors, creating a fantastic opportunity for indoor/outdoor living. The porch has solid cedar columns and Beetle-kill wood on the ceiling to create a warm feeling.
On the ground floor, walk past the front hall to reach a guest suite and a rec room that is divided between a small media room for the boys and a north facing painting studio. Follow the stair to the second floor where you’ll immediately be presented with a stunning view from the open study and balcony. All the bedrooms get a south facing mountain view and the master has its own private balcony.
The owners wanted the house to be as green as possible, and the house has tiny energy and water bills as well as a healthy indoor air environment. It features solar photovoltaic panels, Energy Star fiberglass windows, foam insulation, LED lights, Watersense plumbing fixtures, a 96% efficient furnace & zero-VOC finishes.
Whittier Elementary is one of the oldest public schools in Colorado and was in desperate need of a major remodel and addition. We helped give this 43,760 s.f. public K-5 elementary school a new, contemporary 1,000 sf. entry and administrative wing addition that includes daylight through a large, angled skylight as well as a secure entry to enhance safety. Project Managers Kirsten Snobeck and Fernando Gonzalez in our office led a full exterior historic renovation including masonry restoration and repair, historic window rehabilitation and accurate reproductions, and restoring original historic elements and trim work. Interior renovations included rearrangement of existing spaces to provide an additional classroom and administrative offices, shared work spaces, and 21st century learning spaces such as a future maker space and breakout spaces around the school. The school was able to dramatically improve its energy efficiency and thermal comfort with comprehensive mechanical system upgrades, new lighting, and wall and roof envelope upgrades, such as insulation and double-pane windows. Landscape design included a new home for the schools farm-to-table program. Lastly, the school also enhanced its ADA-accessibility with the addition of handicapped accessible bathrooms. (Assoc. Architect – Rodwin Architecture; Architect of Record- HPA)
Ten years ago this book asked the question
“In this time of environmental crisis, how can we live right now?”
Its central idea seems more relevant and critical today than ever. Scott Rodwin was invited to contribute an essay
on behalf of architects to this thoughtful anthology. In it, he talks about how we create truly sustainable communities and he highlights the encouraging realities of green building. Other featured writers include Paul Hawken, Howard Zinn, Alice Walker and Barbara Kingsolver.
"This compelling and inspirational anthology raises a chorus of voices in defense of the earth.
Hope Beneath Our Feet
addresses the environmental problems plaguing our planet and the myriad forms of action each of us can take."
--Leonardo DiCaprio, actor and activist