Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Left Coast Lifter! Bay Bridge Construction Monster Crane!

My trouble with the now not-so-new S-curve of the Bay Bridge isn't the radius of the curve itself, it's that they stuck this amazing crane, dubbed the "Left Coast Lifter," right beside the bridge requiring me to exercise every ounce of restraint I can muster not to rubberneck.  As luck would have it, my friend and mentor Chris has a sailboat that we took out for the express purpose of getting a closer look at this beauty.
As we approached the Bay Bridge construction project, the sheer size of this crane is overwhelming.  For scale, the white curved structure in the background is a preview of the new Bay Bridge.
Here are the stats:
-Built by Zhenhua Port Machinery Co. Ltd. (ZPMC) in San Francisco's sister city, Shanghai, China exclusively for the construction of the Bay Bridge
-30 stories tall
-Boom can lift 1,800 tons (that's 3,600,000 lbs, or a community of myself and roughly 29,000 others about my size)
-And best of all... it floats!  It lives on a 400' long barge that was constructed in Portland, OR
The crane is used to lift pre-manufactured bridge sections into place.  The steel you see here is temporary.  It's used to hold the deck in place before the self-anchored suspension system is installed.  We cruised passed the dinky helper cranes,
and on to a great view of the new San Francisco Bay Bridge construction.
Rumor has it that this incredible piece of machinery will be for sale once the bridge construction is complete.  You know, someone has a birthday coming up...

For more info on the Bay Bridge Construction, including killer 360 degree videos of the action, check out the official site, Bay Bridge Info.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Designer Spotlight - Mary Jo Fiorella

From foundation to fabrics, Mary Jo Fiorella is taking the design world by storm with her bright, minimalist, eclectic style.  Having recently completed construction of a beautiful kitchen and bath renovation she developed, I thought now would be the perfect time to spotlight her aesthetic and get her take on design in the new economy.

Tell us about how you got into residential design.
I completed design school at FIT in NYC in 1985, Yikes!  While in school, I worked for an international lighting design firm.  Upon graduation, I went to work for Mancini Duffy in One World Trade Center, NYC.  For most of my career I have done corporate interiors.  In the last 7 or 8 years, I've really enjoyed residential design.  I think doing both has made me a more rounded and overall better designer.
What don't you like about the business?
These days too many people think design works like they see it on HGTV.  Good design doesn’t happen in 2 days, and it does cost money, often lots of money.

How do you work around this mentality?
I try to bring good design to the masses.  I'd like to take the target approach if I find a client I'd like to work with.  I do what I can to work in their tight budget.  At least they realized they "NEED" help and will have a better outcome than if they had done it all on their own.
What do you think is your biggest strength?
This is difficult.  I love space planning, working the puzzle to make things better for the clients, but I also love love love colors, fabrics, tile, furniture, accessories, art, and pulling it all together.

Let's talk about this kitchen.  It has such a great mix of colors and textures!  What is your favorite piece?
It has to be the backsplash.  It's just beautiful.  I also love the table I had built to fit the long window seat.
Everyone loves that backsplash!   Can you tell us more about it?
It's a custom tile from Waterworks.  You select your stone, and a percentage of how much of each color you'd like.  They do strike-offs for approval.  It's a long process, but worth it in the end.  You also send them your elevations so they can work up how the mesh sheets will come in.  It's a random pattern and you won't see any "tile" lines.

What turned out differently than you expected?
Nothing much.  If you look at my original sketches, the final product is right on with the intent. 

Let's move on to the bath.  This bathroom has some of the best use of tile I've seen.  How did you gather all the pieces together to make this work? 
The client is very much inspired by blues.  Knowing this, I went in that direction.  I started with the color scheme and followed with the architecture. 
What was the direction from the client on this bathroom?
To brighten it up, make it more contemporary, but keep in mind the architecture of their home.  I think it all ties together very well.  There is still a traditional element in each renovated space, like paneled cabinets or traditional crown molding, and the cherry floors and baseboards are in every room.  The colors are similar to the other spaces as well.  The home is filled with warm and cool grays, blues, and greens. 
What about that waterfall stripe in the shower?
I just wanted a simple graphic punch of color with a change of texture as well.
Overall, when you enter the home, you can't help but smile.  It really is a "Happy" home.
For more information or to contact Mary Jo Fiorella about your upcoming project, large or small, visit her website here.

If you just can't get enough of this project, take a look at the 360 views of the kitchen and bath.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Scheduling a Kitchen Remodel

Whether you are planning a wedding or planning to tear apart your house, a good schedule will help you stay on task and ensure that materials arrive as you need them. 

Here is a sample schedule for a medium sized kitchen remodel that was developed using Microsoft Project, but you could just as easily use a calendar.  The key is to build the build the entire event in your head before you do any of the real work.  Break out each task and take your best guess at how long you need to complete it.  Ask each person and supplier along the way how much time they'll need for their portion of the job.
Keep in mind that the planning phase of a construction project can take just as long or longer as the building phase.  If there are major changes to the exterior of your house (i.e., new windows or roofline) you may have to go through your city's Design Review process which can add six weeks or more to your permit time.

Construction should be sequenced in such a way that you are not being held up by any one item with a long lead time.  The items with the longest lead times are cabinets (12+ weeks) and windows (6-8+ weeks).  Because you'll need to know what appliances you're using in order to purchase your cabinets, focus on appliances, cabinets, and windows to start.
Your plumbing fixtures need to be on site during rough plumbing, which is very early in the remodel, so focus on those next.  Tile, depending on where you order it from,  can take 6+ weeks to arrive, or you may be able to find something that is stocked locally.  All finish grade wood, whether it's hardwood flooring or crown moulding, should arrive to the site at  least 2 weeks before you plan to install it because it needs to acclimate to the humidity of the space tp prevent it from swelling or shrinking after it's installed.

The more items you can select and order ahead of time, the happier you'll be.  Prevent decision fatigue!  Use your schedule to prioritize the decisions you have to make to keep stress levels low and have some fun with your new kitchen!