Friday, June 24, 2011

No Roots, No Shoots

I received a good lesson this week from Kathy Beck who works for the City of Tampa, Parks and Trees Department. Last week I showed you a couple of alternate plans up for consideration for an outdoor cooking pavilion. The position of the pavilion on the site was predicated by two Grand Oak trees on the property. In Tampa, these trees are protected, and any construction that will happen near them will be considered by the Parks and Trees department prior to permitting.

Her evaluation was that the structure should be located outside the 20' safe zone recommended for building. But, instead of just taking the approach of "This is what you have to do!", in the form of the Tree Police, she was good enough to explain exactly what the issues were. This approach helped me to understand the reasons, and why it is so important to adhere to them.

The property in question has two beautiful old oaks that have very high canopies which almost entirely shelter the large back yard area. Losing these trees would dramatically change the composition of the garden and pool area from a shady retreat to a hot, sun-soaked spot...not nearly as inviting. Due to the size of the trees, they will have extensive root systems, and any damage to these will mean an end to new growth (or shoots) in at least a part of the tree. Due to the age of the trees, they are also not as resilient as young trees might be which could recover from this sort of root damage. No roots, no shoots!

Here is the revised plan for the pavilion, and its placement on the site.

Ms. Beck also urged me to simplify the landscape in the areas that area in the 20' root zone. Generally, you can dig enough of a hole to get the plantings installed, but once they start growing, their root system will create competition for water with the oak roots, and will tend to compact the soil around the roots, which will also deprive the oak from oxygen. Here is a simplified plan reflecting those thoughts.

If I hadn't already been convinced, Ms. Beck reminded me that if the trees were damaged and lost, in order to be removed, a crane would be required to lift the tree debris over the two-story house...roughly a $20,000.00 venture. I was convinced!

As in many other aspects of life, being told to do something we don't really want to do can rankle us! But when given proper explanation--and education!--and we realize there is good foundation for the rules, suddenly it makes sense to follow them. I gotta remember this.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Evolution of a Design

Often, a design may change significantly from its conceptual phase to the actual building process. This recent project is a good example, with clear reasons for the evolution.

We were asked to design an outdoor cooking pavilion for a beautiful, semi-adobe style home. We did a site visit, met with the homeowners, and went back to put our inspiration on paper. In this case, we decided to start with a sketch of the concept, in order to give the client a quick taste of what we had in mind.

We designed a long pavilion, with central cook area that would match the exterior finishes of the home, and pergola ends on each side for extra shade, and plenty of entertaining space. Details like the columns and exposed rafter tails under the eaves were drawn directly from the home's architecture. We added a couple of steps up to the pavilion area, to offer a change in elevation in the fairly sizable garden area.

The homeowners loved it, so the next step was to give it to a couple of contractors for preliminary bids before refining the design. Bids were high (sometimes, building costs still surprise us!), but conversations with the contractors led us to some ways to significantly lower building costs. These next images show the revised design, and how the structure would fit into the pool and garden areas, with new landscaping.

Dropping the structure to ground level offered a big cost cutting solution, so that idea allowed us to proceed with scale drawings for builders to refine their estimates.

The next glitch in the process was due to Mother Nature. Two trees on the property turned out to be grand oaks. This means that the trees have a 20' "safe zone" that digging is not allowed to be done within. There are construction methods that can sometimes be used to resolve this, but in this case a relocation of the structure seemed the most logical solution. This drawing shows the proposed relocation.

This new location will involve an asymmetrical design solution, which the homeowners like (well, at least one of the team!). But, as in most aspects of life, compromise is necessary, right?

The design options are currently in front of the city Parks Department for comment. Once they give us their word, we will make final changes to plans, then back to contractors for final bids...then we can break ground!

Yes, sometimes, it takes a village.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fairy Tail Ending

The structure of our pavilion project is completed, and it is a fitting destination for Goldilocks or Red Riding Hood....minus the wolf, of course!

We mixed elements of early 20th century park shelters with more classical elements from the nearby porch-pergola for a bit of whimsy. Here is the product.

Here are some additional views and details.

This is where the proposed fireplace--also to be clad in stone--would go one day.

The design calls for the fireplace to sit just outside the pavilion, between these columns, in order to save floor space. And here is the view back to the house.

Goldilocks had better hurry, because it looks like the bears were ready for the last swing of the hammer, and poised to move in!

A final decision on flooring will be made later, a ceiling fan is on the way, and a little landscaping is left to be finished up, but it's ready to enjoy! On second thought, to heck with the fairy tale folks...I think I'll see if I can wrangle an invitation!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Garden Fantasy

Our pavilion is taking shape. Most of the columns are up, and the wood beams and main roof have been attached.

Once the details are finished, it will become the "fantasy" it was intended to be. By combining temple elements with WPA park shelter details, the goal was to create a structure with enough formality to tie it appropriately to the home, but enough playfulness to give it its own personality. It may be difficult to imagine, but when you see the finished details, I think it will all make sense! Don't miss the final reveal!