portrait, rachelwicks@blackspectacles.com


Russell Buchanan of Buchanan Architecture walks us through the schematic design phase of his residential project in Crested Butte, CO.  He discusses the importance of capitalizing on views and solar orientation, and how they influenced the building layout. He also sketches out a bubble diagram to illustrate the spatial and functional relationships as well as the structural grid.

Practical Applications

Today we're gonna be looking at a 5,000 square foot residence in Crested Butte, Colorado. This is an interesting project in that it capitalizes on views to the east and south. And also honors the solar orientation to provide for sustainable architecture in this location.

The site is located just outside of Crested Butte, Colorado. You can see here this is the town of Crested Butte, and this is the largest mountain, a mountain called Mt. Crested Butte.

So for example, in Crested Butte they don't have a concrete batch plant so when we look at a foundation, we have to pay attention that that concrete for that foundation is coming from a long way away. And what the folks in Crested Butte do is they really try to schedule concrete when it's not cold outside. And so that limits the amount of time that concrete is really optimally placed and that time period really runs from April through till about October.

The front yard setback has access to the vehicular traffic, the rear yard setback only has access to the rear property line. So notice that our construction is occurring all within the setback lines, and that is a very important first step to understanding site requirements. This is also a unique site in that the shaded area here is what's called a utility easement.

Oftentimes cities require their own zoning, which is a very important first step in site design, and then their can also be guidelines that are provided for specific neighborhoods. Oftentimes, they're referred to as homeowner's associations, , and that's what this project will fall within. This HOA has provided us with design guidelines, and those design guidelines can change over time, but they're going to restrict things like how high the building can be, 30 feet for example.

That's a very good example of what a building code is and what the purpose of the building codes are. Now, reading through building codes is a long process but you gotta get familiar with it. It's part of practicing architecture.

The process that we go through is to follow the zoning as best we can, understand the building codes as best we can, and when we have some ideas that we need to have reviewed, we will go to the building department and review those ideas to make sure we're in compliance before we go too far down the road.

This is a view to the north and as you can see, it is a vista that is actually quite far away and what we've decided is, an important aspect of the north orientation is not so much the view but to capture north light. And then finally to the west, is a beautiful sunset view, but that has to be balanced with the impact of the hot Sun late in the afternoon. So we've decided in this project to focus instead on east and south, some light from the north, and really no views to the west.

However, some projects don't require a landscape architect, but they might have landscaping guidelines that are part of the project, and any architect needs to understand and be aware of what those landscape requirements are. Most of the time, the landscape requirements deal with what kinds of plants do well in this environment, and they will then restrict us to using that particular species of plant. A good example is an oak tree.

The way we were thinking about this project is, we wanted to try to establish an area that had these great views of Mount Crested Butte, and we wanted to have areas that were going to look down towards the south. The other important consideration, through, is we've got a couple of functional components that we think are important that we try to incorporate within each project. A perfect example is, within the space here, we have defined it as a basically, a kitchen, a dining, and a living area.

We didn't, but the idea behind a four foot grid is that the materials that are gonna be used to build this are essentially laid out on a four foot grid think for example of a sheet of plywood. A sheet of plywood is four feet wide and eight feet long they didn't just make that up. The reason they did that was because studs are at 16 inches on center.

On this particular project, we have a 5,000 square foot limit on our construction and we've assigned a value of between 300 and $400 per square foot for the cost of construction. Our budget is 300 to 400 times 5,000 square feet. That's just a very very quick and pretty realistic way of establishing a value for the owner.

We, as the architect, prepare all of those documents and when we are done and it's been approved by the owner, then we distribute those to the general contractor. The general contractor, then, has the responsibility of distributing drawings and soliciting bids from said contractors. He collects those bids, adds his fee and that is the cost of construction or the cost of the work.

Well, a metal roof is a good roof, and particularly in these cold climates that snow is gonna be building on the roof, what are your options? You could do a flat roof, that's be a single membrane. You could do a shingle roof.

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