Friday, November 13th from 1:30-3:00 pm
Stassen Room, Humphrey Center, University of Minnesota West Bank
This is copied from an email I received from Sophia Ginis in the System Dynamics Interest Group. If you’re interested, come see.
Are biofuels sustainable considering the world’s need for food? How do biofuels contribute to greenhouse gas emissions? How have biofuels been helpful? Finally, how do we develop policies that actually encourage rather than stifle development of truly sustainable biofuels? John Sheenan will present his work in modeling on the effects of biofuels and help answer some of the existing land management issues.
John Sheehan is the Institute on the Environment’s scientific program coordinator for biofuels and the global environment, Sheehan’s work focuses on the multifaceted question of biofuels and their sustainability as a future energy source. Sheehan joined the University of Minnesota in February 2009, after spending nearly two decades working on biofuels. For 17 years, he worked as a project manager and analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. Initially trained as a biochemical engineer, he quickly developed an interest and expertise in the life-cycle assessment of biofuels. While at NREL, Sheehan also led research on the production and conversion of algae to biofuels; a technology that is now receiving a great deal of attention.
What do these have in common? Well, nothing I can speak about intelligently, but I’ve been confined to my car quite a bit these past two weeks listening to the radio. Sure, I’ve listened to a few innings of Twins games, but most of the time the usual; the Minnesota-centric staple of the tea-drinking, dog-walking, Volvo-driving, liberal-talking, weather-obsessed, Prairie Home Companion-loving, responsible-without-being-inflammatory crowd; our beloved MPR.
A few items caught my ear.
Got a Hennepin County library card? Check out (in both senses of the word) a Power Energy Meter . Plug in any appliance you own and you can monitor voltage, electricity cost, and power consumption. Have you ever wondered if your KitchenAid actually meets the standards on that yellow EnergyGuide sticker you threw out?
Dr. Mark Seeley, who has the most comforting voice of any climatologist I’ve ever met, wakes me up every Friday morning with a collection of weather data and facts. Today on air and on the Minnesota WeatherTalk Newsletter, he noted the annual Kuehnast Lecture coming up on October 15th. Dr. Dennis Baldocchi will speak on “Breathing of the Biosphere: How Physics Sets the Limits and Biology Does the Work”. Exactly. Dr. Baldocchi teaches at U. C. Berkeley, my alma mater, and that of Dr. Seeley as well. Seeing as we beat the Gophers a couple weeks back in the new stadium, it’s looking like there might be a Cal tsunami sweeping the North Star State….
…including an invasion of solar collectors. Not just for the deserts of Nevada and California any more, or at least not in the minds of the Brothers at St. John’s who are installing the largest solar farm in the upper Midwest. I’m skeptical this type of electricity generation makes sense here, given the land required and our climate (short days in winter, cloud coverage, and, oh yeah, plenty of wind), but St. John’s leadership has a history of making bold statements with results. (see: Marcel Breuer’s Abbey, Richard Breshanen’s pottery, VJAA’s recent buildings)
Onto the consumer goods front.
We just ran out of office paper. Calling XpedX, I was surprised to learn a ream of medium weight office paper with 30% post-consumer recycled content was going to run $180. Cheapo, clear-cut forest paper sure to endanger a handful of species, on the other hand, was about forty bucks. Desperate, we cleared out some old client files, and threw used paper in the tray, printing on the blank side. To the internet. In minutes, we found Eureka! Recycling right here in NE Minneapolis runs a paper Co-op. 100% post consumer recycled white paper for $41 a ream! See you later XpedX! Fall deadline to order is October 15th. Order now! Your goods won’t come until December, so clear out those file cabinets.
And finally, some politics.
Saw this week’s City Pages cover story featured the darling-of-all-architects-and-developers, Minneapolis Council Member Lisa Goodman. Some exquisite quotations in that article. Also read our lovely downtown pillow is going to be sponsored by Minnesota’s shopping mecca, Mall of America Field at Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. This lead me to wonder if the new planted roof at the Target Center – should we thank or harass Lisa for that? – might fuel a new round of naming. My vote is Roundup Roof at Target Center.
I spent Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on a trade mission. Our group of Minnesotans – four architects, one home builder, and three representatives of a window distributor – spent two days in Steinbach and Winnipeg, meeting with Canadian manufacturers and architects working with sustainable materials. After I spent Sunday biking around Winnipeg, I met up with the mission Monday.
We departed for Steinbach, Manitoba from the historic (and allegedly haunted) Fort Garry Hotel. For those of you living beneath the 49th parallel, you’ll be relieved to know that summer road construction is not limited to our interstates. We were kept to one lane, pretty much the 65 km from Winnipeg to Steinbach. Fortunately for us, the woman driving our van was a native Austrian, and like most Europeans, knows how to get the most out of a rented Dodge minivan.
We poured out of the vans into the Loewen parking lot around 9. For the next five hours, we watched douglas fir and mahogany get shaped, cut, culled, inspected, clamped, hammered, fitted with aluminum extrusions, and outfitted with hardware and glass in Loewen’s 580,000 square foot facility (that’s 13+ acres). We talked about custom sizes and shapes, quality and optimization, specifying FSC wood (which can be had for about a 20% premium), sustainability, and how Loewen assembles their own glass on the premises. At Locus, we’ve bought Loewen for a half dozen years (through Doug Truax, now of Synergy Products) and have been pleased with the product line. Part of the tour outlined how waste material was handled in the process. Wood offcuts heat the plant in winter, sawdust is collected and sold as animal bedding, and aluminum and glass offcuts are sorted and recycled. We were told even the water used for storm and pressure testing in the research lab is collected and reused. It all makes financial sense of course, but comforting to see it in action.
Loewen Windows in a recent Locus project
On Tuesday morning, we met with other product manufacturers and inventors in Winnipeg. In a rapid-fire-10-minute-dating type format, we met with other Canadian manufacturing interests. We’ve not used any of these, so the following isn’t an endorsement, but I think we will be following up with these companies.
J Neufeld, Wood Anchor
J offers wood flooring and mouldings from wood that has been reclaimed, landfill diverted, or from trees cut down in urban areas. We’ve been looking for someone that is already doing this for years. Most of the manufacturing is done in Minnesota, at a mill in Cook, north of Virginia.
Neil Krovats & Kristina Yurkiw, Clearline Technologies
Neil & Kristina will unveil a line of products this year at Greenbuild in Phoenix (the link above will show the products after November 2009). Will we see particle board and acoustic tile made from hemp fiber or “hempsulation” in the aisles of Home Depot in the near future? How about hemp cement? These two would like to see it happen with products they are currently bringing to market. As you might expect, Neil had to say, as he handed me the hempsulation sample, “You can’t smoke it.”
Ryan Schade, Terry Johnstone, & Paul Loewen, Accurate Dorwin
Al Dueck, Duxton Windows & Doors
Accurate Dorwin and Duxton (two separate companies) both manufacture windows and doors using pultruded fiberglass. Fiberglass manufacturers argue that the material inherently makes for a window that is more energy efficient, structurally stable, less expensive, and longer lasting than their clad aluminum and wood-based competition. In theory, all these claims may well be true. In a residential application where the window is to be painted, fiberglass is definitely an option to consider, with U-values (inverse of R value) lower than wood and aluminum versions. In our office, we’re more excited by the commercial potential of fiberglass windows and doors in storefronts and curtain walls. Fiberglass conducts much less heat than the more prevalent aluminum.
Special thanks to Pam Olson, Christa Andraos, & Charles Hatzipanayis (Canadian consulate & trade) for transportation, setting up our meetings, making sure we were properly fed and caffeinated, and keeping the conversation stimulating.
Lastly, if you find yourself without your skateboard in Winnipeg (it could happen), stop by the Green Apple skate shop. When I stopped, Mike McDermott, a pro boarder and shop owner, came out from the back to show off his new space. We talked about business while he rung up a couple of autographed Green Apple T-shirts for my boys. As we walked out on Sunday evening, Mike joked while pointing at his sign, “If it doesn’t make it, I’ll just change the word ‘skateshop’ to ‘pub’ and I’ll have plenty of business.” Seems Winnipeg has something in common with Wisconsin.
A couple of ideas for September. Come and see us, say hello, we’ll give you a hug.
9/10 – Housing Crisis Presentations (with cold beverages!)
West Bank Social Center
The housing crisis has transformed once vibrant neighborhoods into vacant landscapes of foreclosure and collapse. Much attention has been given to the financial causes of the crisis but few projects have gone beyond that. In the exhibit “Unbundling the Housing Crisis,”, just closing at the Form + Content Gallery in downtown Minneapolis, 8 interdisciplinary groups of artists, designers, writers, scientists, and thinkers were asked to collaborate, research, create and present projects examining all aspects of the housing crisis.
These 8 groups come together in person to present their projects, discuss their process, and share their creative approaches to understanding and unbundling the housing crisis.
Short presentations on:
+ Money on the Block: Mapping neighborhood financial flows in the Hawthorn neighborhood
+ The flora of of a condemned property at 3001 James Ave. N
+ A machine to decipher the housing crisis through interactive discovery and play
+ Locus Architecture’s PPoD: A flexible housing system – pay as you build, build as you grow, and grow (or shrink) as you need.
+ Houses that work with their climate; thoughts on sustainable housing and community
+ gen(h)ome: From a pool of slime to a McMansion in only 3,700,000,000 years!
+ Complexities of the urban fabric
+ Ghosts and Shadows; A physical examination of 26 square blocks in North Minneapolis
A panel discussion led by curator/artist/architect Jay H. Isenberg, AIA will follow.
Vinje in 1961 at a prior dedication
9/12 & 9/13 – Vinje Lutheran Church Dedication
Open House Saturday 3-6pm
Worship Sunday at 8:30 & 10:45am
Locus designed an addition for this modern icon in Willmar, MN, including a gathering space and youth expansion on the west side of the original complex. This follows a painstaking renovation of the original Sanctuary designed by Sewell J. Mathre of SMSQ. It’s quite a dramatic structure, with an exoskeleton steel frame, unusual in this climate, supporting the worship space.
Vinje's Original Floor Plan - in person
9/18 – PARK(ing) Day 2009
1. Pick a parking spot
2. Feed the meter
3. You’ve paid for the space, set up some chairs, hang around, socialize.
We plan to set up shop and work. We’ll let you know where we’ll be. Come and visit. Maybe we’ll even give you some advice – free of charge.
9/20-22 – Canadian Trade Mission
OK, not at the personal invitation of Stephen Harper, but as guests of Loewen Windows of Steinbach. Going to tour the plant, and spend a few days bicycling around Winnipeg. Send us your favorite things to do at the confluence of the Red & Assiniboine.
This morning I was listening to an interview with an insurance expert on NPR. The interview centered around homeowners not having enough insurance to rebuild their homes in the event of a catastrophe – in this case the wildfires burning in the southern part of California.
The insurance expert made some reasonable claims, noting that some homeowners try to keep rates down by not “advising” their insurance companies when renovating or adding to their homes, something that can come back to bite if the house burns to the ground later. The thing that caught my ear – like a fishhook – was the next thing he said.
I’m paraphrasing here, “Most homeowners should insure their homes for at least $250 per square foot, $300 per square foot to be safe, to rebuild.” Granted, the figure represents Los Angeles prices, and may include furnishings and contents, but it confirmed what I’ve been telling clients for at least five or six years. The elusive $100 number is pretty much dead (dead, dead, DEAD!) for single-family one-off homes in the U.S. There are a handful of exceptions, sure. Upon investigation, most are built by truly spartan individuals who are also handy enough to install a 100 amp panel unaided, know the difference between a ground fault circuit interruptor and a heat pump, and can quickly explain what board-feet means. How many of those people do you know?
Many couples come to Locus expecting to build a house for $100 per square foot. After telling me what they want, I hate to have to tell them the house they describe is likely to exceed $200.
Having said that, when I find the contractor that does excellent work at half the hourly rate others are charging, puts in 50 hours of hard work for the cost of 30, cuts no corners, drives a pickup that’s been converted to run on solar power, and brings organic fruit to the jobsite for the owner’s kids every day, I’ll post the contact information right here as soon as my new home is built.
Where the hell has Locus been, you might be wondering. Or is anyone still listening? After the two month effort to produce PPoD for the Unbundling the Housing Crisis show at the Form + Content Gallery, we left town for August. If it’s OK on the Italian peninsula, it’s OK by us.
From Santa Barbara to San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to the Black Hills to the Boundary Waters, we’ve covered some serious ground. A short list of recommendations:
Detail - Mission La Purisima
MIssion San Juan Bautista (rent Vertigo the night before)
Pedal around 17-Mile Drive (if speed is your drug, return to Monterey via Aguajito Road)
Purisima Mission State Park (skip Hwy. 246 from Buellton, slow down and take a more bucolic route just south, using Santa Rosa Road)
Lake Tahoe’s Nevada shoreline between Incline Village & Hwy. 50
Palo Alto to Pescadero via Alpine Rd./Portola Rd./Old La Honda Rd./Skyline Blvd./Alpine Rd./Pescadero Creek Rd.
San Miguel to Hollister via Indian Valley Rd./Peach Tree Rd./Hwy. 25
Portola Valley Town Center
Portola Valley Town Center
Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland
Eat at Range, a restaurant in the Mission in San Francisco
Cathedral of Christ the Light
Bighorn Mountains/Black Hills
Hike to Mistymoon Lake in the Cloud Peak Wilderness
Needles Highway through Custer State Park
You’re ahead of us if you think ahead far enough to:
1. Avoid wildfires inconveniently closing scenic rural roads along the Big Sur coastline of CA.
2. Avoid S.D. the same week as the Sturgis Rally (unless you enjoy the roar of a Harley – all day).
3. Skip Deadwood, S.D.
4. Bring enough fresh water.
Big Sur Surf
We’ll try to post once a week or more this fall.
Check us out on Sprout, a new green website. While you’re there, add us as a favorite or write a review.
PPoD (pronounced “peapod”), another flexible housing system designed by LOCUS (see SNUGhouse) offers a common sense alternative to current housing and lending gluttony. PPod builds upon the SNUGhouse idea of affordable living, but also allows families to modulate dwelling size according to available financial resources and changing needs.
Pay as you build.
Build as you grow.
Grow – or shrink – as you need.
Delivering a new pod
Contrast this concept with the prevalent build-now/pay-later system that, within our culture of unchecked consumption, produced the current housing crisis and ultimately the freefall of global capital markets. In America, we’ve come to accept the risk of leveraged debt without a second thought. Since we often get today what we intend to pay for tomorrow, our decisions are not constrained in real time. Big decisions – say, taking on a loan with a 30-year obligation – tend to be made in optimistic times. The influence of financial hardship in making these decisions tends to be downplayed and is significantly delayed, ignoring unexpected everyday events such as job loss, childbirth, heath problems, travel, second homes, death, retirement, and marriage.
Come see the show, and meet Jan & Jan (in the virtual world), and their family’s PPoD. You can also see seven other projects from collaborative teams.
Follow the Jans through 70 years of ups and downs to see how the PPoD concept responds to change. Starting with a compact core, The Dock, designed for a single person or couple, the Jans plug and unplug pods, responding to changing income, family size, and age. PPoD can grow – as most homes can – but more importantly it can shrink quickly and easily (“I’m selling Jenny’s bedroom on eBay!”) as family members move or income shrinks. The typical U.S. home does not downsize well. Even as the American family size dwindles, homes continue to swell to meet the perceived peak-space-need of the generation. This model cannot be sustained indefinitely. PPoD is tailored to fit dwelling needs over time, expanding and contracting in harmony with the dynamics of life.
We’ll be releasing a YouTube video explaining more details of the PPoD concept after the show opening. Stay tuned!
Locus Architecture, Ltd.: Architecture, Narrative
Toss Film & Design: Video, Graphic Design
Robert Meier – Photographs, Voice
Thanks also to these folks for their help with PPoD:
Wing Young Huie, Robert Feyereisen, Kevin Nelson, & Steven Rajninger
Friday July 17, 7 – 9 pm
MCAD: 2501 Stevens Avenue (Auditorium)
Myths will be dispelled, pros and cons will be defined, and many lessons learned as we hear the construction story of a bale-building that surpasses LEED standards.
Saturday July 18, 9 am – 12 pm
Friday’s lecture will be put to practice by sculpting, sawing, slicing and stuccoing straw bales benches. The finished product will provide a public place of respite for community gardeners in North Minneapolis.
Lecture + Workshop $40
Details & Registration at:
Come to the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis on Wednesday night, June 17th, at 9:00 pm to see Locus Architecture’s big screen debut in “For the Love of Film”.
“Sound ready? Camera ready? Scene 27, take 3!” My son Carter snapped the clapboard crisply and ducking out of the camera’s line of sight, backed away from an idling red Jetta. Moments later, Steve Appelhans, the film’s director, jumped out of the passenger side door, DVD clutched in his hand, and ran out into the street. He was immediately leveled and dispatched by a good sized Volvo, driven by a distracted, Quizno-eating motorist.
At least, that’s how it will appear.
This past weekend, Linda and I offered our home, designed and built by Locus Architecture as “nowHaus”, to be the main location for Steve’s film. The 48-Hour Film Project challenges filmmakers to produce a 4 to 7 minute short film, script to final edit, using only volunteers, in just 48 hours. To keep advance-filming-cheating to a minimum, 48-Hour organizers require certain elements in the movie, including a specific line of dialogue (“I hope they decide soon”), character name (Kevin or Kathy Schnabel), and prop (sandwich). Lastly, at a ceremony Friday night, each team is required to pick a genre out of a hat. Steve pulled “Romance.”
Linda and I woke up Saturday morning to a full cast and crew pacing the sidewalk outside our house, purposefully disposing of the morning’s coffee. By 7:30, about 500 pounds of equipment had been packed into our house and by 8:30 Steve was busy blocking out the film’s first shot with cinematographer Adrian Danciu. I was tapped for a few early sequences, playing Kevin Schaebel, Architect, although you will be relieved to learn most of the rest of the cast and crew were local Twin Cities pros.
After a full 12 hours of shooting, some late night margaritas, and another jammed day of editing, Steve’s partner Azin zoomed across town while Steve burned the final cut onto a DVD. With a hard deadline of 7:30, they were breathing a bit easier after swerving into the parking lot at 7:20. The computer, uncooperative, was still lazily disgorging bytes. Deciding to remain in the parking lot to let the laptop work rather than run in, computer in hand yelling “We’re done, we’re done!”, Steve and Azin patiently encouraged the machine (“What the HELL is taking so long!”), willing it to go faster. Steve dashed from the car just after 7:30. The submission was logged at 7:36, exactly one minute after the five-minute grace period. Now only eligible for the “Audience Favorite” award, “For the Love of Film” will not be considered for the Best Of 48-Hour Film Project.
Locus needs your help; come see the movie and vote for “For the Love of Film”!
I heard William McDonough speak in Minneapolis at the Governor’s Awards, if I recall correctly, years ago. His name floats through the air at cocktail party discussions about sustainability, but his nobody-is-as-green-as-I-am persona has generally rubbed me the wrong way and left me deaf to his sermons.
Reading a back issue of ARCHITECTURE magazine yesterday, editor Ned Cramer seemed to share some of my reservations. Cramer’s piece prompted me to look up “Green Guru Gone Wrong”, a recent article about McDonough in Fast Company magazine. If you haven’t read it already, might be worth a look before you recommend McDonough’s book, Cradle to Cradle, to a friend.
This past weekend, we were at the Living Green Expo at the MN State Fairgrounds. At the show, there were workshops (from How to Choose a Greener Car to Backyard Chickens & Livestock), a large exhibit floor (about 300 booths), and exhibits (cars powered by cooking oil and electricity) devoted to green topics. All in all, a wide range of great information on numerous topics.
Nevertheless, this year I was struck by some of the exhibitors, including Segway, Walmart, Chipotle, and even Whole Foods. All these companies no doubt have legitimate claims to green-ness, but I’ve always thought of the Living Green Expo as more regional; a little gritty, grassroots powered, CSA-grown, and definitely bike-powered.
This got me thinking about architecture and building. When we began designing and building homes for clients in 1995, we didn’t talk much about material reuse and energy efficiency. It wasn’t the buzz, we did it because it made sense. Now, all manner of architects and builders are embracing green as a “growth sector.” Seems like there isn’t a firm out there without an indoor-air-quality or recycled-content-materials expert.
So, in the new green marketplace, what makes LOCUS different? I think it’s our deep knowledge of construction, our length of experience in green building, and our commitment to a comprehensive approach. Green building is more than using Paperstone counters and milk paint.
Paul and I went through some past projects and wrote down a quick list of things we’ve done in our practice. Items preceded by * we’ve integrated into projects we designed AND built; items preceded by ** we’ve integrated into our own homes (which we also designed and built). I’ll admit we haven’t found all the answers, but we’ll continue to look for them through research and ingenuity.
*Design to reprogram existing building – to limit project expansion
**Infill urban houses
**Low impact landscaping, using native species or limited irrigation
*Permeable paving (parking lot/patio)
Two weeks ago, we let you know we’d be at the Living Green Expo. It’s here. MN State Fair Grounds. Saturday, May 2nd, 10-6; Sunday, 10-5. FREE! At the show, there will be kids’ activities, food, music, workshops, and AVEDA founder Horst Rechelbacher’s Tesla. This would be the vehicle for green car enthusiasts who simply cannot live without a vehicle that can reach 60 MPH in under 4 seconds. Me, I’ll be pedaling my bike. Free bus passes available at the Living Green link above. Oh, you can recycle all those CFL bulbs piling up in your garage too.
Make a weekend of it; Family Free day at the Walker on Saturday, Living Green Expo Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning, MayDay Parade & Festival in Powderhorn Park Sunday afternoon. You’ll go to work Monday exhausted but fulfilled.
Living Green Expo
With barely enough time to catch our breath, we’re hosting an open house at our studio on Thursday, May 7th 5-9pm for First Thursdays in the Arts District. We’ll be making some more bicycle tread signatures, and offering free design consultations.
Finally, stop by our studio as your launching point to visit any number of other open artist studios during Art-A-Whirl, NE Minneapolis’ annual art crawl, May 15-17. Friday 5-10 pm, Saturday 12-8, Sunday 12-5. We are hosting a reception on Saturday night for the end of the Full Cycle Project (see bicycle tread signature link above) from 6-8.
With so many chances to gain your support for Locus Architecture in the coming weeks, there’s surely no need for us to go begging for stimulus package funds.
We’ve put in two geothermal systems in the past two years for clients in Minneapolis, both remodels, and with mixed results. For anyone considering geothermal, understand it is not an inexpensive up front option (say, $20,000 and up for an installed system sized for a 1,600 square foot well-insulated home). Geothermal installers often talk up the green aspects of the systems, but we feel the green advantages are not so clear. A few things are worth noting if you’re thinking geothermal.
Just in case you’re not familiar with how these systems work, I offer the following three-sentence, grossly simplified summary. Geothermal systems exchange heat with the ground via liquid – usually a glycol solution – flowing through sub-grade tubing loops (like a radiant floor but in the ground). The tubes are placed at least 5′ below the ground surface, in vertical wells or horizontal fields, where temperatures remain relatively constant at about 50-55 degrees. A heat pump, which operates much like the compression/expansion loop on your refrigerator (but can run both ways), extracts heat from the ground in heating months and dumps it when cooling. If you are looking for the science behind all of that, it’s available on the web; I’ll just say that geothermal systems have potential for obvious environmental benefits.
The downside? The heat pump – the brawn of the system – uses a fair amount of electricity. Remember the refrigerator comparison? (more…)
Blades on the Rails
On Friday, Tom Hedberg from Hedberg Maps – down the hall from our office – came in breathlessly after running up the stairs, “you guys should come take a look at this!” Big white blades for large scale wind turbines were sitting idle on the rail line 100 yards from our building – close enough for a little tactile inspection. The new energy economy appears to be in the distribution pipeline. That was fast!
I’ve been drawn to these turbines for as long as I can remember. There was a wind farm near my boyhood home; I would stare out the car window at these big things, moving slowly, with a mixture of awe and dread. I always felt they were beautiful and eerie at once – perhaps because the big industrial forms are in such stark contrast to the desolate windswept landscapes where they are often deployed. Oddly, I feel much the same way passing through oil fields, the unmanned derricks endlessly pumping. For a surreal experience, drive US 101 through the oil fields outside of King City in CA.
I feel an odd pull to freight trains too. If I didn’t have young children and a cautious spouse, I just might have climbed on board this one to see where these gleaming fabrications were headed. It would no doubt be fascinating to see how one is put together.
Living Green Expo
LOCUS will join the usual suspects at the 2009 Living Green Expo at the MN State Fairgrounds Grandstand, May 2nd and 3rd. The expo focuses on a wide range of green topics, from food to building to energy to transportation. If you’ve not been before, it’s definitely worth your time and it’s FREE!
There’s two main components to the Expo. 1. The show floor. There’s a couple hundred exhibitors displaying all manner of green wares, systems, and ideas. It’s more easily digested and definitely more targeted than the Home Show – with all the chaff about teeth whitening, leaf-free-gutters, and infomercial-worthy junk. Even so, some of the exhibitors may cause you to wonder, “What’s green about that?” 2. Workshops. If you want to renovate your basement using non-toxic products or just want to learn how to raise chickens in your back yard, there’s a workshop to catch your attention.
We’re in the construction area on the east end, near such green stalwarts as Natural Built Home, Innovative Power Systems (IPS), Clay Squared to Infinity, and The Reuse Center.
The Expo is kid friendly, there will be live music, and green food. Well, not all the edibles will be literally green, but you know what I mean. Extra credit to those of you who bike or ride the bus there.
Prior to ARTCRANK, a cycling poster show, LOCUS Architecture brought together Twin Cities cyclists to make their mark and make a difference. Participants bunny-hopped, spun, skidded, and cruised over prints, recording individual tread signatures in order to raise money for Full Cycle, a Minneapolis outreach program that provicdes free and healthy transportation to homeless and at-risk youth. Some of the signatures – from the notorious Geno to local advocates like Bill Dossett to artists like Caroline Yang – are below.
We debuted the series at ARTCRANK on March 4th, but there’s more to do before the show ends at LOCUS offices on May 16. We’re trying to raise as much money as we can for Full Cycle; the more prints sold, the more funds we can send to the kids. We need your support in the following four ways.
The original prints are on display now through May 16, at the LOCUS Architecture studio.
Stop by, and implore your friends to do the same, to view tread eye candy (M-F; 10-4)
Northrup King Building, Suite 333,
1500 Jackson St. NE, Minneapolis
LOCUS will have extended hours at the studio for the May 7 edition of First Thursdays in the Arts District. We’ll be here 5-9 pm, along with a few more tread signers. Chris Zito, Hurl, Peace Coffee, and a few other surprises have promised to come-a-tread-signing, enjoy a beer, and support the cause. Why not come out and witness art being made? There are dozens of other open studios here at the Northrup King Building to entice you if hanging with us isn’t enough.
Save May 16 on your calendar for the Full Cycle final reception. Locus will be hosting the closing party 6-8 pm (again, at the studio) in conjunction with Art-A-Whirl. Join us, dragging others who like art and/or bikes with you. Any remaining prints not pre-sold will be sold via silent auction at that time.
Buy one of these original prints and/or help us promote these events. At $89 each, these monoprints are a steal for original art, and the money goes to a good cause.
The poster-making process, as photographed by Caroline Yang, is also viewable at ARTCRANK and LOCUS.
Locus Architecture is making art – and a difference – as we gear up for ARTCRANK. A poster show dominated by graphic designers and artists, LOCUS secured an invitation to the 2009 show from ARTCRANK founder Charles Youel.
Curious about the LOCUS posters? Want to do the right thing? Crank your way to the opening night party, buy one of our posters, and help a Twin Cities’ youth get a bike. Party Details: One On One Bicycle Studio, Minneapolis, Saturday April 4th, 7pm – for even more details, see the ARTCRANK link above. Get there early, it’s well attended, and you should get your hands on one of these.
As we often do, we decided that if we didn’t make it complicated, it wouldn’t be fun for us. We enlisted a number of Twin Cities bike people to “sign” one-off posters with tread signatures. This proved to be an organizational mountain, and required more than a couple dozen trial runs to find the right process, but the results have been well worth it. We’ll sell the posters at the show (ARTCRANK RULE #1 – no poster more than thirty bucks), with all the profit from our posters going to Full Cycle, an outreach program that offers free bikes to local homeless and at-risk youth.
This past Friday night, Locus hosted the first group of cyclists to cruise, bunny-hop, spin, and twirl across the initial couple dozen posters at the Northrup King Building (some examples above).
THANKS! to BIRCHWOOD CAFE for bringing bread-n-spread. If consumption is any measure, it was awesome. As a thank you, we asked Anna from Birchwood to sign the first poster.
A second THANKS! to Todd Thyberg of ANGEL BOMB DESIGN for contributing his letter press expertise to the poster layout.
And, last but not least, a resounding round of applause to Debbie Woodward of the Northrup King Building for opening up Suite 332 for the signings.
Not knowing what we were going to get, we’re thrilled with the initial results. If your curious about the makings of a bicycling signature, we’ll be making more on Monday, March 30th, in the alley behind One On One. We’ll be there from 5-7 pm.
Bikes bring us together. Be a part of it.
Locus returns to the Minneapolis Home & Garden Show in less than a week, March 4-8. We’ve promised to bring back the big black chunk and drop it dead center in the “Green Scene” at the east end of Innovation Avenue, Booth 132.
We’ll be showing some recent work, and participating in the great Home Show social experiment. Imagine a very large elevator, say 300′ X 1,500′, where people try very hard to avoid all eye contact, at least with anyone in sales. Then imagine these very same people trying to quickly scan booths to see if there’s anything of interest (read: free) they can snag before locking eyes – and ending up in a 10-minute conversation – with a very motivated salesperson.
Come see how our intros (“The lack of twin-walled polycarbonate in your life keeping you up at night?” or “Bet you want to know how the use of vinyl billboards can reduce your carbon footprint!”) stack up to the typical sales pitches (“How’s the show? Can I talk to you about astroturf?” or “I’ve got something that’s going to allow you to spend more of your time playing golf.”) Stop by and tell us how we’re doing.
Open until 10pm every day except Sunday. See you there.
While there are many ways to define master planning, I would summarize it as looking to, and planning for, the future. This concept applies to many different disciplines including business management, human resources, space usage, green building goals, user groups, programs offered, and facilities operations & management. Master planning helps clients to be visionary about where they want to go, which allows them the perspective to make tactical decisions about program and building goals, rather than simply reacting to an imminent functional need or emergency situation. I am a strong proponent of this process for just about any building type, including residential, commercial, educational, and other public institutions.
I believe a thoughtful approach to master planning is especially important to churches for a number of reasons. First, a master plan document can save a client money. With an initial (more…)
That’s “Valentine’s Day” in case your mind went elsewhere. On Saturday night, our Northrup King neighbor/artist/co-owner-of-Two-Betties Shannyn Joy Potter helped throw VD09, a party/gallery opening/micro event. It was captured on film by Matt Peiken of 3-minute egg (17 feb 09 episode), your daily dose of the Twin Cities Arts Scene. If you look closely in a couple of the interviews, you can see the wall of the Locus office. Not exactly famous, but hey, we weren’t left on the cutting-room floor.
After a three-week hiatus, the highly anticipated final entry in Locus’ favorite green materials for the home. I conclude with green products.
1. Paperstone. Made with 100% post-consumer recycled paper and a “petroleum-free resin”, it can be made into counters, desk surfaces, vanity tops, exterior siding, and even bathroom stall partitions. You might hope the paper you toss in the recycling bin comes back to you inexpensively as Paperstone – but not so. We’ve found it to rival concrete and lesser expensive granites. The colors tend to be in the darker spectrum, but (unlike stone) the surface is not cold to the touch. www.paperstoneproducts.com
2. Vetrazzo. Made primarily from recycled glass and cement, Vetrazzo is a striking – and pricey – surface. We’ve yet to use it, but it’s only a matter of time. www.vetrazzo.com Both Paperstone and Vetrazzo can be found – and fondled – along with a few other locally produced options – at Natural Built Home in Minneapolis.
3. Linoleum. Manufactured from renewable materials (linseed oil, wood flour, jute), linoleum patterns range from the mundane to the wacky. Colors aren’t in short supply; you can find the color your grandmother had on the laundry room, or another that has more in common with a Jackson Pollock canvas. Typically used as flooring, we’ve also used linoleum for desktops, table tops and wainscoting. We typically specify Forbo Marmoleum, but there are others on the market. While poking around the Forbo site, take a look at the bulletin board products, a great wall surface for a kid’s bedroom.
4. Cork. Cork is a renewable material, the self-repairing bark from the cork oak tree, a native of the Mediterranean. Harvest of the raw material requires stripping the bark from the tree, a process which apparently does not damage the tree. Harvest may commence after the tree’s twenty-fifth birthday, and can repeat every nine years for as many as 20 harvests. The finished flooring product comes in a variety of colors and can be installed “glue down” or “floating”.
5. Bamboo. We did an earlier post on bamboo. See it here.
6. Crossville Ecocycle. Don’t like the thinner resilient flooring? A stained concrete radiant floor not your thing? Consider tile. Crossville, a tile manufacturer based in Tennessee, is one of a handful of tile makers to add recycled material to a product line. Granted, clay isn’t the easiest thing to reclaim, but the Ecocycle line has 40% recycled content. We’d still prefer you buy tile at Clay Squared in Minneapolis and support our local artists, but if that’s not in the cards, Ecocycle is a good and relatively inexpensive green option.
7. FLOR. If you’re somebody that just has to have carpet, consider FLOR tiles. Manufactured with very low VOCs (volatile organic compounds – think “new carpet” smell), FLOR will take back carpet when you’re done with it. They don’t just chuck it, but turn it into new carpet product. If the myriad of FLOR options still isn’t grabbing your attention and you’re headed elsewhere, try to avoid nylon choices and consider a quality wool carpet. It’s more expensive, but a good quality wool carpet might outlive you! It also cleans easily in most cases. Not so with nylon. For a more custom approach, contact Kelly Marshall of Custom Woven Interiors. She’ll make a rug for you that will become a family heirloom.
8. Warmboard. Warmboard allows homeowners with hardwood floors to enjoy radiant heat. A thin aluminum plate molded to a structural subfloor is pretty much it. Simple? Yes, but very clever. The manufacturer has figured out how to press the plate into the channels for the tubing. Install the tubes, put down the floor and you’re done. The manufacturer is convinced a low-thermal-mass composite is better for most homes – and with that, we STRONGLY disagree for our cold climate. Nevertheless, we like the product for homeowners that want wood radiant-heat-floors. www.warmboard.com
9. Navien Hot Water Heaters. My friend, Bob Alf, is a local green contractor in the Twin Cities. He sent this along to me a few months back. “A recent arrival is now head-and-shoulders better than anything on the market, Navien. It is a condensing unit, 98% efficient. Get’s more gallons per minute than anything else at a 70+ degree rise. Solves the ‘cold sandwich’ issue with a mini-buffer tank. Also has a recirculating pump with timer so you can shoot instant hot water to a far away fixture without wasting much energy. Also a stainless Steel exchanger, with the best warranty in the business. Plumbers love them because the venting is easier to install than any other unit.” Sounds good.
10. Paints & finishes. Having trouble finding environmental finishes? Paint your walls with Yolo Paint or a milk paint. Lucky enough to have concrete floors with plenty of thermal mass? Try Ecoprocote concrete stains in lieu of acid-based products. Finally, for wood floors, we prefer Rubio Monocoat – a plant based finish for wood floors that is easy to clean and repair.
Clients, friends, co-workers, people at dinner parties tell me they’d like to buy “stuff” that is more green, but they don’t know where to go or look. I’m no expert where to buy environmentally friendly books, car parts, or clothing, but I do know where I look for things for the home.
For new green building materials, I tell people to start at Natural Built Home. The store is in Minneapolis, and sells flooring, countertops, cabinets, some building materials, tile, sinks, plumbing fixtures, cleaning supplies, paints, plasters, concrete stains, and even offers classes on techniques on how to use the products.
For reused or salvaged architectural products, we frequent Bauer Bros. Salvage (everything you can imagine from gargoyles to tombstones to quarter-sawn oak buffets), Manomin Timber (beautiful old growth timbers from warehouses and grain elevators), and the Reuse Center (trim, cabinetry – a friend bought an entire kitchen worth of beautiful pine cabinets made in Germany there, leaded glass windows, 2X4s, and perhaps even an old red rooster wind vane). You never know what you might find, but if you go to Bauer Bros., go on a weekday dressed (and talking) like a contractor to get the best prices.
Hello, Phil Hofstad here again. Before I try to tackle this question, I want to give a caveat. Even within our office, we have a range of viewpoints on just about everything from M&Ms (with or without peanuts) to what defines modernism. This diversity of opinion includes spirituality and religion. We respect and value each others’ experiences and values, as well as those of our clients. I wouldn’t presume to speak for any of them. The following article summarizes my personal thoughts on the issue of sustainability.
At first glance, asking whether or not God cares about sustainability might seem odd or somehow even misplaced. However, it is a question that I am increasingly confronted with. Since our beginning, LOCUS has always sought to be good stewards of the earth’s resources through sustainable techniques that promote (more…)
In Mexico, like much of the third world, people build what they can, when they can, with what they find. Our reality in the US is quite different. As we wade through one relief package after the next, trying to right our struggling financial industry, the concept of living closer to today’s means provides a window into a more green lifestyle. Evidence of this can be seen in the image below. The neighbor in the foreground is waiting to build a second floor until he’s collected all the necessary materials. As he goes about acquiring what’s needed, he’s continually weighing his building needs in relation to today’s other needs. He feels the impact of his decisions in real time – “if I buy 500 more bricks, I won’t be able to travel to see the relatives for Semana Santa this year” – and avoids the impact of delayed repercussions. Contrast this with our build first, pay later method in the US. Since we often get today what we pay for tomorrow, our decisions are not constrained in real time. Rather, the influence of cost is delayed in our process of decision-making and we are left with unsatisfactory results. We continue to create more and more, with less of what we have today.
In our work, we strive for a decision-making process with each client that considers the impact of their decisions in real time. In addition to many other benefits, we feel this is the root of a greener process, one that produces more sustainable architectural solutions.
Phil Hofstad here. In the past few years, I’ve worked with a number of Locus’ religious clients and have past experience working with congregations while at other firms. Spirituality is an important aspect of my life, and I would consider myself an “actively practicing” Lutheran. My writing certainly reflects my beliefs, but the topics are applicable to our spiritual clients. At our office, our staff has a wide range of spiritual beliefs and we work with congregations across a wide range of spiritual beliefs, including spaces for Jewish Synagogues, Unitarian Universalist Meeting Halls, and Christian Sanctuaries. While the beliefs differ, a rigorous application of space as it relates to faith remains central to how we do our work.
“Why God Cares About the Built Environment” was the title of a lecture I attended at (more…)