Sunday, March 25, 2012

Calatrava's dislike of ramps.

Santiago Calatrava, the designer of "Large Marge" aka the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, isn't too enamored of all the ramps built to access the bridge from Woodall Rodgers and I-35. According to him we didn't need all the ramps for the cars to get onto the bridge from these freeways.  In an interview with James Russell from Bloomberg News:

“I told them they didn’t need all those ramps,” Calatrava said when I spoke to him in his Park Avenue townhouse office after I returned to Manhattan. He said they could instead have sold the land next to the bridge and earned money on developments that feature bridge and parkland views."

I'm not a fan of the mess of ramps either.  In fact, the worst part of my commute is the quarter mile drive from Central Expressway to I-35 on Woodall Rodgers.  Depending on the traffic, I can spend up to 30 minutes on Woodall Rodgers so I have had plenty of time to stare at those ramps.  They are clunky swaths of concrete that do not integrate seamlessly with our fancy bridge.  It is like wearing orthopedic shoes with an elegant ball gown.  The shoes may get you from point a to point b.  But it isn't going to happen in a pretty way.  However, Calatrava wasn't hired to design the on ramps, only the bridge.  He may have been willing to design the on-ramps, but the likelihood was that the City of Dallas couldn't afford it.

Read more about James Russell's review of the bridge here.  H/T to D Magazine's Front Burner blog where I first read the article.

Kitchen Renovation Week 2: Beams, Electrical and Plumbing

End of Week 2!
Week 2 saw more demolition and prep work for the replacement of the beam in the kitchen.  The walls we took out were load bearing so a new beam had to go in to span the space where the walls used to reside. Week 2 also electrical and plumbing.  Plumbing was inspected and approved this week and electrical should be approved in Week 3.  Next week should see drywall going up and some cabinetry by the end of the week.  Now let's get to some pictures!

Shoring walls are up.  
Nice mess of wires powering the rest of the house.
Right and left are shoring walls, middle is original wall.
Soon to be removed old beam

Old beam removed, old wiring still remains.
New beam is in and all old wiring is gone!
Can light fixtures.  Not the sexiest fixtures, but cheap and efficient.
Electrical boxes for the pendants. A preview here.
Electrical for the island had to be run through the foundation.
Re-sheathing of the second beam.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Kitchen Renovation Week 1 - Let's do some demo!

Week 1 was a short week - only 2 days of actual work.  During those two days the guys removed all the cabinets and appliances, saving the fridge, dishwasher, and disposal as those were new appliances.  We are donating the remaining appliances and cabinets to Habitat for Humanity.  We did discover some 2 problems with the renovation. 

Problem 1
In the bottom right photo you will see what looks like a beam coming across the space and into the wall.  We thought that was only duct work for the A/C.  Apparently, it also housed all the wiring for the other side of the house.  The Architect believes we can run the wiring over the new beam and through the ceiling to the rest of the house.  Or we will have to get "creative."  Yeah, getting "creative" scares me.  As in "how much more is this going to cost me" scared. 

Problem 2
The other issue was with the new beam we have to put in to span the space where we will remove all the walls.  We have to do a bit more carpentry in the ceiling to ensure the rafters (or are they joists? Clearly the Architect isn't writing this post) are properly supported.  Apparently, the ones up there right now are just kinda laying on the beam which  is twisting the beam.  The Architect assured me that this isn't a problem the way it is and the new way will be much better.  This information just fuels those nightmares I have where I come home and find my roof caved in during demo.

Week 2 sees further demolition, electrical, and the beginning of the structural work.  Exciting!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Renovating a Kitchen!

After living in our house for about 5 years, we are finally renovating our kitchen.  This will be the Architect's first realized design and hopefully will lead to more side projects.  Over the next 6 weeks or so I'll be updating on our progress.  Hopefully this process will be more of a HGTV-type experience rather than "Renovation Nightmares."  Above are the "before" pictures.  The renovation will remove all the walls you see in the upper right and bottom two photos.  The kitchen will also double in size, allowing us to utilize some dead space for the new dining area.  I'm not looking forward to living on microwave meals and sandwiches for the next 6 weeks; but I know the finished project is going to be outstanding.  Apartment Therapy here we come!!!