Archives for posts with tag: Patricia McQuaid

Our most excellent architect, Patricia McQuaid, is off to globe trot with her family for the better part of a year and beyond. I must pause to thank and praise her for her efforts on our project, which I feel sure went above and beyond the usual efforts of most architects. She has been focused, diplomatic, and steadfast in every aspect of designing and managing our huge personal undertaking, and working with her has made this project (including living in a camper) a great deal more bearable. We will miss her horribly and selfishly wish she could have been here to see the fruits of her labor completed. We’ll send photos.

Are we there yet?

Patricia (architect) conducted a team meeting today with our structural engineer and contractor to review our first printed project timeline. Suddenly there the project was, stretching on for three pages like reticulated building blocks measuring out the next six months of our lives. Oh, the things we will see from our little camper window.

Antony Rieck (photographer) and Jorge Brunet (art director) showed up as the meeting ended to capture images of our intrepid team. I stood observing these three successful, self-employed professionals in front of the camera who also happen to be women – mothers, sisters, daughters, wives – posing for serious as well as silly photos that poke fun and celebrate them as females. When the Hatcher House was built 44 years ago, no woman would have been a principal on such a project. We’ve come a long way, baby.

Just as the past holds its stories, so certainly will the future. Last year Patricia, Jorge, Richard and I sat with the Hatchers on this property and looked at the images they had captured and preserved forty-odd years ago of the home being built and of their young family. I like to think that I will sit on this property forty years from now and tell young new owners about our experience, show them the images of our project, and consider how we got from here to there.

More fun than brainstorming, perhaps not as productive. But a few hours into our sangria evening with friends and project colleagues Diane and Jorge Brunet, our architect Patricia McQuaid and her multi-talented husband Antony Rieck, we had a score of ideas for photo images to capture this project and to have a little fun. I won’t give anything away now, however I’m happy to share the sangria recipe (serves 6 thirsty of-age adults):

1 cup good brandy
1 cup triple sec
1 and 1/2 to 2 bottles decent red wine
2/3 cup frozen lemonade concentrate
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
slices of fresh orange, lemon, and lime
mix in a pitcher with come-hither lines and refrigerate overnight
just before serving, add 4 cups cold Pellegrino (substitute ginger ale if you prefer it sweeter)

Kids' self portrait while adults play

On this beautiful spring afternoon, Richard, Patricia McQuaid and I met with Mr. Morgan to review Patricia’s initial plans and discuss proposed materials for the renovation. As a female, I delight in how much Bunny Morgan adds to these meetings, reminding Bill Morgan of design details and materials he has used in the past, making soft suggestions, and asking questions. When Mr. Morgan discovered that our design/build team is all females, he started referring to the “girls” handling this project. All the sisters out there, ya gotta love that.

A key issue at the meeting was to get his approval of Richard’s cause celebre, the corrugated metal siding we’ve chosen to use instead of replacing the lapped cypress siding. The metal is much lighter, weight being a huge issue with this house, and much cheaper, cost also being a huge issue with this house (duh). Patricia brought a sample of the siding for Mr. Morgan to touch, discuss and consider.

It was pretty obvious to me that he was not at ALL sold on the metal, and Patricia agreed to look into other options that provide the more defined line, shadow, and look of the lapped wood as he originally intended. But I’m taking Richard’s side on this one.

Our architect Patricia has unveiled her first set of plans, which primarily consist of returning the home to its original floor plan. The one big change is an expanded back deck – it seems that it will be more cost-effective to build a glorious back deck overlooking the pool and river rather than ripping up and rebuilding the entire dining room floor for structural reasons. A bright spot in our structural miasma.

Unfortunately, my ongoing fantasy of doing yoga on my back deck gazing at the river, followed by a movie star bubble bath, has been interrupted. There is no bathtub in the plans we have just seen. And I have already purchased the rubber ducky. I’m off now to fight for my right to soak.

Nothing is happening with the house on Richard’s and my end. I sat thinking about this today and wondered why I’m not bothered by that. We’re paying for a house we can’t live in, we are paying people to create plans and work on the house we can’t live in, we’re paying for a house we CAN live in that we keep freakishly clean and tidy in the hopes of selling it, but I’m unconcerned.

Why? Because our team is pondering. I love that. Patricia has gone away to think and plan and research and think more. Tamara has been solving puzzles regarding how to construct, repair and renew our house with careful respect for its origins. The contractor is pricing materials and labor and creating a timeline and budget based on Patricia’s and Tamara’s plans.

Life is so fast-paced here, there is so little thinking time. Or at least it is in our household. And for me it makes life a little flat. I treasure my time to ponder, to be creative and silly just to myself, and although I do have my moments when I get butterflies in my stomach because “nothing is happening” with the house, I know…I remind myself…that the pondering is the most important part.

I’ve made it pretty clear to all involved that I want a bathtub. A four story house and no bathtub?! But as we went through the house today with Tamara, Patricia, and contractor folks, and I listened to them talk about the various problems with the structural integrity, all I kept seeing was the scene from The Money Pit where Tom Hanks just wants a hot bath but when he fills up the tub it goes crashing through the floor and he finally, finally goes insane. Perhaps I should start practicing that laugh now.

But I think I’m getting an inkling of how the team works…Tamara will draw up structural plans for the contractor, who will price the plan to repair the structure and implement Patricia’s design. Yep, that’s pretty much all I understand so far. They discussed a work start date of mid-February. Fingers crossed.

The one saving grace, the pool, is blue and beautiful. I need to call and thank Parry Pools for giving us one operational feature to enjoy. Y’know the pool sorta looks like a big bathtub…

I had contacted the AIA president (who I met on the walking tour) about meeting William Morgan. She said she’d have him call our architect, and the following week Patricia got a call from Mrs. Morgan to schedule a meeting for the next day. Despite the short notice we all dropped what we had planned – Patricia, an architect colleague of Patricia’s, Jorge and I. Richard had to work. Jorge brought the William Morgan book he’d purchased for us as a gift, hoping to get it signed.

We met at Mr. Morgan’s house at the beach, next door to his famous Dune House (which is on the market for anyone who’s interested). We spent what was for me a surreal hour talking about his material choices reflecting native northeast Florida materials (coquina, cypress, yellow pine), his thoughts on the pinwheeling design, the ceiling acoustics, the connected spaces. When asked what he did in response to the cypress siding shrinking and pulling out of its tongue and groove joints he answered “drank heavily.”

I got a bit schoolgirl-ish and gushed that as a math minor I loved the symmetry and repetition throughout the design of the number 4. He jumped seamlessly from building materials into an explanation of the golden rectangle, the Fibonacci series, nautilus shells, and Le Corbusier’s continuous museum.

He explained that he positioned the home to take advantage of the views, which I hadn’t thought about because the vegetation has grown in areas and screened the view. Patricia showed him the photos that Tony had taken, and he suggested removing plantings along the base of the house to showcase the horizontal versus vertical planes that you see when viewing the home.

After the meeting our little group stood outside Mr. Morgan’s home talking about how people live in spaces and how those spaces affect our lives. Can’t help but think beyond the house to the lives we want to live. Oh yeah, and Mr. Morgan signed the book for Richard and me. Jeez we really, really might have to buy it.

We had an exciting day. This morning we met with our architect extraordinaire Patricia McQuaid, our contractor, and our structural engineer, Tamara Baker. An all female team. The three of them are familiar with each other even though they haven’t all worked together, and they are all excited about the project. I know it’s normal to bid stuff out, but Richard and I decided for this unique project we were more interested in the right fit. We have talked with Patricia before about modern design and she’s very familiar with William Morgan’s works, Tamara thinks the house is amazing and can’t wait to knock holes in the walls, and the contractor is LEED certified, has a good reputation for being on time and in budget, and has done commercial buildings, public buildings and residences. (Editor’s note June, 2011 – contractor was neither on time nor on budget nor had experience with renovations. We had to finish home on our own.)

We met with Patricia and the contractor for about four hours to have a good poke around and let our conversation range from conceptual to practical to the occasionally ridiculous. Tony Rieck took photos for Patricia to refer to during the project, the contractor and I talked about broad details like flooring and windows, and of course we discussed the budget. Still way too ethereal for my comfort. We can dream big, but of course there is always the price tag to consider. I can only imagine all of the hard choices we will have to make.

I still don’t have a good handle on how the architect, structural engineer and contractor work together. I’ve only figured out that the contractor needs the architect to provide the overall design, but the contractor said on a project like this it is even more crucial that she get detailed drawings from the structural engineer. Probably once I don’t need to understand I’ll get it.

After our meeting we met with another lender to discuss funding. I gave a little spiel about his needing to expect that this will not be a standard loan process, because nothing about this house is standard. He said he feels comfortable about us getting approved.

Richard and I agreed we needed a good realtor to guide us through even thinking about this. I asked around and our architect Patricia McQuaid suggested Bahman Nakhai. Her quote was that “he has always been very sensitive to our needs.” In our first conversation I told him about this crazy house we can’t afford that will require years of our lives and is the wrong location and yet has excited Richard and me more than any other place…probably sounded a bit hysterical and scattered now that I think about it. But even as I spoke with him I began to relax and consider the whole daunting thing calmly. And it wasn’t because he said it would be easy. He had seen the house and the first question he asked me was whether my marriage could survive a house like this. What an insightful question! But I think I calmed in part because of the soothing, thoughtful way he always expresses himself, even when he is hot about something. He is patient and is always, always thinking. In that first long phone call we discussed the house generally and in detail, without once pushing me to include him. How lucky! We found another member of our team.