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Patrick Blanc’s Vertical Garden in Madrid

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There are two common sayings about Madrid -- “Madrid me mata” ("Madrid kills me") and “De Madrid al cielo” ("From Madrid to Heaven"). Both adages are appropriate ways to describe Madrid’s polarization between the calm and the chaotic. From the city’s breakneck traffic to its streets filled with animated Madrileños, rosemary-laden gypsies, and gawking tourists, the city of Madrid moves at a nauseating rhythm. Somewhere, deep within this traditional chaos, it’s possible to find hidden corners of both modernization and tranquility. Strolling along the Paseo de Prado’s tree-lined avenue, you will come across Patrick Blanc’s vertical garden lurking in one of these corners.

Slabs for Colder Climates, Part 3: Installing Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations for Unheated Buildings

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Fernando Pages Ruiz continues his educational series on constructing frost-protected shallow foundations, focusing here on unheated structures.

Although neither the International Residential Code (IRC) nor the International Code Council (ICC) provides a prescriptive path, design criteria do exist to design frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSFs) for unheated buildings, including garages and porches attached to heated structures. The standard for unheated buildings developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), ASCE 32-01, Standard for the Design and Construction of Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations, is available for purchase at asce.org.

Standing Up and Bracing Off Walls

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Contractor to Contractor: Follow professional Interior Contractor Robert Thimmes as he demonstrates how to stand up and brace off walls. This second in a series of articles, Framing Walls With Light Gauge Metal Studs, starts with your walls located, lines chalked and bottom track already shot down (for details on this process, see Metal Stud Track Layout and Shoot-Down).

In the previous installment of “Contractor to Contractor,” we reviewed the details of how to perform the track layout and shoot-down for metal stud walls. Now we move on to the second part of our discussion: standing up and bracing.

Mitigating Elevator Noise in Multifamily Residential Buildings

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Today’s modern mid rise and high rise luxury condominiums and apartment buildings offer numerous amenities to attract potential owners. They can offer spectacular vistas through floor to ceiling walls of glass, high end finishes on the floor, gourmet style kitchens with all the modern features one could ever want, and a master bedroom suite that offers a tranquil and quiet place to escape. In these building types, elevators become a necessary component for vertical circulation to access the floors. For those residences that are adjacent to the elevator equipment room or the elevator hoistway, the noise and vibration caused by the operation of the elevator can be a potential source of sound intrusion. Because today’s buildings are constructed with lightweight materials, and because there is a need to generate maximum useable square footage, sound transmission issues are compounded. All this combined can result in unsatisfactory living conditions for tens of thousands who live in condominiums or apartments.

Green Homes vs Traditional Homes

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In recent years, the U.S. home building industry has undoubtedly seen its troubles. The downturn in the economy has forced many builders to rethink how they approach their market now that it is much smaller. In many cases those builders have chosen to address the increasing demand for green homes. By offering green homes, many builders are now meeting their customers’ needs for energy- and water-efficient homes with a healthier environment and financial benefits. What once was a niche can now be seen as mainstream. According to the United States Green Building Council, their LEED for Homes program has certified 10,000 homes since it started in 2008. This sounds very impressive, but what is a green home, and what are the benefits compared to a traditional home?

Bathroom Caulking 101

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Preventing water damage inside our bathrooms is just as important as directing water away from our homes. Caulking, as part of routine homeowner maintenance, prevents avoidable damage around the multiple fixtures and different building materials located inside a bathroom. To get started all you need to know are the areas inside a bathroom that need to be regularly maintained, how to remove existing caulking, and how to apply a new bead of caulk.

Going Green: Sustainable Finishes

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The number of green design materials available has exploded in recent years. Products that used to be offered in limited colors or designs are now as varied as their traditional counterparts. Because of consumer demand, sustainable painting, flooring, and countertop products that might have been less durable and expensive in the past are now stronger, longer-lasting, and often more affordable.

Santiago Calatrava's DIA Terminal Redevelopment

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Scheduled for completion in 2016, the South Terminal Redevelopment Program of the Denver International Airport (DIA) will juxtapose new buildings by Spain's Santiago Calatrava with the famed Jeppesen Terminal by Fentress Architects. Calatrava, from Valencia, has designed four principle elements: a new hotel and conference center, transit station, civic plaza, and rail bridge, which will all be physically integrated. In his Architectural Statement, Calatrava pays homage to the Jeppesen Terminal, notable for its tensile fabric roof: “My goal in designing adjacent to such a prominent iconic structure has been to preserve the character and integrity of the original terminal while complementing it with a design that presents an independent identity of equal quality."

Insulated Siding, Part 1

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Installing insulated siding on an older home may be the best way to up its R-value.

My first encounter with insulated siding (or IS as it’s known in the trades) came while visiting the Raritan Inn, a bed-and-breakfast in New Jersey that was remodeled by a pioneer in energy-efficient and innovative "green" construction, Bill Asdal. The Raritan Inn serves as a research center and a showpiece of deep-energy remodeling. In 2003, Asdal, in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) Research Center, pioneered the first net-zero energy remodeling project in the United States. The structure was clad with insulated siding in an effort to achieve the highest R-values possible within the limits of remodeling an 18th century structure. What I noticed was not the R-value but the aesthetic quality. The siding had a clapboard profile and it lay flat, lacking the usual telling concave cup of most vinyl siding.

Ecocity Malmö: Sustainable Urban Development

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Malmö, a city in southern Sweden that is connected by bridge to nearby Copenhagen, has undergone an amazing transformation over the last 20 years. What was a place at risk of becoming a post-industrial city in crisis has instead become a thriving inspiration for Sustainable Development. Apparently at least 20,000 international guests have been attracted to the city, not to experience Malmö as tourists, but to experience Malmö’s approach to environmentally friendly architecture and urban development. Malmö is the flagship of urban sustainability for Sweden and has won numerous awards for this commitment from the United Nations, Worldwatch Institute, and others.

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