Benson Hall Renovation

Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church will be expanding in the near future. Benson Hall, the original sanctuary from the 1950's, will become the center of a larger Fellowship Hall with flexible multi-purpose gathering space for classes and a variety of events. The design of the addition, while providing the necessary function, will bring together disconnected elements into a unified whole.

In late 2013 Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church hired PWMA for architectural services for the building expansion. PWMA facilitated meetings with the church building committee to develop clear objectives and a defined program. By the end of 2014, the process had clarified and chosen appropriate options, received City of Flagstaff DRB approvals, and was given the green light by a unanimous vote of the congregation, based on Schematic and Design Development by PWMA.

In early 2015, the church signed an agreement with PWMA, including Structural, Mechanical, Plumbing and Electrical Engineering to provide Construction Documents. This followed the Design Phase hourly agreement. PWMA and sub-consultants completed CD’s over the six months from March to September 2015. Construction is projected to start, as weather permits, in the spring of 2016.

Renovating the existing building, the original sanctuary from the 1950’s, was the economical choice. The structural integrity needed to be maintained. Therefore, the existing columns remain, while movable partitions will allow the needed flexibility for different sized gatherings and functions. Existing CMU walls will be used as part of two fire wall assemblies that divide the project into different fire areas.

Rick Moore

"Paul is thoughtful and a good listener. I enjoyed working with him while designing a building for the Trust's volunteer program that received a Coconino County Sustainable Building Award. Paul's commitment to Flagstaff and belief in sustainable building practices make him a great choice for anybody looking for an efficient, low impact and well designed building that will be an asset to our community." Rick Moore (No relation) Grand Canyon Trust

Why the buildings of the future will be shaped by ... you

Marc Kushner: Why the buildings of the future will be shaped by ... you:

I came across this TED Talk video and was inspired. I am optimistic about the future of architecture and its' relevance to a better lives. However, I was disappointed in the end by the perpetuation of the idea that architecture can be summed up by photo-realistic renderings, typically done from one perspective. Architecture is more of an experience than can be described by a single rendering. It is a process, as well as a product, hopefully, a moving experience. It is a story.

Watch "Marc Kushner: Why the buildings of the future will be shaped by ... you" on YouTube

We are full of ideas. The trick is organizing them.

Like herding cats, ideas will scatter. When you need one most, they can be hard to come by. Or on the other hand we might be flooded with too many ideas. How about you? Perhaps, we can trust the universe to speak up at the right time. Certainly it helps to stay open to what is happening around us. It is also true that when one takes the time to consider a matter, one wants to consider all the relevant ideas and choose the appropriate ones and then keep that available for implementing later on.

The idea of organizing ideas, I suppose is as old as the human brain. And there are all sorts of ideas for doing this. Generally, we often return to hierarchical systems whereby larger ideas include several medium sized ideas and then there are many smaller ones contained within them. Then there are dictionaries and encyclopedias that organize them alphabetically by name. These are very useful, but sometimes unsatisfying. There is a lot of talk about non-linear connections, these days. In these cases, we look for other means of organizing beyond the alphabetic or numeric order. Where do you keep your ideas?

Straw Bale Construction

Updated Straw Bale Wall Section Detail

Option A is a system discussed in the latest "The Last Straw" issue called "Straw Cell" Wall System. It involves constructing the building shell in a very conventional manner and then tying the straw bale to the inside of the wall. The exterior is sheathed and sided in conventional way. The interior is plastered straw. Cellulose insulation fills the stud cavities. Option B is post and beam framing with straw bale infill. The posts would be "box" columns constructed of studs and the depth of the straw bale. There would be a "bond" beam running the full length of the perimeter with "box" columns spaced about 8'-0" oc. I would expect the beam to be about a 4x8, maybe an LVL. The exterior is plastered with a lime based plaster and the interior is clay based plaster. My initial reaction was that option "A" has completely redundant wall systems, however, upon closer look, it appears that both options would use about the same amount of wood, so I think it's reasonable to consider both. One major disadvantage of "A" is that the walls are thicker 22" rather than 18". This would impact the floor plan, but I feel that this can be accommodated. The big advantage of option "A" is that the conventional framing can be done without a lot of consideration to the straw bale. The roof can be installed prior to the bale assembly. (Although, this may also be true for option "B"). So framing, sheathing, electrical, etc. can all be constructed by subcontractors in the way that they are used to building. Structural and permitting issues would be simplified. Option "B" was developed with the intention of being an efficient hybrid between load bearing straw bale and conventional framing with a post and beam system. The box columns are spaced so straw bale infill can be easily accomplished. It is realtively simple construction, but is not "conventional". In conclusion, I would say that any given choice is never the case of one is right and the other is wrong, but the question is what is most appropriate in this situation. 

Authentic Architecture

Authentic Architecture is accessible, beautiful, and comfortable. It is the result of a design process that is honest, inclusive and transparent. It seeks to support the broad range of human experience without calling too much attention to itself. It belongs. It fits it's site. It expresses, it's Owner's and occupants values, ideals and preferences. One can feel the care and thoughtfulness of it's creators, designers and builders alike. It is built of honest materials. It is warm where it wants to be and cool when it needs to be . It uses only the materials and energy that are necessary. The whole has integrity. It is an offspring of the american tradition of organic architecture. 

Lake Miltona

Lake Miltona

Flagstaff Shelter Services

Flagstaff Shelter Services, a non-profit dedicated to serving the needs of Flagstaff’s homeless, purchased an existing 5500 square foot warehouse with the intention of renovating the interior to accommodate a change of occupancy to serve as a homeless shelter.

After a bid process for architectural services, the building committee selected and engaged PWMA. These services included, Programming, Design Review, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Bid Phase Services and Construction Observation for a building renovation project.

Value Engineering during the design process involved maximizing the capacity, while minimizing the scope of work. It became feasible to minimize the footprint of the floor area where most of the work took place, freeing up a large flexible area for dining and sleeping. Furthermore adding a mezzanine over the finished space, ie restrooms, provided storage space. Using the existing fire wall to maintain separation of occupancies, proved efficient.