This is Part 2 of a three part article. If you would like to down load the entire article, see the link below!
There are a number of different flooring types we have used in our multi-user spaces. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages depending on what they uses are.
These tend to be the least expensive and most flexible, although some of the more select vinyl floors (like the plank wood styles) can start to get as expensive as cheap tile. The advantages of these floors is that they are pretty good at all things. Sports lines can be easily cut in, they clean up easily and are stain resistant, and there are lots of color options. VCT (Vinyl Composition Tile—a vinyl/limestone mix) is an old standby for these spaces, but it involves a lot of long-term maintenance, as it has to be stripped and waxed often. We have been trying to move away from VCT to floors that don’t have to be continually waxed—like solid vinyl and linoleum. These floors do require maintenance, but it is far less involved. Linoleum is making a comeback, especially because it is a lot greener than the other products given that it is made from renewable sources. Many of these products are available in sheet or tile formats.
Tile is a very durable hard surface that is stain resistant and very low maintenance. Tiles last practically forever and do not get scratched easily. If you choose to use tile, I recommend that you use a porcelain tile, which while more expensive are harder and better at stain resistance. Tile floors are not good for sports, however, and the slight unevenness of the tile/grout joints can be hard on chairs. The weakness in the floor is the grout, which unless you seal (and then periodically reseal) or use epoxy grout (more expensive) can get stained. Another recent development in the tile world is rectified tiles which have much truer edges and can be laid with almost no grout joint. This gives a much more updated look, and reduces the stain risk and irregular surface aspects of tile. In situations where sports are not an issue (and the money is available), we usually recommend tile.
Holy Trinity, Fayettville, NC
In this case we were working with group worship and private devotion in the same space. All of the chairs and liturgical elements (except for the Baptismal Font) are moveable, which allows the floor to be cleared on weekdays and the beautiful tile labyrinth to be explored.
You can carpet a multi-user space, but is not one of our traditionally recommended surfaces, especially if dining is involved. Carpet in the past has had a lot of stain troubles and a tendency to experience visible wear in the most commonly used areas. However, the industry has made a lot of progress in the ‘greening’ of carpet, the maintenance/durability of carpet and in the use of carpet squares (so that damaged areas can be replaced easily), so I can foresee using carpet in the right circumstances. Carpet does have advantages, though; in addition to being softer underfoot, it is acoustically absorbent, so it can help quiet the space down.
Wood floors and sports flooring are great for sports—if you can afford them. They do have the ability to work for many other uses, but you do have to be cautious with them. Spills need to be cleaned up quickly, and dirt is the main enemy of the protective coating on wood floors. High traffic areas can present a problem, though, as can chairs and tables.
5. Sports Equipment
More often than not, one of the uses of the multi-user space involves some sort of sports. It is critically important to understand what level of sports is intended as this can have important implications. For example, if you are planning on having high school level basketball, you need a specific size court, a wood floor, and some areas to watch from. But if you are just having a play area for youth activities and youth leagues, you can change the size of the court and have different flooring options. Changing the size of the court is one of the strategies we use, because most of our clients don’t need a 60’ wide by 100’ long multi-user space (which is what is needed to fit a 50’x84’ basketball court with some run off room). We like to keep the width consistent (so the three point line and boundaries are the same—I don’t want to mess with someone’s shot) but shorten the length to get the size room we need. This has the second benefit of reducing the amount of running for littler kids and adults in less good shape than they used to be.
We find that it is important in most spaces to try to have the sports equipment disappear when the space is serving other uses. Retractable goals at least move the goal closer to the walls, and some can even be designed to retract out of sight. Moveable basketball goals are a possibility, but they can be expensive and they are very bulky in terms of trying to store them. Volleyball stanchions are easily portable and can slide slots in the floor.
First United Methodist Church, Austin, TX
The space is designed to be both a formal meeting room (it is sited across from the Texas State Capitol) and an active men’s basketball league. This second floor space has a special floor system to mute sound and keep vibrations from disturbing the chapel below.
Another thing to consider with a sports use is protecting the windows and walls from abuse and not placing windows or doors right under the baskets. Depending on the level of play expected, we will occasionally use retractable nets to create protection over large areas of glass or use stronger wall material behind basketball goals. Padding, especially for projecting elements, is also something to consider. With padding, we try to make it removable so other functions can happen without gym pads (and their limited color palette) hanging on the walls.
I have previously blogged about natural light in worship environments, so you may want to read that article, as much of its content can be applied to multi-user spaces. Natural light from windows and skylights makes the space much more bright and cheerful and gives users a relationship to what is happening outdoors. However, natural light --especially in the wrong place (say behind the basketball goal) -- can make many uses difficult, especially if they involve audio-visual needs. Therefore, be sure to consider where and how you can take advantage of natural light -- and how you can control it.
The various uses of your space will most likely have different lighting needs, in terms of both location and intensity. Fortunately, technology is continuing to evolve to make solving these issues easier. Sports require high, even light levels and light sources that are ready to deal with balls. The old high-intensity lights used in gyms tended to be functional-looking, often had a sickly greenish color, and weren’t dimmable (and Lord help you if you accidentally turned them off; the restart time took forever). Now, compact fluorescent lights and LED lights can give the light levels you want and better control over the light. Banquets often need lower softer light levels and the possibility of controlling lights to highlight areas.
Pendant fixtures can either be functional looking or classy depending on the fixture and how they are placed. Recessed cans can provide a nice even light if you have a hung ceiling; these also can provide dimming options if desired. You will most likely want some up-lighting in the space so that the high ceiling doesn’t seem dark and cavernous
Well, that is it for PART 2 of 3. If you want to download the rest of the article (Feel Free to share it with others!) CLICK HERE!
This is the First part of a three part Article on Church Multi-User spaces. If you are interested in downloading the entire article, please see the link at the end.
Cafetorium, Sanctatorium, Sanctunasium, Family Life Center, <Insert Donor Name Here> Hall… Multipurpose spaces of all types are very common elements in church design. And why not? They make great first phase buildings, they allow you to fundraise from multiple sources of your ministry (and sometimes even outside your ministry), and they allow one building to satisfy many different needs of your community. However, designing these spaces to truly be flexible takes a lot of thought both on your part and your architect’s part. Get it right, and your building will seamlessly serve your congregation’s needs for years to come. Get it wrong, and you and your congregation will be fighting over the space or adapting your desires to the building’s limitations for years to come. Here are 10 points you should be sure you understand before you begin to design.
Parish Hall – Emmaus Catholic Church, Lakeway, TX.
The thoughtful use of simple materials like a solid vinyl floor, an acoustic tile ceiling, and simple trims combine with the sparing use of special items like the pendants make this relatively inexpensive space look opulent.
1. Understand who the users are and what they need
The first thing I ask a client when we set out to design a multi-purpose space is, “Are we building a gym that you occasionally eat or worship in, or are we building a fellowship or worship space that you occasionally play ball in?” Of course this is a dramatic oversimplification of the issue, but it does start getting to what is the primary use of the space. In reality, what needs to be done is to determine who are the various users of the space (worshippers, diners, mother’s-day-out kids who need a wet-weather play space, basketball leaguers, etc.) and then design the spaces around these needs. My business partner Ben likes to refer to such spaces as multi-user spaces rather than multi-purpose spaces. We design a space tailored to each user; they just all happen to be using the same space. Because each group we work with has a different set of users, we get a wide variety of multipurpose spaces. Worship one night, banquet the next, and then youth sports the following afternoon can be a reality, but only if you focus on each group’s needs to make the building work.
Foundation United Methodist, Temple, TX
This multi-user space includes the main worship space (with an active audio-video component), dining (the doors to the full commercial kitchen are to the right of the stage) and basketball/volleyball. A curtain is used to protect the stage from the ball sports.
2. Storage –Everything with a Place and Everything in its Place
One of the critical issues in multi-user spaces is storage. Worshiping in an echoing hall with bright HID lights and a basketball goal hanging over the platform is not conducive to good meaningful worship. Similarly, playing a basketball game with all the chairs stacked up at one end of the room is not conducive to good play.
Especially if the space is going to need to transition quickly with volunteer help, make sure your storage is ample, close, easy, and well thought out. There should be a room large enough to allow you to clear the chairs and tables completely from the main room (this will be a big room, so try to resist the temptation to turn it into a classroom). Sports equipment and storage needs also need to be taken into account. We find that retractable basketball goals in rooms that need to also look nice are a great idea—especially if they can retract so that they vanish into the ceiling. It’s also important to take into account audio-visual needs for worship and banquets; this equipment needs to be secured from both theft and ball-strikes.
St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Washington, NC
In this Parish Hall, fellowship and worship were the primary drivers, but basketball can still be included, if you make sure you have a place to store the goals!
3. Location, Location, Location
If you want to make your multi-user space work well and thus be used, you need to think about its location on the site and its relative location to the facilities it will need.
As to the space’s location: It close to parking? Is the circulation path to the space clear and easy (especially important if outside users will use the space)? Is it convenient to the other spaces the various users will use? Is the entry from the outside clear and apparent? Can it be accessed independently from other parts of the campus? (This is very important if you want to have outside users.)
There are a number of critical support spaces that need to be thought out. First, as the location of the storage needs to be easily accessible, especially think about rolling carts of tables and chairs, or large sports equipment. Make sure the doors are sized appropriately, and, if the storage is not directly accessible from the room, make sure the corridors will allow for turning and moving. Second, the kitchen also needs to be close if dining will be a function. You need to think about how the patrons will be served and how the dirty stuff gets back to the kitchen. Will you have a separate serving line in the kitchen? Is there a serving window? Keep in mind the kitchen is noisy (and the noise usually coincides with an event in the multi-user room) and that doors and especially pass-through windows allow the noise to transfer. Also, remember your kitchen needs access from the outside to bring things in and take things out (don’t forget to read my previous article on church kitchens!). Finally, restrooms need to be close by and easily found.
Spiritual Renewal Center, Victoria, TX
This 2 parts of the multi-user dining/retreat hall can be expanded and contracted to meet the needs of varying sized groups and varying space requirements
We have reached the end of PART 1 of 3. Stay tuned for the next installment! If you just can't wait, or if you would like, download a pdf of the article:
Just over five years ago, the Austin City Council took emergency action to create the McMansion ordinance, a sweeping new set of regulations governing single family and duplex construction. I was concerned that homeowners would be subject to unprecedented complexity so I wrote a critique in the Good Life Magazine to share my misgivings. I won't repeat the issues here, but the article takes a comprehensive look at what's wrong with the McMansion approach.
Looking back at my prescient concerns, every one of them is still valid. As an architect and activist, I believe strongly in neighborhood preservation, but as I stated back then, the ordinance is too restrictive. The McMansion ordinance and its related rules still are an excessive and expensive burden. They have become a disincentive for reasonable investment in our neighborhoods.
My purpose here is not to re-hash the past, but to expand on the earlier McMansion critique in a positive way. What can be built under these laws? How do other City ordinances make it better or worse? What is the impact of the rules the City uses? I believe McMansion can and should be refined and simplified so there can be realistic controls on residential construction without the wasteful and excessive red tape.
With this post, we're initiating a series of McMansion studies to answer these questions and to illustrate the potential for "fixing" the ordinance. We're looking at a range of ideas, from ways to creatively shape family spaces to designing on sloped lots. Feel free to add any suggestions or submit questions - we'll see if they can be included.
Ultimately, the goal should be reasonable laws that are understandable and enforceable. Regular homeowners shouldn't be subject to the same red tape as a multi-million dollar commercial builder. As I concluded in my 2006 article:
"Family homes and residences should be the easiest to build and renovate, to encourage new growth and investment. A family trying to add a new kitchen should not have to worry about the same bureaucracy as a large downtown developer. For this reason, the City Council should carefully analyze the full ramifications of this ordinance, and make sure that any new ordinances are easy to interpret and enforce."
In a previous post, I documented my frustration when I tried to use the innovative Car2Go program. Within hours of that post, a representative of Car2Go had me on the phone and arranged to deliver a new card within 24 hours. Wow!
So, as I mentioned previously, I'm impressed with the concept of Car2Go, and I'm also impressed with the customer service. Last week, I had a new opportunity to test Car2Go, and even the car impressed me. But the access technology once again proved flawed. I remain frustrated with Car2Go. I'll keep trying, but right now, I can't recommend it as a reliable alternative transportation.
But first, the good experience. With my regular car in for a scheduled part replacement, I looked up the location of several available cars within a short walk of the garage. Once again, the vehicle was easy to find. This time, I placed my BLUE card on the windshield card reader and within seconds the signal was confirmed and the doors unlocked.
The semi-manual transmission took a bit longer to figure out. But it worked smoothly once I understood what to do. I breezed back to the office and proudly pulled up to the front door. I made sure to photograph the event, my first Car2Go drive!
I could have parked in the office lot, and kept the car until I wanted to drive it again. But that would keep the meter going and I didn't know how long I'd be waiting. It could be hours. So as instructed, I parked on the street and followed the simple screen instructions to end the rental.
Later in the day, I was ready to go back to my garage. I was just a bit late for "my" Car2Go vehicle. I stopped to discuss a pressing issue with Eric and we both watched through the window as someone else walked up to the car, got in, and drove off.
But hey, that's the beauty of Car2Go. Everyone shares. So I pulled up my i-phone app and looked for another vehicle. There was one, just one a few blocks away. In ten minutes I was once again placing my card on the windshield reader, ready to start my rental.
The BLUE card triggered the initial response - a text said the signal had been sent for confirmation. But the confirmation never came. After a long wait, a new text appeared on the screen. "No Signal." The note apologized but said the car was temporarily unavailable. But then the screen went right back to the "Vehicle Available" screen.
Which was it? Could I rent the car or not? A helpful 800 number rep found the car, found my account, and said it should be available. I repeated the same action over and over for 15 to 20 minutes. A long check for "confirmation", a short note of "no signal", then back to "vehicle available." The rep even asked her supervisor, but they'd never heard of anything like my problem. Their data showed a car that was ready to rent, but there was no way for them to open or access the car for me. They suggested I call the local office.
At the Austin office, a nice woman went through all the issues again, but couldn't help me. Long wait, no signal, no car, no unlocking to start the rental.
She offered to help me find another car nearby, but sadly, there were no other cars. At the time, that car was, in fact, the only one for miles. I got off the line with Car2Go, and made another call as I headed back to the office. It was time for me to use a more reliable form of transportation. "Hey, can I bum a ride?"
Much of what designates a home as modern style, craftsman style, victorian style, georgian style, etc. are the details--especially how the windows are treated, how the juncture where the wall meets the ceiling and where the wall meets the floor is treated, and how special items are done. By the way, if you ever need a good book on this, pick up a copy of "A field Guide to American Houses" by McAlester--it is a great resource.
My house has entered the trim stage on the interior, so I thought i would show a couple of pictures and talk about what we are doing. We are working with a modern version of a Craftsman style. Modern in the fact that we are trying to keep the house very bright and light, but Craftsman in the detailing of the trim and beams. The interior trim will be painted--which saves significant amounts of money and gives us the fresher look we are going for.
Here is a shot of our Master Bedroom. This room gets a lot of light so we are using a wood ceiling in the light cove to add richness. Note the different woods. We are using a MDF board at the upper trims where damage is unlikely. The MDF holds paint beautifully and is less expensive. The rest of the trim is finger jointed pine which is more durable. Both materials reduce the impact of the wood on the environment by using smaller pieces of wood (or scraps even) to make a bigger one.
Here is the light cove in the Entry Hall. The low arched entry will be a nice cozy welcome before the Great Room. We are using dimmable linear fluorescents in the cove which will give us a wonderful light on the smooth arched ceiling.
This is a display rail that is in both kid's rooms. It if for displaying all the sundry trophies, dolls, models etc that they like to keep around but that clutter up the surfaces. Note that there is a slight reveal where the vertical jamb trim of the window meets the horizontal trim at the top. This joint is notoriously hard to get a smooth joint at because the wood will cup. We have chose to use a reveal make an accent detail where there probably would have been an rougher joint.
My son has bunk beds. Where his bed will be, we have hinges in the display rail so he can flip these section up and be less likely to knock his head into the rail.
This is the window seat we have in the upstairs family room (now referred to as the 'Nest')
Here is the Laundry Chute cover. When we asked my son what he most wanted, it was a laundry chute. We agreed, providing that only laundry was allowed in the chute.
You will have an energy efficient building or building program in your future.
I'm not making a wild prediction here. Not possible? Think of the efficiencies in cars over the past 10 years. Who would have predicted that we'd actually have cars that get 20, 30, even 50 miles a gallon? Would you guess we'd have hybrids and electric cars? Or that gas would go to over $4.00 per gallon?
Our buildings represent nearly half (49%) of all the energy used in the US. By comparison, transportation uses only 28%. Americans consume a whopping 77% of electricity to operate our buildings. Here's some good information from an organization called Architecture 2030.
The White House just released its Blueprint for Energy Security. The fact is, we can only deal with energy security if we improve our buildings - the one's we build new, and the buildings we currently inhabit. Look for major changes in your house, church, or place of business.
Here's just some of issues we've been following over the past several years. Many are already included in what we consider good building practices. Some may become requirements for all construction. As more incentives are available, or as costs come down, we strongly encourage you consider these in any building or renovation program.
*Photovoltaic cells for on-site solar energy generation.
*Tankless water heaters.
*Motion detection electrical lighting and circuits.
*Windows or skylights to maximize daylighting.
*Lighting sensors to dim or turn of electrical lights when sunlight is sufficient.
*Programmable AC/Heater controls. This could be part of a total energy management system.
*Energy Star rated equipment. These can include kitchen equipment, refrigerators, computers, copiers etc.
*LED lighting, when appropriate. Or at least the energy efficient fluorescent bulbs and fixtures.
*Double-pane or insulated windows.
*Super insulation with high R values.
*Building commissioning to evaluate and monitor operations.
Of course, the best way to evaluate the potential for these or other building improvements is to consult with an expert. If we can help with your building needs, contact us or give us a call at 512-478-1621.
What is this? A two-piece Hohmann and Barnard Masonry Tie!
Why do I care? Keep Reading!
I am sure that most people look at a stone or brick facade and think not only of how aesthetically pleasing it is but how strong and stable masonry must be. Stone and brick are great materials for the exteriors of building—they require little or no maintenance, they are very durable, and the last forever. However, most masonry done today is masonry veneer—where you have a 3”-4” stack of masonry separated from the main wall (usually wood or metal studs with sheathing) by an air gap.
The air gap is critically important to the system as it allows a space for moisture, which migrates through the masonry (both brick and stone allow some moisture to pass through), to be collected and removed through the weeps at the bottom of the wall. Typically the air gap is 1”, but many designers are using larger gaps to make sure the 1” clear is maintained—this is especially important with stone, which has less of a uniform thickness than brick and with masons who are not as careful.
This image from Hohmann and Barnard shows a typical masonry wall assmebly. It shows metal studs, but wood studs are similar. The white is the sheathing and the pink is thew rigid insulation. You can see the air gap between the masonry and the insulation and how the brick tie spans this gap. Note, the wire in the plain of the bricks is a for seismic loading.
Like solid masonry walls, the weight of the stone in masonry veneer is transmitted vertically through the stone to the foundation. The difference comes when you look at wind loads. Wind loading on a building is a very complicated and depends on the speed of the wind, the height of the wall, the area of the wall, the topography, and the surrounding buildings. Wind pressure can easily reach 20-60 pounds per square foot and can either be pushing in or sucking out depending on the direction of the wind. This may not seem like much but when multiplied by the area of a wall it can add up. Say you have a 20’ long two story façade, even with 20 pounds per square foot, this is 8,000 pounds of forces on the building on a stack of masonry 4” thick. To transmit this loading to the house structure that is designed to take these loads, we use small metal connectors called brick ties.
There are many different types and shapes of brick ties but they are all designed to transmit horizontal load on the masonry to the walls. If you are in a seismic zone, which fortunately Austin is not, the brick ties also have further requirements to help deal with the unique loading earthquakes put on buildings. The ties are fastened to the wall and then set in the mortar of the masonry to create the connection to transmit the horizontal forces. The ties must be able to handle compression (wall pushing in) and tension (wall sucking out). To help distribute the load evenly and to keep the loads on each individual tie low, code requires that brick ties be installed for every 2.67 SF of wall.
Traditionally, residential ties are 7/8” wide corrugated strips of galvanized steel that are nailed to the wall (hopefully to the stud and not just the sheathing) and then bent to fall into the masonry mortar joints. These ties are inexpensive and easy, but there are a couple of issues that must be addressed before using them. First, they are not recommended for air gaps larger than 1” and since air gaps by code are not supposed to be smaller than 1”—you better have a 1” gap. Second, if the bend in the tie is not right on the fastener to the wall, the loading can develop (especially with a sucking pressure) so that the ties bend rather than transit the load. Third, I have read that there are concerns with these ties being more susceptible to deteriorating over time than wire ties. Fourth, these ties were not designed for rigid insulation applied to the sheathing. On the plus side, the ties are mostly used on residential structure which have smaller wall areas and more ins and outs that allow the masonry wall to be able to support itself.
Residential tie on right, simple commercial tie on left.
Commercial ties usually are two part systems where there is an anchor that attaches to the wall and then a wire triangle that is mortared into the masonry. There is usually some sort of height adjustment between the two pieces so that the wire ties can be in the masonry joint and still be perfectly horizontal with the wall fastener. This ensures the loads are transmitted horizontally. These ties are more expensive that residential ties because the have more material and multiple parts. Many of the ties have been designed to accommodate rigid foam insulation.
Here is a Hohmann and Barnard Tie that install before the insulation. The advanatge here is that you can see the nail patern and make sure the ties are attached to the studs and not just the sheathing. The tie easily spans the rigid insulation, but the insulation must be pieced around the ties.
One of the biggest changes to masonry veneer has been the increasing use of rigid insulation on the outside of the walls to help increase the R-value of the walls and to decrease thermal bridging in the walls (it is code required now for metal stud buildings). This rigid insulation complicates the brick ties because it is putting a semi-compressible material between the load and the wall that receives the load. If you use residential ties and just nail through the insulation, the ties will compress the foam when the wall is pushed and this can cause the ties to loosen with time. There are a number of commercial ties that are designed for rigid insulation. If you are using rigid exterior foam insulation, I highly recommend you use commercial ties that are designed for the thickness of the insulation or at least consult your structural engineer.
At my house, we have tall (almost 30’ in places) masonry walls, ¾” rigid insulation, and a 1.25” to 1 1.5” air gap depending on the individual stones, so we are using a Hohmand and Barnard tie that has a screw that is applied through the insulation and sheathing into the studs and a wire ties that attaches to a slot in the screw assembly. Timing is very important with the masonry ties. If you have rigid foam outside you walls, it makes it difficult to see where the studs are located. This is further compounded if your dry wall is on the interior of the wall and you cannot inspect from the inside to make sure the ties are hitting stone. Some of the commercial tie systems are designed to attach to the sheathing before the insulation, which may a good idea -- though sequencing who installs the ties and fitting the insulation into the ties may be an issue.