Jun 262010

Our neighborhood was one of the areas hit hard by the severe thunderstorms that moved through quickly on June 24th.  I was at work a few mile north when they hit, and all I knew was that we got some heavy rain.  As I made my home, however, the evidence of a serious event mounted quickly.  Traffic lights along most of the major 4-lane roads on my route were without power leaving everyone to attempt to take turns at intersections.  There were ponds of water at low points, and as I got closer to home, there were entire trees taking out power lines and multiple lanes of roadway.  When I finally reached home, the power was out, but everyone was safe and sound.  The storm shredded some of our softer landscaping (ferns, flowers, etc.), snapped and bent back some healthy 3-4″ branches on an oak tree in our back yard, and it pushed over the old TV antenna that was clamped to the plumbing vent on our roof.

A view of our old rooftop TV antenna after the storm pushed it over.

Here is a view of our old rooftop TV antenna after the storm pushed it over.

Our neighbors actually had it much worse – a giant poplar tree, at least 60′ tall, snapped off at the ground and landed on the back of their house.  Later, I took a walk around the neighborhood and found more trees on wires, houses, streets and cars.

The weather experts say that we did not experience a tornado.  It was only straight-line wind gusts at hurricane speeds of ~75 mph.  On the bright side, I’m glad to know that my 1950’s brick spec house can withstand hurricane force winds.  However, the movement on the TV antenna prompted me to finally get around to removing this last major architectural vestige of the analog age.  You may be thinking, architectural?  really? Well, let me put it this way: all of the houses on my street are cape cods, and the distinguishing architectural features are the number of front dormer windows, the placement of the front door on the front of the house, and the color of the brick, with a few other exceptions.

A photo of our house showing the TV antenna.

The TV antenna was particularly visible from this approach to our house.

Our house was the only one with a TV antenna (unless you count satellite dishes).  In this context, the antenna, as a permanent attachment to the house, helped to distinguish it from our neighbors’.  As such, I am comfortable calling it a piece of architecture.  Not a beautiful piece of architecture by any stretch of the aesthetic imagination, but it was architecture.

Continue reading »

Apr 122010

As I write, I am enjoying the dusk of a beautiful spring day, sitting on my back patio (no HGTV, it’s not a lanai! – sorry, pet peeve of architectural terminology) with my laptop on my wireless network (this is, after all, the reason laptops and 802.11g were invented, isn’t it?).  I love this time of year because it’s not too hot yet, there are fewer bugs out at night to bother me, and the landscape is a stunning canvas of green, pink, purple, red, and just about every color the Creator programmed into nature.  There are even a few robins fighting over the territory of my oak tree – must be a good site for nesting.

Two red and yellow tulips in my garden.

Some of the colors of spring.

Ah, a good site.  That is the beginning of every architecture project, whether it’s developing a greenfield that’s never had construction or renovating a portion of an existing building or previously developed brownfield site.  As an architect, I probably look at my property a little differently than the average homeowner, and that includes a studied approach to planning every improvement, especially a building project like a new shed.  I’ve had it simmering on the back burner for several months as we have worked on more important projects inside the house, but it was suddenly thrust to the foreground this past Friday by a storm front that moved through during the night.  My wife and I only woke up briefly at about 1:45 Friday morning when we heard a noise and the power went out.  It was raining, but there wasn’t that much wind (the trash cans on curb for Friday pickup were all standing where they were left earlier in the evening).

My first view of the shed from the back window.

My first view of the shed from the back window.

I called the automated PECO response line with my cell pone and found out that out outage was already reported, but they were still looking for the cause.  They had the same message on the phone system when we got up in the morning, but that turned out to be misleading.  Hearing some trucks in the area, I walked around to see if I could see where they were working.  I got to one of our back windows and got my answer – “Honey,” I said,”they’re in our shed!”

Continue reading »