Prutting & Co. was tasked with moving this 100+ year-old guest house from one end of the client's property to the other, then restoring it to its original glory. Mission accomplished! See more great photos by Michael Biondo here.
Pound Ridge House, designed by KieranTimberlake and built by Prutting & Company, received two more awards this week. The first was the A-List Award for Modern Architecture (see posting below) and the second was for Project of the Year from Builder and Custom Home magazines. Read more about the project and see the list of winners here.
Three employees of Prutting & Company Custom Builders, LLC have completed the Passive House Institute US Certified Builders training program. Kathryn Markowitz, Jason Bean, and Heath Horn attended a 4-day workshop and training seminar at the Yestermorrow School in Waitsfield, VT. The course was designed to explain the history of the Passive House movement and current practice, provide a specific knowledge of the certification process and building standards, and solidify concepts of building science. The goal in becoming a PHIUS Certified Builder was to show designers and homeowners that Prutting & Company is participating in cutting edge construction methods and, if interested in constructing a Passive House, understand the intricacies of the construction and management process to make the project move smoother and more cost effective for the team.
Passive House is the world’s most rigorous building certification program. Passive House standards challenge homeowners, designers, and builders to create durable, energy efficient, and healthy buildings. Passive House started as a response to the oil embargo and resulting energy crises of the 1970s. Architectural designers and engineers began to look at efficiency in construction as a way to lower our societal demand on fossil fuels and gain greater energy independence. Current Passive House standards are the accumulation of 25+ years of experimentation into how to achieve this level of efficiency. Though the standards are currently much stricter than local US building codes, the goal is for Passive House to become the new code standard by 2050. Prutting & Company’s goal is to be at the forefront of the constantly evolving technology and methods within the building industry.
Passive House is not a prescriptive-based building standard, it is performance based. This means that the building has to meet certain testable criteria for energy usage and air tightness, but the design team has absolute freedom in how to achieve those criteria. It is a challenge to the creative community to incorporate these criteria into their design process, starting in the initial siting and remaining diligent all the way through construction detailing. Prutting and Company’s team understands the creative process and can assist in realizing the necessary performance of a system or a detail to maximize the desired architectural aesthetic.
The Passive House design method is a tiered strategy, and is best accomplished when all design and construction parties are involved collaboratively from the outset. The first step is to try to minimize the energy losses of the building. This is achieved by focusing on three properties of the building’s envelope: airtightness, super-insulation, and eliminating thermal bridges. The builder, if brought into the design process early, will be able to provide cost feedback and best construction practice knowledge as the design team is iterating their ideas about the envelope assembly to reach a solution that works for the architecture, budgets, and capabilities of a geographical area’s construction methods.
The second tier of the design strategy is to maximize available passive energy. Passive energy is any energy available from a source that does not involve the direct burning of fossil fuels to produce, or heat that is a residual or secondary output of another system. Solar energy is the chief example in this category; however the heat given off by the human body, electronic equipment, or a lightbulb are all examples of heat sources of which to take advantage.
The third tier of the design strategy is to use efficient mechanical systems to make up the balance in the heating or cooling demand. This means sizing and utilizing systems that burn fossil fuels efficiently or utilize as little electrical energy as possible. Prutting & Company works with the area’s best HVAC contractors, allowing the team to work through a variety of systems at the outset of a design process, and to provide feedback to the designers, engineers, consultants and owner. Additionally, a standard for a passive house building is the use of fresh air systems which continuously provide healthy fresh air to the building occupants.
Prutting & Company is continually researching new technologies and design trends to maximize our ability to collaborate, while still incorporating the years of experience from traditional craftsmanship.
Philip Johnson's Glass House Sculpture Gallery has re-opened to the public after a 2-year, $2 million restoration. The Gallery is one of 14 structures on the property, and the restoration is the largest project to date. Read more about it here.
Architect Joeb Moore has been elevated to the prestigious College of Fellows in the American Institute of Architects in recognition of aesthetic, scientific, and practical significance to the profession. Congratulations!
The American Institute of Architects has announced the winners of the 2017 program of the Institute Honor Awards for Architecture, along with the winners in the Interior Architecture and Regional & Urban Design categories. Notable projects include Grace Farms in New Canaan, CT, designed by SANAA, and the THREAD Artist Residency & Cultural Center in Senegal, designed by Toshiko Mori. Read about all the winners here.
We recently attended the 2017 International Builders Show in Orlando, Florida as a guest of Ring's End. Sponsored by the National Association of Home Builders, here are a few of the products and technologies that caught our eye:
Viega In-Wall Toilet Carriers: Viega has come out with their own line of in-wall toilet carriers that are supposed to compete with Toto and Gerberit carriers. Viega has designed the carrier to be compatible with several other toilet bowl brands, including Duravit and Toto. All the valve guts are located in the top of the tank, so everything is removable through the push plate opening. With the carrier they've released a variety of push plate options that are less expensive than their competitors. Designed to lay proud of the wall, they do not currently have a mounting flange that would allow the plates to lay flush to the tile surface. Below is a picture of the display with most of the available options, though they come in a variety of finishes.
Uponor PEX Sprinkler Systems: Uponor featured a residential sprinkler system that uses PEX and third-party sprinkler heads as part of a sprinkler system that is linked to the main domestic plumbing system. The 2015 IRC includes a requirement for one- and two-family homes to have sprinkler systems. New York is operating under the 2015 code, but they removed the sprinkler system requirement in their amendment. Most Connecticut municipalities are enforcing the 2013 IRC with 2015 Amendments from Connecticut, so it is not a requirement yet. Massachusetts requires sprinkler systems for any single or two-family home over 14,000sf. Uponor is pushing this system as a cost-effective alternative to traditional residential systems because: 1] The piping is off the same domestic water system so it minimizes piping runs through the house. 2] The water is constantly circulating as the domestic water is being used, so you never have stale water that could cause staining (particularly better than using cast iron). 3] Eliminates the need for backflow preventer. 4] The PEX system doesn't need elbows and fittings like the CPVC does, enabling a more flexible and adaptable installation. 5] The sprinkler heads have to be lead-free press fit connections so they can be used as part of the domestic plumbing.
Questions remain regarding who performs the installation (whether it can be any plumber or if they need to be a licensed fire suppression contractor), but it seems to have a cost-saving potential for someone who wants a less expensive whole house system, or some additional peace of mind in limited areas of the home. We also have no data regarding how the PEX material performs in comparison to CPVC in terms of heat during a fire, and whether or not it's an acceptable alternative for municipalities.
DXV 3D Printed Faucets: Really cool! They're most impressive with the water running, so here's a video:
IBHS Fortified Homes: There is a new certification program offered by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety that's called Fortified Homes. It is supposed to incorporate different construction and material standards in order to guarantee that the construction is disaster resistant. There are several levels of certification (similar to LEED) depending on certain design and construction standards. However, some insurance companies are providing discounts for the rating. The downside is that it isnt a lifetime rating, but needs to be renewed every 5 years with a fee. Read more here.
The general theme of the show revolved around engineered framing lumber and fire safety. There are a number of new fire-retardant framing materials being released, as well as various systems meant to increase the fire resistance of wall and ceiling and floor assemblies. It sounds like there will definitely be some code changes in the next few years regarding the rate at which engineered lumber burns.
Jens Risom, longtime New Canaan resident, dear friend and advocate of Dave and Debbie Prutting, died last month at the age of 100. An icon of mid-century furniture design, his pieces are still in production and highly sought after to this day. Read the NY Times obituary here.
Modern architect John Black Lee's glass and concrete home in New Canaan, CT is now on the market following his death last year. Lee was a student of Marcel Breuer and Philip Johnson, clearly drawing inspiration from them. See more great photos here.