There are a couple of new projects on the horizon, and although I’ve been working as a sole-practitioner the past couple of years, the new things are looking to be collaborations with other people. This is not a bad thing. Some of it is building on previous work on a project I started a couple years ago, and another is an opportunity to collaborate with another local, sole-practitioner.

Following on with the very successful addition to the Corner Brewery (and the significant energy efficiency building upgrades that were carried out) several of the people involved in that project are continuing to work together to provide consulting services for other beer-making operations. There was enough press about the project for the Corner that other breweries have called them to find out about doing similar sorts of things for their own facilities.

By way of a little backstory, one of the things I had thought about doing as a possible thesis project when I applied to grad school was something involving a brewery. The law had recently changed in Michigan at the time, and the first brew pub in Ann Arbor was getting under way. I thought that my recent interest in homebrewing might lead to working on brewpubs as a specialty, and I think I harbored some hope that I would be able to work on the first brewpub in Ann Arbor, though that didn’t happen. (I was working in a print shop before going back to grad school, and some of the early plans for Grizzly Peak came through the place while I was there. It ended up getting built while I was off at school.) Still, I continued as a homebrewer, and I really enjoyed it when the opportunity to work with the Corner Brewery came along, especially since it was a project that combined two aspects that were (and are) of particular interest to me: brewing and green building.

That whole experience had me thinking once more about working on breweries and related projects. It turns out, as I mentioned, that Jarett Diamond – the guy who served as the project manager for the entire Corner Brewery renovation project (and the storage addition I worked on was just one facet of that whole larger undertaking) – has gotten some inquiries about consulting on other projects. It’s something he wants to pursue, as well. The two of us have talked about working together on some of these things. He has gotten a lot of first hand experience with a number of the mechanical systems involved, for both the brewing process as well as building operations. He’s also gotten very familiar with the incentives and programs to encourage energy efficient building and renovation. My contributions to the team will be in providing architectural and building-related expertise, energy modeling, and other general green systems knowledge. There are a couple other people we’ll work with who have specific knowledge about brewery operations and brewing equipment (which is an order of complexity above and beyond simple homebrewing).

The other collaboration that is starting is with another local architect with a sole-practitioner practice. Maria Kook and I have a lot of parallels in our professional lives. We both came to Ann Arbor at about the same time, although neither of us attended the University of Michigan. We both worked for different firms in town, and it’s a little surprising that it took so long for us to cross paths with one another. She has been working on her own for about the same period of time as I have, and, in addition to working on AIA-related activities, we’ve been getting together periodically to stay in touch about running our respective firms.

[last paragraph removed for editing and revision; to be returned when re-written -psp]

Posting has been slow of late, so this is an update about current projects and activities.

The Corner Brewery addition is under construction, and last week the structure of the premanufactured building finally started coming together. The photo (above) is the first arch of the addition building, with the existing building beyond. The building will be assembled from a number of these sections attached together to make a long, deep-ribbed structure. Before it was raised, this part was lying on the ground, and, since it was a windy day, the loose ends of the metal were being blown around. But, as it is assembled, the whole thing should be strong and self-supporting. Hopefully there will be good weather in the next week or so, and there can be some better progress photography.

On a personal front, I will be teaching a LEED exam prep course for Wayne County Community College this fall. I’ve been a study group facilitator for a few previous LEED-AP and LEED-GA study groups working with USGBC, but this will be more on my own. I have my own syllabus to develop and go through the material in a longer format than the study groups. I’m looking forward to getting back into LEED again. Even when I have mixed feelings about its true effectiveness (LEED is, at its essential core, a marketing program, not a way to build the greenest buildings possible), I recognize that it has done a lot to raise awareness of the importance of building greener buildings and to recognize some buildings that have been leaders in advancing the technology.

A couple of residential projects are at the early stages, but not at a point where there’s much to show. It’s good to have interesting design challenges, even with smaller projects. I suppose if these were simple projects, they would just be talking with a builder. But having to re-configure an old farm house for a more contemporary lifestyle and fitting a 2-car garage into a side-yard only wide enough for a single width driveway are the kinds of things that are interesting to work through.