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Bennington Study Project


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This presentation is one that I have used to teach architectural design to classes of 5th - 8th grade students.

This presentation is one that I have used to teach architectural design to classes of 5th - 8th grade students.

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  • 1. The Bennington House Project Study: From Initial Design Concepts to Completion April 17, 2006
  • 2. What is the Bennington House?
    • The Bennington house is a custom designed home on S.W. Bennington Drive in the west hills of Portland, located just above the Rose Gardens & Washington Park.
    • This home was built by Terrafirma Building Inc. as a “spec” house – which means that there is no homeowner involved and the builder has decided to build a project with the intent to sell it at some point during construction or after completion.
  • 3. Client Requirements
    • The client had these specific requests for this project:
      • A minimum 2-car garage with interior stairs leading to the main floor.
      • Minimum 3 bedrooms and an office
      • Standard Great room layout, kitchen & dining area
      • Some sort of outdoor living space or yard
      • Orient as many rooms with views to the front as possible
      • Minimize the No. of steps or floor levels as possible
  • 4. Sound simple enough? Well, there were a few challenges…
  • 5. The Challenges
      • The site is steeply sloping uphill, away from the street. – The most difficult of sites to build on!
      • There is an existing house on the left which is very close to the property line – approximately 5 feet away.
      • There is a vacant lot on the right which has an 11’ tall, unstable, retaining wall at the street face which also returns and runs along the side of our lot.
      • There is an existing house above the site.
      • There is a very large Douglas Fir tree above the site.
      • Bennington drive is a narrow, winding, dead-end street – making construction access for vehicles extremely difficult.
      • The client wanted a conventional floor plan with as few steps or levels as possible.
  • 6. So what do you do?
  • 7. First…
  • 8. You Call in a Pro!
  • 9. And his brainiac assistant!
  • 10. Then you start to evaluate the situation and begin sketching
  • 11. Study Plan No. 1
    • The concept for this first plan was to create an Italianate style home, creating a front courtyard for outdoor living with the majority of the rooms having windows facing out the front for view and light.
    • Bennington 1st Study set.pdf
  • 12. Did it work?
    • No! – The client loved the design and the concept of this plan. Unfortunately, after careful study and review of the foundation and excavation it was deemed to costly & virtually impossible to construct on this site.
    • Along with the costs involved, the excavation for the foundation would have required encroaching onto the adjoining side properties.
  • 13. Move to Plan B
    • Since the first plan proved to be to difficult and costly, the next concept was to create a house that was not as deep.
      • The idea - minimize the vertical height of the foundation walls. I.E. – the further you move back on the site, the higher up the slope you go – so don’t move back, move forward.
    • The design style for this plan was to take on more of an Asian style, inspired by having dinner the night before at a Japanese restaurant. While this plan still had some challenges, it probably could have been feasibly constructed, however the client did not care for the design.
    • Bennington 2nd Study set.pdf
  • 14. 3 rd Times the Charm!
    • After scratching my head again and playing with numerous design ideas for this site, it finally occurred to me that there was really only one way to build a conventional house plan on this site.
    • That concept was to try and treat each of the floor levels as if they were seats in an amphitheater or football stadium. Starting in the middle of the site with the lowest floor (the garage) and then adding a level on top that was not only wider but deeper.
      • In other words, stair-step your way out of the hole!
    • This allowed for the foundation walls to be roughly half the height as in the first plan, therefore reducing the footing size outside the wall which then reduced the amount of excavation required.
    • Bennington Final Study Set.pdf
  • 15. Today, the Bennington House is completed. Let’s take a look at the process.
  • 16. A quick look around the site
  • 17. The Excavation
  • 18. Foundation Footings
  • 19. Setting the Foundation Walls
  • 20. Pouring the Foundation
  • 21. Beginning Framing
  • 22. Framing
  • 23.  
  • 24.  
  • 25. Nearing completion
  • 26. An Artist’s Computer Rendering Concept of the Completed Project
  • 27. The completed Home - Exterior
  • 28. The completed Home - Interior