High Efficiency Enclosure: A Prefabricated Wall System

Project enclosure systems are one of the biggest areas to benefit from high-performance building techniques, and there are several options: SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) and our Matrix & Matrix-S Wall system, to name a few. As we push for better envelopes and efficiencies with every project, we’re applying decades of experience in creating turnkey timber frame structures to crafting prefabricated wall systems.

“When you buy a car, no one shows up at your house with all the parts and builds your new car in your driveway, right? So why build walls on-site?” asked Eric, our Timber Frame General Manager.

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Circle in a Square

The broad stroke design of this home harkens to sap houses and agricultural structures of the Northeast and the flare of mountain homes for a balance of rugged and modern aesthetics. Forms evoke the traditional, such as the clerestory and the cylindrical stair tower but are tempered within via the non-traditional great room space and helical, modern stairs.

Transom windows express the Northeast vibe but are combined with big expanses of glass reminiscent of western mountain homes.

“Often I find the most beautiful designs are when you can see the function of a structure. I enjoy thinking of a balance of the purpose of a structure and function, and how the builders achieve that goal,” shared Shannon, homeowner of the Circle in a Square project. “I enjoy seeing the inner workings of things. That’s why I love timber frame structures. Take a home and its many reasons for being; there is an endless way of accomplishing the goal. You need a roof and walls and other parts and ways for them to be held up and attached. The timber frame is probably one of the most unique ways of showing how that can be done.”

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Functional Art: The Flat Track Door

Flat track doors, also known as barn doors, are a great way to add an industrial design element into a space. They’re space savers and a form of functional wall art. Jay, door guru, and Rob, general manager, of our fine woodworking division NEWwoodworks, gave us some insight into custom track doors:

Reclaimed hand hewn timber skins bring texture and character to a lower level rec room entry.

Reclaimed hand hewn timber skins bring texture and character to a lower level rec room entry.

Start with wood: “You can do a lot more with wood than you can with metal or fiberglass,” explained Jay. “There is so much more character and story in wood than any other material. Wooden doors fulfill our biophilic desire; they’re tactile, interactive, and functional.”

Flat tracks are top hung systems employing a top rail or mounted track above the door opening. A pair of hangers are assembled to the specific door (thickness, width, and weight of the door are all considered). A second bottom track/rail, subtle bottom guide fins, or cradle fins are employed to help maintain the door’s vertical alignment with the wall.

Get creative: “Yet,” added Rob, “There’s such a broad range of material and stylistic options: glass and metal accents…think Steampunk. Or think contemporary, colorful, slick, fancy, or classic. There’s clean oak, ash, and cypress…then there’s crazy wood like reclaimed ‘confetti’ gym flooring, Teak Colors of Indonesia, Shou Sugi Ban Color Char. The depth of possibilities is nearly limitless.”

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Beach House, Barn Bliss

I recently chatted with Jennifer Palumbo founder/principal of Jennifer Palumbo Inc, a Boston-based interior design firm. It was a pleasure to discuss her perspectives on design and intentionality with textures and colors that include special consideration of the place of wood in any space focusing on our timber frame project on the Cape in MA. She shared insider insight into designing and living in the space:    

I’m excited to know this is your family vacation home! 

It is! We’d been looking for a location to build a home and found the land in Osterville. I had dreamed of a barn structure in a beach location; it was my initial idea for years. Overall we knew we wanted a large open living space with a barn look and exposed beam work that would fit the beach location.

Jennifer Palumbo of Jennifer Palumbo Inc, a Boston-based interior design firm. She believes, “Any interior space can fulfill its function while encompassing beauty and timelessness.”

How did you solve the integration of barn and beach?

Well, we struggled a little as we’re in a coastal neighborhood with mostly shingle style cape cod homes. I had an affinity for barn styles but wanted to make sure it felt like a summer experience. The focus was to get the balance right—not feeling too dark, still a place for a summer day, not heavy as a barn structure can feel—not lodge-y, but fresh and more summery. We created a counterbalance of reclaimed darker toned wood accents with the timber frame against crisp painted surfaces (warm white) and varying degrees of fresh blue throughout house. This let woodwork and reclaimed wood feature itself. Overall: fresh, coastal, and crisp.

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Found-forms and Timber Shelters

School has started again and it has us thinking about recess (who doesn’t love recess?) and thereby the playscapes kids enjoy. We began asking what role wood has in these spaces which brought to the discussion a recent project at the Lilac Adventure Zone Playground. A “natural playground” in Highland Park in Rochester, NY by Barton & Loguidice, the space highlights found forms for play and modern pavilions for shelter.

There has been a surge in natural playgrounds [natural playscapes] which inherently focus on wood and the natural landscape. “Biophilic design, connecting with nature, was central to this playground project,” explained Tom Robinson, senior landscape architect, and LEED AP at Barton & Loguidice.

Biophilia. It’s a term that we’re hearing with regularity these days, and that’s exciting! From Edward Wilson’s “Biophilia” meaning ‘the rich, natural pleasure that comes from being surrounded by living organisms’. Research is conclusive that access to nature and nature-inspired spaces help reduce stress and illness. “We’re trying to recreate the experience of playing in the woods, in fields with rocks and sticks. The idea is to encourage exploration and free play with natural materials,” continued Tom.

Many young explorers and adventurers amidst the natural elements of Lilac Adventure Zone Playground.

The playground itself evolved as the natural materials arrived, trees, branches, rocks salvaged from other park project renovations. “The elements within the playground tend to change and morph as materials initially arrive, and as time passes and elements need to be removed/replaced.”

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