‘The Pad’ 4 – Design Development

japslick.skp[‘The Pad’ is a condo in downtown Boston that I am currently re-designing for my friends Eric and Holly. This series of blogposts chronicles its progress.]

After our previous meeting, I revised the design to address Eric and Holly’s comments: specifically I included more color, as E+H worry about a space seeming sterile if it’s too white. I entitled my next concept ‘Japanese / Medieval Modern’: stacked stone and tile mosaic and shoji screens, combining minimalism with more florid decoration. E+H liked the feeling of enclosure in the garden but wanted to move the fireplace there, so I included an open firepit (bio-ethanol, so as not to need venting) .  While there will still be a fair amount of real planted material in the garden area, I switched gears a bit on the vegetated walls – both from a design point of view and from the knowledge that neither owner has a particularly green thumb. Continue reading “‘The Pad’ 4 – Design Development”

‘The Pad’ 3 – Schematic Design

Anime Sophistique.skp[‘The Pad’ is a condo in downtown Boston that I am currently re-designing for my friends Eric and Holly. This series of blogposts chronicles its progress.]

Once we had come to an agreement about the general arrangement of the floorplans, it was time to start thinking about what the place might actually look like. I came up with two themes based on my knowledge of their interests: one based on their enjoyment of the outdoors, which I called ‘Adirondack Modern’, and another based on their liking for Japanese cartoons, which I termed ‘Anime Sophistique’.

‘Adirondack Modern’ begged for natural materials: blue slate floors, extensive wood paneling, rugged stone walls, and rustic furniture. The garden space is shown enclosed with stone planters, creating real separation between it and the living room and bar area. The ‘Anime Sophistique’ scheme is unapologetically contrived-looking: Continue reading “‘The Pad’ 3 – Schematic Design”

‘The Pad’ 2

previewI’m not going to post plans showing the existing walls, as all except the wet walls are irrelevant. What’s not irrelevant are the sprinkler heads, smoke detectors and fire alarms, and HVAC ducting, all of which seem to have been placed in the most inconvenient areas the developer could have imagined. Gripe. We will deal with all that eventually.What I was first concerned with was imagining a program (i.e. set of spaces and their relationships) that would work for Eric and Holly.

So I came  up with a few options for how I thought the space could work. This point in the process is often one of  the most interesting: for example, in my own home I would NEVER design computer workstations to be so central – but I can tell you from having stayed with them, the first thing Eric and Holly do when they get up in the morning is go to their computers, and they are found there whenever they have a spare moment. Continue reading “‘The Pad’ 2”

‘The Pad’ 1

WindowSo I’ve been working for two months now on a project in Boston, even though I’m back in Edinburgh. As I’ve briefly mentioned before, it’s a loft condo in Downtown Crossing owned by my friends Eric and Holly. It’s their first home, but they went big: 3,000 square feet, all of which need to be gutted, as the space had been used for years as an office.

While the apartment is fairly industrial  and riddled with little rooms and bad fluorescent lighting, its bones are beautiful. The brick building was built in 1917 for use as a battery backup for city power, and its units boast high ceilings, enormous windows, and exposed brick walls. Eric and Holly’s unit has a 20-foot ceiling at its highest, though a mezzanine cuts through half the space. Unlike the other floors, theirs has only one large window at floor level and a number of smaller clerestories 18 feet up. (see ‘before’ photos in this post.) Continue reading “‘The Pad’ 1”


Maybe every architect should be required to live with their clients for two weeks. You find out the most interesting things — both about them and about the space.

For one: the loft is much noisier than I could ever have imagined. Theoretically I knew that a cocktail of concrete floors, brick walls, and drywall everywhere else was a recipe for echoes and difficulty hearing, but I was still amazed at how close you have to put the sofa to the TV in order to understand it.

And speaking of noise, the wet walls carrying all the piping from the rest of the building are clearly not well-insulated; every time someone flushes the toilet in a unit above it sounds like a freight train rushing towards you as you’re trying to untie yourself from the tracks… Continue reading “Research”