wood floor

yes, we are moving forward again.  the “restart” has been a little slower than i had hoped.  causes for our standstill are many – my absence for two weeks; cabinetwork budget issues required a few weeks to remedy; delivery and acclimation of wood flooring; delivery of interior doors and trim, to name a few.  the good news is now we have most of the parts needed for interior fit out to move along in a ready manner.  so, here we go!

the flooring at the second floor has always been planned to be wood. but, the species and finish type was only recently decided.  jessica had been planning on using bamboo flooring.  it has some appealing sustainable qualities – namely, bamboo is a rapidly renewable resource.  however, i’ve had longstanding misgivings about bamboo flooring. these include: it’s not wood, it’s plant fiber – the bamboo fibers are “sliced and diced” and then glued together under heat and pressure to create a wood-llike product – what is the glue?, how much energy is required for that “heat and pressure”?; bamboo is mostly harvested in southeast Asia where it is then processed into flooring, then shipped halfway around the world to land here in Maine; i question its ability to be refinished in the future (can it be sanded?); and, i’ve been told its very difficult to install (hardness of the glue!).  bamboo flooring’s upsides include the aforementioned renewability, popularity and hardness.  so, given my misgivings, i urged my client to consider a more local flooring resource – pre-finished maple flooring grown, harvested, milled and finished right here in maine.  granted, maple takes a lot longer to renew (vs. bamboo), but the product we used is a local resource (A LOT less than 500 miles from the jobsite); provides local Maine jobs; has a very low VOC finish; installation is familiar with commonly available tools and know-how; can be sanded and re-finished (longevity/durability); and, it looks good!  what’s not to like about all that, except for the renewable part, i suppose?  oh yeah, this locally sourced product is surprisingly affordable – about $8/sf to buy.

premium (no dark heartwood) maple flooring helps to bounce the abundant daylight to provide bright interiors, even on this cloudy day.  not sure about that demon trash can????

premium (no dark heartwood) maple flooring helps to bounce the abundant daylight to provide bright interiors, even on this cloudy day. not sure about that demon trash can????

manufacturer and contact info for Maine Traditions right on the box!

manufacturer and contact info for Maine Traditions right on the box!

what it is all about.


grandson, louie august

grandson, louie august

once again, i find myself in the position of using most, if not all, of my 30+ years of architecture knowledge, talent, and experience to help my daughter and her family.  it’s a uniquely rewarding opportunity.  often times i have wondered if the primary purpose of my becoming an architect those many years ago was to help jessica overcome the abundant physical and built environment challenges she faces on a daily basis.  i know, a bit strong on the fatalism, but….

now, there’s this little guy.  his presence has expanded my thinking.  he’s the next generation – the continuum.  now, when i think of the future and what it might hold for our world, our society, our community, our environment, i find myself thinking a lot about his world.  the world that louie will know long after my time has come and gone.

these days my wonderment includes “what have i done to help that world be better than the world i’ve known?”  i may never know the answer.  but, i’m hoping that my work on this project will provide a safe, comfortable and nurturing environment to support louie’s upbringing and development.  maybe the energy savings designed into this house will help louie’s world be a little better?  maybe the durability and energy-efficiencies of this house will save his parent’s money that can further louie’s education?  maybe growing up in a house built in an established, sustainable neighborhood will provide louie with an improved world view as an adult?

who knows, maybe someday louie will thank his nonno for deciding to become an architect a long, long time ago?


a “cut and paste” post from my facebook page in the interest of some good, old-fashioned, shameless self-promotion….

TOH crewTHIS OLD HOUSE – Essex Series Premieres!!!! The first episode starting airing on 01.17.2013. Episode Three, “One-Level Living” to start airing on 01.31.2013!!!! TOH press release says “In Bucksport, Maine, Master Carpenter Norm Abram meets architect John Gordon to see the accessible house he designed for his quadriplegic daughter, Jessica.” Make sure you don’t miss our four minutes of fame by checking your local PBS listings to find out when an episode will air in your area. For you “locals”, Time Warner Cable listing for Bangor says our episode will air on MPBN-TV on February 2 at 3:30pm.

You can check your local listings by clicking the following link and entering your zip code: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/info/0,,20058777,00.html

Full episodes are available online the Sunday after each episode’s original airdate at the following link: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/video

Here’s some info about a special premiere night for MPBN members!
“MPBN is celebrating a special episode of This Old House shot in Bucksport, Maine and features local architect, John Gordon. The show will be aired on MPBN Television Saturday February 2 at 3:30 PM….MPBN is holding a special premiere night for its membership on Thursday, January 31st at 7 PM at the Alamo Theater in Bucksport. MPBN’s Charles Beck will be on hand to welcome attendees and introduce John Gordon. A meet and greet will be held immediately following the show for Gordon to relate his experiences filming the episode and answer any questions from attendees.” (Jessica may attend, pending the logistics of motherhood, small-business owner, wife, travel and two needy dogs!).

I have not seen the results of my “acting” efforts (trust me, I’m using the term VERY loosely, here). But, I remain confident in the words of the producer, director and crew, “Don’t worry about it, we’re gonna make you look like Robert DeNiro!” Man, you gotta like their confidence.

LEED for Homes

click above on the page entitled “LEED for Homes”.  there, you will learn about LEED for Homes!  LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

BTW, it’s LEED, NOT “LEEDS” – Leeds is a city in England (it’s also a town in Maine!). AND, part of a title to a great live album (greatest ever live album????) – The Who, LIVE AT LEEDS. it includes an awesome Magic Bus!


350 parts per million.  that’s the “safe” level of CO2 in our atmosphere – “safe” as in the preservation of earth as we know it.  currently, the CO2 level is 392ppm.  guess what?! mankind is doing an excellent job of driving that number higher.

click image to visit 350.org

how are we doing this?, you might ask.  well, mostly by using fossil fuels.  through the use of on-site renewable energy/solar hot water and electric, 363HOUSE is projected to reduce its usage of off-site energy (generated by burning fossil fuel) by 90% when compared to a similar-sized “typical” house.  our savings could be more pending conservation efforts by its occupants.  yeah, its a small step in the enormous fight to reduce CO2 emissions, but its a necessary step that all of us need to embrace.

11.13.2012 – bill mckibben on state theater stage in portland presenting VERY compelling climate change information. learn more at www.350.org


“Simplify, Simplify.”

Henry David Thoreau

if you are a follower of this blog, recently you may have been wondering, “why no posts????”.  if so,  then please accept my apologies.  two weeks ago i was too busy with work, family (a new grandson!), life, etc.  last week i discovered that i had lost admin access to my wordpress blog.  so, after a week+ of my stubborn “i can fix it”/DIY approach to life, yesterday i finally relented, coughed-up $59.99 to network solutions for their “fix” – “fix” as in repair, not “fix” i.e. relief from drug withdrawal (although, it felt more like the latter!).



Thoreau had it figured out….live in a little house in the woods – NO internet access :-)!  nonetheless, new posts are on the way, specifically, window installation.  another few weeks and we’ll be completely “dried-in”!