Recently, I sat down with our shop manager Dan Shaw, master craftsman Mark Tanis, and master installer Glenn Bigelow to learn about a particularly exacting project, one that showcases the talents of our craftspeople.
Following is the story of this renovation/addition project as told to me by three of KR+H's talented people: Dan, Glenn, and Mark.
Dan Shaw, KR+H shop manager: At the project's beginning, we confirmed the exterior as well as the interior dimensions for the circular office. We worked really closely with with Kistler & Knapp's site supervisor, Jerry [Jerry Melnick, Kistler & Knapp Builders] to get all the dimensions correct and to make sure we were building towards the same goal. And it worked.
We gave Kistler & Knapp a full scale plywood ring about two inches wide, a template for the entire outer ring of the office. It was all interlocking puzzle pieces so it would orient correctly. We double and triple checked the radius. Our template drove the exterior building by Kistler & Knapp as well as our interior millwork.
[Dan explained to me that we don't normally guide the work of the builder; but it was agreed the work for this office, with its grand circular sweep as well as subtle and complex integration, called for very attentive upfront planning. KR+H had the sophisticated technology to provide a precise template with our CNC equipment.]
Dan: Believe it or not the entire circular office was preassembled in our shop. After we had the cabinets built, the countertop done, the nosing edged and cut, we set it up, set the whole thing up. Imagine this space [in our shop] with a couple of guys working in that ring for a couple of weeks on end setting the whole thing up, getting all the curves right, checking with the tape measure three times a day, making sure the ring hadn't moved, securing everything, building up. It was amazing!
Dan: Everything was tied together in this project, from the far corner of the office into the sitting room, through either doorway to both the little alcoves, one with a bookcase, and continuing into the media room, including pocket doors and passage doors. We did every wall, every panel. There were some pretty big sweeps of millwork we were working with so every little reveal had to be perfect. It was all integrated. It all had to come together.
Mark Tanis, KR+H master craftsman: We set up the circular office perfectly in the shop, and then it all had to be taken apart and reassembled in the homeowner's office space. Glenn had to figure out where it all had to lay exactly - to the windows, to the doorway, everything was integrated. He had to find the center point and he had to stick to it.
Glenn Bigelow, KR+H master installer: We definitely had to go from the center point for everything to work. Definitely like a big puzzle, especially the circle because it had to all fit together.
Mark: That was probably one of the biggest challenges I would think [finding that center point].
Dan: Mark Tanis went down, spending the last week or so with Glenn, and I was there for some of the installation as well.
One challenge Mark had was in the installation of the columns. That was quie a task because he had to pie cut - cut a wedge out of the solid round columns - from top to bottom to make them snug with [neighboring] millwork.
Dan: Glenn did 90% of all the installation. He was loving it! He spent maybe four weeks there flying solo. He and Jerry [Jerry Melnick, Kistler & Knapp Builders]. It was Glenn, Jerry, and Jerry's dog, Willow, every day.
Glenn: I loved it! It was the most interesting, fun project.
KR+H is proud to be a part of this beautiful project designed by John MacDonald, AIA, Morehouse MacDonald and Associates and built by Kistler & Knapp Builders. Thank you to architectural photographer Sam Gray for his fine images of this home.
A very special thank you to Alan Haigh, KR+H partner emeritus, who is now enjoying his sailing passion. Alan's good nature, thoughtfulness, intelligence, and thoroughness guided this project and every project he led for KR+H. We miss you, Alan!