The Sand Bar, a lakefront libation destination, got new life this year through The Lake House—a hotel, restaurant, and event space in the Finger Lakes. Partnering with LeChase Construction and SWBR, we were excited to bring our timber framing craft and enclosure specialty to the project. The Lake House was redesigned by New York-based firm Studio Tack in collaboration with family-owned design house The Brooklyn Home Company for Bill Caleo and Doug Bennett.
The bar opened this July, with safety measures in place, and allows visitors to sip and savor with clear views to Canandaigua lake. You can pull your boat right up and dock.
The Canalside waterfront entertainment district in Buffalo NY, a popular destination for locals and visitors, will add another attraction this summer: a fully restored 1920’s carousel! The carousel will be housed within a gazebo-inspired timber frame pavilion with glass walls.
“The timber frame is an 80’ octagon with a clerestory. A 1500 lb steel octagon ring in the center will allow timber rafters to connect and light to come down from the clerestory,” explains Owen MacDonald, our lead timber frame engineer for the carousel. “We’ll have plenty of equipment for the raising: a large scissor lift, all-terrain forklift, two large cranes…and lots of muscle.”
The story goes that in the early years of our company, aka the 80’s, the old shop suffered a collapse and upon thinking to scrap the remains, it was suggested by a couple we were building for that we should re-use the timbers for their home. It was, as stories go, an ‘ah ha!’ moment. Always having enjoyed reclaimed wood, we now had a bigger purpose for bigger reclaimed timbers.
Reclaimed timbers bring additional texture, aesthetic, and a unique history to every project. This Summer we’ve had several weeks of reclaimed timbers in the shop, designated for a few raisings for residential projects. Remarkable and esteemed, we're giving them another moment in the spotlight:
“It's a very unique structure, with amazing views. The New Energy Works team took a complex project and made it look easy. The clients love it! They enjoy the sense of place and the level of craftsmanship in their new porch.” – John Steel, Steel Construction, builder for High on the Hilltop.
The clients were determined to turn an existing timber frame home into their full-time residence with some general remodeling work and a significant rework on the kitchen and entry. They wanted to take advantage of the view of the Green Mountains of Vermont with outdoor living space. Following the natural topography and exposed bedrock of the landscape, a timber frame “bridge” and large screened porch was added.
From tree to canal lock to restaurant: In a historic timber reclamation and upcycling story, 500-year-old timbers enter their fourth life (or third use) at Point of the Bluff Vineyards in the Finger Lakes Region of NY:
In the late 90’s our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, salvaged massive, 37″ x 42″ x 48′ Douglas fir timbers from one of the Welland Canal locks in Ontario, Canada. The trees culled for the timbers were 400+ years old when they were harvested and served the canal for nearly 60 years.
From the beginning–a bit history of on the heavy timbers:
The falls and rapids of the Niagara River presented a major obstacle for an uninterrupted waterway from the Atlantic Ocean to the American heartland. To circumvent the river, the Welland Canal, with eight large locks, was built. Initiated by local businessmen, the first canal was built in 1829. The present-day Welland Canal is the fourth to be constructed. The difference of 99.5 m (326.5 feet) between the levels of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie is now overcome with 43.4 km (27 miles) of canal.
During renovations of the third canal in 1927, Douglas fir timbers were installed in Lock N0. 8, one of the longest canal locks in the world. As the canal locks were updated/repaired, the wood was removed in the late 1990s and the enormous timbers, each weighing over 20,000 lbs, headed to Pioneer Millworks Farmington, NY yard.
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.
Last week we were alerted to awesome photos of a Whole Foods Market in Chicago, IL that features our trusses in the bar area and reclaimed wood from our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, throughout. It’s funny how often “finished shots” of a project don’t arrive until a year or two (or more!) after its completion. This project was no exception having opened in early 2017. I struck out to learn more about it, connecting with Mark Scherrer, Senior Associate at BRR Architecture and lead architect for this particular Whole Foods, known to us as “Lakeview”. Mark recalled the store with ease and answered questions before I even asked:
Each Whole Foods Market is one-of-a-kind, very purposefully designed. Mark explained that for Lakeview: “We knew we wanted the store experience to end with a big design feature. There’s a sense of ‘arrival’ to the Red Star Bar that you feel when looking out from the grand lobby, and customers are encouraged to make this part of their overall shopping experience.”
Pioneer Millworks, provided a variety of reclaimed wood with original patina, saw marks, and other character, used to accent ceilings, walls, fixtures, and some signage in the Lakeview store:
“It is!” Eric insisted with a laugh, raising his hands in defense.
Seeing as Eric is one of the most sincere and honest people around, I figured he had to be right. “Okay,” I replied. “Let’s talk glulams.”
Glulam use around the world has developed into some crazy, creative, and nearly unbelievable structures:
Some of the basics on glued laminated timbers (glulams) that I commonly hear: they come in just about any size and shape (meaning they can make spans that solid timber simply doesn’t grow to); they can achieve geometric shapes and structural performance that is otherwise unattainable with solid timber; they’re inherently stable and dry; they have visible layers of wood. As a visual person the look is always top of mind for me which is where this conversation started:
Where’s the beetle these days? As with most things these traditional tools have a lifespan… Needing to replace a beetle that had met its end, Mike W and Alexander crafted a new one from a reclaimed timber scrap in our McMinnville, OR shop.
Freshly minted, this beetle looked very innocent on the bench. Mike showed it’s ferocity (and his!), displaying it with a more seasoned beetle:
These two will be headed to the next raising where the newcomer is sure to lose some of that bright patina of the freshly exposed wood as it ‘matures’. Thanks to Mike for the creativity and the photos!
Kim Son Meditation Center, a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist place of repose and worship, will be taking delivery of their 10 glulaminated and steel trusses very soon. The trusses are just over 60’ long, and 16’ high. As seen in the accompanying images, the community’s goal was to express a sweeping sense of structure and space, perhaps a bit like clouds moving across an overhead sky.
For us, the challenges were many: Glulam beams that are set into curved forms have a certain “memory” of once being many straight pieces of wood. This gives them a certain desire to spring back for the designed curvature. And they did. And because wood is such an individualistic material, it’s almost impossible to know and therefore calculate the exact amount of spring back to plan for. Because the beams are held together with large steel plating, we were able to wrestle the wood into place and apply over 1000 huge bolts in total to the trusses. When we stood the truss up for initial testing, There was zero spread over the 60’ of length.
The trusses will be partially disassembled before being loaded onto a few tractor trailers to head south to California. We’ll share more images of the completed project later this year. In the meantime, if you’re interested in truss design, we have a truss gallery on our site that might feed your curiosity. Or reach out–we’d be happy to chat.
Design Week Portland 2017 has come to a close, but not before New Energy Works threw an event showcasing residential heavy timber framing and solar panels. On April 26th, 2017 outside of New Energy Works SE Portland Studio in Oregon, a couple of our timber framers raised heavy timbers crafting an 18 foot by 10 foot carport structure.
After completing the frame, our colleagues at Syncro Solor came by and attached four, 345 watt,
solar panels to the top. Synchro Solar is a locally-owned, full service solar energy contractor serving Oregon and Southwest Washington that specializes in the design and installation of completely custom solar electric and solar water heating systems.
The event was from 2 – 4 pm. Our guests were a range of architects, builders, and artisans. We shared information about timber framing, cross laminated timber, the environment and what New Energy Works is all about.
Timber Home Living magazine documented the Olsen’s journey to building their family retreat in the Berkshires from 2014 to completion in 2016. What happens during a custom home building project? Starting with our design team join the story from the Olsen’s point of view as we craft the timber frame, enclosure, and custom woodworking. Click through each part of the eight part series below to get the inside scoop.
After crafting the frame for a large barn in our shop in Farmington, NY, our timber framers traveled to Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina to raise it. Over 500 timbers and timber components make up the frame with those on the exterior featuring a custom stain. After a few days of pre-assembly the raising started and moved along quickly. Check out the big bents pre-assembled and stacked/organized as the central core of the barn goes up in this short video (below). Thanks to Josh at J.T. Turner Construction for the video!
Reclaimed timbers bring additional texture, aesthetic, and a unique history to every project. This Summer, we’ll be raising residential and commercial timber frames crafted of reclaimed timbers across Upstate NY.
“Reclaimed wood is a top choice for timber frame projects as it is inherently more stable than fresh cut wood. In addition, the history and character in reclaimed timbers is unmatched – clients particularly enjoy the story of their frame,” explains Eric Fraser, Timber Frame Manager.
Reclaimed timbers are part of our culture and history, our team understands antique wood and how to use it to the best of its potential, from our design group, to our engineers, to our joiners and timberwrights. For nearly 30 years, we’ve been crafting frames with timbers salvaged by our sister company, Pioneer Millworks, from outdated agricultural and industrial buildings.
Antique timbers can be difficult to source, like finding a gem in the rough, and challenging to work with due to existing mortise pockets and old artifacts like nails or bolts. Though challenging, the signs of previous life add to the visual appeal, character not found in fresh sawn timbers. Hand-hewn surfaces of old agricultural timbers are often left intact, even using original mortise and tenon joinery where the design allows.
In honor of naming our blog, we wanted to post about The Beetle. No, we’re not talking insects. We’re talking about the giant wooden hammer that appears at every raising.
We have several beetle mallets around the shop all weighing in between 20 to 30 pounds, sized around 12″ x 12″ x 6″. This is one serious hammer (or mallet, whatever you prefer). A vital tool, beetles are used to help seat joinery together, shift posts or beams, and on occasion drive in pegs. The beetle has various names throughout the timber frame industry, most commonly the “persuader” or the “commander”.
(At my very first raising I was asked to pass the persuader over. Once I knew what ‘the persuader’ was, I reached for the handle with confidence and pulled. I was astonished when it barely moved. It was an oak beetle, weighing about 35 pounds, which is reasonable…if you’re expecting the weight of it. I was saved from a second effort by a nearby timber framer who hefted it up easily and handed it over.)