Saturday, April 22, 2017
Sunday, April 16, 2017
- Walkable context (people want proximity to services and amenities)
- Lowered perceived density (missing middle types don’t look like dense buildings)
- Small footprint buildings (compatible with the scale of neighboring single-family homes
- Small, efficient units (smaller units keep costs down)
- Fewer off-street parking spaces (no more than one per unit)
- Affordability by design (simple construction)
- 1000 Friends of Oregon
- AARP Oregon
- AIA Southwestern Oregon
- American Planning Association – Oregon Chapter
- Architects Building Community
- Better Eugene-Springfield Transit
- Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce
- Eugene Association of Realtors
- League of Women Voters of Lane County
- Springfield Chamber of Commerce
- The University of Oregon Transportation and Livability Student Group (LiveMove)
- University of Oregon School of Architecture & Allied Arts
- Walkable Eugene Citizen Advisory Network
Sunday, April 9, 2017
This is another in my series of posts inspired by 1000 Awesome Things, the Webby Award winning blog written by Neil Pasricha. The series is my meditation on the awesome reasons why I was and continue to be attracted to the art of architecture.
Historians regard Leon Battista Alberti to be one of the principal figures of the early Italian Renaissance. He was the epitome of the Renaissance Man: at once an author, artist, humanist, linguist, mathematician, poet, philosopher, and architect. Perhaps due to his wide-ranging curiosity, he never singled out one field of his studies as prevailing or governing over the others. Instead, Alberti regarded all his interests equally; however, he did consider mathematics to be common ground for both the arts and sciences. It was from the perspective of mathematics that he would formulate his seminal views on art and architecture. More specifically, he believed beauty in painting, sculpture, or architecture to be the pleasing agreement of parts in a composition, very much contingent upon the number, proportion, and arrangement demanded by harmony.
The word harmony derives from ancient Greek, in which it meant “to fit together” or “to join.” Alberti broadly invoked ancient Greek and Roman theorists, who believed as he did that harmony is fundamentally a mathematical construct. In large part due to Alberti’s influence, Renaissance architecture would come to be characterized by mathematical proportion and units of measurement based on human scale as much as it would a borrowed classical vocabulary of columns, pediments, and arches.
For many of us, harmony finds its most accessible expression in music. The basis of musical sound can be described mathematically. Playing multiple notes at the same time can produce aesthetically pleasing harmonies. Discrete pitches correspond to particular frequencies, which can be expressed numerically. A musical scale has an interval of repetition—the octave—that is exactly twice that of a given note. In Western tradition, composers used chords to manipulate harmony. A chord is a harmonic set of pitches consisting of two or more notes. We naturally recognize and enjoy pleasing harmonies when we hear them.
Alberti reasoned that “what is pleasing to the ear should be pleasing to the eye,” so it followed that beauty should be a harmony inherent in a building, a harmony which can be detected through rational means—mathematics. He further asserted in his treatise De Re Aedificatoria that harmony consists of the relation of all parts to each other and to a greater whole, all governed by mathematical laws:
“Beauty is that reasoned harmony of all the parts within a body, so that nothing may be added, taken away, or altered, but for the worse. It is a great and holy matter; all our resources of skill and ingenuity will be taxed in achieving it; and rarely is it granted, even to nature herself, to produce anything that is entirely complete and perfect in every respect."
So defined, harmony is the essence of beauty. Alberti recommended simple proportions—one to one, one to two, one to three, two to three, three to four—which he found to be the elements of musical harmony as well as the basis for the proportioning systems of ancient architecture.
In architecture, the expression of harmony is conveyed through composition, proportion, and scale of parts in balance with one another. We regard certain buildings as harmonious and pleasing because their parts play well together to achieve a whole that likewise is consonant with its surroundings. Harmonious buildings are not dissonant. They are rich in their diversity but in tune with their neighbors and the natural world. Harmonious buildings abide by grammatical rules founded upon mathematical and aesthetic principles. Like nature does, they exhibit a living structure and recurrent patterns.
Fundamentally, everything in our world displays its own level of harmony with its surroundings. If there is artistry at work in the work humans do, greater harmony is achieved. The connectedness, the sameness, the oneness underlying all things—be it music, nature, art, or building—is invariable in the wholeness of a world in harmony.
Like the ancients he admired, Alberti believed harmony could be mathematically deduced and represented in the proportions of architectural elements in a structure. We may not be able to generate harmony mechanistically, but it is achievable through intuition, inspiration, learned experience, and artistry. We’ve long had the means to mathematically measure harmony in design, music, or the natural world. It all implies a cosmological underpinning for everything that is nothing short of AWESOME.
Saturday, April 1, 2017
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Our knowledgeable speakers for the evening were Doug Gallagher, Attorney of the eponymously named Douglas Gallagher Law Office PC , and Robert Funk, CIC of KPD Insurance and Risk Solutions. Their task was daunting—to describe the various forms of construction insurance, bonds, and warranties, and the salient features of each that distinguish their fundamental purposes—and they had only an hour within which to accomplish it. Given this constraint, the two men truly did their best to cover subject matter deserving the attention of an all-day seminar or much more.
In a nutshell, Doug and Rob defined construction insurance, bonds, and warranties as follows:
Fundamentally, insurance is a financial risk management tool, the primary concept of which involves the transference of the risk of potential financial loss from the insured to an insurance company in exchange for a monetary premium.
Most everyone is familiar with insurance in one form or another, such as automobile insurance, homeowner’s insurance, or health insurance. Construction industry insurance is similar, protecting policy holders from catastrophic financial losses in the event of a claim or occurrence.
Construction insurance includes coverage for general liability related to claims for bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, and others that can arise from construction-related activities. There are also professional liability policies, that protect individuals and companies from the full cost of defending claims of negligence, primarily for errors & omissions (after all, humans sometimes will make mistakes). Other forms of liability insurance include policies for managerial liability, and liability risks related to pollution, the actions of company directors and officers, cyber activities, and workers’ compensation. Excess liability policies provide coverage limits above those of an underlying liability policy, and are sometimes a contractual requirement on construction projects.
Construction insurance also includes property insurance. Builder’s risk policies offer coverage in the event of property losses, protecting the insurable interests in materials, fixtures, and/or equipment being used in the construction or renovation of a building. Builder’s risk insurance can be purchased either by the owner or the general contractor, depending upon the terms of the Contract for Construction. It is usually a statutory requirement for public work. Inland marine coverage (a peculiar term as Rob pointed out) protects property in transit, as well as the instrumentalities of transportation (the bridges, roads, and piers, etc.).
Property insurance purchased by one party can also provide coverage for the business or personal property of others, who become additional named insureds on the policy. This kind of coverage is often used in the instances where an owner may rely upon the insured contractor to provide protection of property the owner has paid for but is not yet part of the completed work (such as for materials stored in an off-site warehouse).
Rob did leave us with cautionary words on the subject of construction insurance: Insurance, the saying goes, is like Swiss cheese. There’s a lot of substance to it but a lot of holes as well. It’s in everyone’s best interest to understand required and recommended coverages for any construction project. Doug seconded this point by saying it’s important to avoid limiting coverage through poor contract language. Equally important for everyone involved with a construction project is to review contractual requirements related to indemnification with their respective insurance providers. Finally, coordinating, verifying, and tracking certificates are keys to effectively managing insurance products.
The easiest way to distinguish surety bonds from insurance policies is to understand that insurance provides protection from things beyond your control, whereas bonds come into play upon a breach of a contractual obligation. A bond is itself essentially a form of contract between a principal (the contractor) and the surety company (the “rich uncle” as Rob characterized it). It is a third party, usually the owner, who is the claimant when a bond is exercised.
The various forms of surety bonds include bid bonds, performance bonds, payment bonds, and maintenance bonds:
Bid bonds provide financial protection to the owner if a bidder is awarded a contract pursuant to the bidding process, but fails to sign the contract and provide required performance and payment bonds. The bid bond process also helps to screen out unqualified bidders and is often necessary to the process of competitive bidding.
Performance and Payment bonds protect an owner from financial loss in the event the contractor fails to perform the contract in accordance with its terms and conditions. With cause, an owner can declare a contractor in default and terminate the contract, and then can call on the surety to meet the surety’s obligations under the bond.
Surety companies prequalify contractors based on their financial strength, construction expertise, and ability to perform the proposed work. By requiring surety bonds, owners present themselves with a level of assurance that the selected contractor will fulfill its contractual obligations successfully. Regardless, private owners do not always require contractors to furnish bonds because they increase the cost of a project. On the other hand, all public agencies do require performance and payment bonds. The bonds provide subcontractors and suppliers with remedies for losses for non-performance by the principal in the absence of construction lien rights on public projects.
Interestingly, Doug said AIA Document A312 – Performance Bond & Payment Bond does not entirely comply with the Oregon Regulatory Statutes. I’m not sure exactly how A312 fails to do so, but if I correctly recall what Doug said, it may have something to do with Oregon’s civil statutes of limitations.
Maintenance bonds are purchased by a contractor and protect the owner of a completed construction project for a specified period against defects and faults in materials and workmanship. The purpose is to provide the owner with a means to ensure the cost to resolve problems is not an issue.
A key concept associated with surety bonds is that a contractor who has had a claim filed against a bond must repay the surety for any compensation it makes to the obligee (the owner).
One of the more vexing topics for anyone involved with construction is the purpose and true scope of warranties. Warranties are not to be confused with the correction period (usually one year in duration from the date of Substantial Completion), which is the time during which the contractor has the obligation to rectify deficient work. The correction period is associated with the contractor’s responsibility to generally correct deficiencies, whereas warranties apply to the need to complete a project in accordance with specific requirements of the contract documents. Warranties are a representation made by one party that another party can rely on. Warranties may be expressed (in writing) or implied (not directly stated but assumed to exist under common law).
The problem with written warranties is that you need to fully understand what they say. Manufacturers are careful to only warrant what they directly control. Also, the scope of one manufacturer’s warranty may differ significantly from that of another manufacturer even though their products or systems may otherwise be similar and meet the project’s specified requirements; accordingly, it is incumbent on the design professional to clearly (and realistically) define warranty requirements and subsequently review submitted them with care to ensure the warranty provisions fully comply with them.
What about “guarantees?” How is a guarantee different from a warranty? A guarantee is generally synonymous with a warranty; the difference is a guarantee is more akin to a surety bond, wherein someone makes a promise to be responsible for another’s debts or obligations.
Class Limitations Periods in Oregon
Doug touched upon time limits on claims, which are important to be aware of under different circumstances.
A statute of repose is intended to bar actions after a specified period has run from completion of a project. In Oregon, this period runs for 10 years for public projects, and 6 years for commercial projects.
A statute of limitations differs from a statute of repose by being triggered by an “injury” or claim for damages. The time limits vary depending upon the nature of the claim. They are 6 years for breach of contract, 4 years for product liability, 2 years for upon disclosure of negligence, and 2 years from the date of discovery for design defects.
If I understand correctly, this means a plaintiff can file a claim for, say, faulty construction within four years of identifying the problem if the statute of repose has not already been exceeded.
As I suggested earlier, I find construction insurance, surety bonds, and warranties to be complex, nuanced, and confusing subjects. I hope I have conveyed the gist of the presentation by Doug and Rob with as much fidelity and with as few inaccuracies as possible. Big thanks to the both experts for taking on a considerable challenge with good humor, grace, and effectiveness.
Big thanks too to Jeremy Moritz of the Eugene Builders Exchange for making the EBE available as our venue for the evening. Jeremy sees great things in the future for the Builders Exchange, even as the nature of construction information management is in great flux. I agree, and hope to see the relationship between EBE and CSI Willamette Valley Chapter flourish in the future.
Saturday, March 18, 2017
the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute on Thursday,
March 30, 2017 for what promises to be an essential educational seminar on fall
protection for new and existing buildings.
Attend the seminar and you will learn:
- About fall protection regulations for construction and general industry
- About temporary and permanently installed devices available for fall protection and fall restraint
- About procedures for designing fall protection systems
- How to design skylights and retrofit existing skylights for fall protection
- To recognize potential difficulties with retrofitting existing buildings with fall protection systems
- Larry Fipps - Senior Safety Consultant, Oregon OSHA
- Charlie Garcia - Engineered Solution Specialist, Guardian Fall Protection
- Jody Moore - DeaMor Associates
- Tom Jordan - Senior Project Manager, Ausland Group
- Mack Landreth - Owner, Smith Sheet Metal
A thorough understanding of fall protection (elimination, prevention, or arrest) is invaluable for everyone involved with the design, construction, or maintenance of buildings where there may be a risk associated with working at height. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, falls account for 8% of all work-related trauma injuries leading to death. Undoubtedly, the number of workers whose lives are temporarily or permanently impacted by fall-related injuries are even more significant.
This is your chance to learn about fall protection regulations for new and exiting buildings, for construction and maintenance, from a panel of industry experts! Your clients look to you for solid advice; equip yourself with the facts. Don't miss this seminar. Here are the details: