TBDA JOURNAL

Leaders in the fields of green architecture and sustainable design, we share our thoughts and experiences on current projects and our philosophies on design and performance.

You can search by category, such as “passive house,”  “living building,” “windows,” “HVAC” and so on.

From The Field: Our First Modular Prefab

On a perfect late summer day we invited a bunch of friends to watch our first modular prefab house being set. First off, some terminology: prefab is anything factory-built, so it could be trusses, walls, floors; but modular is when “chunks” of the building... read more

A Modular Home Raising

TBDA is pleased to add another project to the distinguished list of Oak Park, IL architectural “firsts.” Our prefab, modular, Zero Energy Ready Home (DOE) has been built in an Indiana factory by Hi-Tech Housing, and was set in place on  August 23, 2017  in... read more

From the Field: Literally (House on a Prairie Site)

This is one of those dream projects: great client, great site, and a design that just fell together naturally. And the team at Mike Von Behren Builders is fantastic–really getting into the project and executing beautifully. As one of our first larger... read more

From the Field: Acorn Glade Nears Completion

I’m excited to share an update on our Passive House project in Downers Grove. We made an office outing there last week and got all giddy seeing finishes going in. Great job, Evolutionary Home Builders on another beautiful project! The project achieved... read more

High-Performance Foursquare on the Green Built Home Tour

High-Performance Four Square | 630 W Hinsdale Avenue, Hinsdale, IL 60521 This reinterpretation of the classic American Foursquare brings space planning for modern family living and 21st-c. energy efficiency, materials, and technology. The GreenBuilt Home Tour features... read more

From the Field: another house that doesn’t suck

It’s hard to believe that a blower door test could feel…if not routine, than not like a really big deal on just our third Passive project. I mean, that 0.6ACH50 target we learned about in Certified Passive House Consultant sounded so difficult– more... read more

From the Field: blue walls?

I’d like to share a few interesting products we’re using on two projects currently in construction. Funny thing is, they’re both blue, so it’s an accidental theme here. The first is Blueskin, a self-adhering membrane by Henry that is airtight,... read more

From the Field: new projects arising!

We have two new Passive projects in construction now, “Acorn Glaede” in Downers Grove, and a not-yet-named house in Hinsdale. They both started in the summer; Downers is a slab-on-grade, but Hinsdale has a full basement. Here are some compare-and-contrast... read more

Thanksgiving

As I prepare to head out of town for my favorite holiday, I’ve been thinking about gratitude. I have to credit my new-found meditation practice for an increased sense of appreciation of those around me and for my work. I’ve always had a sense of... read more

Architecture and Health

The interaction of the built environment and human health has been a topic of great debate and much development lately. Between the Well Building Standard and the Living Building Challenge, we have new ways of thinking about and measuring our successes and failures in... read more

From The Field: Finishes, cont’d

The excitement has been building as the house nears completion. As the cleaning crew wrapped up on Thursday, we saw all the tile, countertops, flooring, and built ins in their finished state at last. The owners  have been doing low-voltage wiring (Paul is a... read more

Drawing On Place

Occasionally I am asked why I named my domain “drawingonplace.” The reason behind it is at the core of my aspirations in architecture, so I thought I’d take a shot at explaining it, and then illustrate the idea as I begin to follow our next project... read more

From the Field: Finishes, Part One

Now that rough mechanicals are in and the air barrier system has been successfully tested, finishes are going in.These will get a lot more exciting pretty soon as tile, wood trim and accents, cabinetry and countertops, etc. get installed, but that will be next. This... read more

From the Field: More Insulation and Airtightness!

In Passive architecture, you really don’t want your buildings to suck. Technically, you want them to lose less than 0.6 air changes per hour when depressurized to 50 Pascals of pressure for the “old” Passive House Standard, or .05cfm of air per... read more

From the Field: Insulation and Windows

Here’s an update for the Oak Park home in construction–it’s been a busy time with roofing, insulation, overhangs, exterior insulation, weather barrier, and windows. First thing after the air barrier (Prosoco, the pink stuff painted on the outside of... read more

From the Field: Framing the “Right-Sized” Oak Park home

Framing is great fun to watch–it goes up fast, and in a few weeks you go from having drawings to being able to walk through real enclosure of space. It’s like the week after Halloween to an architect: lots of eye candy! Evolutionary Home Builders has been... read more

Manifesto: the new American dwelling

The single-family home is a great American dream, one that so many of us have been fortunate to share; but as our attitudes and awareness grow and shift, so do the definitions of that dream. It’s time to redefine, to clarify what we’re after. It’s... read more

Manifesto follow-up: three designs

So what does this new dwelling look like? Well, of course, it could take endless form; but to provide a prototypical starting point, I created a series of designs using American housing typologies. By starting with the familiar, we can appreciate both the timeless and... read more