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Concrete for Sustainable Design in Pittsburgh

As we develop the relationship with the sister workshop Concrete Zen, we open doors for new innovative design solutions. The Custom projects Take Pride Construction & Design LLC. managed in the last year have been those which have integrated the renovation, restoration or remodeling with Concrete Design. This approach has invited new ways to see concrete’s natural versatility. The workshop is 15 miles from Pittsburgh and the design’s are hand made. The result is a unique design, that is locally resourced. We welcome the opportunity for our clients to be inspired by their research and engage as a project contributor. With our workshop, we can provide prototypes from our client’s imagination. We limit the exhausting reasearch and expensive results of defining the custom intent. Our future renovations will have an integration of Concrete Design that can work within a budget for our clients and allow them to have a genuine unique experience. The options include floor finishes with custom staining and concrete overlays. Handmade Tiles can be made any size and shape for floors, back splashes or accents. We can make custom fitting Concrete Panels, heated for Bathroom shower stalls, benches and custom shower pans. Furniture can be made with choices and styles to compliment the colors within the house or an outdoor living space. Concrete Countertops and Concrete Sinks can be fabricated to the style and shape that suits the clients taste. Planters can be made to accent interior decor or exterior landscape planning. The list goes as far as one’s imagination. We are inspired by the innovation at Concrete Zen and others in the concrete Design Industry. Take Pride Construction and Design LLC. encourages experimental or forward thinking inspirations and look forward to collaborating to achieve the final result. Please review our gallery pictures.

GAGI pre-party at the Shadow Lounge

img_0683 GAGI stands for Geek Arts Green Innovators. It is a great feat to bring people together who have differing backgrounds and common interests. Christine McCray Bethea is the fearless organizer who is coordinating events for the GAGI festival on April 2nd. The fun filled evening includes a fashion show, green innovation, robotics and more…Please see for detailed information about the event. Brian, Nicole, and Elizabeth joined the fun Friday, March 19th at the AVA Lounge and the Shadow Lounge talking with participants of the up and coming festival. Everyone who I spoke with had very interesting activities to share. It was inspiring to hear that environmental consciousness is widespread nowadays!–Elizabeth E.

Architect Jeanne Gang uses Concrete like no other

The Aqua Building in Chicago

The Aqua Building in Chicago

AQUA, an 82 story skyscraper in Chicago, is boasting curvy concrete slabs used for balconies and solar shading and wind protection. ” The wind is broken up so much that the building didn’t require a device known as a “tuned mass damper.” Usually condominiums sixty or seventy floors above the street don’t have balconies because it’s just too windy up there to go outside” -The New Yorker February1, 2010. Balconies extend to 12 feet ! The building also has water reclamation systems in its design which will help when its assessed for LEED certification.–Elizabeth E.

Infrared Photo of House

Infrared Photo of House

 Anne Balogh of Concrete Network explains how ICF directly affects energy efficiency in buildings when installed correctly. The major result of ICF is that it creates an air tight seal from the elements. When there is a closed structural “thermal envelope” the indoor air quality must be free of combustion and mold. HVAC and boiler systems must be in optimal working order for health reasons. Please see 10 tips that  Richard Rue, CEO of Energy Wise Structures, lists for making ICF homes safe & energy efficient: -Elizabeth E


A Modern Concrete Home

A Modern Concrete Home

Being Green does not cost more when you factor in the Life Cycle Costs of ICF homes or homes that are energy efficient. Pay back from reduced energy bills is inevitable when you spend about “4% more” up front for a newly constructed ICF home.-Anne Balogh of Concrete Network. Low maintenance, durable building materials such as concrete is one of the factors in assessing the Life Cycle Cost of an ICF home. Your quality of health is another! Fire resistance and sever weather protection are even more reasons to fortify your home in an envelope of concrete!–Elizabeth E.

Walnut Street – Grace

Yesterday I stopped by the Walnut Street project and the Field Club project.  I took some photos and took a look at the space.  At Walnut Street the dry wall is up!  I met with the clients and took care a couple small details.  One being their fireplace design, which Concrete Zen is going to design and fabricate.  The style of the house is very simplistic and modern.  We found a nice photo that we are going use as inspiration.

At Field Club we discussed a couple details, one being the location of the master room bathroom door.  We think it needs to be moved because it is cramping the space.  I uploaded the pictures to our Flickr account.

Field Club

Tom Branch – LEED AP

When we started the process of becoming LEED certified, we learned that we need a LEED accredited professional to oversee the process.  In our region, that is Mr. Tom Branch.  Tom is a one man company with 15 years experience in HVAC design, is a LEED accredited professional by the US Green Building Council, and his Energy Star home energy certification is pending.  He is also a certified building analyst through the Building Performance Institute.

Mr. Branch is working with us so we can achieve LEED certification, and he is over-seeing the HVAC design and implementation on the Bingham Street Condo Project.  He has promised that, through his help, our project will be Energy Star rated.

Tom Branch

His thoughts on the project thus far,

“I’m impressed with the zeal everyone is approaching the project with.”

When asked, “What is different about this project then other LEED projects that you have worked on?”

He quickly replied, “It differs because everyone on the project is familiar with LEED and everyone working on it is familiar with the effort it takes.”  In the past, and as LEED has developed, projects were generally left in the hand of the LEED representatives.  That is changing.  We’re trying to understand the entire project and be part of every step.

Concerning Energy Star, the Energy Star Program is changing, coming in 2011, and is concerned about creating better structures.  It’s all part of the evolving process of bettering design and the design process.

This week Tom Branch worked on the Durability checklist and Preliminary rating, which has to be sent into the LEED provider.  The Durability checklist is a project list for parts of the project that may challenge the buildings durability. Examples include possible areas of water leakage, penetration, and thermal breaks.  Next week he is planning a visit to the site where he plans to look into the water reclamation project and roof irrigation.

On Saturday I sat down and spent a little time with the LEED checklist for the Bingham Street Condo Project.  I completed the Locations and Linkages section.  It’s a fun easy part of the certification project.  This section is important because it proves that the building is within reasonable (walking) distance to neccessities such as banks, stores, medical facilities, food, etc.  Being within walking (or biking!) distances to these places is important for sustainable design and good urban design.  It’s easier for residents, and it is

more efficient than having to drive everywhere.  Being on the Southside, residents will have an abundance of options.  (Personally,  I’ll be happy the day that cars are considered “alternate transportation” and buses and bikes will be the norm.)

Thank you Google maps!  I was able to go online and look up the address of the condos and map the distances to all local businesses, parks, neccessaties and bus routes.  I’m a big fan of public transportation, so I was happy to show all the options a Condo resident may have only a block from their home!

Dawn Marie – 6.10.09

Working on several properties at one time.

Walnut Street has been going on for a while.  We just got approval to start the second phase.

The first phase was demo.  We had to remove all of the old horsehair plaster. What a giant mess that is. The dirt and dust was incredible.

The house is over 100 hundred years old and has its issues.  We had to be very careful removing the plaster on the exterior walls.  The siding was popping off if we did not handle it carefully.  The plumber and electrician had to rearrange lots of stuff to fit the plans.

Now we need to reframe the exterior openings to accommodate new doors and window sizes.  The owner wants a cool contemporary look.  We are very excited to do this job.

We will be using some cool concrete counters and fireplace surrounds.

Today we start the final demo for the window and door framing.

Phil Martino – Week 6.11.09

This week Phil is working on:

Heritage Box, Co is a current project Phil is working on.  It is a manufacturing company that builds wooden crates for shipping large items over seas.  This is also a design build project, and Harry Levine is the architect on the project.

The building is Located in Center Township.  They are about 1 month into the porject, and this week the foundations and block footings are being done.  It’s been raining a lot lately, which is usual for Pittsburgh, so weather will determine whether the foundation is finished this week.  If it rains, the concrete footings will need to be cleaned, which adds time and man-power.

Phil feels good about the project right now.  He works with good people.