Saving an Old Lady   Leave a comment

Saving an Old Lady

This 30 foot stained glass and lead dome was restored by Dennis Kowal Architects in concert with the entire building restoration.

The lead and glass dome was in such poor condition, the Owner had installed a plywood ceiling to catch the falling glass and to protect the public.  Dennis Kowal Architects (DKA) saved the dome from an uncertain fate with a full historic restoration plan.  The dome constructed in 1910 is located at the center of Winchester, Virginia; a city that changed hands 70 times during the Civil War.

Years of neglect resulted in bird, dust and pollution deposits on the back of the dome rendering the dome a dark, streaked mess.

Scaffolding was erected above to clean, replace, repair and reinforce the high vaulting dome.  Over 5,000 individual panes were inspected, identified and restored per instructions specific to each condition.  Many of the panes were missing or cracked.

Painstaking restoration under the direction of DKA repaired the cracked glass pieces, re-set the fallen pieces, replaced the missing pieces and fortified the entire structure with new supports and clips.

Apart from physical impact, the glass in a leaded glass installation is relatively long-lasting.  It is the deterioration of the skeleton structure that is the most common threat. Here the structure was reinforced before final cleaning of the repaired dome commenced. Federal preservation standards note that in many cases “minor cracks, sagging and oxidation are part of the character of historic leaded glass and require no treatment.” However, in this case, the dome was failing; needing reinforcement, new glass panes and repair to broken panes.

The entire dome was surveyed and treated on a pane by pane basis.  Note the replacement glass (in the prior photo) evidenced by the slightly different color which is not noticeable from below.

The Handley Regional Library is considered the finest example of Beaux Arts Architecture in the state of Virginia because it carries the proportions, materials and unique elements like the leaded glass dome and iron and glass floors.  Dennis Kowal Architects researched the insignias placed at the four compass points of the dome.  Each represents a printers mark.  A “printer’s mark” is a symbol used as a trademark by early printers starting in the 15th century.  Here the dolphin and anchor are the 16th century trademark of Aldus Pius Manutius, a Venetian publisher who is know as the inventor of the italic typeface.

The final result is a spectacular leaded glass dome with brilliant colors which were highlighted by placing an electric light above the dome.  Originally, the dome was only lit by natural light from eight circular windows above; which never quite reached the peak and left an overly dark, colorless center.  Kowal reported “Seeing the dome restored and backlit for the first time since it was installed in 1910 was breathtaking.  Details which were not apparent because of the dim previous lighting were now fully revealed.

Dennis Kowal Architects preserves the past.

 

 

All the Comforts of Home a new Skilled Nursing Facility   2 comments

All the Comforts of Home – a new Skilled Nursing Facility

 

New premium rooms at the Eastern Star Skilled Nursing Facility are designed with a home-like interior.  Deep sills for plants and gifts, valances for drapes and blinds, and super-insulated walls for comfort provide a cozy environment for residents. 

“We want beautiful new rooms for our patients.” The priorities of this non-profit were clear.   Dennis Kowal Architects created a masterplan for expansion, designs for new living areas, and three new wings for occupancy.  Many studies were developed until the perfect dimensions, finishes and proportions were found for the bedrooms.   Sunlight for health, window seats for views and easy to clean fabrics to soften the walls, all combine to create the beauty and privacy desired.

The next challenge of the project was to meet zoning and building regulations for this site bounded by single family residences.  Traffic, utilities, land acquisition and zoning restrictions were all adeptly addressed and the project was built with no variances.  DKA also helped with the fund raising presentations, neighborhood relations, and cost estimating to provide a construction ready package for the design-build construction firm.

Renovated rooms, new rooms, and common areas blend into an integrated facilty.

The wings were designed for maximum exposure to views and conformance to the hilltop site.  Outdoor plazas, gardens and walking areas flow seamlessly into the one story facility.

DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS is changing the face of Healthcare!

Every Home a Custom Fit   1 comment

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Designing a home is like finding the right music.  The tempo, orchestration, lyrics, and mood of your favorite music can lift you up, hang peacefully in the background, bring life to your party or accent a major event.   Imagine if your home was like listening to someone else’s playlist over and over.   A home design that resonates with the very lifestyle and movements of its occupants becomes a harmonic experience where each improves the other.  At Dennis Kowal Architects, we shape the home, land and interior design to complement the way you live.

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Traditional

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Historic Preservation

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Contemporary

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Interior Design

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Carriage House & Landforming

DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS designs homes that fit your lifestyle

Posted March 11, 2015 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Residential

Timeless House Design   Leave a comment

Timeless House Design

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Shakespeare in Love!  This English-cottage inspired design greets guests with a two-story rotunda and curved staircase tower.  Creeping ivy, steep-sloped roofs, bay windows, low eaves and a meandering walk create a small scale charm for this 7,500 square foot home.

When you travel for a living, a welcoming home provides a much needed grounding.  With a picturesque exterior and a timeless interior, the owners desired a setting to host dinner parties, display their art,  write books and fit an extensive collection of antique furniture.  “We designed a place, not just a house.  Building and land blend seamlessly creating a constantly unfolding experience of new, intimate and relaxed spaces inside and out.” said Kowal of his design that puts equal emphasis on landscape, contours, architecture and natural light.

Exterior Details

A garden path to a second private entrance allows guest-authors to stay in their own Wing and work on their books without interruption.  The L-shaped house features a four-car carriage house with a second floor office for this national speaker, writer and consultant.

While most contemporary homes are designed on the open plan, forcing movement through a room to access the next room, the open plan in this home is paralleled with delightful walkways lined with art, orchids and natural light at the crossings.  Guests, hosts or caterers can circumnavigate the occupied rooms when necessary and then enjoy the open arrangements at other times.  “The experience is like wandering through forest chases and arriving at welcoming, open groves along the way”.

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Interiors feature thickened masonry walls and arches to bring permanence and solidity to this design while playful small interior openings between some rooms present pre-designed views of nature, natural light and displays.  An interior art gallery and library ends in a two story apse bathed in natural light and second floor views from above.

Site, style, scale, and the lifestyle of the occupants all combine to achieve a master plan for living with nature and retreating from the hassles of airports, highways and business.  Several different groups can be in the same house and not interrupt one another but the centrality of the floor plan and the overlooking second floor interior balconies brings everyone together when desired.  Exterior walkways, terraces, docks and covered spaces, all designed by DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS, provide leisurely connections to the land and waterways.  The perfect author’s retreat!

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS designs homes that resonate with their environment and the people that use them.

Posted February 20, 2015 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Residential

Would you go to church more often if it looked like this?   Leave a comment

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Would you go to church more often if it looked like this?

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When DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS was asked to design a new 3,000 seat church near Washington, D.C.,   modern church design would change forever.   “We can no longer afford to build and heat huge sanctuaries that sit idle during the weekdays” said principal Dennis Kowal AIA, LEED AP.    So with that, every major space was designed to serve more than one purpose and to be used seven days a week.  Multi-purpose rooms were not a new concept, but making them spectacular yet functional was a welcome change.

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 The Sanctuary can convert from natural light to stage light within seconds. Whether voice, choral, amplified or a Capella music, the auditorium is perfectly tuned for maximum enjoyment  but instantly transforms into a gymnasium.

This curved lobby joins all of the functions including high school, college, worship, recreation, and administration.  The same lobby is designed to seat 500 for conferences and special events.

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 Seven hundred upholstered seats can squeeze into a 3’ thick wall in a matter of minutes.  Just moments before, this was a 3000 seat auditorium!

This spacious conference room is lined with counters, storage, sinks, and white boards. The same conference room becomes a banquet room complete with buffet counters and adjacent food preparation room.

High school classrooms enjoyed natural light views and built-in projection equipment.

By sizing the high school classrooms with extra footprint and storage closets, instant conversion to Sunday School classrooms was possible.

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Posted December 23, 2014 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Places of Worship

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Humble on the outside and colorful on the inside   Leave a comment

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Humble on the outside and colorful on the inside

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Phase One of the Praise Presbyterian Korean Church features a multi-purpose worship space, fellowship hall and administrative offices.

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Like the Korean Culture, this new church is humble on the outside and colorful on the inside.  The Praise Presbyterian Church has services in Korean and English and is a mix of generations.  Since family structure is an important dynamic, the architecture of the new building exposes the elements of its structure.  The tops of columns branch out like a “family tree” and energy-saving translucent panels simulate rice paper screens.  The facility has a modern appearance and becomes an embracing backdrop for the colorful presentations of folk culture, classical music and worship.

Natural light floods the interior of the church and spacious hallways become galleries that are used for constantly changing exhibits and art.   The translucent wall panels are 4” thick and contain a clear spun glass insulation that allows light to pass without the heat.

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The structure of the unique stair case is fully exposed.  The stair is actually hung by suspension cables and floats three stories within the translucent stair tower.  At night, the stair towers glow and become a beacon of hope to the community.  Begun by a handful of college students meeting at Rutgers University, the church is now a large congregation of young professionals with their parents and grandparents.  The facility supports their church services, fellowship, and many musical performances by the talented congregation.

                             
   
   
   
   
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The acoustically tuned multipurpose room has movable seating and can transform into a gymnasium.  The carpeting is a “true bounce” carpet that performs naturally for basketball and other sports.  Sophisticated lighting, sound, and video systems give the facility great flexibility and use.

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Dennis Kowal Architects design buildings that resonate with the culture of the organization.

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Why would the largest Presbyterian Church in New England hire Dennis Kowal Architects?   1 comment

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Why would the largest Presbyterian Church in New England hire Dennis Kowal Architects?

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The DKA expansion and “prayer tower” above bridges the two existing church buildings to the left and right and creates an organic link with the beautiful New England site and distant shores beyond.

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Church Architects from five states were invited to show their best projects but it was the work and approach of Dennis Kowal Architects that caught the attention of the Noroton Presbyterian Church.  Nestled in one of the wealthiest communities in the United States, this modern church with very historic roots needed to update and expand to support their bursting ministries.   Pastor Sam Schreiner is often heard saying “we are an over performing church in an under-performing building”.    The Kowal Design team transformed and expanded the existing facility to include a new Mission Center, Fellowship Hall, , Worship Space, Performing Arts Room, Daycare, Offices and Prayer Tower.

The fifteen million dollar project has completed Phases I and Phase II, and congregational reaction has been very promising so far.  Why was this New Jersey firm brought into the project?    “The DKA team has demonstrated that they listen to their clients, use creativity to solve complicated problems, definitely understand how ministry works, and create beautiful spaces with a watchful eye on the budget.”

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Posted December 19, 2014 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Master Plan, Places of Worship

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