Archive for November 2012

Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving in Ships Bottom   1 comment

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Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving in Ships Bottom

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Dennis J. Kowal AIA uses a microphone to notify residents of Long Beach Island that hot Thanksgiving Meals are being served.

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As a Board member of the Central Chapter of the American Red Cross, Dennis J. Kowal AIA, principal of Dennis Kowal Architects realized many of the Red Cross volunteers needed a break on Thanksgiving Day so they could join their families.  He and his interior designer wife, Susan Kowal, were happy to forego their own traditions and head out at 6am to serve Turkey Dinners to allow some of the Red Cross staff to take the day off.    One hundred and nine Red Cross Vehicles like the one pictured above canvassed Sandy-ravaged New Jersey to deliver meals prepared by volunteers from the Southern Baptist Convention.    Susan commented “I’d rather be doing this than anything else today!  These people on Long Beach Island have no heat, no natural gas, and not a single store or food establishment open today.     If it wasn’t for the Red Cross, they would be alone without a meal.”

During a meal distribution at the Buccaneer Motel where displaced residents were relocated who  no longer had homes, cars, or possessions, one resident was heard to say that they only thing they had in their room was a can of nuts and “we really appreciate the daily meals brought to the Island by the American Red Cross”.  Down the street other residents were shoveling four feet of sand out of the first floor of their homes and appreciated the meal and water delivery.  Amazingly, on the opposite corner, the homes did not have sand at all but only muck from the bay.  Apparently, flooding from the Ocean side met the flooding from the bay side at this corner and left two different scenarios for homeowners to face.

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Susan Kowal serving hot turkey, string beans, mashed potatoes with gravy, apple sauce and a snack pack of goodies and water from the window in the side of the Red Cross truck known as an ERV (Emergency Response Vehicle).  Families were even given a Thanksgiving table cloth but the best gift is sometimes just compassion or chance to talk about each situation. Despite the 27 degree early morning temperatures, strict Food handling guidelines and procedures assure that the 7,500 meals served every day to the Jersey Shore storm residents are safe, tasty, and steaming hot.  Red Cross volunteers came from every state in the nation on three week rotations to help with shelters, meals and assisting residents with paperwork and re-starting their lives. 
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House Calls in Ships Bottom, New Jersey!   Dennis, led by a neighbor who knew this woman was alone, crippled and isolated on Thanksgiving, brings warm blankets and a turkey dinner.  This resident was forced to move to the second floor of their house as the entire first floor was flooded and is now just an empty shell. A spontaneous Thanksgiving prayer during a lull offered by volunteers from various partner groups was interrupted when the Team Leader shouted “Incoming!”   (meaning a group of residents was walking toward the ERV’s.  Workers had to jump back into the vehicles to get the serving lines running again…so much for a break!).
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Sand had to be shoveled out of many homes. It’s odd to see more debris than cars or people on a popular Long Beach Island street.
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A thankful young woman surprised Dennis with a hug after he offered her a  sweatshirt on this cold morning.  JC Penny’s and many other businesses donated thousands of coats and sweatshirts.

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These volunteers are a long way from their families in North Carolina and are seen here preparing one order of mashed potatoes, enough for 100 off-site meals.  The Waretown kitchen, K-3, was a fully inspected commercial kitchen set up in temporary tents and these workers will not get home for the Holiday.  The day begins by loading the ERVs with enough food to serve 300 people each and the day ends at dusk with cleaning everything for use again tomorrow. Early on Thanksgiving morning, some of the 43 ERVs lined up to receive their day’s supply of hot food at K-3.  Some trucks go to shelters, some to street corners, and others make set rounds. Other ERVs left from two other kitchen locations to serve the entire State. 
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  Susan and her friend, Linda Blair-Cusumano, baked ten homemade pumpkin pies to surprise the North Carolina kitchen workers.    Since the kitchen workers would be going back to hotels and tent cities at night to eat prepared foods for their own belated Thanksgiving, Susan thought it would be great to treat them with a little taste of home cooking.  Unfortunately, the gas oven broke at this point and all the raw pies had to be carried to a neighbor’s house to finish!  Mission was accomplished in time and the workers loved being appreciated this way at the end of a long day!

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Donations for Hurricane Sandy can be made to the Red Cross at www.redcross.org

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Posted November 30, 2012 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Outreach

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Exxon goes Green in Style!   Leave a comment

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Exxon goes Green in Style!

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The Lobby of Exxon Energy Systems uses natural Vermont slate on the floor to absorb the heat from the low angle winter sun.  The heat is redistributed to the offices by heat pumps.    Visitors get a great view inside and out and are sometimes unaware of the natural energy systems working around them.

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Who says sustainable design must be colorless and drab?  When Exxon Energy Systems wanted a 100,000 square foot office/research building at Princeton’s Forrestal Center,  Dennis J. Kowal, AIA, LEED AP,  combined a strong design with energy saving features.  The four story building is sheathed in insulated metal panels  and special window systems which are different at each sun exposure:  north, south, east, and west.   On the exposures where summer sun is not an issue, the walls are flat and the windows are in the plane of the exterior wall.   But  windows exposed to the strong summer sun are designed to allow the skydome light in and keep the solar gain out.  The windows  are permanently tipped away from the direct solar gain (see photo above which is similar to the offices) which provides natural shading in the summer.   The low angle winter sun is able to shine into the space, warm the surfaces and floors and warm the offices.

Another feature of the design includes incremental heat pumps which reduce the length of duct work runs; thereby reducing embodied energy in the manufacture process and  consumption of extra resources.  Because the window system is designed to bring in natural light without the glare and summer solar gain, the offices are less dependent on artificial lighting and thereby conserve energy.

A geothermal system was designed for both the air conditioning and heating of the building, but the Department of Environmental Protection declined the permit because it was a new concept to them.  Did we tell you…..this building was designed and constructed over 25 years ago! … ahead of its time in concept and development.  Today, geothermal permits are routine and day-lighting is all the rage, but this is one of the projects that started it all.

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The deep profile of this southern exposure allows for super-insulation and great energy efficiency. The wall section acts like a periscope bouncing natural light in and keeping direct solar gain out.   Day-lighting reduces the energy cost for artificial lighting and increases occupant satisfaction and efficiency.
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 The four story building mixes window profiles based on exposure to the summer sun. Natural light is bounced into the offices (note the bright sloped wall above the window) while glare and heat remain outside.
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Dennis Kowal Architects integrates master planning, space planning, building design and Interior Design to a variety of corporate and industry clients. 

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The site design  introduced concepts that were new at the time, such as bioswales, that used vegetation and root systems to purify parking lot runoff before returning the water to the ecosystem and pervious pavers at the entry plaza that naturally absorbed rainwater.

Also, mature trees were brought into the parking lot to provide substantial shade to the vehicles which reduced off-gassing of car fuel tanks and reduced the heat-island effect of the pavement.  The Exxon building is still a stellar example and precursor to the LEED concepts that are just starting to take hold in America.

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Dennis Kowal Architects help corporations reduce building energy costs while making them look good!

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Hurricane Sandy buries the Wicked Witch of the North(easter)   Leave a comment

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Hurricane Sandy buries the Wicked Witch of the North(easter)

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Just like in the Oz movie, Hurricane Sandy lifted this 80’ long barn roof in one piece and dropped it in a field. 

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS was busy during Hurricane Sandy running to projects in ravaged Belmar, New Jersey, flooded  Hoboken New Jersey, and right in their own back yard in Central New Jersey.   A 16’ x 84’ long roof assembly lifted directly off a barn at Duke Farms.  In almost a surgical fashion, Hurricane Sandy grabbed one half of the gabled upper roof assembly and detached it with very little damage to the remaining structure.

In Hurricanes, buildings either implode or explode from the high wind pressure.  It is not uncommon to find after a storm that two adjacent buildings have been destroyed by two different methods.  One building implodes and all materials remain in a heap and another building explodes and parts of it are found everywhere.  The reason is simple.   If flying debris breaks a window or a loose exterior detaches, then the high pressure wind is able to get inside the structure, and under the right conditions, burst the structure open.  This is what happened to the maternity barn at Duke Farms.    The weakest link let go and that happened to be the wood framed roof.  The exterior walls of the barn were concrete block.

Gusts can also cause a building to implode when forces exceed the design capacity of the structure.  Sometimes, improper construction can be the culprit.  This is why every project we design includes a nailing schedule specifying how many nails, what size and what spacing.    These things matter when  there is a storm.  Also, windows come in a hurricane grade which resist breakage when heavy objects are hurled at them at terrific speeds.  These simple steps can sometimes save a building.

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The upper roof of this 7,000 sf barn weighing several tons was lifted by Sandy as one piece and then dropped a short distance away.    Note that the hay pile remained intact.

Facility Manager, Joseph Wyatt LEED AP, assembled a quick response team for the storm damage at Duke Farms.  The roof assembly broke in half upon landing.

 A clean separation between framing halves of this barn can be seen at the ridge pole.  It will be possible to rebuild the barn using many of the original components.

The sequence of events:   Fragments of in-blown glass were only evident in a small location seen below in this photo taken  from where the clerestory windows were once in position.   As soon as the envelope was breached, wind pressure filled the structure with such force as to cause some part to explode.  The roof popped up in one piece and the steady windy blew it clear of the rest of the structure. The remaining windows all blew out like the roof.

The blown off roof immediately reduced the wind pressure and no further damage occurred.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS assists owners with storm damage and navigate the difficult insurance claim process.   Dennis Kowal, AIA LEED AP, has disaster assessment training with the American Institute of Architects and is on the Board of the American Red Cross.

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DENNIS KOWAL ARCHITECTS provides expert structural assessments when the unexpected happens.

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Unrelated advertisement below;  Please leave a comment about this blog in the comment box below the advertisement or click on more stories from the category list at the upper left top of this blog.

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Posted November 7, 2012 by Dennis Kowal Architects in Renovation

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