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Finding an architect

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#1 BoldlyGoing

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 08:30 AM

Finally getting serious about moving someplace where I can build the observatory of my dreams.

 

Ideally I'd like to build a larger structure that's a combination of a dome observatory, workshop, and artist studio. Plus it needs to be hurricane-proof, and complement the architecture of our main home. That's firmly outside of my DIY capabilities.

 

How does one find an architect who understands how to design around a dome and pier? Is this a specialized skill one must seek out, or is it the case that any architect worth his or her salt can be handed the specs for the dome and pier you intend to use, and incorporate it into their plans?

 

 


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#2 Ishtim

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:10 AM

Not sure about your details, but there exists at least one such company that fits your description:

https://www.observat...s.com/index.php


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#3 TOMDEY

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 09:47 AM

A good, experienced, full-service architect would be the choice. Large, fancy and hurricane-proof all add complexity and cost... and sounds like a great project! I'd get the best local guy, with WOM references from local business owners, and go with him. Let him do the research, just express your requirements and stand back. If cost is little/no object, that should go quickly and perform magnificently!

 

Disclaimer: I designed and built all my own observatories, but I'm a traditional cheapskate scientist!   Tom


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#4 Jeff Struve

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:23 AM

I am having a bit of a problem finding someone for our clubs proposed structures as well. I've had emails into a few folks and don't get a lot of response.



#5 Xeroid

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:37 AM

I would suggest (as stated above) find a reputable local builder, verify references, past customers, knowledgeable of local building codes as they usually know of qualified local architects. 

 

The local architects love to get jobs from the builders, usually at a lower cost to you.



#6 Jeff Struve

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 10:43 AM

I would suggest (as stated above) find a reputable local builder, verify references, past customers, knowledgeable of local building codes as they usually know of qualified local architects. 

 

The local architects love to get jobs from the builders, usually at a lower cost to you.

 

I don't know about the OP, but my main concern is finding someone that knows how to do pier pads and isolation from other concrete slabs/flooring... height of walls to alot for optimum access to the horizon... roll off roof mechanisms... 

 

I was a Residential General Contractor for quite a period of time and this was our family business over a few generations, and the above information isn't a slam dunk for any builder. I would imaging an engineer could figure it out, at a cost, and I think that there is potential to find a builder that can follow the plans, but again as it isnt their normal business would also do this at a premium...



#7 macdonjh

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 11:07 AM

BoldlyGoing,

 

It seems to me a good architect could incorporate a prefabricated dome into your building's plans.  All he'd need is the weight of the dome and he'd be able to figure out a track for the dome to roll on.  If not, he should have a relationship with an engineer to help him with that.  Now if you're asking the architect to design the dome for you, that would be a different matter all together.

 

Will your pier(s) be at grade level, or on the second floor (or higher)?  If at grade, isolation should be easy since the pier will get its own foundation of some kind and the building's floor system must not connect to the pier.  If the pier is on a second floor, things will be more complex.  That may be something for the architect's engineer to help with.

 

Jeff Struve,

 

You've got a lot of knowledge yourself and I'm surprised the builders you've talked to haven't been able to run with what I'm sure you've been able to tell them. 


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#8 Jeff Struve

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 12:03 PM

BoldlyGoing,

 

It seems to me a good architect could incorporate a prefabricated dome into your building's plans.  All he'd need is the weight of the dome and he'd be able to figure out a track for the dome to roll on.  If not, he should have a relationship with an engineer to help him with that.  Now if you're asking the architect to design the dome for you, that would be a different matter all together.

 

Will your pier(s) be at grade level, or on the second floor (or higher)?  If at grade, isolation should be easy since the pier will get its own foundation of some kind and the building's floor system must not connect to the pier.  If the pier is on a second floor, things will be more complex.  That may be something for the architect's engineer to help with.

 

Jeff Struve,

 

You've got a lot of knowledge yourself and I'm surprised the builders you've talked to haven't been able to run with what I'm sure you've been able to tell them. 

I appreciate that comment... but really don't want to assume the responsibility if I goof up on a calculation... especially when dealing with club raised monies... I will admit that the main structure we want is pretty complex... we'll need 3 piers and 4 pads under a single roof...



#9 nmoushon

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 01:37 PM

I would suggest (as stated above) find a reputable local builder, verify references, past customers, knowledgeable of local building codes as they usually know of qualified local architects. 

 

The local architects love to get jobs from the builders, usually at a lower cost to you.

Its actually the other way around (most of the time). GC/builders rarely go to architects because you dont need an architects seal to do residential projects until you get to very large house (like 6k sf or more). Plus they get to pocket the extra architect/design fees for themselves even though its less than what the architect would cost and now a days most have some type of design software that they can draw simple plans in for the city. 

 

But I would not suggest going with a builder first. Builders will be focused on getting the job built and done and not necessarily focused on getting those very fine, yet very important, details correct. They will build it how they build everything else. With this kind of importance on making sure certain structural systems are separated correctly a builder will not be able to figure this out on their own. Even if an architect doesnt know how exactly, they have a much better understanding of how to figure these kinds of details out than a builder would. (Disclaimer I am an architect)


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#10 nmoushon

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Posted 15 January 2020 - 01:42 PM

I appreciate that comment... but really don't want to assume the responsibility if I goof up on a calculation... especially when dealing with club raised monies... I will admit that the main structure we want is pretty complex... we'll need 3 piers and 4 pads under a single roof..

It really depends on the style and complexity of the building itself (separate from them structure for the piers) that would warrant an architect or not. Because if its just a simple shell of a building then that is a simple enough design to just go straight to a structural engineer. They can produce and stamp drawings for the city. They will be able to do the loads and proper structural separation that is needed for the piers. You will want to look over their details to insure that they are drawn in a manner that the contractor will be able to red and understand what very important details are needed. 


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#11 lambermo

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 04:58 AM

Here's some things you may want to share with your architect/constructors that I ran into : explain that the inside of the observatory will be exposed to the open sky, especially during winter, the colder the better. And that walls can become totally wet due to dew because of that. So use outside-house paints. While things can become wet due to dew and/or frost, no rain may enter, like ever. Isolate the observatory *to the rest of the building*, not to the outside. This was a difficult one to explain. Always have outside-air ventilation.


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#12 brave_ulysses

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 08:05 AM

this link may have ruined today's productivity...

 

 

Not sure about your details, but there exists at least one such company that fits your description:

https://www.observat...s.com/index.php


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#13 speedster

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 03:11 PM

Howdy Frank!

 

Nice website, nice work.  We are architects with coastal projects on three continents and an offshore engineering arm.  A few things to think about:

 

"Hurricane proof" is pretty much a dream unless you are inland.  Designing for 180 mph wind is not too tough.  The problem is the debris in the wind.  Everything is pretty simple until a 500 pound palm tree hits at 120 mph.  If you are subject to storm surge, that's another whole ball game.  Let's assume you're not coastal and you are after "hurricane resistant".  Then, the Florida amendments to the International Residential Code will take care of you.  Bare in mind that "resistant" allows several building elements to be sacrificed in the event, like windows, doors, stairs, decks, shingles, domes, etc.  There are plenty of examples where a coastal building "survived" structurally but was totally uninhabitable.

 

Winter Springs looks to be about 40 miles inland which makes the task much simpler:  less wind speed, less flying debris an a neighborhood.  The building code accounts for these factors.

 

If the dome is pre manufactured and designed to be placed on the owner's structure, most any residential architect can do you a fine job.  The pier is also simple though not always intuitive.  Generally, the stiffest, most stable piers are also the least expensive and use the least concrete.  This thread addresses that:  Feel free to ask me any questions.

 

Your biggest difficulty may be finding an architect who wants to deal with a small, specialized project.  Cold calls going through the phone book seldom get results you want.  Try narrowing the list with recommendations from friends and neighbors.  Then call the architect and say "so and so" sent me and they should at least listen to you.


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#14 Steve Haverl

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Posted 25 January 2020 - 09:58 PM

Central Florida has a very active professional society that most architects participate in - AIA, American Institute of Architects. It might be worthwhile to ID the chapter president, make contact and describe your project. Highly probable they will know exactly who to refer you to.


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