Residential Design

Vol 1, 2018

A business-to-business magazine focused on the collaborative process and talented work of residential architects and custom homebuilders.

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the job" on this house, which is already winning local and regional awards. "Mark's work on this house was just outstanding," says Jonathan Ramsey, AIA, of BNIM. "This kind of house can't just happen with our vision and drawing. It's not just me working on a project like this. He was instrumental in getting it done—without many ques- tions or issues. We worked with him on a previous house, the Midwest Retreat, and when you find somebody this good, you stick with them." It's interesting that Jonathan picked the word "vision," because Mark uses the very same language to describe the special magic that has to happen on an ambitious project: "Each home has a style, and each architect has a vision. Everybody involved—architect, client, supplier—everyone has to buy into it. If it's a modern home or minimalist, it will have certain themes. We need to know what they are. To reach the goal, we need to know what the target is. "When we work on a remodel of a traditional home, we have to get back Above: BNIM's Ravine Residence achieved its thin roof profile through Mark Main's dogged persistence with suppliers. The design also relies on the exacting alignment of every material and detail. to what the vision was," he continues. "Then, it's a process of sitting down with the owner or architect and figur- ing out where can we get a product like that, or do we have to make it?" Indeed, sourcing products is a big part of the job and one that keeps Mark on his toes. His biggest problem is finding one central authority to vet all of the kinds of products and materials he needs and to ensure the performance standards he has to hit—there simply isn't that single source. Or, there is, and it's him. "Some- times I feel like I have to be a scientist. They call it building science for a reason." Manufacturer reps are an important resource for him. For the roof on the Ravine Residence, he worked closely with a foam insulation maker to ensure he had the right combination of prod- ucts to deal with the thermal burdens, the moisture, and still get the roof "to breathe." Coming up with a winning recipe allowed the architects to get the unventilated, thin roof they wanted. And that's quite the trick in Mark's Zone 5 climate. He explains, "Zone 5 has lots of freeze-thaw cycles. The extremes are over 100 in the summer, and -15 below zero in the winter. We have thermal issues and moisture issues. You have to figure out how to manage the water and the vapor on the inside of the house. On the outside, you have to do deeper footings. Expansion and contraction cycles are extreme. Steel here has to be insulated, sealed, and thermally broken." Delivering this level of design rigor is not just about the science, it's also about the art. "You need to always think three steps ahead," Mark says. "We have great subs, but sometimes we have to slow them down. We have to explain, 'This job is different from that spec home you worked on last month.' "Everyone needs to have a passion for the project, and a passion for each detail. It takes more effort, and it requires the right mindset. This is when my OCD kicks in," he jokes. "But that's fine. This is what I like. I never want to build the same house twice." –S. Claire Conroy Photos: BNIM | © Kelly Callewaert 21 VOL. 1, 2018 RESIDENTIALDESIGNMAGA ZINE.COM

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