*Special thanks to Kevin Minster for assistance with the renderings.


Solid Foundation, Part II

The week has ended with the construction of the block foundation walls.  Now we can finally begin to visualize the footprint of the house.  It’s great to see it slowly rising out of the ground.

Foundation, view from north

We did encounter some design changes as a result of the grading of the site.  As you can see, the block rise 5 courses out of the ground…more than we originally anticipated.  This is not a major difference, the biggest result is simply the slab will be elevated higher than originally anticipated.  As a result, the interior of the foundation walls will simply be filled with a larger volume of compacted pea gravel as a solid base for the pouring of the first floor slab.

Foundation, with skyline in background

Foundation, 8" raised slab for entry

City Life

My commute home has prompted me to talk a little bit about the broader agenda of this project.  The project is not simply about designing a cool house…there are other issues at play here.

I am currently staying at my parents’ house in the suburbs of Indianapolis and work in the city.  Therefore, I must endure the wonderful commute that comes with this sort of lifestyle (for the moment at least).  Many of us experience it ourselves.  I have grown up in the suburbs and it was not until college that I lived in the city.  I lived in an urban environment during both my undergraduate and, more recently, graduate years at The Ohio State University.  During this time, I came to learn the value of city life vs. the suburban lifestyle I was previously so accustomed to.  Living in both situations has given me the opportunity, I believe, to make a fair assessment on both lifestyles.

This house is not for myself.  It is for my brother, Patrick.  However, we both have similar experiences with living in both suburban and urban environments and both have a similar stance on our preferred place of residence.  I will, soon enough, find my own place in the city as well.

So, let me just outline this issue of the urban lifestyle and why the location of the project is in the city and not the suburbs.  To me, the reasons are fairly obvious but, nonetheless, still worth discussing.  There are a number of key reasons/features why I see more value in city life than in suburban life (and many I am probably omitting from the list):


Convenience is one of the key factors in choosing city life.  You are close to many amenities, from farmers markets and grocery stores, to employment centers, restaurants, and other daily needs.  Further, I have found traveling to these destinations easier in the city than the suburbs.

Existing Infrastructure:

The city is better equipped to handle people and to allow for the movement of people.  The infrastructure has been there for years, and it’s better to use existing infrastructure then to continue to spread further from the city center and increase demands for new infrastructure to be developed.  Further, the city maintains more of its original street grid pattern.  As a result, moving throughout the city is made much easier than in the suburbs.  The city offers virtually an endless number of through streets which will take you both east and west and north and south.  However, the suburbs were developed much later and many of these north-south and east-west streets have been cut off by neighborhood developments, making travel constricted to a few keys arteries.  This, in turn, causes a much higher rate of congestion.


The city is equipped with transportation options other than the personal automobile.  In the case of Indianapolis, the bus system is not all that great, but at least it is an option.  Hamilton County has absolutely not mass transportation system…which is crazy in a county of hundreds of thousands of people.  Additionally, Indianapolis has made recent efforts to promote bicycle culture in the city.  The addition of bike lanes, the cultural trail, and greenways have allowed for another option of transportation besides the automobile.


The city allows quick access to a seemingly endless amount of cultural attractions.  That’s not to say that the suburbs don’t have any cultural attractions, but definitely not to the extent of the city.  Indianapolis has a number of attractions including museums, art galleries, restaurants, nightlife, parks, countless festivals, music venues, breweries, public spaces, theaters, professional sports teams, and so on.  Many suburban residents come to the city for these attractions, but living in the city affords you better, quicker, and more frequent access to these.


City Living also promotes a more environmentally responsible lifestyle.  When people live in a more dense setting, we lessen our physical footprint on the planet.  We take previously developed land and live on it, as opposed to creating new development from previously undisturbed land.  Also, in many cases, as a result of the lot sizes being smaller in cities, the homes end up being smaller as well, as is the cases with 701 Shelby.  And, a smaller home lends itself to less energy usage.  Further, many of this issues addressed above contribute to improved environmental conditions.  When we live closer to where we work and spend our free time, we obviously cut down on our carbon footprint.

I could actually go on for quite some time about the benefits of urban living, but I hope I have started to make a convincing case.  I think many people in the younger generation are rediscovering the value and the quality of life city living can provide.  Further, in the argument of raising a family, I think the city is more equipped now then in prior years to fight this stigma.  Indianapolis now has some great schooling options, with numerous charter schools throughout the city and many receiving high accolades including Herron High School and the Centers for Inquiry.

Thanks for reading this long rant.  It is an issue I feel strongly about, and I hope more and more people will begin to discover the value of the urban lifestyle and we can truly see an even stronger resurgence in our urban centers.

Block by Block

The concrete blocks for the foundation have finally arrived on site!  We should begin to see progress made anytime now.  I will post pictures as the foundation progresses.  Also, we are in the process of editing and reviewing shop drawings from Thermocore for the SIP wall system.  It looks as though things will begin picking up pace…which we have all been anticipating for some time now.

As we progress with the SIP’s from Thermocore, look for a more detailed post about the wall system and why we chose this system over other options.