Happy home-making, for wildlife and humans.

Eastern Amberwing, taking a brief rest on the tip of Sagittaria sp. (planted in the wetland.)

Eastern Amberwing, taking a brief rest on the tip of Sagittaria sp. (planted in the wetland.)

Silver-spotted Skipper, nectaring on Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed) in the wetland.

Silver-spotted Skipper, nectaring on Pontederia cordata (Pickerelweed) in the wetland.

Sagittaria sp. in bloom in the wetland...

Sagittaria sp. in bloom in the wetland…

In earlier posts, we have shared our trials, tribulations, and finally, triumphs, with Tonbo Meadow.  ‘Tonbo’ is a grouping of 14 clustered modern single-family houses, on a 3.19 acre site, with meadow and stormwater wetland open spaces.

Wetland layers - habitat for everyone.

Wetland layers – habitat for everyone.

Over the weekend, we had a site visit to roam around the stormwater wetland, and it was abuzz with pollinators, hunters, and, um, procreators! (sorry, photos of the last were blurry!)

Female Common Whitetail Skimmer, laying eggs!

Female Common Whitetail Skimmer, laying eggs!



This project has been a labor of love for the whole team:

Fasse Bldgs, one of the rare collaborative/creative developers  who gives a hoot about the natural world.
Red Line Engineering, with superb stormwater design skills and overall diplomacy.
Element Outdoor Living, who brought the site to life with enthusiasm.

Look for more photos, soon on other B+O social media –  too many to include in this post!

habitat for people.

habitat for people.

Possibly a member of the Libellula genus - Needham's or Golden-winged Skimmer?

Possibly a member of the Libellula genus – Needham’s or Golden-winged Skimmer?

A close-up of the lovely Lobelia cardinalis...

A close-up of the lovely Lobelia cardinalis…


TMH Matsumoto Prize/Modern House vote!!

If you’re like us, you like modern design & except for Dwell & certain other few foreign shelter magazines- there aren’t many places for good, inspiring products, information & photos.  Triangle Modernist Houses, a Durham based group, founded by George Smart- a great advocate for modernism in all forms is one of

Front/exterior from west

them.  (http://www.trianglemodernisthouses.com)

This summer they are sponsoring a modern home competition for North Carolina residences called the Matsumoto Prize, named for a beloved NC State arch. professor & modernist.   B + O design studio has entered a recently completed project, the Althea Way House, in the program.

Great room/kitchen/dining

If you have some time, review the 19 entries which cover a wide gamut of modern architectural solutions all over the state.  Passive homes, vacation retreats, towers, courtyards, and cantilevers galore!!!  You can vote online from 7/8 to 7/22/12, and add your voice to that of a nationwide panel of six architects from LA to DC.  There is an event in early August at the new NC/CfAD building to celebrate the entries & the winners!


We’re very happy with our project; a couryard home for a young family of five.   The client’s expressed their desire for a clean, open, warm industrial space for living- like a loft in the suburbs!!  We designed a U-shaped plan w/ a great room topped by bedrooms flanked by 2 one-story ‘wings’; one a garage/carport w/ roof deck/garden & the other a master suite.  Sustainability & authenticity were key words; with the palette of materials, lighting, the shaping of air/water/light, and details throughout.  Kudos to our team, especially ILM design/build, Bill Christopher was awesome to see through the client’s vision for a wonderful family home.

Collage of details

thinking about energy, water, and efficient land use

Yesterday, the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Development Coalition held it’s annual awards ceremony, and there were 5 winners – not bad for the struggling economy in our region, but only one of these projects was privately funded.  It’s reassuring to know that publicly-funded projects take sustainability seriously, although we wish the private sector (lenders…) would follow suit.    The US Green Building Council just released it’s 2011 list of the top-ten states having the greatest number of commercial and institutional LEED-certified buildings per capita – and in order, they are… District of Columbia, Colorado, Illinois, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Massachussetts, Texas, California, New York, and Minnesota.  D.C. substantially outpaces the other top finishers, with 31.5 SF of LEED-certified space per person vs. Colorado, the next-highest finisher at 2.74 SF per person!

The projects recognized at yesterday’s awards ceremony were notable in particular for their reduced energy consumption – a part of the sustainability picture that has historically (7 years) received less attention as part of the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Awards Program.  Roya Stanley, the Director of Policy and Technical Assistance at the US Department of Energy, gave the awards program audience an uplifting picture of the direction and momentum of energy-conservation initiatives across the country, and commended the Cape Fear region for it’s efforts. US Representative Mike McIntyre also gave the region a pat on the back, and kept his comments brief and specific to energy. What was missing, however, was a discussion of the connection between energy consumption and efficient land/natural resource use – the primary focus (in our minds, at least!) of the Lower Cape Fear Stewardship Awards program.  Here’s a link to the program…http://www.stewardshipdev.com/

PenderWatch & Conservancy‘s   annual meeting also took place yesterday, and featured Bill Holman, current Director of State Policy at Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.  His presentation, “The Future of Water in North Carolina: Strategies for Sustaining Clean and Abundant Water” was tailored specifically for the lower Cape Fear area, and featured some terrifying statistics regarding drought, population growth, and water consumption – for domestic/agricultural use as well as ‘fracking.’   He described the lack of connections in NC water policy – currently, ground water and surface water are managed as separate resources.  Another slide listed several proposed ‘large water withdrawal’ (each >5 million gallons per day!) projects in our region – 4 of the 5 withdrawals are requests to support mining/extraction projects.  (to create more impervious surfaces, and to power more polluting machinery/vehicles.)

Mr. Holman’s presentation was not all bad news…clearly, there are smart people in North Carolina (insert plug for Duke’s Nicholas Institute here!) thinking logically about how we use…and re-use/recycle our natural resources.  In his ending slides, he talks about new models for 21st century water utilities that consider a new diversity of sources (wastewater…) with sustainability at their core, in addition to public safety and economic concerns.  Here’s a link for further reading… http://nicholasinstitute.duke.edu/

And if you are not familiar with the wonderful work of PenderWatch, check out their website and activities…http://www.penderwatch.org

Clearly, yesterday was a day for reflection. 

Here at B+O, we make jokes about who is wearing the ‘Righteous Indignation Cape’ – recently, we have been sharing it, and it is worn out!  Architects and  landscape architects (those who are still nominally employed…) share a unique responsibility here – like policy-makers, we help shape land use and construction by the surfaces we disturb and  ‘harden.’  Every decision we make creates demands and impacts on natural resources.

We need to be paying attention, and applying our knowledge – and we cannot be afraid of challenging rules when they are out-dated or counter-intuitive.  (… the ‘health, safety, and public welfare’ that we are mandated to consider as essential to our registration go far beyond the set of construction documents and ribbon-cutting ceremony.)

Details are important, but we think the connections of these details are even more important.  The biggest failing of current environmental policy is the narrow and immediate focus on resource harvest, with minimal consideration to cause and effect. In today’s political climate, some presumptive leaders would like to abolish all rules, and this instant gratification approach would lead to further wasteful, damaging, and foreshortened use of natural resources. In our human-dominated world, every action we take has it’s effects in nature – and we need to remind ourselves that it is nature, and more specifically, the land (and water, and air…) we inhabit,  that sustains us.

It’s February

…and that means it’s time here in Wilmington for some crape murder!

Nip and tuck. Or chop.

Crape myrtles, (Lagerstroemia indica, originally from Asia), have been growing for thousands of years without our help, along with lots of other plants that don’t require our outstanding butchering to survive on their own.

These trees will NOT flower “better” if they have been topped, pruned, or otherwise mauled.  Here are some hilarious links about this wasteful, ridiculous activity….





In the pines…

ImageCongratulations to our client for approvals on a project that has taken a (literally) circuitous route.  A former pine plantation relinquishes its symmetry for a campground that follows the contours of its underlying hydrology.  This project came to us as a PUD, complete with clubhouse, orthagonal ponds, and uniform lots.  B + O and Cavanaugh Solutions were given the freedom to allow the natural and cultural history of the site to inform a new low-impact development option that minimizes site disturbance and restores vestiges of a cross-site wetland.  The timing was not good for this sort of development, however, and the site was again re-imagined (to B+O delight) as an even-lower impact campground!

ImageTrails, trees, wildlife, naval stores history, and an enthusiastic client.  AND an enthusiastic engineer.   We feel so fortunate to participate in projects like this!!

Please also check out Spruill Farm, on the South shore of the Albemarle Sound.  http://www.spruillfarm.org/  This is a DONATION of an 110-acre working family farm (with habitat restoration and undisturbed swamp forest) for perpetual conservation, low-impact public access, environmental research and education programs.

Wednesdays in Nature

Should’ve posted earlier!  Lara gave a presentation about native plants for UNCW’s Lifelong Learning program, Wednesdays in Nature.  Great turnout, and lots of questions.  Only a few people fell asleep! For folks who missed it and want to learn more about our southeastern coastal plain plants, come to Halyburton Park on November 19, from 10-2, where NC Native Plant Society and Cape Fear Audubon Society will be hosting a ‘Getting to know your native plants’ event.  Plants for sale, and maybe a few for free!  Please see http://www.ncwildflower.org/index.php/chapters/secoast/ for more information.

ONE4$1 talk at CAM today & tomorrow!

Scott will be talking at the Cameron Art Museum today @ 1 pm & tomorrow at 6 pm about Cloud Gate a sculpture by British artist Anish Kapoor.  Promise it’ll be short & it’s only a dollar to support CAM programs.  Should be fun!

Family in the 'cloud'