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  Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News     
          Monthly Newsletter
October 2013
In This Issue


Topic of the Month: Pondside Condominium Renovation

Architectural Firm of the Month: John Mclean Architect

Helpful Links for Architects     

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Devonian Stone paving stones Welcome to the October issue of our newsletter! In each issue we present you with interesting and informative articles about the various projects architects and designers are working on around the country. If there is a project you would like to share with us, please feel free to contact us and tell us about it. We might feature your project in one of our upcoming issues of this newsletter. To learn more about our "high-end" cut-to-size Glacier Blue® Devonian Sandstone products, please click here to visit our website.
Architectural Firm of the Month: John Mclean Architect

Photo courtesy Curtis Ryan Lew

John Mclean Architect provides state of the art design precisely balanced by human needs. His practice of both architecture and industrial design is definitive and long-term in problem solving. These strengths are clearly displayed in his dynamic portfolio. This office employs state of the art technology including computer-aided design and drafting (CAD). The firm has an excellent record of meeting deadlines and operating within the client's cost restrains. Mclean's perspective, ¦ melding architecture and industrial design, brings a unique force to the design leadership he exerts on all projects.  
For more Information:

Photo courtesy John Mclean

Architect John Mclean was asked to renovate the Pondside Club West Condominium in White Plains, NY after the 48-unit, 4-story apartment building developed water leaks and numerous other issues due to faulty construction. Mclean was also asked to design a new entry way, which turned out to be the focal point of the building. 

Mclean, the Architect reported, "The entryway is completely different from what was there before, which was planters on either side of the steps that were poorly constructed. The original steps were deteriorating with the treads popping off the substructure of the steps. I decided to open this all up, clean up the area and use solid stone slabs properly set. Another problem was poor drainage, which was addressed with the setting of the stone slabs. Handrails were designed using 316 stainless steel so that there would be nothing that would rust. My aim was to do things correctly, and elegantly."

At the conclusion of the entry project, "The owners are very happy with the design and the curb appeal that has been created. The design of the new entry way, which was constructed from solid, contrasting colored bluestone slabs, echoes the forms found in the building. The vision was to create a spatial openness to the walkway and a gentle path from the curb to the building. The entry way and the redesigned building, are the jewels of the whole complex."

Mclean worked with the contractors on the renovation of the building. He explains, "I worked very closely with the contractor. The client expected me to be there, so I was scaling the scaffold on a regular basis, looking at the work and going through it on a regular basis. Based on the way the building is behaving, and the way the building looks right now, I would say that the contractor and I did a great job." 

Mclean further reported, "As a result of the renovations on the building, the clients informed me that their heating bill had significantly dropped. Several years have gone by since the renovation and the building is functioning as it was originally intended to be. It was a well done project and I know that the client is happy with the outcome."

Mclean completely redesigned the exterior of the building, right down to the metal studs in the walls. The new design emphasizes each floor plan and the integration of the exterior wall components that constitute the facade and a new entry-way into the building.

Mclean explains, "The building was built around 1989 and it had a lot of construction problems that were related to builders not following the original plan. The result was that there was heat loss and significant water damage. I was asked to come in and correct the problem, which I did. Once the building project was completed, I proposed doing a new entryway so that it would look compatible with the redesigned building."

There was a process Mclean had to go through in order to make the building more energy efficient. He explains, "We did several things. First of all, new insulation was installed in the walls and then a layer of exterior insulation was applied over the whole structure so that there was a real definite thermal interruption or break in the thermal conductance from the interior to the cold outside. The only place where I couldn't do that was with the balcony slabs. Those were the only bridges that went out from the interior of the structure, because they are steel and concrete. But we were able to successfully get the building watertight and to prevent a situation where, when it rained outside, it would not rain inside the apartments. That's how serious the problem that was corrected had become."

"The most critical part of architectural practice," according to Mclean, "is getting the exterior of the building correct, which includes the walls, windows, roofing, and the parapet. The whole envelope of that structure really has to be thoroughly worked out and managed because there are so many ways that water can compromise the structure, both as liquid or as vapor."

Since the deterioration of the building was caused by the original contractor who deviated from the original building plan, Mclean had to go back to those original plans before starting the redesign. He explains, "I had to go back to the plans for the purpose of doing an investigation so that I thoroughly understood what was supposed to have been built. I also had to understand how problems could have arisen from the fact that thirty years ago we didn't know as much about the exterior of the construction of the walls of buildings as we do now, especially when using light materials and thin wall construction. Those materials have aggravated the problem because the thermal mass wasn't there to protect the building. We have to be very careful about how we manage water vapor and condensation in a wall, just as we have to do on the exterior of the walkways, the driveways and the water flow of the site. That's all a very significant part of the design process."
"There was insulation on the original building, but either it had fallen down because it wasn't properly secured, or it had become wet and fallen down which meant that we had to replace it. That's what prompted the necessity to completely redesign the exterior of the building, right down to the bare bones. We saw the back-side of the sheet rock that was forming the interior wall surface of each apartment, and rusted metal studs which had to be replaced. Each time we moved down in the building, we found something else to correct. Most of the problems were anticipated so we were able to do the project with hardly any additional costs. The project came in on budget and on time, and that was an important aspect that made everyone happy."

What happened with the Pondside Condominium is an example of how important it is for contractors to stick to an architect's design, or to seriously question what's on the plan," Mclean adds.  "It works both ways. As I've said to my colleagues, even though the project could be divided up into a design phase, the construction plan phase, the bidding phase, and the construction phase, there's design work constantly going on right through the construction phase.  There is always something that needs to be adjusted, refined, designed and reviewed. That is what we architects do. That's the importance of construction administration with the architect observing the work and being available to answer the contractor's technical questions."

The renovation of the building took approximately 15 months. After that Mclean was asked to design the new entryway for the building, which is the highlight of the building.

Helpful Links for Architects

AIA Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) 
The Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a Knowledge Community of The American Institute of Architects, is committed to the promotion of all residential architecture based on architectural content irrespective of style. For more information visit:  

AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community

The AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community provides leadership and expertise to practitioners of interior architecture and design, working cooperatively with its members and other interiors organizations to address relevant, timely practice issues, markets, and trends, such as licensing, liability, environmental, and technological considerations. Through the Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, important links are maintained with allied professionals, service providers, and manufacturers . If you wish to become a member of the AIA Interior Architecture Knowledge Community, call AIA Member Services at 800-242-3837, or visit: 


Architect Online's Continuing Education Center
Architect Online's Online Continuing Education Center gives professionals a convenient way to earn necessary continuing education credits without having to set foot in a classroom. The courses listed, sponsored by the companies noted, are accessible from anywhere you can establish an online connection. Just register, read the required material, and then take the test, either through a downloadable mail-in form, or free via a secure online connection, depending on the course. You'll be able to maintain your professional credentials, at your pace, and at a location that works for you. Visit:


Architectural Record Continuing Education Center
Architectural Record magazine has a free Continuing Education Center where architects can earn AIA Continuing Education Credits online. Visit:

Architectural Record Discussion Forums
The McGraw Hill Construction Community, publisher of Architectural Record, has provided architects with a forum to express ideas, opinions, suggestions, and gripes. The discussion forums are open to all, and include topics such as Green Building Projects, Virtual Design, Practice Matters and a forum for younger architects. Visit:

CORA - Congress of Residential Architecture 
CORA is a grass root organization that encourages our members to participate in the dialog of improving residential architecture in a way that suits them best. The purpose of the CORA is to provide a continuing forum for advocating and enhancing residential architecture by all individuals, both professionals and non-professionals, that share a common interest in improving the quality of the homes and communities we live in. Visit: 

The Green Meeting Industry Council
The Green Meeting Industry Council (GMIC) is a non profit 501(c)(6) membership-based organization. Their goal is to encourage collaboration within the meetings industry toward the development of green standards that will improve the environmental performance of meetings and events on a global basis. The GMIC is the only professional green meetings organization that is a member of the Convention Industry Council. For more information visit: 

The World Architecture Community
The World Architecture Community invites all architects to create a free profile on their website. The World Architecture Portal is a unique comprehensive international directory and catalog of contemporary architecture where all architects, scholars and institutions may submit their work and links to share with colleagues from around the world.
For more information visit:

We hope you enjoyed our informative monthly e-newsletter. For questions, comments or more information, please e-mail or call us today.





Liz Benton, Editor 
Glacier Blue® Architectural Topics & News
Devonian Stone of New York, Inc.

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