From modern buildings that include simple lines to historic churches with grand curves, when it comes to creative window design we will use any opportunity to fire up our imagination.
First Congregational Church Creative Window Solutions
We have been honored to design and install windows for buildings all around Portland, including the First Congregational Church. This was an opportunity to restore and recreate the magnificent tower that once was the tallest structure in Oregon at 185 feet! Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975, the church is a rare example of Venetian Gothic architecture—few others exist in America.
Albina Yard Window Solutions
Since we wanted to offer a modern appearance to the Albina Yard building, we went with glass walls and flush awning windows. An awning window is much like a casement window. It is mechanically operated with a crank, hinged at the top so that the sash pivots in lieu of swinging.
Unlike the casement, though, an awning window can be open when it’s raining, making it appropriate for this office space.
Evo Building Creative Window Solutions
A fixed window can be found in designs from traditional to contemporary. Allowing sunlight into a room, fixed windows offer a decorative view of the outside in hard to open spaces. This window is a single sash that’s attached to the frame. Fixed windows are also the most energy efficient type. We chose this style for the Evo building, providing custom Douglas fir. The upper floors feature custom windows that were a match to historic photos that the architect had obtained.
Loyal Legion Creative Window Solutions
Keeping classic architecture intact, we went with the popular Eclipse system for folding windows for the Loyal Legion building in Portland. This window provides a large opening with no vertical element to split the opening when the window is open. These windows can be grouped together so that all of the panes of glass are in one plane. This gives a cleaner and more contemporary look to these windows, even when styled with traditional trim and pane patterns.
Towne Storage -208 windows, 455 sashes, 13 building phases (spanning October 2016 through August 2017), 81 deliveries to site, 4,752 pounds of lead sash weights, 5,967 square feet of insulated glass units and 1.2 miles of Simulated Divide Lite (SDL) bar applied and we’re finally ready to celebrate the Towne Storage job!
It was a perfect night for a celebration. As you will see from these pictures, we’re very proud of this work.
Back in March of 2016 we heard the news that the 101 year old, historic Towne Storage building at 17 SE 3rd Avenue would be renovated and expanded to include creative office space. Versatile Wood Products was proud to be the go-to custom window supplier.
Working closely with Bremik Construction, we built and installed 37 transom windows, 8 sash-only units and 163 classic windows. On Thursday August 24th, 2017 Versatile celebrated the completion of the project.
Our evening was filled with laughter, comraderie and cheers for a job well done. Below are photos from start to finish:
The job began in October of 2016. Bremik took out all of the old windows, boarded each window with plywood and commenced masonry repairs on the south side and the unsalvageableopenings. As they worked we got started on designing and building. First up was the sash-only repairs the new energy efficient transom windows to match the original style designed by architects, McNaughton & Raymond.
Anna—an Arciform designer—gets some hands-on product cross-training, and Henry is an apprentice. Here they are running profiles on the exterior SDL bars. They did this for a few days yet just made a dent in the total quantity needed. Jeff, our mill foreman, made sure that materials were run in the right order and maximum yield from the lumber was attained.
Sashes are stacked on top of each other while the glue dries. We use a time-honored technique to put the sash together with a classic construction, mortise and tenon joint. Mortise and tenon joinery has been in use for thousands of years and remains the gold standard for high quality joinery.
What’s the difference between a frame and a sash?
Sash is just the square that the glass is attached to. The frame is the jamb that goes in the opening. The jamb includes the sill and is what the sash are seated inside. (More on this in another post!)
Henry, Thor and Matt use deep in frame construction, which the sash will next be fitted into. The process requires teamwork and precision, because a perfect fit for both the sash and the masonry opening depend on accuracy.
Product design is more than drafting. Here our designers Rex Vaccaro and Curtis Nagel, inspect their prototype. They make sure the sashes operate smoothly and all of the elements come together as drafted. They also make sure the frames will work with the openings in a very irregular old building. The design team met regularly with Bremik to strategize about installation needs as site conditions evolved. This required flexibility and responsiveness throughout the course of the project. With the seasoned experts from Bremik as our installation partners meant that each piece fit perfectly when it arrived on site.
And now it’s time to celebrate Towne Storage…
We’re done! Our last load delivery deserves a photo.
We don’t mind a beverage or two. Richard points to other buildings on the horizon that Versatile has worked on.
A view from the top.
Product designer, Alan Ford says there’s no better spot to sit than an open window.
As a train filled with lumber roars by, Versatile Wood Product’s mill foreman, Jeff Vasey, takes a break from his normal duties to share his story with me. Jeff is the longest-working employee for Versatile and started with the sister company, Arciform, in 2001. Beginning as a field carpenter, he worked with a small team of four carpenters who built the original Arciform building in North Portland off Skidmore Street and Interstate Avenue. The business owned by Richard and Anne DeWolf’s quickly outgrew that location.
“Arciform outgrew the original shop right away,” says Vasey. “So they bought a second building in the industrial area off North Randolph Street.”
The Arciform shop space was originally only ¼ of the size it is today, and much of it was rented to other tenants. “AWOL Dance Studio would have aerial dancers hanging from the ceilings in one part of the warehouse,” remembers Vasey.
Arciform Acquires Versatile Wood Products
Then, in 2011, the merge happened. Arciform acquired the 30-year-old custom wood manufacturing company, Versatile Sash and Door (now Versatile Wood Products). The aerial dancers no longer dangled from the ceiling and Vasey played a major role in the expansion of the workshop.
Jeff’s devotion to Arciform and Versatile and his pride in his work becomes clear to me as he talks about developing the space.
“As a field carpenter, you’re sort of a jack-of-all-trades. This came in handy for me as an employee of Arciform and Versatile. I helped wire the new building’s shop-space and created a piping/dust-collection system. In addition I remodeled, built and moved equipment as our space and services expanded,” says Jeff.
Jeff Vasey’s Story
“I’ve always had a mechanical-type of brain,” Jeff reflects. He remembers participating in the soapbox derby when he was 9 and 10 years old, where he won the awards for best constructed as well as best designed car.
Raised in Fargo, North Dakota, Jeff Vasey moved to Portland in 1985. I learn that Jeff is not only a carpenter, an engineer and a mechanic, but he’s also an artist.
Art brought Vasey to his wife, Vicky DeKrey,as well as to Oregon. Vasey and DeKrey met at North Dakota State University, where they both majored in art. At first living with a cousin in Washington, DC, they finally followed their favorite professor, Jerry Vanderline, who was originally from Portland, Oregon. As a result, when Vanderline moved back to Portland, he invited them for a visit.
“We toured over 11,000 miles of land on the way. Oregon was by far the most beautiful of all the places I’d been.”
It’s a familiar story to me. My own parents grew up in the flat lands of Oklahoma. When they took a road trip to the Northwest they were completely wonder-struck by the tall trees and lush greenness of it all. Perhaps it is a place that attracts artists.
However, once in Oregon, Jeff Vasey painted less and less. He got into photography, created electronic music, hiked and backpacked. He also started fixing a friend’s home in exchange for living there. After a while he learned of Arciform from a friend who worked there.
Jeff’s Work Today
As we walk through the shop, Jeff explains to me what different tools do.
“This one is probably the oldest machine in the shop. It must be over a hundred years old and is built like a battleship.” Jeff says. “It drills this groove into the window frame so you can fit these two joints together.”
He holds up two sash frame corners and slides them smoothly into place. It’s called a mortise and tenon joint.
Jeff is no longer a field carpenter because he has grown into the shop manager at Versatile. When I ask Jeff what his favorite thing about his job is, he says it’s the variety of projects they work on. He likes the details of some of the historical-style carpentry work. He fondly reflects on his days as a field carpenter.
“I miss getting to see the end result of my work as much as I did when I was working in the field. I loved getting to work directly with Anne and Richard on projects, because having the designer or architect so accessible while working on a project is a treat. It’s a collaborative process here.”
I learn that Jeff Vasey is known as the resident wood expert at Versatile. Asking him what his favorite type of wood is, he shakes his head and says, “No, I couldn’t choose just one.”