Like Father, Like Son – Skilled Craftsmanship Runs in the Brindusesc Family

Brindusesc

Danil Brindusesc is the Sash and Door Foreman for Versatile Wood Products.

With a ready smile and friendly demeanor, Danil tells his story. A charming accent gives away his Eastern European origins. Born in Romania, Danil arrived in the United States in April of 1989 after a brief seven-month stay in Yugoslavia. A husband and father of seven children from the ages of 15 to 32, Danil is certainly a busy man. When asked what he enjoys doing for fun, Danil says, “My hobbies are working all the time, doing work at home,” as he pages through the large stacks of architectural drawings.

Brindusesc“I don’t like vacation. My wife doesn’t like it,” Danil says with a laugh. The concept of leisure time seems a foreign concept to Danil; in addition to working full-time at Versatile Wood Products, Danil is constantly busy with work and education, helping with projects around home, and pursuing the training needed to become a licensed electrician here in the US,  which was his previous vocation in Romania.

As he talks about working for Versatile, Danil explains, “Well, you know, this job is my life. I like working with wood. I have much experience because I have worked many years here. The shop is nice, the owner is nice, the people are nice.” Having worked at Versatile Wood Products for 28 years, Danil has the longest tenure of any employee. “My favorite thing is work. I like making windows, making doors. I like working with wood,” Danil says with enthusiasm.  As foreman, Danil spends many hours training new employees the techniques and methods used in the fabrication of Versatile Wood Products’ windows and doors, something he says he enjoys.

Brindusesc
As foreman and father, Danil is quite skilled at giving instructions.

One employee Danil has trained and knows quite well also happens to be his third eldest child, Eusebiu.

He is following his father’s footprints both literally and metaphorically as he walks carefully across the sawdust-covered floor of the workshop. Eusebiu Brindusesc, Lead Glazier and Carpenter II, has worked at Versatile since 2011 and is engaging and personable, much like his father.

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Eusebiu in front of the hundred-year-old stained glass window from First Baptist Church, which he has been restoring.

Eusebiu says working with his dad has had its ups and downs, as it would for any parent and child. He explains, “When I started it was more difficult. He calls me ‘son’ instead of by my name, so now everyone in the shop calls me ‘son’!” Eusebiu laughs with affection and just a hint of annoyance.

Asked about the project that he’s most proud of, Eusebiu immediately mentions the dovetailed wine bar Versatile Wood Products created for Revelry Vintners in Walla Walla, Washington. Operations Manager Erica Witbeck explained the complexity of this piece: “That project took an enormous amount of courage. [Versatile] had done the oversized glue-up for the sixteen-foot-long countertop and had taken it to a mostly finished state. Then the complicated dovetails had to be cut in by hand. There were no second chances with that enormous oak slab; one wrong cut and the whole thing may have been in ruins. Eusebiu did it without breaking a sweat. He’s amazing!”

 

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Detail of the dovetailing for Revelry Vintners’ wine bar.

Discussing what he loves to work on the most, Eusebiu says, “I love doing custom, unique pieces, like this stained glass.

These old historical windows — I love restoring those. That’s a huge part . . . it’s just working with old stuff. Those [windows] are over 100 years old. That glass is so fragile; it has its own personality.”

When restoring historic windows, including stained and leaded glass windows, Versatile uses both older and modern techniques, depending on what’s best for each project, and Versatile’s craftspeople, like Eusebiu, have the expertise needed to handle these delicate artifacts. In the article “The Preservation and Repair of Historic Stained and Leaded Glass” by Neal A. Vogel and Rolf Achilles, the authors discuss the importance of careful restoration work:

Extreme care must therefore be exercised, even in the most minor work. For this reason, virtually all repair or restoration work undertaken on stained and leaded glass must be done by professionals, whether the feature is a magnificent stained glass window or a clear, leaded glass storefront transom. Before undertaking any repair work, building owners or project managers should screen studios carefully, check references, inspect other projects, and require duplicate documentation of any work so that full records can be maintained . . . . The greatest and the most common threat to leaded glass is deterioration of the skeletal structure that holds the glass . . . . When frames fail, leaded glass sags and cracks due to insufficient bracing; it may even fall out from wind pressure or vibration. Wood sash are nearly always used for residential windows and are common in many institutional windows as well . . . Wood and glazing compounds decay over time from moisture and exposure to sunlight—with or without protective storm glazing—allowing glass to fall out.

 

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Eusebiu holds glazing compound used in the restoration of old windows.

Versatile’s work on various historic projects illustrates the ability of their craftspeople to handle such careful restoration work.

In the case of the stained glass window repair for the First Baptist Church in downtown Portland, Versatile recreated a red oak sash to match the original decayed version and glazed the original glass into the frame, carefully preserving this fragile stained glass window that is around 100 years old. Versatile can be entrusted to work with delicate originals, from antique stained glass to museum-worthy Setziol door slabs.

 

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Eusebiu demonstrates the glazing process.

The Brindusescs are certainly a valuable part of Verstatile’s crew of fine craftspeople. In their highly skilled hands, every project is treated with the utmost care and expertise.

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Danil doing what he loves most – working!

 

Historical Window Line Roll-out

INGENUITY Historical Window Line Roll-out

Versatile Wood Products is proud to present our new line INGENUITY™, semi-custom solid wood windows designed to match period and antique home styles. When it comes to renovating historical architecture, it can be costly when modern commercial off the shelf products do not fit the original design. We created this line with historic properties in mind, featuring period-appropriate details and traditional construction. From Victorian to Mid-Century, INGENUITY™ offers top quality and value.

The  Koehler Family Craftsman Home

This classic Craftsman home is brought back to its original character with all-wood windows, made by hand in Portland, Oregon. The dramatic quadruple mulled double hung assembly adds light, air, and traditional sensibility to the elevation.

Versatile Wood Products’ first customer for the INGENUITY™ historical window line is the Koehler Family in Portland, Oregon. Every home has a story. This 1911 Craftsman has a newer addition in the rear of the house, which means construction that varies from the original methods. Modern  framing uses wider lumber. With INGENUITY™, we offer jamb depths (including extensions in any size) that will work with any wall thickness, from any era.

Historical Window Line
Thor is working on a quadruple mulled double hung unit. For traditional weight-and-pulley assemblies, adequate space must be allowed for the weights to travel between the frames.

The INGENUITY™ window line was created to offer a competitively priced solid wood, handmade window with the versatility needed to address most any building scenario. Streamlining the design choices reduced manufacturing costs and makes specifying simple.  Most importantly, INGENUITY™ windows were designed to maintain that period look and feel of the original home that commercial-off-the-shelf windows cannot provide.  Preserving Portland’s architectural beauty is all in the details.

INGENUITY Historical Window Assembly

Historical Window Line
Natural wood varies in density, so even when sash are the same dimensions, the weights are different. For perfect balance, each weight system must be calibrated for the specific sash it needs to carry. Careful measuring and labeling must take place for this part of the build. These sash will glide easily and stay put.

Seen here, Craftsman Henry assembles the sash weights to the INGENUITY™ windows.  The Koehler family upgraded to traditional weight-and-pulley balances for the double-hung windows. INGENUITY™ windows can come as individual units, or mulled together with a continuous subsill. This effort required double and quad units in addition to singletons.

INGENUITY Hardware Systems

INGENUITY™ hardware systems come in oil rubbed bronze, chrome, nickel and brass (polished or satin available for nickel and brass). These pulleys are as elegant as they are robust, with sash lifts and locks to coordinate.

Come See US!

Historical Window Line
Ready with bows on! With the sash cord prepped and ready, the units are prepared for a safe delivery. The top sash are sent out loose to make the large units easier to handle. Next step, installation!

Versatile is not your average commercial off-the-shelf window manufacturer. We provide historically accurate windows made by hand, in Portland Oregon, that are built to fit any original window opening.  Want to keep your original jamb? We offer inserts with spring balance operation as well, which install in a snap without having to demo your original woodwork. Looking for casements or picture windows? Divided lights, or obscured glass? INGENUITY™ has a design solution for you. Our experienced team specializes in balancing original period designs with modern technology and has created a repeatable process to create economical alternatives, whatever your design needs.

Come see our showroom at 2303 N. Randolph Ave., Portland, OR 97227
Mon – Fri 7:30 am – 4:00 pm

Sovereign Hotel Restoration Award

Beautiful Sovereign Hotel Restoration

Sovereign Hotel Renovation Team Celebrates Project of the Year Award
Members of the project team behind the Sovereign Hotel renovation, submitted by R&H Construction and Emerick Architects, celebrate the Project of the Year award. (Sam Tenney/DJC)

Versatile Wood Products is proud to stand alongside Emerick Architects and R&H Construction to win DJC Top Project of the Year Award for the restoration of the Sovereign Hotel! The DJC awards are:

“… the premier awards program for the region’s built environment. Honoring the best building and construction projects in Oregon
and SW Washington, DJC TopProjects is the must-attend annual event to meet the people and firms who are doing outstanding work in the regional built environment.”

DJCOregon

Watch a beautiful video on the restoration of this 95-year-old luxury apartment hotel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcgLp3Ig85M

A Brief History of the Sovereign Hotel

Since its construction the Sovereign Hotel has been an apartment building, radio station, and home to the Oregon Historical Society.

Sovereign Hotel

The landmark Sovereign Hotel was built in 1923. The nine-story building is a Georgian-style designed by Carl L. Linde. Its first occupants were KFWV radio in 1926 until 1927. In 1938, Harry Mittleman bought the Hotel; until 1972 it was known as the Sovereign Apartments. The Sovereign Hotel was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places on December 2, 1981. In 1982 the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) purchased the building to expand the Oregon History Center.

Sovereign Hotel

One of the most beloved aspects of the Hotel is the murals. The Hotel is an L-shaped building with six sides. On four of the sides, murals commissioned by OHS were painted in 1989 by Richard Hass. Two of these murals rise eight stories.  One side depicts the Lewis and Clark expedition, while the mural on the south side shows the pioneer period in Oregon’s history. In 2014 OHS sold the Hotel under the agreement that the new owner would preserve the murals.

Versatile and the Sovereign Hotel

For Versatile, the story started in August of 2015. Our team started exploring scope options with the team from Emerick to see what the possibilities were. Versatile’s historic building experts participated in detailed site assessments to help decide how to best approach the building restoration. We were able to propose an array of strategies to choose from.

Flash Forward to Spring of 2016:

While the window scope was being sorted out and set in motion, we next concentrated on the custom storefront and entryway system. The storefront was particularly challenging. This was because the oversized tempered glass required was larger than any domestic tempering oven that we could locate. The glass ultimately had to be sourced from Canada.

The storefront was constructed out of Sapele. This beautiful material is often selected for stain-grade products because of its rich, dark appearance. Versatile will also utilize it for paint-grade applications when high exposure calls for greater resistance to weathering and decay. The entry system, consisting of quartersawn white oak door, side panels, and arched transom, were designed to coordinate with original materials and details.

We Rose to a New Technical Challenge with the Arched Transom Unit:

For maximum accuracy, we looked to our state-of-the-art CNC machine to produce the radiused pieces. The geometric precision on some of the slender pieces was so accurate and consistent, we have since adapted our production to incorporate this strategy. This is a perfect example of how Versatile strives to bring new technologies together with traditional building methods to create the best products possible.

Additional interior and exterior oak doors were added in succession, as well as some cabinet drawers and faces (yes, we do that too!). All in all, we had 13 phases to this project, finally concluding in August of 2017.

Check Out our Photos

Sovereign Hotel
Sovereign plans and arched pieces
Sovereign Hotel
Sovereign arched transom in progress
Sovereign Hotel
Sovereign Arched Transom Gluing
Sovereign Hotel
Chuck from R&H Construction stands in front of the Sovereign door and arched transom

Hawthorne Theatre Custom Window Restoration

Hawthorne Theater
Hawthorne Theatre

Window Restoration Commences at the Hawthorne Theatre

In a rapidly growing city like Portland, preserving “Old Portland” is important to its residents. To companies like Versatile, restoring Portland is job #1.  Our current project is a complete rebuild of the original weather damaged windows of the grand Hawthorne Theatre.  This building was originally designed and built by the Eastside Masons in 1917. It remains a centerpiece of SE Portland. The Masons abandoned the property in the 1970s due to dwindling members. The building was resurrected in 2005 as The Hawthorne Theatre and the Hawthorne Theatre Lounge.

Hawthorne Theater

The skilled artisans at Versatile Wood Products are uniquely qualified to perform this complete rebuilding of these intricate windows. Versatile specializes in traditional and historic reproductions. Six of the grand window sashes were so badly deteriorated they required a complete remove, repair and/or replace. With the help of  Viridian, a restoration and installation partner, a single window was brought back to the Versatile design team.  The original window, shown above, was dismantled and used as a template for replication. 

Hawthorne Theater

Each detail is recreated from the original. Versatile creates the glass stops, size and sash thickness to replicate the authenticity of the original “master builders.” Because the refurbished sections will be installed adjacent to originals, every detail must be preserved and replicated. 

Hawthorne Theater

True to the mission of “ingenuity,” Versatile, with our master highly skilled carpenters, recreate accurate historic century reproductions of the finest quality to preserve Portland as seen with our newest Hawthorne Theatre renovation.

What Does Custom Wood Building Mean?

Custom Wood Building

Custom wood building is an art that has been around for about as long as humans. Many of the same terms we see today were used thousands of years ago. On Raymond McInnis’s site, A History of Woodworking, he shares a piece from an article written on Stonehenge:

“…The largest weighs as much as 50 tons. Unique today, Stonehenge was probably also unique in its own time, some 4,500 years ago – a stone monument modeled on timber precedents. Indeed, its massive lintels are bound to their uprights by mortise-and-tenon joints taken straight from carpentry.”

Modern Wood-Building

With the progress in modern technology and industrial demands, Woodworking as a field has changed. For example, the development of (CNC) or Computer Numeric Controlled Machines in 1949 made it possible to mass-produce and reproduce products faster—not only faster but with less waste and the ability to produce more complex designs. Along with CNCs, the emergence of rechargeable power tools sped up the creation of many projects. They also required much less body strength and endurance than in the past. Despite the increase with technological advances, the quality and craftsmanship of custom wood-building remains unmatched.

What Does Custom-Built Mean?

According to the Merriam Webster, custom built simply means, “Built to individual specifications.” Sounds pretty straightforward, however there are many intricate details involved. Custom wood building is more than making a window or door. It requires more than just the right tools and space. These are essential, yes, but custom building also requires a lot of skill. At Versatile Wood Products every project, both big and small, modern or historical, is performed with the utmost quality and dedication.

“Versatile provides historically accurate custom wood sash, cabinetry, doors and millwork using techniques originated by 18th and 19th century craftsmen. We are committed to creating spaces that honor and make history. By preserving traditional ways of building and blending them with modern technologies and performance standards, we design and build solutions that harmonize aesthetics and temperament with function and utility.”

Versatile’s experienced team specializes in balancing period appropriate architectural design specifications with modern performance standards, combining historic techniques and modern technologies.

What does manufactured mean?

Custom Wood Building

 

 

 

Wood is manufactured in a few types, Plywood, particleboard, fiberboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF), and veneer. In addition to the CNC machine, another reason for the increased popularity of mass-produced wood products was the invention of manufactured wood. Manufactured wood products have become a popular choice because they are less expensive to produce. Manufactured wood products are also more readily available at Big Box stores.

Understanding what custom wood building and manufactured wood are is important when starting a project. For example, determining the exact specifications for choosing the right window or door is important. Having the exact build for a particular project is crucial. Not just for the aesthetics, but for long-term quality.

“By hand-selecting tight grain wood patterns and using time-honored techniques our products will last for many years to come.”

How Versatile produces lasting quality

To better understand the separation between custom wood building and manufactured wood, the following Versatile projects will highlight the distinction. In this first custom case study, the restoration of a historical landmark highlights the stunning craftsmanship Versatile (and Arciform) demonstrate. The agility and flexibility accompanied by the great care required shows why custom wood building is essential.

Restoring First Congregational Church

The First Congregational Church turned to Versatile and Arciform to stabilize and restore the wood elements of this feature. Constructed in 1895, the First Congregational Church of Portland is a dominant Venetian Gothic icon. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Portland Landmark. This historic structure towers with its 175’ bell tower at the Southwest corner.

Restoring the Gothic tracery was more than just “replacing parts.” The goal was to retain as much of the original fabric as possible. However, what appeared to be repetitive details in the columns and tracery were in fact unique. This prohibited the efficiency of replicating one element to be reused as a template throughout the entire tracery at similar locations. After meticulous documentation, all parts were mapped and translated into CAD files. Having these otherwise inaccessible components in-house provided the unique opportunity to prepare a custom library of details for First Congregational Church.

All new pieces were made of Western Red Cedar, the same wood species as the original elements. This was to ensure historic accuracy and material performance. Replacement parts were then fit in place for sizing and routed with the cove detailing ensuring the tracery appeared seamless. The final product was delivered in sections for ease of hoisting and installation by Arciform.

Modern Buildings

In these three short project highlights, the breadth and skill level of Versatile is apparent. These again demonstrate custom wood building as an art that surpasses manufactured wood products both in ingenuity and workmanship.

 

For The Zipper, Versatile and designer Guerrilla Development used simple solid wood frames and sills. They also used direct glazed windows in solid clear vertical grain fir. This helped to create a truly innovative modern design.

The Evo Building challenges were to create custom casements in Douglas fir to match historic photos of the building. It was nearly impossible to replicate a two-toned color scheme in aluminum but was easily accomplished in wood. The hinged casements on the upper floors were a fall-hazard. Versatile used a sash limiter that would open by 3″ to prevent the potential for someone to fall out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Albina Yard (which can also be seen on Think Wood) had extraordinarily high flush exterior doors: 142” tall and 108” tall full lite doors. In this project Versatile utilized offset pivot hinges to give massive doors smooth operation and an uninterrupted modern look. The project called for building flush doors in a continuous fir veneer with a matching 34” fir transom panel above. The design challenge was that both the flush exterior doors and full lite doors were extraordinarily high in addition to being about 40” wide.

Architecture: Lever Architecture
Contractor: Reworks Design Build

Custom Wood Building Is Good For The Environment

A report by Green Building Elements provides a wealth of researched information that supports the value of custom wood building. A study conducted by Architecture and Design reports that 16% of all the fossil fuel consumed annually is converted into concrete, steel, aluminum and brick building materials. On the opposite end, wood reduces its carbon footprint.

“When trees are made into building materials, that carbon dioxide remains sequestered in the finished products. When wooden building materials reach the end of their useful life, they are often repurposed or recycled into new products. All that stored carbon dioxide is kept out of the atmosphere virtually forever.”

Green Building Elements also reports a cooperative program between a company called Whole Trees in Madison, Wisconsin and the USDA Forest Service. Entire trees that the Forest Service harvests during routine thinning efforts and discards are used. They are turned into beams, trusses and joists to use in building construction.

Custom Wood Building is good for your Health

Custom Wood Building

Custom wood building is not just beautiful and unique in each design but is also good for your health. Another study by Architecture and Design finds that, “the feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits in people has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive social interactions.” Wood products within a room have been shown to improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity. The study also finds that being surrounded by wood at home, work or school has positive effects. Not just on the body and brain, but also on the environment. It can even shorten hospital stays through reduced recovery times.

Truly, Custom Wood-Building Is an Art Of Craftsmanship

From the use of mortise and tenon joinery dating back thousands of years to our state-of-the-art CNC router, Versatile Wood Products’ custom wood projects are built to last.

Natural Wood Delivers Timeless Beauty

More than 100,000 species of natural wood grace this planet. Like Michelangelo, a gifted woodworker sculpts color, grain, strength, weight and purpose to bring out the best in a building. Where flexibility is called for, bendable oak or elm is a better choice than highly dense mahogany. Exceptionally strong Douglas fir can weather abrasive elements. Cedar makes much better outdoor deck material than beautiful maple, which tends toward natural decay.

Popular Natural Wood Species

Following are samples that show color and texture variations in just some of the natural wood species. In addition, the Minwax website shows a chart of popular wood species, their characteristics and uses. We also like the Wood Database, where you can find additional technical details on wood species.

Natural Wood Species Samples

It was hard to choose among so many lovely options, but here are some of our favorite natural woods. Half of them have photos illustrating real Versatile Wood Products projects. Click a photo to learn more about each project.

Douglas Fir

Natural Wood Species Historic Douglas Fir

This natural wood is from one of the largest evergreen trees in the world. The timbers are very large in dimension and are also of good quality. Most commonly, Douglas fir is used for structural purposes where wear and abrasion are a factor. The wood is exceptionally strong for its weight, and is one of the heaviest softwoods available in North America.

Birch

Birch is fine-grained, medium hard and heavy. Pale in color, it often has a satin-like sheen and sometimes a rippled texture. Birch is also naturally waxy, which makes it resistant to water. It makes high-quality plywood and is valuable for furniture-making.

White Oak

Natural Wood Species Historic Oak

Oak has an especially beautiful grain pattern and is strong, heavy and of medium hardness. Colors range from creamy white and light brown to reddish hues. Oak is equally at home in historic and contemporary settings.

Cherry

The cherry wood specie ranges in color from a tan blond to reddish brown. Despite small mineral flecks and pitch and sapwood pockets its close and uniform-grained surface is satiny smooth. Over time, cherry forms a patina and the color becomes deeper and richer. Cherry can also become lighter in color when exposed to natural sunlight.

Sapele

Natural Wood Species Modern Mahogany Doors

Sapele is a common stand-in for true Mahogany that is highly dense and moderately hard and heavy. When first cut, it ranges from yellow to salmon. As the wood ages, the color deepens to a rich red or brown.

 

Maple

Natural Wood Species Modern Honey Maple Doors

Maple is strong, hard and has a very smooth texture and fine grain. It is naturally resistant to scratches and cracks.  Colors range from creamy white to light reddish brown. Maple is commonly used for flooring, fine woodworking and furniture.

Poplar

Poplar is a favorite choice for paint grade interior projects such as cabinetry face frame. Its combination of economy and workability make it a popular utility wood. It is also used in veneers, where it can be stained or dyed to mimic other species.

Eastern Black Walnut

Natural Wood Species Modern Walnut Cabinetry

Walnut is known for its especially beautiful grain patterns, which range from straight to varied. A stable wood, walnut’s natural color varies from dark brown to purplish black. Sometimes walnut also contains light brown streaks, known as sapwood.

Alder

Alder has a very even wood grain and is very straight. Coloring ranges from light brown to a reddish caramel. Over time, alder turns a shade lighter through sun exposure. It has numerous wormholes and tight, open, and split knots. This makes it ideal for a rustic style home decor.

Creative Window Solutions, Sleek Designs

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.

First Congregational Church Creative Window Solutions

First Congregational Church Creative Window Solutions 2

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.

Albina Yard Window Solutions

 

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.

Evo Building Creative Window Solutions

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.

Loyal Legion Creative Window Solutions

Pine Street Market Sneak Preview

Pine Street Market

We have been deeply enjoying the process of designing and installing a very unusual project. A custom single hung window system and storefront for Siteworks at the new Pine Street Market food hall.  It is due to open in May 2016.

Pine Street Market was originally called the United Carriage & Baggage Transfer Building. This 1886 structure had a past life as a livery and horse-drawn carriage storage facility featuring over 100 horse stalls. The early 20th century saw it used as a contractor supply depot until 1969. Then it became the first location for The Old Spaghetti Factory. More recently it has featured a series of all ages nightclubs.

Developing the Pine Street Market project included a combination of:
  • Exactly matching existing window details
  • Developing an innovative external weight and pulley system for the single hung storefront windows. They were counterbalanced by visible black pipe, allowing the sash to operate without need for weight pockets in the walls.
Here’s a little sneak peek at the systems we’ve installed. Go check out the real thing at the Pine Street Market Grand Opening in May. Tell us what you think!

 

 Pine Street Market

These single hung windows were set too close together to employ traditional weight pockets. Instead, a visible wire and pulley system is counterbalanced with black pipe that lowers and raises as the sash is operated.

 Pine Street Market

Arch top detail and ogee lugs replicate the historic charm of the original windows.

 Pine Street Market

This image shows the single hung storefront sash all set in their open configuration.
You can see the pipe counterbalances around the top.

 Pine Street Market

Here they are closed with the wood panel pony wall visible below.

 Pine Street Market

These arch topped double hung windows were replications of the Pine Street Market original. Here you can see the left hand top sash opened to let in ventilation. We used our CNC router to replicate original hand carved details on the exterior mull caps (below).

 Pine Street Market

This “before picture” (below) illustrates the extremely weathered condition of the existing windows in the Pine Street Market. We were proud to have the opportunity to exactly match the details of the original windows. The building will retain its original character and be ready to weather the next 100 years of life.

 Pine Street Market

 

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2015 Restoration Celebration Honors Versatile

A restoration celebration honoring versatile client’s achievements. Everyone seated at Restoration Celebration

We were honored to have the opportunity to join the architecture and restoration community in celebrating Oregon’s achievements in restoration. This was held at Restore Oregon’s Restoration Celebration in November. We were also very excited to watch as several of our clients were honored with DeMuro Awards this year!

The Restoration Celebration serves a dual purpose.

It is the event that both announces the year’s Endangered Places list and celebrates the winners of the DeMuro Award. The Endangered Places List spotlights properties of historic significance in Oregon that are in danger of collapse or destruction. Nomination to the list provides a property with resources and grant opportunities to help stabilize and restore the property.

The DeMuro Awards are named for legendary Portland preservationist and developer Art DeMuro. DeMuro is a competitive award honoring the architecture and construction teams who tackle significant projects in rehabilitating Oregon’s historic structures.

Paul Falsetto wins DeMuro Award Blockhouse Cafe

Celebrating the awards and sharing our success

We were delighted to celebrate our dear friend and colleague Paul Falsetto. Paul received a DeMuro Award for his rehabilitation of the Dayton Blockhouse Cafe. Paul worked with our custom cabinetry team to develop a walnut back bar for that project. Along with a bar and table tops made out of reclaimed fir from the building’s floor joists

Block_House_Cafe_Photo_by_Paul_Falsetto_A_P_ (2)

We were also thrilled to celebrate the honoring of Venerable Properties for their Washington High School rehabilitation project.

Washington_High_School_A_P_Pro_ (2)

That project featured new sash built by Versatile that exactly replicated the building’s original double hung windows. They were lost when an ill-guided renovation replaced them all with aluminum.

 

Richard and Alex Restoration Celebration

Our owner, Richard De Wolf, who is a member of the Restore Oregon board of directors. Alex Mackenzie, our chief sales person and expert resource for our clients. Enjoying the opportunity to connect with clients and colleagues who are helping move this important work forward in Oregon.

Richard Speaking at Restoration Celebration

Richard had the opportunity to give a brief speech at the event. He highlighted our own efforts to save some of Oregon’s Most Endangered Places.

DARCabin_1931_A_P_Pro (16)

We have been able to directly contribute to the rescue and rehabilitation of at least one Endangered Place a year for the last 5 years. These range from the Pioneer Mother’s Cabin (above), which was on the verge of falling into the Willamette. To the First Congregational Church in downtown Portland, whose historic bell tower tracery was beginning to crumble.

FirstCongregationalChurch_A_P_Pro (9)

 

It was a beautiful event. We look forward to seeing which Endangered Place we can help knock off the list next year!

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Restoring First Congregational Church — Custom Case Study

First Congregational Church

Constructed in 1895, the First Congregational Church of Portland is a dominant Venetian Gothic icon along the city’s South Park Blocks. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Portland Landmark. This historic structure towers above its neighbors quite literally, with its 175′ bell tower at the southwest corner. This tower was once accompanied by two others on adjacent corners, which were removed in 1940 following significant storm damage. Existing conditions prior to the summer 2015 restoration included extreme deterioration of the wood Gothic tracery arches at the belfry. As the last remaining tower on the building, the restoration of these elements was a crucial component in retaining the architectural integrity of this historic church.

What was the scope of the project for the First Congregational Church and what were the design goals?

With its severe level of deterioration, the restoration of the Gothic tracery was not just an aesthetic decision. It was also a safety precaution after a loose piece fell onto the sidewalk below. The First Congregational Church turned to Versatile and Arciform to stabilize and restore the wood elements of this feature. As with any preservation project, the goal was to retain as much of the original fabric as possible. Equally important is the goal to maintain the character defining features of the original design. The four tower faces all required work, but the south elevation suffered the most significant damage. This was due to exposure and UV damage. The tracery at this location was removed and restored in-house at Versatile. The other elevations were in fair enough condition to be restored on-site by the Arciform team.

First Congregational Church

What challenges did the project face?

The location of the architectural details proved to be the biggest challenge. Nearly 175′ up in the air and surrounded by scaffolding, the south elevation tracery was cut into sections and lowered to the ground for transportation to Versatile’s shop.

First Congregational Church

It quickly became apparent that not only were the face-applied details of the tracery loose and deteriorating, but the backerboard holding the element together was also unstable. It arrived to the shop in pieces, like an oversized puzzle of fragile history. Another challenge was in the design itself. What appeared to be repetitive details in the columns and tracery were in fact unique, prohibiting the efficiency of replicating one element to be reused as a template throughout the entire tracery at similar locations.

First Congregational Church

What were the Uniquely Versatile solutions?

 

Once in the shop, each element was laid out and assessed to determine which pieces were salvageable and which required replacement. After meticulous documentation, all parts were mapped and translated into CAD files. Having these otherwise inaccessible components in-house provided the unique opportunity to prepare a custom library of details for First Congregational Church in anticipation of future restoration needs and part replacement.

Intact elements were cleaned and prepped for refinishing. Substantial details such as the monolithic Corinthian columns appeared unimpaired from the surface, but experienced wood rot at their core. With the use of consolidants, these items were also saved.  

First Congregational Church

Other details were reproduced using templates created on our CNC machine. All new pieces were made of Western Red Cedar, the same wood species as the original elements to ensure historic accuracy and material performance. Replacement parts were then fit in place for sizing and routed with the cove detailing to ensure the tracery appeared seamless. Keeping the site conditions in mind, the final product was delivered in sections for ease of hoisting and installation by Arciform.

First Congregational Church

The First Congregational Church restoration marked the final project of our former shop foreman, Eric Voss. The success of this project can be credited to his skilled craftsmanship and attention to detail.  Many thanks go out to him and his multiple years of service on Versatile’s team of talented woodworkers.

First Congregational Church

This project was named one of Restore Oregon‘s Most Endangered Places in 2015. You can check out the whole list of Endangered Places here. The 2016 list will be announced at the Restoration Celebration (sponsored by Versatile Wood Products) on November 13th. Get the details and RSVP for that event here.

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