Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Togo Construction - our finish carpenters

So it's funny how some things come about. Emily and I have been practicing architecture for several years now...about 4 of them in Philly. We have made a lot of connections in the construction industry. So when it came down to finding the right team of carpenters to help us finish Montrose Green, you'd think they would come through our numerous connections "in the business" right? Well, not exactly.

About a month ago, Emily and I were strolling through our neighborhood (Grad Hospital) with my in-laws and we dropped into a new artisan confections shop called Betty's Speakeasy (aka Betty's Tasty Buttons). Needless to say, the amazing selection of sweets made with local ingredients was the main attraction. But we also took note, as architects inevitably do, of the design details of the space. In addition to noticing the use of reclaimed wood floors for trim, custom concrete countertops, and other unique features...we also admired the craft in which the details were executed. Emily asked the owner about the carpentry work and she gave us the contact info for Togo Construction. She highly recommended the company, especially if we were looking for unique designs constructed with reclaimed materials. We smiled and gave her the address to our blog.

Togo Construction is owned and operated by Lance Morabito. In case you were wondering, the name 'Togo' comes from a classic modern couch designed in the early '70's by Michael Ducaroy. Now what does the Togo couch have to do with Lance's company? Not much, actually. He just really likes the couch and thought it was a catchy name. Fair enough.

Anyway, we called Lance the following day to see if he might be interested in helping us out at Montrose Green. He met us the next day, walked through the house, expressed a genuine interest in what we're doing, and has been on-site just about every day since then. His 'second' carpenter, Dave Palmer, has also been continually involved and the two of them are doing some really great work.

I hope that Lance knew what he was getting into when he agreed help to finish out a design/build project being run by the owner who is also the architect...and on-site everyday. Let's just say that I get fairly particular sometimes regarding design details. The great thing is that Lance seems to be just as particular about the way his work is constructed. Finding a carpenter (never mind two of them) that are totally into modern detailing and all its nuances who have the tools, skills, and creative insight to successfully execute those details is a rare find these days. Lance also has a genuine interest in working with reclaimed materials and finding new and creative ways to incorporate them into the project.

Togo recently completed all the trim work for the house. You can see below a few images of the 'nearly finished' details. The door/window/baseboard detail that we used is considered a 'museum' or 'gallery' trim detail. Basically, all the wood trim sits flush with the face of the drywall and is separated by a continuous 1/4" reveal (the obligatory modern detail). It took a lot of discussion and some trial and error to figure out the cleanest way to build this detail, but in the end it came out beautifully. These images are from the third floor which is being touched up with a final coat of joint compound (or spackle). The shot with the ceiling fan is looking through one of the bedroom transoms.

Togo Construction is currently working on the rear yard cedar fence (images below). I have had the design of this fence in my head for a long time, so I'm pretty excited to finally see it come to life. Lance also appears to have a fascination with pouring concrete, so we're now discussing going back to one of our original ideas of pouring concrete pavers for the rear yard patio that would incorporate 50% slag in the mix along with some color pigment.

Below are a few shots of Lance and Dave working on the details of the cedar fence.

Finding high quality craftsman who take pride in their work is a real treat. Along with Merlin and LCB Construction (our GC), we are excited to have Togo Construction as part of the SoLibs team.


Bygningsentreprise said...

It's exactly what I've been looking for. Keep up the excellent work.

Anonymous said...

Do you have a detail for the flush baseboard? I will be doing this on my house soon.