Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bench Dog Design to host 'First Fridays' event

Join us this Friday, Sept 4th, from 6-9pm, for our first official ‘Fishtown First Fridays’ gallery opening. We’ll be alongside other builders, artists, and craftsmen that share space in the Liberty Studios/Cycle Garage (our shop location). There will be plenty of beer, wine, and other libations. Hope to see you there!

How to get there:
Our address is 2212 Sepviva Street. MAP
Located just north of Old City: you can bike, drive, take the #5 bus, or the el (Berks stop)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Professional Photos

Here are just a few highlights of the recent photo shoot we had with the photographer from Kurfiss Sotheby's. Check out our listing on the kurfiss website for more photos.

Photo credit: Michael Colavita

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A good friend starts a new project

Justin Tocci, our good friend and co-worker at Montrose Green, recently branched out to begin another project of his own. He has taken on a partial renovation of a rowhome located in Manayunk (a neighborhood just north of Philly) and things are moving along quite nicely. He is documenting the progress through a blog site: please click here to check it out.

Although he is focusing most of his time on the Manayunk project, he is continuing to work with SoLibs on a part-time basis as we work on the design of our next project: a 3-story rowhome located just a few blocks away from Montrose Green. More info on this later.

Justin is a talented designer and craftsman and I am sure the Manayunk renovation will come out beautifully. We wish him luck in his new endeavor.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Last week's storms...

Last week's torrential storms really tested the stormwater strategies at Montrose Green. Over 4.5" of rainwater came down in just 1 hour. For Philly, this is a month's worth of rain! The video below shows the stormwater planter receiving runoff water from both the street and sidewalk. As you can see, there is still a pool of water puddling into the street, but much of the runoff is directed into the planter. Here it is allowed to collect and is held until it naturally percolates back into the ground. We did notice that after clearing the intake channels of debris- mostly from small fallen flowers from the tree above- the flow of water increased significantly. The planter did begin to fill up, but since the grade of the planter sits below street level and there is plenty of clean stone laid below the planter bed, the water was able to infiltrate adequately and any standing water disappeared within minutes.

The second video (below) is very short clip that show what typically happens in Philly in a heavy storm. This clip shows our neighbor's downspout completely overflowing where it meets the boot (the short cast iron pipe that leads into the ground.) Typically, the roof runoff on rowhouses is channeled through a downspout, into a boot, and directly into the city's stormwater/sewer pipe which goes to the water treatment plant, as opposed to making its way into the ground or to the river. You can imagine what the poor treatment plant must have been going through last week.

Essentially what is happening here is the main stormwater/sewer pipe that runs under the middle of the street is completely full due to the amount of intake and all the connections from rowhouses are backed up. Many times these connection pipes run through people's basements and this is how they get flooded- which happened all over the city last week. And since the system is 'combined'- stormwater AND sewer in the same pipe- what you get in your basement is, well...let's say, it's not pretty. At Montrose Green, our only piped connection to the city's stormwater system is from our emergency overflow drain in the backyard and we barely had any water going through that pipe to the street during the storm and even with all the infiltration we are doing near the house, we had no water in the basement. Whew!

Our rain barrel + rain garden system was also pushed to the max, even with the flow of water dramatically reduced by the green roof above (which can absorb a lot of water but eventually gets fully saturated). Below you can see an image of the completely full rain barrel, with water overflowing into the adjacent trough. The trough empties into a raised planter (rain garden) through a series of horizontal holes. Similar to the planter out front, we laid a large amount clean stone under the bed for drainage and even with all the water it was taking on, it never did fill up.

After we took this photo, we opened the valves at the bottom of the barrel to let some of the captured water flow into the yard as well as the planter to give some relief to the rain barrel. The rear yard is currently dirt/mulch- which is pervious- so any overflow water was able to be absorbed directly into the ground. Eventually we plan to have sand set concrete pavers installed which will still allow water to infiltrate naturally.