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New Workshop: Early Ideas

It begins. I am building a new shop on a level pad located near the Chugach State Park boundary high above Anchorage. The structure will serve three purposes, 1.) Woodworking shop, 2.) Guest apartment, 3.) Garage for vehicles. The first two are for us. The third is for resale purposes down the road. Come along as I plan and build my new shop. First up: Exterior design.

This is about as much square footage as I need for my workshop. However, the Eltopia-Basin City look is not what I am aiming for.

This looks a bit better, but is too short for an apartment up top.

As I see it, there are basically 3 choices for the overall look of the building. The roofline largely defines each. The choices are Shed Roof, New England Barn, and Off The Shelf Plan.

Shed Roof Option. The Frank Howarth design is appealing for its modern look and all the natural light the plexiglass clerestory brings in. It also looks pretty simple to build. I worry about those upper panels, though. Suspect they would not hold up to Bear Valley winds. The doors need help, too. The SL roadster can stay.

New England Barn. I love the traditional, no nonsense look of New England post-and-beam barns with their divided light windows, clear-finished doors, white trim, stone foundations, and clapboard siding. No one would mistake Anchorage for Duxbury, but maybe there's room for a little Yankee style way up here.

Off The Shelf. What do you think? Thumbs up or down? The proportions and roof angles seem just a bit off to my eye. Dimensions are too on the nose for my taste. Its not awful, just cheesy. Like a 1997 cul-de-sac house.

This is the shop I used to have. A one car garage, built 100 years ago, that I gave a facelift. I tried to make it look more like a place you might stop in and buy something.

Here's something close to the workshop I always thought I would build. Simple, sound, maybe 600 square feet.

I actually see good things here. In particular, the vertical "house" looking portion on the left and the "office" looking portion at right. Ignore the details, both are useful forms.

Classic design elements I hope to incorporate in the new shop, especially the simple windows and alow-angle dormer. Architecture by Eck and Estes/Twombly and paintings by Andrew Wyeth stick with me.

Here are some forms similar to those in an earlier photo. This time its a sloping "office" form on the left and an upright "shop" form on the right.

But I can't rule out the clean-and-simple box. You get full use of the space afforded by the footprint. The roof is easier than most. View can be captured well. Boxy form makes for a livable space upstairs.

Good design for Alaska.

Off The Shelf is beginning to fall behind, despite some nice elements. The line of block windows above the two forward-facing garage doors is cool. The semi-salt box roofline is fine. The tacked-on cupola does nothing for me.

A lot to like. Good proportions and a straightforward footprint. No fighting with a builder on this one. The shingles are great as are the carriage-style doors. Metal roof and divided light windows work together well. Upstairs is a little small.

This is pretty awesome, but its a bit too Elvish or Tyrolean or something - too European for my taste (Google: Cheese eating surrender monkeys). But I like the verticality and its nordic lines.

The upstairs windows need to grow and the lamp is in the wrong spot, but I love the feel here.

Probably the perfect shop for the plaided Vermonter. Its a little too big for the budget, though. Maybe scale it down by 20%. Replace the black door way over on left with a window and a standard door, making it an "office". Rework the entry ways on the right side. Rethink the windows on the upper level, too. Need to bring in more light up there. Otherwise, I really like the slider doors that cover the main doors. Main doors would have to be varnished, not painted, of course. Keep the painted outers the way they are. Modify the roof corners to make it more "Block Island" and less "Greek Revival". I'd shingle the whole thing and add a dark gray metal roof. Where's the chimney? Replace the weather vane horse with a flying halibut.

I love the bank of dormer windows - a signature element of designers like Jermiah Eck. The shingles, the proportions, the 2 by 2 windows, the carriage doors, the "office" at left: all good things. The arbor over the door at right could go. Maybe remove the whole door and replace it with a window. A small deck off the right side at apartment level would be useful. The whale can stay.

Deck over garage door provides covered workspace.

Add a garage level below and this would be sweet.

This is darn close. Raise the roof, replace loft with full-story apartment, add another garage door, simplify trim.

Stay tuned for more on the workshop interior A near-perfect workshop by chairmker Greg Pennington of Hendersonville, TN.


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