Sydney Grove Featured in the Classicist Publication by Tim Barber

Sydney Grove, a talented TBL Design Associate is featured in the most recent edition of the Classicist publication, an annual peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the advancement of the core values of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. Sydney’s ‘Gilpin Street Tudor’ residence is showcased on page 91, as the 2014 recipient of the Newman Award: Student category - Certificate of Merit.

Sydney graduated from the Masters of Architecture program at the University of Colorado at Denver in 2014 and was in the second group of students to receive an ICAA certificate in Classical Architecture. The ‘Gilpin Street Tudor’ was her senior project. The Robert and Judi Newman Awards, given by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art recognize achievement in six categories; including architecture, interiors, landscape design, history and journalism, student awards, and artisanship.

Her design project was an exercise in testing a conservation zoning overlay for a neighborhood known as Washington Park in South Central Denver, dating back to 1899. The neighborhood had experienced a surge of house demolition and new construction. This was triggering a strong desire among residents to preserve and protect the history, scale and character that makes this neighborhood so special. Because a considerable portion of the neighborhood had already seen significant change, it could not be designated a historical district. The UC-Denver Architecture senior studio was approached by the community to help determine what zoning rules would be most effective in preserving the neighborhood. The studio met with the neighborhood group and set goals to limit the overall size and height of houses, limit the size of the shadows cast on the neighbors, limit the size of the front entry and limit the number of stories from 2.5 to 2.

The approach in Sydney’s ‘Gilpin Street Tudor’ was to ensure that an architectural style historically significant to the neighborhood was still obtainable within these strict guidelines. The house is nearly 4,000 sq. ft. and is designed for a family of four who enjoy entertaining in both indoor and outdoor living spaces. The house respects the history of the neighborhood, and also includes elements such as the Corinthian columns at the entrance, featuring vegetation native to Colorado.

We celebrate Sydney’s achievement. We’re proud of the program at the University of Colorado at Denver – and we salute the Newman Awards at the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art.

Bringing Traditional Architecture Back into Design Schools by Tim Barber

We at TBL have been ardent supporters and participants in the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art for 12 years. Tim was a founding member and past President of the Southern California chapter and a past Trustee on the National Board. He co-chaired (with Brooke Gardner) two ICAA affordable housing competitions with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles in 2009 and 2011.

The ICAA is dedicated to advancing the classical tradition in architecture, urbanism and their allied arts.  It offers a wide array of programs that are designed to promote the appreciation and practice of classical and traditional design, including classes, travel, lectures, and conferences.

This past Thursday October 6, Mark Gelernter (Dean of Architecture of the University of Colorado at Denver) spoke to ICAA at Rejuvenation in Los Angeles on “Bringing Traditional Architecture Back into Design Schools”. Dean Gelernter began a traditional architecture program at UC-D in the fall of 2013, incorporating much of the curriculum of the ICAA. He joined forces with Christine Franck to develop the Center for Advanced Research in Traditional Architecture (CARTA). His talk challenged the modernist-only curriculum in most universities today and issued a rousing call to action to start the dialogue with these institutions to restore the teaching of architectural traditions in their programs.

We agree with Dean Gelertner and celebrate the successes at UC-D.  We are excited to open a respectful discourse with educators and practitioners. Should architecture traditions be taught again at university level? If so, how should we integrate this study into current curriculum models? We encourage you to join us in the conversation and attend other ICAA functions to learn more about the organization and the important work it does. Check out the Calendar of classes and events at

For additional information, you can also visit CARTA at CU Denver:

TBL and Greywater Systems: Tim Shares His Personal Experiences by Tim Barber

Being Green

At TBL, we advocate green technology on all our projects. We specify solar collectors (water and photovoltaic), solar shingles, cisterns, greywater systems. drip irrigation systems and pool covers. In 2014, Tim hired Greywater Corps to install a greywater system in his own house…to test the waters, if you will.

Why greywater?

Greywater recycling reuses household water to irrigate landscaping and trees. A Laundry-to-Landscape systems does this without a tank, filter or pumps. Tim’s home has drought-resistant herbs, trees, shrubs, grasses and flower instead of a lawn - yet the plantings he chose still need some irrigation. The City water he uses indoors is an inexpensive and available resource for reuse in his gardens outdoors. The advantages of greywater systems are clear: make double use of the water we already use, spend less cash, and consume fewer resources.

How does it work?

In Tim’s Laundry-to-Landscape Greywater System, the water from his laundry, tubs/showers, and lavatory sinks are diverted from sanitary sewers to mulch pits (24” diameter and 24“ deep pits, lined with mulch) near his biggest water consumers: olive, pomegranate, apricot and citrus trees. All of the water reaches the mulch pits via gravity (but the Laundry provides a small assist when it pumps water out of the washer).

Is it expensive?

Until we learn how to bathe and clean our clothes without water, greywater is a precious, constant resource. Affordable infrastructure puts them within reach of most homeowners.

The cost to install a Greywater Corps system runs between $2,000 and $9,000. By comparison, systems with tanks, filters and pumps can cost up $30,000 and require frequent maintenance.

Do I need a permit?

Tim’s system was installed under Chapter 16A of the California Plumbing Code, “Nonpotable Water Reuse Systems”.

Fancy soaps?

This system requires mindfulness. Soaps, shampoos and Laundry detergent must be chosen with care, to avoid over-salting the gardens with any products with sodium in the ingredient list. Look for cleaning products labeled “biocompatible” or “biodegradable”. Body soaps and shampoos are rarely harmful to plants. For Laundry, try Oasis Laundry Liquid, Trader Joes Liquid Detergent or Bio Pac Laundry Liquid. And always install a diverter near the Laundry in case you plan to use chlorine bleach – so you can send that water into the sewer.

Does it work everywhere?

Maybe not. A tankless Laundry-to-Landscape system needs gravity. It’s very difficult to make water flow uphill – if that’s where you keep your garden. Also, Tim irrigates his vegetable garden with potable water for two reasons:

  1. Greywater isn’t recommended for root vegetables.
  2. The mulch pits don’t effectively serve the smaller, individual plants in his vegetable patch.

What’s the downside?

Tim did experience two disadvantages:

  1. He tried to use greywater on his vegetable garden for a year. FAILURE. His household doesn’t generate enough water for vegetables - and the mulch pit system isn’t sophisticated enough for numerous small plants.
  2. By diverting most of the water from his sanitary sewer, he created a problem. When roots blocked his sewer line in 2015, the lowest points (tubs and showers, where back-up usually occurs) weren’t connected to the sanitary sewer. So the waste backed up through the toilets – requiring extensive remediation.

Tim believes the water shortage in Southern California will only get more serious. Other parts of the world are experiencing droughts, too. Clean water is the Earth’s most precious commodity. While Tim saves approximately $30 to $50 a month on his water bill by reusing his water, it’s not the only reason to have an L-to-L home system. Can we take less clean water from our rivers and lakes and leave more for fish and fowl? Can we spend less of our resources making landscape water potable, treating it with chemicals and pumping it from faraway places? Can we leave the Earth greener than we found it?

Thinking green has guided TBL well in the past 22 years. Tim, Kirk and Laura are LEED Accredited Professionals. We completed a LEED Gold-rated home in 2015. We have found better ways to insulate homes (with open cell foam insulation) and better ways to ventilate them (with passive systems). We have discovered hyper-efficient heating and cooling systems and required renewable, local materials in our homes. We require recycling of construction waste and demolished materials. TBL has even started to design Lexus batteries systems to serve as temporary house power in peak hours and power failures. The future of green technology in TBL homes is bright. What will the next 22 years of green tech bring? We’re excited to learn – and to share with you.

(All images courtesy of Greywater Corps)