Tag Archives: Machado & Silvetti

People in Glass Houses Should Throw Parties

Well, officially we’re not IN the glass house yet. But it is certainly in us, as well as within a dedicated group of supporters and friends who came to the official Menokin Project Model unveiling party on Friday, October 4th.

Menokin Trustees and staff,  Union First Market Bank Officers and Board Members, and guests, gathered on the lawn at the house site to celebrate the arrival of the model in style.

Designed and fabricated by Machado and Silvetti Associates, LLC, the model will play a significant role in teaching about, and raising money for, the strategic rehabilitation of this National Historic Landmark.

The Reveal

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the progress of The Menokin Project model as it has evolved from a sketch to a finished piece of art.

Harvard Graduate School of Design students Carmine D’Alessandro and Alex Jacobson, and Machado and Silvetti Project Manager Jayne Kang – under the supervision of lead architect, Jorge Silvetti – have delivered a masterpiece of model making that will undoubtedly help The Menokin Foundation take this project to the next level.

We would like to once again express our boundless appreciation to Union First Market Bank for their generous gift that made this all possible.

With no further ado, may I present to you……………….The Model.

Menokin Model – Progress Report (Week 4)

Production of this model was made possible by a generous grant from Union First Market Bank.

Project Progress Reports from:
Jayne Kang | Project Manager, Senior Designer | Machado and Silvetti Associates, LLC


Week 4 –07/15/13-07/19/13
Model production:
– Final site model production [routed on the CNC milling machine]
– Laser cut all final parts of the assembly [i.e. rainscreen, armature for 1/16” models]
– Run lighting tests with the assembled 3/16” model
– Produce a test for the plaque that will be placed on the final model
– Run final tests for the liner’s gradient
– Preliminary fit-out of the entire assembly




Preliminary lighting test on overall assembly to calibrate the liner’s opacity, brightness and the overall ambiance.
Preliminary lighting test on overall assembly to calibrate the liner’s opacity, brightness and the overall ambiance.

Drum Roll, Please

The model is finished.


It was delivered to Menokin this morning by Alex Jacobson and Carmine D’Alessandro, the Harvard Graduate School of Design students, who constructed it under the supervision of Jorge Silvetti. They drove it down, under the cover of darkness, from Boston arriving late last night in Tappahannock.

Here is a sneak peak. But you’ll have to wait until next week to see the model. Why? Because I’m mean. And I want you to salivate!

Menokin Model – Progress Report (Week 3-Part II)

Production of this model was made possible by a generous grant from Union First Market Bank.

Project Progress Reports from:
Jayne Kang | Project Manager, Senior Designer | Machado and Silvetti Associates, LLC

Week 3 – Part II: 07/08/13-07/12/13
Model production:
– Final modeling adjustments to the armature model for printer
– Final digital site model adjustments for running tool paths
– Selection, purchase, lamination, drying and sanding of wood for the site model
– Model to be routed on Tuesday, July 16.
– 3D prints for House armature go to printer Monday
– 1/16” model pieces out for final print Monday

That’s a lot of clamps!

View the previous Progress Report here.

Menokin Model – Progress Report (Week 3-Part I)

Production of this model was made possible by a generous grant from Union First Market Bank.

Project Progress Reports from:
Jayne Kang | Project Manager, Senior Designer | Machado and Silvetti Associates, LLC

Week 3 – Part I: 07/01/13-07/03/13
Material, Assembly and Visual Testing (liner, rainscreen, historic walls, etc)
– North Elevation Full-Assembly Study [continued]
– Typical Armature Corner and Roof Rainscreen Assembly Study
– Test prints of different woods for the site base Model production:
– Final 3/16” ZCorb Print – Final 1/16” ZCorb Prints [Existing(x1)], Proposed (x2)]
– Final modeling adjustments to the armature model for printer

Included in this progress report are digital renderings and photos that document two major efforts made in the course of this short week, which involved:

1) finalizing the quality of material and level of resolution in the site model, with consideration to cost and aesthetics; and

This model is to represent the concept design that was submitted and approved in March 2013.  We decided to lightly reflect the concepts of the Landcape Architects - Reed Hilldebrand -  in the model, using a homogeneous material palette.
This model is to represent the concept design that was submitted and approved in March 2013. We decided to lightly reflect the concepts of the team’s Cultural Landcape Architects – Reed Hillderbrand – in the model, using a homogeneous material palette.

White oak (second from bottom) was the winner!

White oak (second from bottom) was the winner!

2) studies of various isolated assembly details (i.e. mechanical connections, lighting, aesthetic effects when combining the layered elements) in order to come up with something that is clean, most accurately representative, stable and has the best visual effect.

See the first progress report here.

Women in historic preservation

In late September, three women from the National Trust for Historic Preservation paid a visit to Menokin.

Organized by Menokin’s old friend, Katherine Malone-France, formerly of Oak Grove Restoration and currently the Director of Outreach, Education & Support, Historic Sites Department of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the visit included the following members of the Trust’s technical support team:

  • Ashley Wilson, Graham Gund Architect
    Chief Architect in the Sites Department
  • Rebecca Buntrock, Silman Preservation Engineering Fellow
  • Helena Trueeck, an intern who is developing a teacher institute about deconstruction plantation myths

They were all smart, energized and informed and I was so impressed with the combined knowledge and enthusiasm of the group. It was exciting to see young women crawling around old buildings and knowing as much about construction and engineering as any man! What great role models for that next generation of enthusiasts that we hope to attract.

I wrote to them after their visit and asked them reflect on their visit: why they came, what their expectations were, what their experiences here were, and what they left with.

In true Emily Post fashion, I got the following reply, complete with images, which I now share with you. We hope that you can take this spark of enthusiasm about The Menokin Project and fan it into a flame for yourselves and your friends and colleagues.

In their own words…

Rebecca Buntrock

“Before coming to Menokin, I had looked through the renderings for the proposed glass-house structure around the existing ruin. As a preservation engineer, I was very intrigued by this concept but until I saw the site I didn’t fully grasp its potential, which soon became clear.

To me, the structure is much more about architecture, exploration, and the experience of seeing a building deconstructed, than it is about the history of Francis Lightfoot Lee. I loved the “tree-house” feel of the wood stairs snaking through what’s left of the building, and the chance to physically see and touch the structure. It’s also a great story regarding how documentation of the building saved part of its history.

If the Machado-Silvetti design is realized, it will serve as the ultimate case-study in architectural innovation, beyond just breaking the mold of the traditional historic house museum. It literally has every component of design challenge, from stabilization of the ruins, to working within an existing building and the construction of a new glass shell. This should be presented at conferences and written about in technical journals, to gain publicity within the industry. It will likely become a “pilgrimage site” for design professionals with the big names on the design team, in particular Eckersley O’Callaghan as the glass consultants.

But the site is also appealing to a much larger audience – people are always very interested in seeing the building components, even if they aren’t architects or engineers. This often seems to be most popular part of many historic sites. There are presently brick and stucco construction mock-ups and classes held in one of the warehouses. It would be great to include the building trades, perhaps in the form of a field school, as part of the site’s development. Katherine and I also discussed possibly starting small, with a mock-up of the proposed curtain wall and steel armature, so people could see the proposed system, and the design team could begin to analyze how it’s going to work. Perhaps a curtain wall manufacturer with a proprietary system would be willing to donate money or materials for this effort.

I left the site thinking about my architecturally-inclined friends that would enjoy seeing the site, and considering when I’d come back. I look forward to seeing where the future leads for this site. I did a blog post on it: http://preservationframeofmind.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/menokin/

Helena Treeck

“Before my visit to Menokin I had familiarized myself with the project through the website and the presentation that includes ideas and renderings of what Menokin will look like after its transformation. However, when I arrived at the site I was expecting to see 2 houses: the one I had seen in the renderings and pictures and one that is used in the logo. I learned soon that there was only one house: The charming ruins from the spectacular renderings. Another reason I came to Menokin was that I had been told that it daringly challenges the traditional house museum form that we are so used to when visiting plantation house museums. This prospect was quite intriguing to me as I am currently working on a project for which I have looked at different plantation museums across the American South.

Menokin is indeed a breath of fresh air. The staff, Sarah and Leslie, are passionate about their idea of preserving the ruin and juxtaposing it with extremely modern architecture. A concept that presents itself to a multitude of ways to interpret this site: The open steel and glass structure that will preserve the ruin will allow the visitor to see preservation in action, take a look right at the guts of the house and be inside and outside at the same time. The experience of being inside this former “big house” can be recreated while conserving the innate charm of its ruin.

As a visitor it is exciting to see the structure of the place and be wandering through it on a little adventure. The building concept is nothing short of brilliant. Little sections that are covered in Plexiglas on one side of the building already give a great idea of what the finished product might look like. The finished location could be used for lectures on history, architecture, engineering, or it could hosts weddings, wine tastings, and classical concert. But, the vision of this dynamic staff duo does not stop at the big house.

An education nature path leading down to Rappahannock Creek is already equipped with signs explaining the different plants growing on the property. Their idea is to reanimate the Creek which, once upon a time, was the local highway. Sarah and Leslie envision a pier to walk into the lake, a canoe rental by the lake, and have a general concept to integrate the local community. Maybe one day guests will arrive at Menokin the old way, from the Creek site on a little boat.

One might at first think that Menokin is just another ruin, but Sarah’s and Leslie’s energy and enthusiasm can activate anybody’s imagination to see the vast potential of Menokin and its whole grounds.