Prefab Recap in Portland Monthly

not-so-weeHouse update

We were able to get some new photos of the not-so-weeHouse referred to as the Johnson Creek weeHouse on our Web site gallery. I'm happy to share a few here, but please see more at

"wee" looks forward to working with you!

weeHouse as (hopefully!) Future Affordable Housing Option in Philadelphia

Alchemy hosts a SPECStacular party!

Granted, we gave pretty short notice of this party via weeMail and we apologize for that! But for those who were able to attend the SPECStacular Event this past Saturday ... thanks for coming! Some information on this custom architecture project by Alchemy:

Minneapolis, MN — A new eye-catching façade for SPECS Optical in Uptown has been created by St. Paul-based Alchemy Architects. A city landscape beautification project had obscured the SPECS Optical storefront located at the busy corner of Hennepin Ave. S. and 22nd St. West and owners John Oliva and Nancy Krant’s options were limited by sign code restrictions. Using optics and transparency, Alchemy’s design draws attention to the building, encouraging people to “see differently”. A crystalline envelope of 5/8" thick greenhouse polycarbonate was attached to the storefront openings. The self-supporting skin was manipulated to form offset and distorted frames around the existing windows. “We wanted the design to mirror the optical store’s function and pushed ideas of frame and optics to the building’s public face,” said Geoffrey Warner, AIA, founder and principal of Alchemy Architects.

Design work was undertaken using 3-D computer modeling. The dimensional plans were then flattened, allowing for efficient model and physical production with a CNC router. Instead of working drawings, a perfect scale model of the skin was used as a 3-D guide to installation, with all pieces numbered in small and full scales. This innovative approach provided the freedom to explore geometry that would have been extremely difficult to produce using conventional methods. Custom translucent urethane straps were cut to provide a continuous “stitched” seam at the edges. The aluminum sign boxes were laser-cut and welded to contain the store identity. Very low-energy LED lights color-phase in and out to illuminate the façade. Custom aluminum planter boxes greet clients and neighborhood walkers alike, wrapping up the building from top-to-bottom with texture and eye-catching detailing. It’s a new way to see the growing architectural creativity in the Twin Cities.

Creative + Build:

SPECS Optical: 2204 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN, Phone: 612-374-2114, Web site:
Design and Fabrication: Alchemy LLC: Geoffrey Warner, Scott Ervin, Khanh Nguyen, Blake Lloya
Graphic Design and Identity: Werner Designwerks, Sharon Werner, Principal, Web site:
Lighting Design: Jim Marvy
Panel Fabrication: Atomic Architectural Sheet Metal, Web site:
Signage Lettering: Archetype Signs, Contact: Steve Carpenter, 651-994-9363, Web site:
Installation: K-A Construction and Alchemy

And here are a few photos of the fun!

wee been New York kinda busy!

Too busy to Blog? Yup! That's how it's been here at Alchemy. Three new wee's are now placed and being finessed to perfection, and one STUDIO weeHouse is having a fabulous time being a starlette at A Clean Break during Design Philadelphia.

Where to start? Oh! The beginning.
October 11, 2008 brought Scott Ervin and Betsy Gabler outside of Cobleskill, NY to host the first (ever) weeOpenHouse. "SweeT" is what we thought. Over 150 people came to view the house and take pictures! Whoa! Thanks! We took a few, too, so I'll be posting what I can here. More are available on Facebook (ditto for all events). Our Web site will be updated shortly as well. This weeHouse PAIR, with it's black and grey exterior, window-filled walls, and soon-to-be-screened porch sits like a little piece of heaven within a gracious, tree-filled site that even has a babbling brook. The entire experience was fabulous. We also did two site visits to Andes, NY and Preston Hollow, NY ... so who knows? Maybe there'll be weeNeighbors within a year or so.

October 12, 2008 was, weather-wise and house-wise, a picture perfect day outside of Esopus, NY. Also on a lovely wooded lot, this custom weeHouse has a "tower" that makes you "one with the birdies" as you're perched wwwway! up on the mountain. Those who braved the extra-steep driveway (and there were over 100 of you!) pulled up to an epic view of the Catskills ... in glorious Autumn color. Not to be outdone, this custom weeHouse shone as well with dark walnut floors, shiny chrome fixtures, floor to ceiling windows, panorama windows, and a being-built-right-then! deck. Visitors were ever-gracious, and were celebrating birthdays, romantic wee(get-it)kend getaways from NYC, and just satisfying general curiosities. One of the many fun moments was when we realized a MINI cooper was parked right next to the weeHouse!

THANKS THANKS THANKS to the clients, their families, their friends, and the communities who were so welcoming. Also, a not-so-wee (as in HUGE!) thanks to Teragren Fine Bamboo Flooring, Panels & Veneer for their extra efforts and financial sponsorship of the floors in the Cobleskill weeHouse as well as Kohler who graciously allowed both weeHouse clients to choose the fixtures they dreamed about at the price of the weeHouse standards (which are lovely, regardless!). Both Teragren and Kohler are preferred suppliers to weeHouses everywhere.

P.S. weeHouse 3 of this weeHouse trio was just set outside of Charlottesville, VA. Details and pictures on that 'set' to be posted soon.

Cobleskill weeHouse

Sa-wee-t 16 has been officially installed! The Cobleskill weeHouse (technically, closer to Carlisle, NY) was 'set' last week. Scott Ervin, Project Manager, was there to take some photos that I'm happy to share. More photos will be taken during the Open House on October 11th, 2008 from 10-5 p.m. We'll also be hosting an weeOpen House at the Esopus (technically Ulster Park) weeHouse on October 12, 2008 from 10-5.

If you're interested in coming, email for directions and to RSVP. Thanks!


Every once is a while, wee (okay, mainly Betsy) gets particularly happy that it's named for its size. Being able to 'play' wee word games is certainly one of those reasons. For instance:

Here's a wee friend wearing the weeCap from weeWares!

So adorable.
Okay, okay, I'll stop now.

P.S. Thanks to T+D+A!

wee be Busy!

It's been crazy-busy here at Alchemy from the marketing point of view! Last weekend we participated in the first (but certainly to-be-annual) MN AIA Homes by Architects Tour, featuring the Loft Renovation done by Geoffrey Warner and Scott Ervin. It was amazing to hear all the great comments from the 425 (or so) attendees. The clients were epic and oh-so-generous with their hosting, and overall, we were happy to feature not only our work, but that of our friends, too. Scott McGlasson's (Woodsport) work is throughout the loft and got lots of oo's and ah's. NICE.

We had two weeHouses going on over the past few weeks (both built by Simplex Homes in Scranton, PA) and I'm anxiously awaiting some updated photos to post! The Esopus NY weeHouse (custom) features beautiful details from Kohler. Looking forward to a photo opp with those! The Cobleskill NY weeHouse is just 'set' and per the project manager, Scott Ervin, is being painted and plumbed-up and electrified as I type. This weeHouse is the 2X side by side pair and also features elegant, contemporary fixtures from Kohler along with an amazingly lovely "green" bamboo floor from Teragren. Both Kohler and Teragren are reliable vendors with quality, design-conscious products that are perfect complements to the weeHouse. We so appreciate working with them. Here are some photos for starters ... waiting for more.

The amazing building front of the SPECS Optical store in Minneapolis has now been completed! Some super-coolio planters were designed, cut from aluminum, and added just last week. We're hoping to have a BRIGHT IDEA party in late October to celebrate it all.

From October 16-30, the Saturn weeHouse STUDIO will be available to tour at A Clean Break, part of Design Philadelphia, 2008. Since wee will be out East, I'm hoping to have open houses at both the Cobleskill and Esopus weeHouses on October 11, 12. Confirmation to be posted and also weeMailed (so be sure to be on our list)!

As far as dogs go ... this week we've had my niece's white boxer here keeping Hazelnut company. How lucky are wee?!

A Lofty Idea—on Tour (and in the NY Times)

We're pleased and thankful to announce that Alchemy's Loft Project is featured in the New York Times Home Section. Alchemy also thanks the fine team who worked with us to create this project including our gracious clients, the experienced and tenacious General Contractor, Kurt Albrecht of KA Construction, Scott Ervin of Alchemy, Scott McGlasson of Woodsport Woodcraft + Design, David Washburn of Valcucine Minneapolis, and Jim Marvy of Simply Marvy Lighting.
Alchemy on Tour!

Alchemy's Loft Project, designed by Geoffrey Warner and Scott Ervin, will be featured in the AIA Minnesota's Homes by Architects Tour in Minneapolis on September 20-21, 2008. Please join us.

Award-winning graphic designers and authors of the bestselling book "What’s Out There," Will Hopkins and Mary K. Baumann (of Hopkins Baumann Design) are a New York City couple who have recently transplanted their home and office to the renovated Whitney Lofts Building in Minneapolis (formerly the Standard Mill). Their Loft is situated in the Mill’s former turbine room and contains an office (for six) that melds seamlessly with their home.

Conceived as the designers' white on white, the space plays freely with concepts of old and new as a place—a home—for art. Tucked within is a house made from stacked timbers, lights on pulleys and rough sisal rope and tables that roll on a 60-foot-long track embedded in the floor. Experience the melding of luxury+function in the state-of-the-art Valcucine kitchen that coexists with industrial and IKEA components. See how a custom-built, 250-pound pivoting bedroom door that rotates with the push of a finger co-exists within the 2,600-square-foot living space that is replete with 19th-century steel crossbeams, heavy timbers, and stone-and-brick arches. Day dream some time away under the unifying factor of having it all pulled together by white cloud forms oozing through the gaps.

Warner’s inspiration in designing and engineering this renovation came from original black-and-white photographs archived by the Library of Congress, existing architectural elements, including brick arches dating from 1879, and some out-of-this-world phenomena from Hopkins/Baumann’s bestselling book, "What’s Out There". Project partners include David Washburn of Valcucine, Scott McGlasson of Woodsport, lighting designer Jim Marvy of Simply Marvy, the clients themselves, and contractor Kurt Albrecht, all of whom played a vital role in refurbishing existing 4-foot-thick stone-and-brick walls, customizing cabinets to accommodate overhanging duct work and industrial pipes, dynamically lighting an eclectic art collection, and creating artful yet functional furniture, all of which complements Warner’s trademark industrial style of celebrating the poetry in the transformation of everyday objects into artful elements.

Valcucine and Alchemy look forward to hosting you during this event.

For additional information on the Loft, please see our Web site's Gallery. For additional ticket information, please see:

more Esopus weeHouse SET pix

These pix start with the 'finished' set of the weeHouse and go backwards ...