“A Ton of Wood and Four Girls”

“They have a ton of wood and four girls.” — Random guy at Lowes somehow accurately summing up the past year in Moundville.

After all the challenges in installing the roof joists, the ceiling joists were somewhat of a breeze. Unlike the roof, the majority of the ceiling joists could be ninety degree cuts running perpendicular to the trusses which helped ease installation. Katie and Lauren were able to perfect the process and complete them in a little over two weeks.

The edge beams still provided a little more of a challenge since they intersect the ceiling joists at a diagonal and required angled cuts. To more accurately determine the required length and angle of these members, the ceiling joists in the standard truss bays were installed first with strings pulled from the existing ceiling plane to the edge beams. This gave the team something to measure along for each joist which proved to be the most accurate method to account for variations in the wood and edge beam placement.

Simultaneously, Emily and Sarah took on a big task in framing the ridge. Plywood pieces were installed to match the slopes of the existing ceiling planes as the joists were installed. These pieces (affectionately referred to on site as “diapers” for their unique profile) were installed to form the ridge line and provide framing for the ceiling cladding. It was immensely important to be as accurate as possible and continue the plane of the ceiling joists.

Installing the diapers focused on achieving the straightest line possible that intersects the low corners perfectly. For an added headache, to be able to continue the fastener pattern for the ceiling cladding established in the joist spacing, the diapers were installed 3/4″ above the desired finished ceiling plane so that plywood can be attached as a secondary layer to allow a “clean slate” for the fastener spacing.

Notebook sketch of plywood ridge piece.
The ridge!

After multiple iterations, the form of the pieces was perfected and installed to give the first physical framing element of the bottom ceiling ridge!

Framing the ceiling was a huge accomplishment in marking a milestone in the framing process. It also allowed the team to begin to test cladding materials, sizes, and patterns as well as detailing the column reveal.

Sketch of column reveal detail with cladding stopping 1 1/2″ short of the truss face.
Meeting with New York architects Tod Williams and Billy Tsien in Moundville’s Big John BBQ restaurant.

With the roof joists, ceiling joists, and ridge framing complete, the team finally has the framing for the four planes of the structure that form the roof and ceiling. Turning such a unique shape with diagonal truss lines into a logical and formal structure with two distinct ridge lines and four different slopes has been one of the biggest undertakings the four members have ever undertaken. Completing this stage of the process is extremely gratifying for the team; however, the soffit terminating the eight-foot structural depth and 18-inch edge beam into a four-inch edge will complete the final, and toughest, step in the framing process.