#architectureschool

Six Trees in the Ground, Seven More To Go

Dr.Dprsey and PHF fellows cleanign bricks

On a Saturday morning, the Greensboro Fellows, Dr. Dorsey, and several community members came to the courtyard site to help clean bricks! Together they cleaned about three-quarters of a pallet (roughly 350) worth of bricks. Thank you, Fellows and Dr. Dorsey, it was a great help!

Concrete Pour

Formwork pre-concrete pour

The team finished the formwork, secured the rebar mesh, and taped over the formwork spacers and screws. The slab under the walkway is divided into rectangular pavers, which follow the grid system of the rest of the courtyard, and allow two-inch gaps that correspond with screen and grate placement. This week with the help of contractor, Clyde Fields, the team poured concrete!

Cured concrete before formwork was removed

While waiting for the new trees to be delivered, we began removing the formwork! To make prying the forms out easier, longer pieces of formwork were created at the edges of each rectangular slab piece, with spacers every foot or so.

Crepe Myrtles Arrived!

Thirteen beautiful, single trunk, Natchez Crepe Myrtles arrived on site on a cloudy Thursday morning. The team unloaded all of the trees with the help of 3rd-year students, Mason, and the Bobcat. The trees have grown taller since being tagged at a nursery in northern Alabama! The caliper, or width of the tree trunk, ranges between three and four inches wide. The bottom of the tree canopy is at least six to seven feet tall, allowing people to comfortably wander beneath the canopy.

That Friday morning we, along with 3rd-years and Mason, excavated holes for the first two trees. Considering the size of the site, the trees needed to be planted two at a time before the following holes could be augured. David Hill, AU professor of landscape architecture, arrived to advise and help plant the Crepe Myrtles. The 3rd and 5th-years helped us plant the first six trees! A huge shout out to David for coming from Auburn to assist planting the first half of the new courtyard trees.

More Bricks, Dirt, and Concrete Prep!

The team and assisting students took a trip to Fuller’s Building Supply, in Selma, AL, to re-stack 3,000 bricks! Said bricks had been purchased by the courtyard team a little over a year ago. Due to the pallets sitting outdoors for so long, they started to deteriorate and eventually rotted away. For one day, a crew of five sorted through the broken and whole bricks, and re-stacked them according to brick color on new pallets. Once the bricks were delivered to the site, the cleaning process began! Similarly to the previously found bricks, these have been scrapped of remaining mortar.

Curb formwork removal

Before the site was graded, the students removed the formwork of the concrete curb from the previous week’s pour. They also created a temporary boundary box to retain gravel or dirt from covering the curb and the grinder pump lid.

Grading the site

Batter boards used to indicate edge of gravel underlay
Image of whole site after grading work finished

In order to proceed with construction, the ground needed to be re-leveled. Certain areas of the site needed to come up four or so inches and others needed dirt removed. Tyler, who had previously helped the team with excavation work, returned with his mini-excavator and got the job done in one day. Caleb, Claudia, and 3rd-year students assisted with hand tamping and moving dirt by hand in areas the larger equipment could not reach. About fifty tons or two tandem trucks worth of dirt was utilized to grade the site. And about twenty-five tons of gravel was brought in as an underlay for the brick pad.

Cleaning up the alley

Simultaneously to the site being graded, time was spent on tidying up the building on Beacon Alley. The wooden doors and window trims were painted black to diminish the attention they drew; the black window trim makes the whole window disappear into the shadows rather than sticking out being a bright white.

Prepping for concrete

As formwork under the walkway started, it was necessary to remove a layer of bricks on the door threshold. To ensure that the level of the concrete and interior finished floor have a smooth transition and avoid water coming into the building. Shortly after that, people working on site were split into two groups. One group was to work on the formwork for the porch/stage area and the other to start staking down the formwork along the south and east fa├žade.

Old Bricks, New Concrete

People standing in front of screens

For a while now the team has known what materials will be used as in-fill for the screens, but it wasn’t until recently that they were able to see the rope, cable, and galvanized screen together on site! Before the new students arrived, Caleb and Claudia started testing the rope pattern. Four vertical strands were weaved through the screen perforations in a sewing-like pattern and fastened at the bottom of the first and last segment. As well as the stainless steel cables that will run every fifth perforation, in between the rope.

Concrete Curb

This semester started out with the new 5th-year students on site helping the team with formwork, batter boards, and brick rescuing! In the images above, you can see the students making the formwork to hold the concrete in place while it sets, staking it to the ground, and eventually pouring concrete in it. There are four threaded rods that were cold poured into the curb, that will function as anchors for the new pump cover.

“Construction Lines”

Strings in front of metal structures

In preparation for the site being graded again, the students set up guides to know where the edges of the brick pad will be. These strings are ten inches away from the metal screens. Consequently, creating a symmetrical edge on three sides, lining the pad up with the overall grid, and giving the vines that will be planted on the screen some buffer space.

Every Brick Counts

Students cleaning off bricks
Students salvaging and cleaning buried bricks
Stack of cleaned bricks

Before the dirt pile from the previous excavation got removed from the site, it was scoured for any useable bricks. Since the pad will be made up of reclaimed bricks, most bricks found on site are a great addition to the inventory. The students used brushes, hammers, and scrapers to remove any mortar from the bricks before starting a “clean” brick pile.

Back On The Ground

The Horseshoe Courtyard team is back on site again!

Since the team stepped away from their site in mid-March (due to COVID-19), the trenches under the tall screens were filled with topsoil in preparation for planting the vines. In the coming weeks, the site will be graded and additional dirt will be added, bringing up the site ground level four to six inches. Gravel will also be installed in the south end of site, where the brick pad will be formed.

Before the team begins any concrete work under the walkway, the gas line needed to be moved away from the building’s eastern facade so that it would not be cast in concrete. The day after the line was moved, Spire Energy relocated the gas meter around the corner and connected the gas line to the meter (image above is before the job was completed).

New signage for Project Horseshoe Farm!

Another element that the team has been working on is signage for Project Horseshoe Farm (PHF). At the moment, there is a sign by the front door that lets people in the community know where they are located. However, unless visitors are familiar with the organization, new users may not know how to find the program. The team studied a series of images from Greensboro in the 1900s to gain knowledge on the types of signs that were previously downtown, including current nearby signs, both hung and painted.

An important factor when considering different signage strategies is typography, not only for the aesthetics, but also for legibility and scale. There are different design strategies when considering pedestrians vs. vehicles on Main Street. The team considered a system of modular signs depending on the types of signs the organization might need, such as the primary sign at the front entrance or smaller programmatic ones. In terms of typography, the current typeface that Project Horseshoe Farm uses was tested, as well as the program’s logo. The team also researched typefaces that were previously found in the old cornice of the building (when it was a hotel) and the threshold plate at the front entrance of the building.

After meeting with PHF’s Director, Dr. Dorsey, and Sarah Hallmark, the Assistant Director, the team’s designs were narrowed down to three possibilities, all in either a cream or white background. Since the windows and the base of the building will be painted white, like in the mock up image above, they are considering a white background. Stay tuned for the final decision!

Detailing, Editing, and Writing

Now that the details for the porch cladding have been resolved, we moved our attention to detailing the door opening. While working through the details we studied the doors in the rest of the hotel, and in our imediate surrounding, particularly the triming and how other doors that have trasom windows, have been adressed. In order to design something that fits with the language of the cladding, but also works with the language of the door.

Zoom call, Pdf detail drawing of bench in background

As is the norm now, the team has had weekly meetings with Andrew and Steve to talk about details and design or book progreess. And from time to time we get to talk with Dr. Dorsey, Director of Project Horseshoe Farm, and our client or consultants such as David Kennedy, about our heavy timber bench.

Sneak Peak of a draft! While working remotely the team has started working on the book, which is an in depth documentation of the design and construction process.