#auburnarchitecture

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.

Batter up at Horseshoe Courtyard!

Horseshoe Courtyard

This week at Horseshoe Courtyard, 3rd-years were able to help Claudia and Caleb finish up formwork for the long-awaited concrete pour in the sidewalk and stage area! These will ensure that the concrete path is the exact shape, height, and size that Claudia and Caleb have planned out.  Students also worked to set up batter boards to help keep the future placement of trees aligned. Next week, when the Crepe Myrtles will be delivered, strings, pulled taught across the site attached to the batter boards, will tell us exactly where each tree needs to be placed.

Twin puppies from the area decided to come check out what was happening on site. The sweet pups were quickly returned home, but the brief visit was a wonderful way to start the day.

Studio, Shop, and History

During Studio this week, students continued to work on drawing detailed construction documents for 20K Ophelia’s Home. They worked with Emily and Chelsea to learn about wall sections and layers and how to address openings in the building envelope. The 3rd-years have also been continuing to work diligently on their cutting boards for shop class where they are becoming more empowered to used power tools correctly and safely. They were able to visit Folsom Farm with history professor, Dick Hudgens, at the start of the week. At the farm, they saw the many outbuildings farmers used in the early 1800s, and the details necessary for each structure.

Perry Lakes Park

Despite some early ending workdays due to rain last week, 3rd-years returned to Perry Lakes Park this week to continue work on the projects started in the prior week. While there are a few more projects at Perry Lakes Park to be completed, the walkways to the Birding Tower and the tower itself were the main subject of repair.

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 façade.

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.

Testing Steel Cable and Hardware

Team instaling cables on railing
Caleb and Claudia installing the steel cables for the railing

This week the team started installing the eighth-inch in diameter, steel cables that infill the railings. The cables are spaced two inches apart in order to ensure that a four-inch sphere won’t fit in between them. Two railing panels worth of cable were installed this time around; in order to understand the process and time that cutting, threading, and tightening the cables will take.

Shortly after working on the railing panels, the team moved on to the screens. They had a sample piece of cable for each screen; the eighteen-foot screens, the nine-foot screens (that allow passage underneath them), and the eight-foot screens for the north end. This was also the first time the team was able to observe the beautiful cable hardware on the screens. As soon as the slab under the walkway is poured, the rest of the cables and rope infill will go up!

Gate Iterations

As site work progresses, design work for the gate on the north end also progresses. Some of the design explorations include having the gate look similar to the rest of the screens, translucent and light. Other iterations test a solid sheet of metal, in which to etch-out words or logos; or simply being a found object that looks entirely different from the rest of the project. While considering the language of the gate, the team is also taking into account the height and width of the gate itself, and its relationship with the eight-foot screen and the concrete wall on the other side.

Steel Edging & Pump Cover

The brick pad on the south end of the site requires a barrier or transition between the brick and slate. The team is resolving this by using quarter-inch steel edging, similar to the Newbern Library project. However, rather than creating the edging from scratch, they will use off-the-shelf edging and adjust it as needed. Since the finished look will be similar to that of the Newbern Library, the Horseshoe Courtyard team contacted Stephen Durham, one of the Library team members, to get some tips on what they did.

Grinder Pump

Detail section of pump cover structure
Detail close-up of pump structure

When designing the brick pad, it was important to take into account the grinder pump that is located within its perimeter. First, because once the site is re-graded, the finished surface will be above the current level of the pump. Secondly, we need to make the pump accessible in case of maintenance needs. And lastly, we hope make it aesthetically pleasing and not slippery as a ground surface. Having all this in mind, the team has been working through details for the structure, as well as thinking of ways to make the cover lighter through different types of perforations and material choices.