#courtyard

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.

Social Distancing

Screenshot of zoom call

Considering the current circumstance of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Studio has temporarily closed its doors for the safety of the Studio and the community. For the last couple of weeks we have been transitioning to a virtual studio in order to continue pushing the design, and finalize details while we wait for news to return to site.

Drawing of railing corner pieces from above

Some weeks ago, we started to go through iterations of what would be best for the walkway railing end, especially considering no other railing turns the corner. However, we felt the best way to understand the design was to put up the fabricated pieces and study the existing conditions before going further. Now that we have gone through multiple iterations, (solid panels, grating, and entirely different materials) we have choosen to continue with the same language to minimize the “noise” at the north end and keep the same lightness and transparency as the rest of the design.

After all the screens and railing pieces were up, the next step was to start working on the concrete surfaces. Both the slab in the stage porch, and the sidewalk under the walkway that culminated with a concrete wall. This included re-routing the gas line away from the building in a location where it would be accessible if needed, rather than embeded in the concrete. This led to its future placement being along the screen legs, at the top of the trenches. This will be the first thing to be completed when construction is resumed.

Slate is going to be the material for the finish ground surface where there isn’t concrete or bricks. For the last couple of iterations, slate is also used on the perimeter of the slabs, which would give tolerance to the nearly 200-year building and recreate the two-inch gap that is between the walkway wall plate and bracket. Giving the rainwater somewhere to drip, while avoiding the concrete. This detail is re-created in the porch for consistency and for the cladding to have some breathing room if water does enter the space.

Railings and Transparency

This week, the goals were to lift the railings and nine-foot frames into place, and secure them to the other screens or walkway. Before that could happen the team spent a couple of days making sure that everything was level and plumb to each other, so that when those smaller screens went up, there wouldn’t be as much adjustment needed. Right after the screens were adjusted to the right position, the team made formwork out of 2x6s that facilitated pouring the grout under the footing plate. Having three to four inches of grout below the plate, allowed the adjustment of the overall structure, before the grout was poured. Ensuring all perforations lined up.

After the footing plates were grouted and formwork removed, the Horseshoe Farm Fellows helped fill in the trench along the neighbours building, with the pile of dirt that had been previously excavated from the trenches. Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of that mound was mixed with bricks from the collapsed structure that used to inhabit the courtyard. Luckily the team can re-use those brick for the “rug” that will be the ground surface between the tall screens. The trench was filled about halfway up, the rest to be filled with soil for the vines later on.

Screens attached to walkway

The smaller, nine foot screen eases circulation from under the walkway into the “active space” that sits before the stage porch, which also has nine foot screens. These screens are made up of a single galvanized frame instead of the standard two. Mainly beacuse it doesn’t require the cavity in the middle for planting, the vines will reach from the neighbouring screen and to reduce the amount of material used.

During transportation and the galvanization process, some of the screens got bent. Most of the damage was decreasing the four-inch gap between the frames. In order to fix them, the team used a car jack to bend the frames back into place. Another important thing to keep in mind when galvanizing metal, is that the finish quality is largely dependent on how well the “trash” is cleaned once the metal comes out of the plant. The trash is galvanized clumps or residue that sometimes remains on the metal when hot-dipped. Some of the larger chunks can be removed by using a grinder or by tapping the edge with a metal chisel and hammer.

Dr.Dorsey standing on walkway seeing railing for first time
Shortly after railings were installed, Dr. Dorsey came out the walkway. Here he is talking about the impact the walkway will have on the second floor once it is finished.

During the design process, one thing that was important for us was that while this walkway is nearly six-foot wide, and eighty-feet long, we wanted the material to be translucent. Something that read as being light. While the grate itself is quite heavy, the gaps between the bearing bars provide this effect when the light hits it. Creating beautiful shadows on the textured brick wall. Another effect the sun has, is when it touches the walkway structure, the gap between the walkway bracket and the plate is highlighted, at every connection point.

Looking up at the corner screen
South-East coner of tall screen. This image shows the bolted connections that disappear when looking at the frames straight on.

Within a Sixteenth

The moment we have been waiting for years! The screens are finally going up! This week all the metal frames took their last trip around Hale, thanks to Shane Jackson from Stillwater Machine, for transporting all the material and lifting the frames into place with his boom truck. A huge shout out to Mason Hinton, and all the 5th and 3rd-year students that helped lift, carry, and bolt things into place. We couldn’t have done it without all the help! And last, but not least, a big thank you Alabama Power for letting us use their parking until the screen went up.

In order to work as efficiently as possible, we split into groups: a group of four to six including the team bolted the pieces together, with two at the top and four at bottom. Our other volunteers lifted the screens from the ground onto the trailer that drove from the parking lot to site. Then Mason would attach the screens to the boom truck chains and undo the wooden jigs ( jigs held the legs of the frames from bending during transportation). Next Mason or Claudia would guide the screen with a strap into its correct location, and the crew of four would guide Shane ( boom operator) until lifted into place. While the screens were bolted the rest of the volunteers would move on to loading the next screen on the trailer.

footing bolted to screen leg

Leaving the bottom of the footing plate un-grouted while installing the screens allowed us some flexibility to move the footing between an eighth to a quarter of an inch in all directions, depending if it was connected to the walkway or not. This allowed us to level the top of the screens in relation to each other, as well to ensure that all the holes in which the screen connected to each other lined-up within a sixteenth of an inch.

sunset reflecting on screens and wall plates
One of the fun things we observed after the screens were up, was that they reflected the beautiful colors of the sunset or the blue sky in the mornings. In the image above the metal is reflecting the sun, but a few minutes later the it would reflect the oranges and pinks of the sky.

Up next: railings and 9 foot frames!

Bolted Down, Moving Up

While the concrete set, we created templates to help install the threaded rod into the footings. A laminated template ensured the holes drilled into the concrete for the threaded rods were in the correct location. The wooden template held the rods in place while the epoxy dried.

The team used the handy-dandy batter boards and plumb bob to find and mark the exact center of where the footing plates would be installed. They needed to ensure footings were spaced exactly 10 feet apart while also lining-up with the critical connection points of the walkway. Although the footing plate holes were oversized in comparison to the 5/8 inch threaded rods that attach the plates to the concrete, the rest of the screen assembly did not have as much tolerance. The tolerance at the footing plates allowed for minor adjustments as the screens were being connected and leveled to each other.

Before the holes were filled with epoxy, all of the threaded rods were marked (the depth they needed to be embedded) to ensure air bubbles in the epoxy weren’t holding the rods out of place. Nuts were threaded to support the wooden template that holds the rods in place while the epoxy dried. Once the epoxy hardened, the footing plates could be lifted into place and re-leveled in relation to other plates.