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.

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!