It has been a rollercoaster, but the end is here! The Horseshoe Courtyard team is departing and is officially handing over the beautiful, outdoor space to Project Horseshoe Farm!
The last two weeks of site work were a mad dash to wrap up all things. During this time the team poured the concrete for the final sidewalk, spread the last four tons of slate, finished the brick pad, completed electrical, installed the flashing for the porch, and finally cleaned up the site. Whew!
“The team is incredibly thankful for the opportunity to have worked on this amazing project and for all the help and support that it received from the university, the Studio, our friends from the other teams, the community, and the client over the last year to finish!” ─ Caleb & Claudia
Who said there is such a thing as, “too much concrete”? Definitely not the Horseshoe Courtyard Project team! In the last two weeks, Caleb, Claudia, and the 5th year and Graduate Student helpers poured concrete for the sidewalk extension, wall footing, and the wall mock-up. Oh, the wall? It’s made of concrete. Let’s see how they do it!
In one action-packed afternoon, the team poured the concrete sidewalk extension and the footing for the 9′ concrete entry wall. Both are located at the north end of the courtyard site. Special formwork was made to help keep the footing rebar in place. This rebar extends out of the footing and will be cast inside the wall. Special attention was also paid to the sidewalk extension by giving it a broom finish.
Mock-up # 13: The Concrete Wall
Next up, the thirteenth mock-up. This mock-up tested the finished quality of the concrete for the 9′ wall. The team experimented with how much the concrete needed to be vibrated to create a smooth surface and where to locate seams. It was also important to practice the overall process of making out-of-ground formwork and pouring into it.
Due to the dimensions of a single melamine sheet, a wood composite board with a plastic coating, no single sheet will cover the whole face of the concrete wall. Therefore a couple of options were tested using two, 2′ x 2′ panels. Each panel face tested a different option; single sheet, horizontal seam, vertical seam, and a combination of the two. Silicon sealed the joints and corners and liquid nails connected the different segments of the melamine board together. Once the concrete cured and the forms removed, the team decided horizontal seam would be best.
Only the Corner Left
After removing the formwork for the recent sidewalk extension, the last flat screen on the east side was ready for filling. Caleb, Claudia, and TMBV team members planted three more vines, weaved the rope through, and fastened the corresponding steel cables. The corner screen will be finished, once the concrete sidewalk is fully extended, to avoid trampling the plants in the process.
Spring is Upon Us
In the last couple of weeks, the courtyard has seen new colors pop up! The Carolina Jessamine or Gelsemium sempervirens, one of the two vines planted have started to bud. This week, almost all twenty of the Jessamines have bloomed or have buds that will bloom in the coming days. This beautiful vine blooms twice a year, in the fall and spring; and complements the fragrant white blooms of the Confederate Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides), which will make their appearance in a few weeks!
Benches Coming Together
During Neckdown Week, the team and helpers dug and poured two of the concrete footings for the benches. And last week, the corresponding metal legs for the benches were installed. The team hammer-drilled into the concrete and epoxied the threaded rods into place. The base of the benches will be grouted to the concrete at the correct level once the third bench footing has been poured and hammer-drilled. The benches’ sitting surface consists of two eight-inch square heavy timber cypress, leftover from the Newbern Town Hall project, which will provide durability as well as comfort for the user.
Finally, the end of the walkway is complete! A new quarter-inch plate was installed into the masonry wall to support the northernmost railing. The process for the installation of the plate was the same as the plates which support the walkway. The main difference being the middle two anchors that extended past the wall plate and attached to the railing aligned with the other railing frame connection point. The corner piece, while singular in its function, follows the same language and rhythm as the rest of the metal. And maintains the two-inch gap in both its connection to the last railing and to the existing ones.
The Horseshoe Courtyard Project Team is bringing even more concrete to a blog near you! The team started to dig the footing for the concrete wall at the North end of the site. And, without fail, they ran into more old, buried brick and concrete foundations. Of course they also found dead metal pipes.
These foundations are from the old structures that used to occupy the site. Nevertheless, that did not stop the team from digging the footing to the right depth. They smashed the foundation remnants while carefully avoiding breaking the waterlines.
Snow in Hale?
As much of the country experienced frigid temperatures last week, so did Greensboro, AL. Last Tuesday night, the site was blanketed with a thin layer of snow! Thankfully there was no damage to the project. Just these snowy pictures of the Horseshoe Courtyard.
One Corner Left!
The end of the bricklaying is approaching! The team only has the northwest corner of the brick pad to finish. At the moment, the bricks on the west side reach past the grinder pump, once some plumbing work gets squared away, the remaining bricks can be placed and sanded. After that, all that’s left for the pad is the metal edging, which is already on-site, ready to be installed!
A Continuous Railing
For most of the elevated walkway, there are metal frames that serve as railings, with cables spaced out every two inches. However, on the south end of the walkway, the team perforated the back half of the metal screens, to allow the screens to double as railings. The cables span the same length as a railing, meaning one set of cables covers two of the screens.
When installing the cable in the southernmost point, the team used special masonry anchors that attach to the brick wall. In order to make sure the holes for these anchors were drilled in the correct spot and equidistant, the team used a metal jig. To hold the plate jig in the correct spot while drilling, the team screwed some blocking pieces into the masonry wall. Once the perforation holes were cleared of debris, the anchors were tapped into the wall and the hardware piece that holds the cable in place could be attached. And lastly, after cutting the cables to length, they were tensioned with the fastener that attached to the screens.
Out of sight, Out of Mind
If you’ve been keeping up with the blog for a while, this infamous grinder pump cover has come up for months now. And you are probably curious as to what all the fuss is about. Well, here you have it!
In the last post, the metal frame was seen installed in place. Most recently, the “tabs” that are held up by the threaded rods were attached, and the cover lifted into place. In the images above the process of this installation is seen.
First, the metal plate tabs were placed at the correct height and held in place with a nut and washer, while tack welded in place. Second, the washer and nut were removed, and the excess threaded rod ground off, and the plate fully welded to fill the gap. Third, the surface of the plate was ground smooth and clean. Fourth, the remaining debris was cleaned off and the welds covered with spray paint. Last but not least, the team and friends placed the cover once the paint has dried!
The Horseshoe Courtyard steel screen frames are filling up! With help from the 3rd-years, more rope laced through the metal frames, leaving space for the steel cables which complete the screen patterns. The cables are placed every 5th perforation and function as an auxiliary support system for the vines. In the process, the steel cables visually transform the rhythm of the screen.
Showing Them the Ropes
While both the Carolina Jessamine and the Confederate Jasmine, are twining plants that will organically grow up the screens, a little help goes a long way. By training the recently planted vines around the rope and cable, they can begin to cover the screen more evenly. In a few years, the stems of the vines will become woodier, and they will become their own structure. Until then the ropes and cables are their support.
Illuminating the Courtyard
Since the last lighting mock-up, the courtyard gained ropes and vines which affect the lighting on the south end. As seen above, there are also more trees, short screens, and a mock-up of the concrete wall. To account for these new elements, the team added more lights to the scheme to see how it changed the space.
Last Brick Pallet!
In the past four months, with the help of 35 Rural Studio students and Horseshoe Farm Fellow, 3,800 bricks have now been cleaned! All salvaged, the bricks came from the site or a home in Selma, Alabama. A typical dig on Horseshoe Courtyard reveals a couple of bricks or an old foundation wall from a previous structure. Luckily all that cleaning is over with, and the team can now begin the brick pad! The team graded the site and removed access soil in order to stack the bricks beneath the trees. This way, the bricks will be with in reach when laying the pad pattern.
Walls Going Up
The courtyard team also started the porch framing! Seen above, the western porch stud wall attaches directly to the existing brick wall. Knee walls hang from the eiling strucuture, to span studs across to the south brick wall. Next for the porch is the eastern wall, re-hanging the double doors, and sheathing all the new stud walls. After this, the whole thing will be covered with exterior dry-wall.
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.