Windcatcher House Hard Copy Publication

A short segment of time: August 19th to December 11th 2010

This series of images was taken over the course of our project.  They were shot from two separate locations: one was on the north east side of the site, and the other from the south west.  The intent was to capture the lower angle light of the sunrise and sunset each day illustrating the progress of our project.

It’s A Wrap!

The inaugural CU-Denver project is coming to a close, transforming the lives of clients Maxine and Maurice Begay and the hearts and minds of the twenty two students.  From foundation to finish work, four short months saw the completion of a home, yet the memories and lessons learned will last a lifetime.  Hand tamped rammed earth walls, custom doors and windows, cement board panels and a cooling tower define the aesthetic of this uniquely constructed home.  The final two weeks saw the students take ownership of the project, making it their own and in the end a livable home.  On Saturday, December 11th, the students witnessed the traditional Navajo blessing ceremony of the house, passing the flame from construction site to home sweet home, dancing the night away as the sun set on another successful semester.

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The End…?

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned at Bluff is the need for empathy.


Empathy for my fellow students, coworkers and co-habitants: the friends that I have lived, worked, played and studied with for five months and the impact that they have had on my life.  I am ever impressed by their hard work, dedication, resolve, enthusiasm, and laughter.  There have been times too numerous to count that I have drawn energy and strength from their dedication when my own reserves were low; their passion for this project can be both amazing and humbling.  Teamwork, though it may sound cliche, is critical to our functioning, and while I certainly am no expert at it yet, I can see its importance in the success of our semester.


Empathy in relating to another’s life: the culture, perspective and trials that define their worldview; not as something observed with cold  academic detachment or reasoning, but to know and understand with the warmth of personal connections and to be recognized as something valued for the people who comprise  it.


Our work is largely done here, the house nearly complete.  We have celebrated together and recollected the joys and frustrations of the last months.  While some of us linger to attend to final details, our capabilities can only take this project so far, can only do so much.  The rest relies on skills far beyond that of us as future architects, requiring a more intimate touch than we can contribute.   We leave our project to Maxine, Maurice and family to turn this house into a home.  They now begin the process of moving furniture, pictures and belongings to fashion an ownership that only they can create.


And so it becomes clear that we’re not at the end – we’re at the beginning; the beginning of something quite wonderful and the fruition of which none of us can fully foresee.

Back @ the Ranch

Some of the things we’re workin’ on back @ the Scorup House:

Dom’s pivoting door getting dry fit together

Dom and his complex door

Amy fixing holes in our Salvage yard find-the water tank. It’ll store water collected from the carport roof.

Lookin’ like new again! He’s come a long way!

From trash to treasure. Amy spotted this pipe in our neighborhood and after making several calls, we now have trough for landscaping. Our first attempt at lifting the pipe: using a chain and the trailer to drag it.

Flower Boxes for the ‘garden’

Cubbies for Maurice's room, and stairs up to his loft

The carport DOES exist!

One week down, One week to Go!!!!!!!!!!

the new celing in Maxine's room

It’s crunch time here in bluff and everyone is hard at work to finish maxine and maurice’s house. As the exterior cladding continues on the outside, interior finishes are taking place within. The wall group has been busy mudding and plastering, as well as building a unique woodwall feature. Things arre underweay in the bathroom and the shower is almost built. As for us, the kitchen group we have been hard at work building the island, building the pantry, installing cabinets and creating and placing their glass/concrete counter tops! After all the experimenting and planning for our countertops, it was great to see our 400 pound counter top get lifted into place by our new found bluff muscles, while everyone gathered around anxiously awaitng the envieling! As everything is happening we are beginning to see all our hard work become a reality. It’s crazy to think that just 3 months ago we were standing in a desert oasis which has now become a home for a well deserving family.

This past Thursday was Maurice’s birthday and everyone decided to suprise him with cake and decorations when he came over to check on his new house after school.  Happy Birthday Maurice!!

Its so exciting to see eveytthing come together and finishes to be going on. It really feels like a house now and everyone cant wait to see the end product. Wish us luck! almost there!!

-Cayla and Katie

Winter Is Here

Our daylight is dwindling, were bundling up, and always looking forward to warm meals and heat at the end of each day.

Progress on the house: Drywall and Ceilings are up! Kitchen counters were poured, and the shower and sink are in progress. Back at the Scorup house, weve been working on the East entry door, gutters, closet doors, windcatcher grates, carport, and shelving. The cladding is still underway, and the deck was completed at the end of last trip!

As the end approaches in less than 2 weeks, we have a lot to accomplish still, but are making sure not too get too stressed. Were keeping warm and staying focused!

Matt & Jess

the house at the end of last session

temporary door on the east entry and the newly installed deck

fitch plates for the carport

Mark grinding metal

Dom doing something with the east pivoting door

me and the new closet sliding doors

Hank on site

living room, drywall, ceiling, insulation, and clutter

the deck complete!

Work Hard, Play Hard

Even though we spend six days a week building, when we do have some down-time, we’re usually hiking or playing nearby. On this last Sunday, several of us set out to find a way up the cliffs, by an Anasazi ruin, past the “Ballroom Cave” where Bluff residents have tagged their names for generations, and up onto the sandstone slickrock directly above town for gorgeous views on a warm fall day; a spectacular viewpoint to take in the beauty of the region!

Hopefully the panorama can give a little better feel for the area; The Navajo Nation is on the other side of the San Juan River from Bluff, and our project site, while just a little over two miles as the crow flies, is actually 24 miles via highway.

Big D Construction Delivery Day

A truck came into Bluff today and with it came a huge supply of donated materials from Big D Construction in Salt Lake City. Big D Construction has been very generous over the years to the Bluff organization and it means a lot to both the students and the families. With this delivery we get to continue on finishing both the interior and exterior of the house without delay. In addition to the Big D delivery day, the first six of ten operable clerestory windows were installed. After numerous weeks of building the windows it was good to see them inside the wall! Only seventeen more days till we are officially done here but hard work and dedication still remains.