Photographer Scot Zimmerman comes to Bluff!

Thank you Scot!!

This June Scot Zimmerman donated his time to Design Build Bluff and over the course of a few days photographed our most recent projects including Westwater, Nakai, Little Water and Shadeworks.  Enjoy his beautiful images!

 

Westwater student’s reflection

Geoffrey Burns ( right )

As a prospective licensed architect, the impression of what Design Build Bluff provides in terms of education and experience has been imprinted to remain with me for the rest of my life. The challenges faced and overcame through thought, reasoning, and teamwork prepare us now as professionals and provides a powerful tool to help face our challenges in the future.

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It is not just about designing and building a home, it is about relationships and how you work with people. When all is said and done, people are what matter. We are building these homes for people and building them with human comfort in mind. The homes are being built by students, which along the way learn through trial and error the importance of details, cost, feasibility, and planning.

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When I came to Bluff for our first bi-week session, it was much to take in knowing we have officially started the design build semester. It was a time of adaptation to the new living conditions while still refining the design of the homes. It is a very intense environment being in studio where you work during the day to prepare the site/property for the building of the homes, and at night developing the design. Additionally, trying to come up with innovative material reuse and sustainable practice ideas was a challenge but also of prime importance.

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Throughout the semester, everyone seemed to find their place in the development of the homes. Part of the challenge was project management and carefully coordinating everyone with a specific task that they felt was fulfilling and most educationally rewarding. At the end when it came to the move of the Westwater home, everyone watched as the house was set in place by the crane with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.

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- Geoffrey Burns

the cloud, roadrunner, sombrero…whichever you prefer

After presenting our design to the Skow family last Friday morning (7/8), we ended up meeting them at the construction site that evening with our model to talk more about the project, help all of us visualize their future home, as well as measure and play with the trusses. Even though none of us were tall enough to hoist a truss into the position that it will eventually be in, it was really exciting to see how they begin to fit and look within the foundation to become the “sombrero” that Will previously mentioned. We’re meeting with Chris O’Hara tomorrow afternoon, the Structural Engineer that we had met with on June 22nd. Now that we have a single and detailed design to discuss, accompanied by some initial structural plans and details, we will really be able to get down to the nitty gritty. All of our questions and uncertainties should make for an interesting afternoon…

our 1/4" site model sitting atop the real thing

truss pile (future "sombrero")

with a little awkward lifting/moving we were able to see what it might look like

A Special Thanks

Building two houses on very small budgets has been an incredible undertaking this semester. With one more week to go I think it’s time to take a minute and thank some of the people that have supported through this process.  The list is extensive, staff, suppliers, donors, volunteers, and the list goes on.  However, I would like to send out a special thanks to the family that has supported us, spouses/significant others, children, parents, and siblings.  There support has allowed us all to focus on the project at hand, dedicating a semester  away from our own homes, spending time here in bluff, in order to create a structure that will become a home to someone else.  As a thanks I’ve decided to put together a Glossary of architecture speak that us architecture students commonly use that are in a sense fancy versions of words that everyone uses. That way hopefully we can often speak the same language.

 

Curvilinear – curved

Diagram – a simple drawing or sketch used to communicate a concept

Elevation - face of a building; often used when talking about the drawing of that face

Fenestration - organization and design of windows or other openings

Hierarchy – rating things in an order of importance

Juxtaposition  - “the state or position of being placed close together or side-by-side, so as to permit comparison or contrast.” Often used to justify otherwise unjustifiable design decisions

Parti - A scheme or concept for a design. Not to be confused with Party

Piloti – A fancy word that Le Corbusier used a lot to describe a column

Section – a drawing describing vertical and horizontal space as if a slice was cut through the building

Vernacular - methods which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances.

feels like a home.

well, maybe not our own home, but our “modules” as we’ve been calling them, are certainly feeling like an actual home at this point.  Maybe it has something to do with the fact that the drywall is finally in place, separating the rooms so that we can no longer see through the 48 feet of insulated dead space.  Or possibly the trim, paint, plaster, cabinetry, and flooring being put in its proper place.  Its exciting to see everyones ideas fall into place.  It suddenly makes the petty arguments over silly details seem insignificant to the bigger picture of what we’ve been able to achieve in 4 months.

 

Something that hasn’t been blogged about in awhile is the Westwater site changes.  You will be blown away at the pictures of the structure of our home!  Jen is in the picture for scale.  Note, she is almost 5 ft. tall.  Also, the hightest LSB (Lightweight Steel Beam) is where our largest module is going to sit ON TOP of.  ON TOP!!!  It is something like 16 ft. above ground.  Our client can potentially have 2 parking spots, 1 underneath each module.  Maybe an addition later on.  Or it leaves room for, say, a small petting zoo….I don’t know. The possibilities are beyond this blog!  Geoff, Brad, Jeff, and Craig have been working on site for the last 2 weeks, and we wait back in Bluff to see the changes from day to day.  It is amazing what they have been able to do.

 

Back on the property, the Jen’s and Katianne, have plastered the girls and parents room, and the bathrooms, as well as worked on custom closets.  Tonya has trimmed out the ceiling in the kitchen/living room module, as well as trimmed the shelving along the main wall.  Totes is working on a bathroom piece for the countertop to rest on.  It looks like it will be something cool, and is currently laminated layers and layers of plywood.  Ashley and I have worked for days on end on the cladding.  Hank has been helping, pretty much ruining his shoulder, leg, and hands hammering the dents out of the wire mesh and installing the first few pieces.  It is worth the effort though once it is up, and we have appreciated his help greatly.

 

This next few days we will be short a few people, as some of us have to return to SLC to walk for graduation on Friday.  This has added some stress to the week, trying to make up for 2 precious work days in the final countdown days.  Moving the modules is going to be an exciting day that we are all looking forward to!

 

Apologies for not having photos or status updates of Monument Valley.  But I can say that their exteriors are looking mighty fine in the courtyard area, and Jesse’s fireplace that he’s broken something like 5 blades fabricating, in my presence alone, is bomb.

Monument Valley Progress…

After not blogging or adding many images of all the process that the Monument Valley team has been making, I figure it’s about time.  The first set of images is of the kitchen, a project that has been my main focus for the house.  With a past experience in cabinetry, it has been really fun to be able to fully design not only the cabinets, but the details and countertop as well.  Bluff has given most of us the rare opportunity to actually turn our “non-conventional” designs into a reality, and the kitchen has been no exception.  I knew from the beginning with the materials we had available and what would be most budget friendly, I wanted to do the kitchen in an “industrial” look.  Offsetting the raw materials with the more finished pieces.  The cabinet doors and trim are out of knotty alder, with 3-form inserts in the doors.  The backsplash is a brushed/sanded aluminum, the countertop is poured in place concrete that was later stained and sealed to a rust-like color.  The shelving idea was meant to act as storage without completely hindering the view through the kitchen, and going along with the design, I ran galvanized steel pipes through the ceiling and countertops that then anchored framed shelves between the two.  Although I have done kitchen cabinetry and the like before, this one in particular has been the most fun and satisfying for me.  Okay enough about the kitchen, the other images are some of the main projects and ideas going into the home, and although they each deserve the same amount of description as I gave the kitchen, to be honest I wouldn’t be able to do them justice.  The team has settled into their own strong points and we’re looking forward to moving the modules off the property and into Monument Valley (which we are shooting for the 10th!).
 
Monument Valley Kitchen

Monument Valley Kitchen

concrete countertop

concrete countertop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
sink/backsplash

sink/backsplash

shelving connection

shelving connection

 

galvanized pipes

galvanized pipes

pipe/countertop detail

pipe/countertop detail

 

Cortland's door

Cortland's door

Scotty and the bathroom

Scotty and the bathroom

 

outer courtyard cladding

outer courtyard cladding

inner courtyard cladding

inner courtyard cladding

the shovel’s in the details

(quick late night blog) Both teams’ detail components are coming along quite well. Individuals have been able to focus on their primary tasks more exclusively during the final session, enabling the teams to envision their goals more clearly.

Westwater -> Interiors: We have lots of plaster, wood and aluminum, and it’s almost complete! Individuals are working on the plaster, closet spaces, shelving, cabinets/vanities and other built-ins. I’m hoping the carved vanity tree column and “sandstone” 2x cabinet will turn out as planned. Exteriors: Our repurposed shelves are coming along very nicely and the end facades will counter very well. On site: The guys, less me, are erecting the steel columns and the lite steel beams out at the site. It looks like I’ll have to stray from my place in the kitchen to help the guys out tomorrow. Woohoo!

Monument Valley -> Interiors: Lots of OSB. It’s looking quite lovely. The stove Jesse whipped up is going to be unbelievable. Exteriors: Their salvaged pallets are looking awesome. Other: Cort’s massive door is delightful.

Other updates: Six or seven of us will be heading to Salt Lake this weekend for a premature graduation ceremony. Yippee! While this is oh so exciting, it also means we’re going to miss three or four days of work at a critical period in the project. Volunteers? Just kidding; we’ll be fine. that is all_totes

So what goes above them?

Off weeks in Bluff are awesome. Lay back, read, paint, cook, and try finding the missing parts of life. The property is totally transformed from a building ground to what the rest of the town is known for – retreat! With not much to do day long after five tiring restful days in a row, I decided to work for a while. I hence picked the safest and enjoyable job where you need only music as your companion – Sanding the pallets. I was working for a while with Bollywood music when a couple walked in. They were looking at the four half-finished blocks on the property with anxious eyes. I walked up to them, introduced myself and took them around the houses with few details on how they go together. The guy introduced himself as Dwayne (possibly-I am bad at names), a friend of Mitch. Two events reminded me of studio along this walk. The couple saw the pallets hanging up against the aluminum sheets – sanded, polished and ready to go, and ended up asking, “So what goes above them?” Awkwardly I answered, “That is our finish material, nothing goes above it.” I had to take a couple of minutes to make them apparently understand that all the pallets are salvaged and free, they seem unusual but are sturdy enough to use as exterior finish and beautiful enough to be appreciated. The guy nodded, but the lady seemed indifferent. Secondly, we entered the living module. With her first step, the lady commented that she loved the flooring. The laminate flooring apparently, is the only commonly used commercial material we have used in the house. I don’t hate it, but it just gave a clear idea of stereotypic likes and dislikes we have as a society and as consumers. I really appreciate the couple being curious enough to walk in and take a look at the houses. I think it is part of the issues DesignBuildBluff tries to tackle by embracing reuse of materials with houses, which seem weird at the first look but end up blending well in the context. They reflect the reality behind their existence. After all, all what is used to make these houses is all that is around us, all what we have discarded and all what has come back to us with a new interpretation.

Pallets used as cladding for Stryker House - DesignBuildBluff

 

Shelf life

It turns out the rusty grocery store shelves I found in Cortez at Belt Salvage will be getting their second shelf life!  After experimenting with some of the other materials I found as possibilities, the shelf’s seemed to work because of the modular size, relatively lightweight aluminum, and sheer quantity available.  I figured they looked like hell when I saw them, but a few days of sanding and painting can fix anything!  Just ask our team, anything and everything has and can be sanded this semester.

Keeping me company was the dialogue of reading the labels (pretty much fused with the aluminum at this point) of the various food items sold in 2001.  Rolaids were a common item, and from the evidence, it was a Kroger based store!  I was just glad they didn’t come from Walmart.  But even if they did, I’d be happy to know they had recycled something.

The off white shelves will belong to the long ends of the module, while a wood slat/wire grate mesh rain screen system will run the short ends.  The photo’s include the sequence from discovery to cleaning to painting.  They are not yet installed, photos to come of that day.

ciao.  and I hope I never sand square footage over 1000 sq. ft. by hand again.

Coming Along

Well here we are in the fifth session and we are working like crazy to complete our interior finishes and exterior cladding to be ready for the big move. The days are long but it feels good to see things changing so much. These boxes are becoming real houses with beauty, details, and imperfections. The hardest part for the Westwater crew has been having our crew split up with most of our guys away at the site working on getting the substructure ready to accept our module. They have made good progress on the site by getting the central wall completed and the columns ready to be anchored to the piers. Here at the Scorup house we have been applying our interior finishes, all of which require sanding. In fact, both groups are using a floor sander to get it all done quicker. The exterior is also being worked on. The commercial shelves that are being used for cladding have been sanded, primed, and painted. Here are a few pics as of late…