Katie Chapman, Michael Dunaway (Film Section Editor for Paste Magazine) and Clay Chapman
We were recently invited to the screening of post Katrina documentary ‘The Man Who Ate New Orleans’ by Michael Dunaway and Gasoline Films. An encouraging expose of reclamation and calling that deals with the subtle nuances of pain induced beauty. Using cuisine as the vehicle of choice, this film celebrates that stronghold of culture and mystique New Orleans so deftly represents in the face of an ever increasingly homogenized America.
Being part of a film making community will be important as the HFA documentary further develops. Within a circle of informed, educated intellectuals we will deliver a well rounded, sober view of the American building crisis and offer a sensible, artful resolution in the process.
Infill masonry between 2 x 10 rafters prior to capping with broken brick pieces and mortar. It will be important to fill this area with masonry in order to maintain the insulating mass of the structural wall. Construction transitions from one material to another require particular attention in regard to the climatised envelope. It is at such connections that energy is most commonly lost.
Infill masonry between 2 x 10 rafters after capping with broken brick pieces and mortar. Note that the inside brick is not capped to the top of the rafter fully — open cell foam will be sprayed into this void to insure a strong connection between the mass wall and the foam insulation. In addition, before the foam is applied to the rafter cavity, the first couple of ceiling planks will be fastened to the underside of the rafters beginning at the lowest point of the ceiling vault against the interior masonry wall. This will create a pocket for the foam to be sprayed into thickly insuring that the insulated envelope is maintained during the transition from masonry to framing.
A variety of mushrooms have revealed themselves in the understory between the house and the cabin over the course of a fairly damp summer. To be a student of structure and beauty sometimes requires pause at a moments notice.
It’s amazing how quickly they appear and with such intricacy and unfolding of form.
Josh Adams synching a half inch through bolt that will fasten the primary piece of rake trim to the mass wall. This 1.5 inch by 5 inch, treated and stained, Yellow Pine trim element delivers a complimenting substantialness that is in keeping with the earnest spirit of the build.
Here you can see that a 5 quarter by 4 inch trim piece has been added to provide additional contour to the trim profile while covering the counter sunk, half inch bolt nuts.
Close cell foam was then applied to the seams located where the trim and interior rafter meets the mass wall. After this, rich mortar was applied to the cavity containing the half inch all-thread in order to stabilize the complete connection.
View of completed rake trim at the apex of the east gable. One additional small piece of one by one trim will be applied tightly against the open cornice once the roof eave is established. The simple, clean lines of the trim reflect that raw, honest essence of the house. This paradoxical combination of humility and stateliness, so defining of true architecture, just doesn’t happen anymore — for now!
Being able to hang an engine block from the trim work of this house was not a design parameter — it’s just one of those things that happen when pursuing excellence. How often do we really do our best just for the sake of making the world a better place? This is what Jefferson imagined would happen if men were given the freedom, the education and the resources necessary to fulfill their dreams. For him, the ‘dream’ variable was most ubiquitous, but this has turned out to be the more precious and elusive part of the equation when one considers what distractions and entertainments ply us now from our potential.
Parging Smoke Chamber
The Definition of ‘Parge’ : to apply a thin coat of plaster or mortar to (masonry) to seal or smooth the surface. Probably of French origin with a similar meaning to the word ‘plaster’ or a variation thereof.
Reference a previously published image of the Adams House Fireplace. There will be a ‘First Fire’ post once the building has been properly dried in. At this point we will detail some of the philosophy and conviction behind this particular fireplace method.
Airfoil at Fireplace Throat
The condition of the top of the fireplace opening (which in this case is the underside of the fireplaces arch) can play an important role in how well the fireplace performs. For a fireplace to be successful it must draw properly. In contrast, a fireplace that does not perform properly will inevitably smoke into the hosting room.
We have spent a great deal of time and energy researching this issue and especially how it effects very large fireplaces. One signature element of our design/build process involves the shaping of an air foil at the top of the fireplace opening in order to provide a smooth, uninterrupted surface for ambient air intake to flow. Typically, fireplace throats and smoke chambers are corbeled inward to achieve flue size and left untreated as far as texture goes. Normally this bare ‘stepping’ is sufficient, but there is no doubt that the interior surface of an unparged smoke chamber will ultimately generate turbulance, hindering performance. So this is one simple solution for insuring the functionality of well built fireplace.
Mason, Benito, cleaning up the joints of the recently laid ‘cap course’ over the front entry vault.
View of southwest corner of house after rafters have been raised.
The house is really coming along nicely. Now that the test of raising the mass wall envelope is behind us, we can breath easy for a second. But there is still a lot of work to do as we lay down our trowels for the time being and don the nail apron.
The simple, matter of fact construction of the Adams House resolves engineering challenges in an automatic sort of way that seems to say ‘of course.’ After completion, the intent of the design is to readily display those structural properties that will allow this building to stand for the ages. In this there should be nothing to hide. As we should lead examined lives, examined by ourselves if not by others, so should our buildings be able to be examined without tearing them apart to understand their merit. The gloss of atrophy is there for a reason.
View of the upstairs master end of the house. The vault will be maintained in the bedroom.
Framed roof from back of house. A large covered back porch will be constructed here later in the project.
View of location for dormer end wall. The brick ‘toothing’ shown at the corner of the dormers structural masonry wall front will receive veneer brick. This will be supported by a beam system and a rigid wall truss. In addition, a metal lintel will lay on top of the beam system, providing a bed surface for the brick while augmenting the engineered span.
View of the children’s end of the house upstairs.
South facing rafters seated within masonry infill.
Mason, Benito, laying infill brick between main gable rafters.
Carpenter, Clay, nail driving rafters 2 x 10 rafters into place.
Josh Adams at scaffold after raising south facing rafters.
If a building may forego silent indifference, then it should indeed speak. . . but if it can speak, should it not sing?
Detail of infill masonry between rafters. Foam insulation will be sprayed within the rafter cavity and spruce tongue and groove planking will be applied as under cladding to cover this. At this point in the construction, rafters tails are not actually secured to the building. One of the challenges here is determining how to accomplish this in such a way as to accommodate and encourage future restorations. We know it will be important for the building itself to serve as a ‘how to’ narrative — in other words, future generations should be able to look at the building’s construction and readily understand the way it works from an engineering standpoint being able to replicate this with certainty. In contrast to this, an obvious way to deal with securing the rafters to the masonry would have been to include some type of pinning through each rafter that would protrude from both sides and be held within the masonry infill. Problems with this: Restoration’s would be uninformed on the front end as to how the framing material was actually secured to the mass walls leading to a lack of confidence in how to proceed. Secondly, as framing material would be forced from its seating within the wall, the masonry would be potentially damaged and require replacement. So the goal is to take into account the future stewards of permanent architecture and encourage their efforts to preserve and restore by using sensible techniques that will reflect consideration and respect for their commitment and effort.
Like stone laid by hands that are no longer hands,
This love loved for her will stand where I stand.
The way we intend to do this involves securing blocking (purlins) directly to the masonry between the rafters within the rafter cavity. This will be done with a ‘Redhead’ type fastening system and afterwards, hurricane ties, or the like, may be fastened from the blocking to both sides of the rafter. This would be easily removed by simply cutting this blocking out leaving the original masonry slots still intact for new rafters to be slipped into during reclamation.
An interesting masonry solution for a beam with bearing seat at the corner of the fireplace column.
View of chimney and roof framing.
Home Made Quiche
Another meal deftly prepared by Val at the Waverly Hall bakery. Real men do by the way.
Passo at the brick saw in the center with masons, Filiberto and Benito, to the left and right beginning the masonry infill between the 2 x 10 rafters.
Carpenter, Justin Jordan, wrapping the south facing rafter tails.
Infill progress at north wall.
Rafters standing ready to be hoisted up by hand for framing.
Filiberto and Benito reaching completion of the infill at the north wall.
Justin heaving one of the 2″ x 10″ x 20′ rafters up for framing.
Rafters in position and ready for framing.
Two Birds and a Stone
White Tail startled during morning walk. What would the world be like without animals? What would even a children’s bookstore be like without them? The lack of concern we tend to hold for those ecological systems which support their very existence is also reflected in our general attitude towards architectural legacy and posterity — both are absent from the paradigm, and both will affect our children gravely. In the city limits of Atlanta, where only remnant survivors of a once viable ecosystem still manage to coexist — impatience, intolerance, and low regard dominate the prevailing attitude towards native wild animals. After exterminating the majority of indigenous peoples; after killing off the elk, the bear, the wolf etc…, civilized man finds himself disturbed . . . by a squirrel! How void of life must our world become before we are no longer threatened or annoyed by the fact that this place is not soley ours?
How depleted must our resources become before we realize they are too precious for disposable building?
Windows Into the Past
A broken quarts point found in the meadow on site. Thoreau referred to arrowheads as “mindprints.” and wrote, “They are not fossil bones, but fossil thoughts forever reminding me of the mind that shaped them. I am on the trail of mind.”
Even now, I experience the same childhood glory after discovering a Native American artifact like this. A stone age people preserved on a hidden continent to the very brink of modernity! The boy’s eyes were always opened. He’s still there — holding on.
Back to reality right? Rafter tails are shown here simply resting upon the structural wall. Masonry infill will be laid between the rafters up to the roof plane, but before that can happen each rafter must be stabilized and ‘plumbed’ in a precise vertical orientation — this is to say that a 2″ x 10″ Yellow Pine rafter will tend to slightly rack in one direction or the other when fastened only at one end some 20 feet away.
Here we are plotting onto a brace board exactly where rafters are to be positioned in relation to existing and forthcoming masonry aspects.
A temporary fascia with 2 x 4 blocking spaced accordingly holds the bottom edge of the rafter in the correct position.
Another brace is laid on top of the rafters towards the tails, and this will hold the top edge of the rafter in the correct position.
Rafters braced and ready for masonry infill.
Shed roof rafters in place along with double LVL’s that will support masonry veneer at the sides of the shed dormers. It’s so good to see this begin to take shape. There will be a detailed commentary about the way the roof system works along side the structural masonry, and the steps being taken to insure an extended life cycle within this application and environment.
This is a view of the ridge pocket after the ridge has been set to the proper height. The double corbel shown here dresses the void of the pocket cleanly and provides a visual transition between the masonry and the load bearing ridge beam.
View of ridge beam pocket prior to corbeled infill. Note that the actual bearing of the ridge is in the center of the wall and the corbels shown in the image above are not making contact with the bottom of the beam. It was important to allow plenty of room for calibrating the height of the ridge — post crane, and having a pocket that would place the ridge too high is much more problematic than simply adding brick in order to raise it. The additional space also allows more room for the corbeled detailing as well. This is not exactly in line with the building theme of ‘dialing back the detail’ in order to maintain a workable price point, but for all it accomplishes it seemed a worthy allocation of time and energy.
View of ridge beam bearing upon chimney ledge after three additional corbels were added to bring the ridge to its final height and resting place.