Friday, April 22, 2016

Construction at Touch of Nature

By: Jeremy Clow

The warming weather of spring has provided great opportunities for construction at touch of nature. Continuing in my ARC 502 elective course with professor Schwartz we have started the construction process for the graduate site as well as administered the undergraduate constructions. After two successful build days the undergraduate’s six sites have all foundation, and structural elements constructed and installed. Minor details and pieces requiring prefabrication are underway as well. The first build day, was a very warm and sunny day however the previous rains made some trail movement difficult. Carrying construction elements, tools, and materials up and down steep mud packed trails proved to be a difficult task for the sophomores. By the end of the day however the majority of the footings had been poured, columns in place, and structural beams installed. 

Each site has a small group of students assigned to it, around five or six people per location. With each location having a cohesion of signage along the trail but a different program or discussion at each location. The constructions have similarities in materials and assembly methods to provide a big picture cohesion for future programming. The second build day, Tuesday April 12th however took place after a series of rainy days. The April showers made travel on the trails difficult beyond comparison. Transporting the large structural components, seating, and signage by foot is troublesome on its own due to the inclination and quality of the trails. Vehicular access on the trail was limited to one, my Jeep due to the conditions as well as to limit the amount of wear and tear on the trail. Due to these natural elements upon the 8am arrival start time the first half of the day was dedicated to prefabrication on an asphalt parking lot surrounding the wood shop. At this location the tools are easily accessible as well as electricity for powering them. The ground condition is solid and the tree coverage is minimal. Here the solar heat gain not only helps dry the materials but warms the bodies working on site as well. The sites located near the beach have the most solar exposure during the early hours with their shore facing South East. Therefor we were able to get started on their site location with ease early in the morning. My particular group has site 6, located at the end of a peninsula protruding into Little Grassy Lake. The access road, trail, and site are well protected and shaded by tree cover. An appealing feature in most situations however troublesome after the rain. During the beginning of the day we started and completed the construction of our bench as well as the four pieces of signage. All of the pieces prefabricated at the wood shop were done shortly after lunch. With the site starting to warm up as well as dry up the trail became more and more passible by the hour. We finished the day transporting the various materials for the groups down the trail and stored them on site in preparation for the next build day. The next build day is scheduled for this Saturday, after the current and coming warm weather it should be a great day for final installations and finishing touches.

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