16 Jul

Student Observations

Groundwork continues to occupy most of the team’s energy.  Although the bulk of the digging has been done to delineate the shape of the bioretention cells, much of the week has been spent fine-tuning the grading to accommodate the formwork for the concrete cell walls.  Skilled craftsmanship of the formwork is necessary so that the concrete walls have a finished, refined look.  This is important because the planting plan is complex and diverse.  Without the strict organization of the built elements that frame the planting plan, the landscape would become unbalanced, wild, and, perhaps, inappropriate for the campus environment. 

The development of the concrete formwork is slow and meticulous, and requires the concerted efforts of the entire team.  The grading and layout team continues to check, and double check their work, making minute adjustments to the level strings that now criss-cross the site, defining the design.  A temporary woodshop has been set up at the far end of the site to rip boards and plywood for formwork.  Between these two teams are the form-makers.  These students tirelessly translate the material from the woodshop into shapes that conform to the pattern defined by the level strings.

 The formwork gives the construction site a new level of order, and heightens the ability to visualize the landscape being developed.  However, natural bends in the wood gives the forms a waviness that is inconsistent with the desired precision of the concrete walls.  Stakes are created to correct inconsistencies in the formwork and help it brace itself against the deforming effects of the concrete’s weight when poured.  The process takes an enormous amount of patience and skill, the former being difficult to maintain as afternoon temperatures break 100º F.

– Preston Montague


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