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Architecture links, Design/Build, Mississippi

Weekend with Sergio’s UT Austin studio

We built some great and quirky window boxes for the Rosetti Street house this weekend, thanks to design/build help from a group of University of Texas architecture students: Sergio Palleroni’s studio and miscellaneous students including Ross, one of the group who originally designed the house (and who we can therefore blame for everything that is difficult about it).

Trying to do meaningful design and build work in a weekend is hard. It takes time to learn about a project, to identify the design considerations at work, to brainstorm ideas, test those ideas, reevaluate and refine them, and finally build (and perhaps take apart and build again). However, this group was up to the task and we were able to throw them right at some of our biggest unresolved design issues at this point: the window boxes, and bracing (we’ve been counting on ‘hopes and prayers’ to hold the house up for a little too long).

A few pictures from today (hope to receive more from the students):

Sergio working with the team assembling the front-room window box, featuring a large window seat and an enclosure that frames a view of the trees across the street:

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The bedroom window box team (sans moi) standing in the finished frame, as we ponder how to get it out the window so we can slide it into place.

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Ross and Kiwi Brian as seen through our successfully installed bedroom window box. As you can see, Brian is still astounded that we managed to get it into place (which required maneuvering a very heavy frame through the wall opening, out onto the 15-foot-high scaffolding, and then back into position in the wall) without anything going horribly wrong. That’s why it was important to think everything through very carefully. I can’t count the number of times somebody said “Hmmmm.” and then pointed out a potentially fatal flaw in our design.

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The window projects out pretty darn far, leaving room for a wide seat and a shelf for plants and things. I hope to use metal panels (which the summer studio salvaged from Frank Gehry’s destroyed art museum in Biloxi) as cladding for the window boxes, which should set them apart and make them look quite special.

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Finally, from the inside. To me, it looks like a really inviting place to sit, and the view out (especially considering that all the houses are gone for blocks) is phenomenal.

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It was great to see the window boxes being developed by the students in this thoughtful way. The vision for the house is really coming together and it gives me a lot of faith in what we’re doing to see the effort start to pay off. So it’s been a fun weekend and I hope to see all the UT folks again.

P.S. I definitely deserve at least Monday and Tuesday off.

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