Today was a day of reckoning for Studio V. We began assembly of the smallest wall at 1:30 in a downpour that continued all afternoon. The steel foundations were set into the gravel outside the jail – a much softer ground than we will be working with in Marion Square – staked in with rebar, leveled, and ready with cable. So we began stacking our sticks.
The process evolved into several students stacking and keeping things level, others fetching boards and making adjustments, and the ongoing de-nailing of wood. Slowly but surely the wall was erected.
Of course we encountered a few obstacles along the way, and discovered a number of improvements that will need to be made before final construction. For example, a better overall registration and measuring system will need to be established before on-site installation. We also ran into some leaning issues with the bowed and twisted haint blue pieces, but at each test, the structure proved to be almost perfectly level.
We finally reached the wall’s height of just over 8 feet, and were ready to install the top steel pieces and tighten the cables. We used turnbuckles (and Becca’s wrenches) to tighten the compression system once the steel pieces were in place and the cables were threaded through their holes. Unfortunately one of our classmates underestimated his own strength and pulled the cable right out of the ferrule in the foundation piece below. We adjusted and continued, keeping a list of do’s and don’ts for the next round.
The torrential rain certainly slowed the process (besides moments of shelter provided by the blue piece of foam resting on Michael’s head), but we were able to fully erect the wall in less than four hours. Several climbers tested its structural integrity, and they are all still in one piece and the wall is still standing. Overall, the experience and its results proved to be reassuring and exciting (and soaking wet). Seeing the structure at full scale allowed us to envision issues like lighting and signage more realistically and creatively. We were also better able to judge the composition and form of the wall, and make decisions that would not have been possible with a digital or small scale model. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but seeing our vision come to life was very rewarding and worth celebrating.