Divine Intervention

Saturday began as usual. We all met out on site and began shifting the wall forms around on the foundation until they fit well and then we began to fasten them together with the necessary 1/4″ space in between each form. Once the students seemed to have it all under control, I left to spend some time with my wife and kids (it’s amazing the patience they have with me about all the time I spend away from home working on this project). After lunch I returned to find that the Studio V crew had grown by 1.

We often have Wagener Terrace neighbors stop by wanting to lend a hand to show their appreciation for all of the hard work the students are putting in, but I didn’t recognize this guy. It turns out that atypical concrete form-work going up on a Saturday, in a park, obviously not by professionals, will cause a professional concrete contractor to stop dead in his tracks (this is where the “divine intervention” comes in). Steve Gross, a concrete contractor from Ohio who is visiting Charleston for the month, just happened to be driving by the park while looking at real estate in the neighborhood. He is interested in possibly moving to Charleston and heard that Wagener Terrace was a great place to start looking. He was very impressed with the work the students had done so far, but had some suggestions on how to better support the walls of our forms with buttresses. At his suggestion we went back to Lowes and purchased another 40 2×4’s to shore up the forms. Well, actually half the forms… Steve also suggested to split our wall pour into two days and reuse the 2×4’s from the first pour for the second. This economy of material is only half the reason for his suggestion, the other is that to sufficiently vibrate the forms before they begin to set up, 9 wall sections makes more sense to tackle at one pour than 19.

Not only was Steve a wealth of knowledge, but a good worker as well. He stayed and helped finish the form-work Saturday and is planning to come Monday morning for the pour too. I wrote in my last post about learning through making mistakes, but learning straight from professionals is even better. I know that one lesson we do not want to learn the hard way is what happens when form-work is improperly supported. I also know that I will sleep more soundly this evening knowing that we won’t have any failures with our forms during the pour tomorrow.

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