Monday, October 24, 2011


After the beams were installed the framers started building the 2 x 4 stud walls that wrap around the kitchen/bath/bedroom wing of the house.

I don't know how many times I've explained to various people (the wood supplier, the framer, the framer's helper, etc.) that THESE STUD WALLS ARE NOT LOAD-BEARING, therefore they are allowed to be almost 13 feet tall. Apparently the building code requires 2 x 6 studs for walls this high - if they carry any weight. In this case though the studs are essentially "balloon framed" - they extend past the roof instead of letting the roof rest on them. My roof is supported by the beams, so the stud walls are free to rise past and become the railing for my roof deck. Just like the brick walls around the Great Room, the stud walls here are "parapet" walls, in that they extend higher than the roof. I fully expect to have this conversation with the building inspector as well.

Below is the result of my pre-framing meeting: the wall sits on the middle of three courses of brick in the edging; every stud is centered on a brick; and every steel column is straddled by two studs. The studs won't be visible in the final house, but the fasteners that hold the wood paneling to the studs will; so the studs will be "visible" by proxy.

Window openings also fit into this rhythm. Which is a good word for it - rhythm. This house has been designed like a piece of music. There's a beat runs through everything, a base line that guides the development of every other component. First it was in the brick - long, short, long, short, 12 inch, 4 inch, 12 inch, 4 inch. The steel columns are placed within this structure, like trumpet blasts rising from the soft but steady brick heartbeat. Then the studs highlight every other brick beat by pulling it into the air. Then the joists pick up the rhythm of the studs and carry it over our heads. Then windows. Then skylights. Then fasteners. Each building element is another rhythmic layer that fits within what came before, like instruments added to a symphony.

I came out one day to find this:

The "jack" studs in the middle of the window frame are correct, in this case centered on 12 inch bricks. But the whole window frame is shifted too far to the right an inch and a half. I asked the framer what happened and he said he added up the dimensions on my drawings and came up with this location for the window. In that case, I told him, screw the dimensions, follow the bricks. He did, and now all the windows are perfect.

In fact the brick edging shown here went through a similar revision a while back. I came out one day to find that the mason had shifted the edging off about an inch, so that it was obvious the bricks weren't lining up with the notches in the slab left for the columns, or with the bricks on the other sides of the house. He said he did this so the corner would work the way he thought it should. I don't recall the wording of my response, but the gist of it was, "Screw the corner, follow the concrete notches." Now the bricks are perfect, and the corner looks just like I thought it would when I drew it.

Most people don't seem to make this connection between architecture and music. Auditory beats somehow have more prominence for us than visual beats. If a drummer in a band suddenly lost the beat and started playing a quarter step off the guitars, we would know, and for good reason: we would no longer be listening to music but to noise. There is both music and noise in the visual realm too. Perhaps we are just numb to the difference because we live so often with architectural noise.

After studs, plywood.

The studs are covered up. But as with the interior, the fasteners that will attach the horizontal shiplapped wood siding planned for the exterior of these walls will be visible, and will be driven directly into the studs. So within the horizontal lines of the wood siding will be vertical rows of stainless steel screw-heads centered on the bricks below. That's the idea anyway.

Next, joists.

No comments:

Post a Comment