Progress Made!

The summer isn’t quite over and serious progress has been made since the end of spring term. Purlins, facia, cross bracing, planks and roofing have all been put into place with the help by many hands, including endless staining and sanding. We’ve been working hard, and its great to have as varied a group of people take part in the building of the structure. In the next few weeks doors and other necessaries will be added as well, all in time for the October 8th Ribbon Cutting. Save the date and come take a look at the finished building.

As usual we learned as we went, discovering the correct and incorrect ways to tackle a situation. We learned from past decisions that made our lives easier and more difficult in the present. In the end its all coming together. The farmers are ready to move in (have been most of the summer) and we’re almost ready to let them. A bit more work and this building while finally be theirs. Below is a quick chronology of the past few weeks.

Many thanks to everyone who has come out this summer to help, anywhere from minutes to days. Its been fantastic to walk around and see the handiwork of so many people all for one project.

And just for the heck of it, here’s  a reminder comparison of our late night 1/2″ cardboard model from way back in February with the structure we’ve delivered.

Not bad, not bad…

This is a great example of what we as students see when we look out at the profession: a model or rendering, and then boom: building! Just like that. Concepts that roll over easily into a real building. Most remarkable about this experience is all the has taken place before either of these images, all that took place between them, and all that will take place after. We have learned of the massive amounts of time, decision making, detail and creativity necessary to truly take a design from the rickety cardboard model, the scheme and concept all the way through to an actual physical manifestation. We have built what he have drawn; an experience that will undoubtedly inform out perspective and process with every project we move on to.



On Friday, May 20th, the trusses were delivered to the site and erected on the beams. This shed is coming together fast! Thanks to The Truss Co. for their help in this. The delivery truck used its crane to lift the trusses in a stack and lay them flat on top of the structure; we then tilted them up and fastened them in place with Simpson strong-ties. Before that, though, we decided to remove the temporary cross-bracing to gain some wiggle-room, since it might have been holding a few columns slightly out of plumb.

After much monkeying about on top of the beams, the trusses were all in place. We temporarily braced them together with a few 2-bys to keep them in place until the purlins arrive. See the photos below to get a feel for the process!

A Barn-Raising (Part 2)

On the second build day of the Barn-Raising weekend, raising the bents went much faster since we’d already figured out a system. A few of the farmers were on the site doing some work, and so got a chance to see and discuss the progress with us. Needless to say, both the clients and the design team are extremely excited and enthusiastic about this little tractor shed. Okay, maybe it’s not so little — but we had the bones of the entire structure up and preliminarily braced by the end of this day.

A Barn-Raising (Part 1)

At long last, it was time to begin bringing the structure of the building up! With all the wood sanded and stained, we took the columns, beams, and T-plates out to the site and commenced with our very own Barn-Raising. The columns bolted to the beams with the T-plates, creating bents of two columns and a beam that we then tilted up, lifted, and bolted to the footings.

This was possibly one of the most exciting build days we’ve had yet because it allowed us to really envision the space inside the shed-to-be. By the end of the build day, the tractor shed part of the building’s structure was completely up. Since it stood alone, it wasn’t totally plumb, so when we took the final photo of the day, we made sure to stand at various angles to downplay this — check out the featured picture above. Is it working? Anyway, putting up columns for the first time made us think a little more realistically about lateral bracing, which is the next big design challenge ahead as the structure comes together.

Jumping Jack

One of the activities that took place in tandem with our prefab-extravaganza was the tamping of the gravel fill. We rented a jumping jack tamper to get the job done. Here are some photos of the second round of gravel delivery — this time some 3/8 minus (finer) gravel for the top layer of the fill — and the tamping process: shovel, water, tamp, repeat. The jumping jack was a little feisty at first, but some of our team members succeeded in taming it.
There were a couple of kinks to sort out with the fill. For example, the slope leading up to the top of the fill was too steep for a time, so we remedied that with some additional gravel. Also, we were a little concerned that a tractor’s tires might not have much purchase on the surface of the fill, but the jumping jack created a surface that seems quite sturdy enough.

Now, you may ask yourself: why does this tractor shed needs to be placed on a plateau of gravel? The reason is that our site is in A zone floodplain, and the gravel fill is necessary to get us above the base flood elevation. Since our structure is defined as an Agricultural Building, it does not require a building permit. However, by law, agricultural buildings cannot be built in a floodplain. Therefore, in order to avoid having to undergo a costly permitting process, we decided to place the structure on a layer of gravel that saves our client a lot of money by allowing us to call the structure an Ag building. The permitting situation for our structure took some time to figure out, but we have it pinned down now, and the necessary forms are underway at the Lane County offices.

Shop Time

Over the course of Weeks 5 through 7 of the term, the team spent a lot of time in the designBridge shop. This has been a part of the plan since the early stages of the project, and it is one merit of making the shed deconstructable: the prefabrication can be done close to home and indoors, and whenever we have time to work on it. During this time, we pre-drilled all the bolt holes in our columns and beams, and sanded and then carefully brushed two coats of water-based stain onto each piece of wood to be used in the tractor shed. It was long work, but the Beacon Design Team does everything as a family — which guarantees that every task is enjoyable.

In the meanwhile, all of the steel plates were marked, sandblasted, and then galvanized. They needed to be marked, as did the columns and beams, in order to guarantee the best measure of accuracy we can by pairing each column with a specific plate and pairing the 2×10 beams. When we actually put the structure up on site, we hoped to get it as close to plumb as possible on the first try. The majority of the wood was all ready to go by Friday, May 13th, in time for our first weekend actually attempting to put the building together on site.


During the week, the team tries to fit in any prefabrication and other off-site work. One Wednesday, a few of us had the privilege of working with Jeremy Covert, the studio technician at the UO sculpture studio, to weld our steel plates. We are incredibly grateful to Jeremy for donating his time and skills to the project.

Our charge was to work on our T-plates for the column-to-beam connection. They needed to be sandblasted for rust, welded into the T-shape, and then ground smooth after the weld. Once we got an assembly line running, we got through them pretty quickly. Jeremy did the welding for us and even let us try a little — it’s not every day that you get to see 1/2 inch steel being welded, let alone to try it yourself. Definitely an awesome experience.