Monthly Archives: April 2011

Build Day #2

When the team arrived on the site on Sunday morning, Margarito was already there, waiting for us in the bobcat. The day was dedicated to getting out of the ground with one last push. Once again, with the invaluable help of our clients at the Small Farmers Project, the build day was highly successful. Check out the photos — as you can see, by the end of the day, all the footings were solidly in place, braced together to ensure straightness, and the filling was underway.


Build Day #1

Saturday brought beautiful weather, and it was a perfect day to spend digging and getting the project out of the ground. Here are some photos from April 23rd, our first big build day. We first set up batter boards (a system to ensure that all the footings end up in exactly the right place) using a laser level, while at the same time digging the holes for our eight deep footings. Delicious tacos for lunch — and then we placed the deep footings, centering them in the holes using string and a plumb bob. The holes were filled with gravel, and the top footings were fixed on the threaded rod.

Thanks to our wonderful clients and our helpful volunteers, we got all the deep footings placed, filled in, and the regular footings placed as well; a great day indeed.

Ready, Set…Build!

Above are some photos from Friday April 24, our site prep day: scraping, leveling, and an initial stake-out of footing locations took place. Also, Knife River concrete in Eugene made 8 cool appearances on the site to give us  a large pile of gravel to be used in our floodplain fill. A big thank you to Knife River for their generosity and support of this project.

After the site was leveled, a few of us (with much hemming and head-scratching) staked out the footing locations, making sure they were as square as possible. We then set the footings out where they are to be placed. The next step: digging, placing our eight deep “dead-man” footings, filling with gravel, then placing our top footings. This should get us out of the ground in one weekend — can we do it? Yes, we can!


The footings were left on the site, and at a later date we spray-galvanized their metal plates. While moving our footings out to the site, we came across a possible problem: mud. Because of recent rains, the small road that runs north-south on the site was a mucky mess. We were more than a little concerned that when it came time to have gravel delivered, the trucks would get stuck at the entryway. We talked about putting down rock on the muddy areas just for the vehicles to pass safely, and we were worried about leveling the site in those conditions. Fortunately, the sun came out for a couple of days and worked its magic: everything dried up and was solid for gravel delivery and leveling purposes by the weekend.

Spring Term Begins

After a brief hiatus, the Beacon Design Team springs back into action with the beginning of Spring term 2011 at the UO. The build term of the designBridge year has us in full swing ordering materials, planning, and making preparations for the structure to come into being.

First item on the menu: the footings. Hoffman Construction lent us a hand in this process by donating materials and allowing us newbies to figure out how to do various construction-related things on their East campus job site. The Sonotube material was cut into appropriate sizes there, as were the steel plates to be used for our connections. Meanwhile, at the dB shop, we constructed a formwork system out of 2-bys to cast the metal plates, PVC pipe, and threaded rod into Sonotube concrete footings. The boxes that hung the materials were braced to make sure that everything would be cast plumb and in the correct position. Finally, we poured the footings at the Hoffman job site.

Building the formwork and casting the footings was an exercise in give and take. Some of the plates were knocked slightly out of place during the pour, and some of them were not exactly centered. We learned, once again, that nothing ever turns out quite exactly as planned in building — wiggle room is necessary — but hey, you figure out a way to make it work, and make it work well.