And The Days Fly By…

After making a list of highlights from the work week of July 18-July 22 I am kind of shocked at how much was accomplished. With a core group of six with a few extras thrown in the mix depending on the day we were able to accomplish a multitude of tasks!

We were greeting on Monday morning by AB Tech Carpentry Professor Heath Moody. He informed us of some of the properties of wood and different building techniques. After Heath filled our noggins we put him to work. See, this is what happens when you visit the project site…no wonder we don’t get more visitors! Heath helped us cut the 8’x10′ Texaco sign in half so that we could frame it and eventually mount it as sliding barn-like doors on the front of Mystic Dreams. Thanks to Heath for all of his hard work and informative lecture. At the end of the day we sat in at the Burton Street Community meeting to hear what all was going on. Once again, impressed by a large and diverse group of community members who are interested in stirring the pot and making changes for their neighborhood and beyond. B.Love has the quote of the meeting “The Tech Center is going to pimp off!” (speaking optimistically about the proposed Tech Center for the basement of the Community Center). Enthusiasm, hope, and a vision.

Despite a blistering week weather wise we were able to check some important tasks off our list. There was much discussion about purlin organization and roof material…decisions were made faster as Luke bribed us with brownies kindly reminding us that we only had 2.5 weeks until our kickoff party! Okay okay, we decided to keep the purlins simple and create a gradient of light with our roofing material. On the West end of the structure (less shade and afternoon sun) we used corrugated metal sheets and as you move towards the East end we have introduced corrugated clear polycarbonate panels that allow more light to pass through. The two materials are staggered on the roof so that the intensity of light that passes through varies depending on the need for shade or sun. After much heartache, sweat, blood and shorts ripping the roof has been raised.It keeps the rain off and at the same time accomplishes a unique type of light filtration.

Handy Gabe Landes rejoined us for a solid days work. He and Tia, a student volunteer from NC State, worked diligently on what the siding for the North wall would be. They came up with a lot of great, innovative ways to incorporate a lot of the materials that we had on site. Both the North and South walls will be made of material found in and around the garden. At the same time a lot of work was happening in experimenting with a gutter system. Red half pipe shaped pieces of plastic were bent and assembled together with metal straps and will hopefully be able to form a solid gutter so that the rain water can be collected and eventually flow down the water slide at the East end of the structure.

The week ended with an interview by Mountain Xpress reporter Christopher George. Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about our project and hopefully spread the word to others in and around Asheville. You can see the article and a video of our very own Luke Perry and Oscar Sorcia here.

All in all, another hot and successful week on site. Mystic Dreams has been named, it has a floor, a roof, and a very solid foundation–I think it’s ready for a party. Er, maybe we wait another 2 weeks when this skeleton has a bit more character and then it will PIMP OFF!


Much like the plants in the Burton Street Peace Garden the structure has sprouted and has brought new and exciting life to the site!  We have worked from the ground plane, dug down, and built up.

Although we did not quite meet our last goal of finishing the main structure before the end of the day on July 15th we did have a most productive week. The fundraiser at The Market Place was a great success! Many many thanks to Chef William Dissen and all of those who came out and had a drink in support of the great vision of DeWayne and Safi and the hard work of many others.

By the end of the week the floor was 99.9% complete. We scored a great load of wood from Home Source in Asheville, which included rot and insect resistant cedar members, which will be used on the two porches. Needless to say, we have all acquired some scavenging skills and now we might find ourselves being distracted by “junk” piled on the side of the road. We set the collar ties and got ready to put in the rafters. We are finding that as we continue to build that one decision has many implications. Often times we will have an idea about how something should work and the response will be “What are the implications of that?” It is one of those important catchphrases that makes you think twice before you begin to shoot the nail gun or screw in a screw. Raising the collar ties and rafters were one of the crucial times where we needed to think entirely through the process before placing them. As hindsight is 20/20, next time we would build the entire bay on the ground and raise it all at once. You know, we might be learning something here!

By the time the weekend arrived our concept for the structure, which has now been deemed “Mystic Dreams” after a sign salvaged from a warehouse by the river, was becoming obvious. The drawings were becoming a reality and we were enthused!


The heat and mosquitoes won’t stop us! The goal for our team is to have the main structure completed by the end of this week. Yes, that means tomorrow, Friday, the 15th of July. As our team gets prepared for our Happy Hour presentation at The Market Place (20 Wall Street) this evening we decided it would be better to have half the group working on developing the design drawings and details while the other half battled the heat of the beginning of the week on site.

Both inside and out, great progress was made. The skeleton of the north wall has been fully erected, the frame for the south wall has been built up and set into place. The floor, made from salvaged wood, is looking great and will be sturdy enough for the most rambunctious dancing that could possibly go on! –Bring it on DeWayne!!

The next steps will be to set the rafters and place the purlins on the rafters, so that our roofing material can be supported.Things are heating up out on site. Please stop by to see the progress and also come out to The Market Place TONIGHT from 5-7pm for our Happy Hour fundraiser!! A portion of the drink purchases will be donated to the project. We are still trying to raise $4,000 for the completion of the project so come on out!!

Build From The Ground Up?

Yes, the goal is to build from the floor up. After a restful break the team returned to the site bright eyed and bushy tailed on July 5th ready to inspect the footers that were poured 1 wheelbarrow load at a time the week before. Success! Our railroad ties sit beautifully amidst the concrete. Time to kick it up a notch!! or notch it out…the next step was to remove the forms from the concrete footers. trim the railroad ties to the correct height and then to notch the railroad ties so that our girders could rest on them. Luckily, John, the chainsaw guru and a friend of DeWayne’s was available to help us trim the railroad ties and to cut out the notches. A big thanks to him for taking his time to help us out on site!

Finally, the girders were built up and were shimmied into place. The built up girders will support the joists and sub-floor. At the end of our first day back we left with smiles on our faces  and our chins high as we could technically “stand” on our floor!

Check out the pictures below of the pouring process, and the placement of the girders!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Transitioning between the design to the build segment of the studio will be a first for most of us students. Where some of us have spent most of our education/real life experience in the design realm stashed away in a studio for long days and late nights others have spent countless hours refining skills that make the designs come to fruition. This is the point where the two worlds collide! Where designers become builders and builders become designers and we explore one of the common goals of the summer: merging the two.

So, what have we learned so far about this transition? Numero Uno…just because you are not in the studio doesn’t mean that you aren’t designing and revising. On site is where you find out if your drawings really do or don’t make sense! Numero Dos…building costs money! We have been fortunate enough in the design phase of our studio to have a place to design as a group…(BIG thanks to William Langdon Architecture and the Asheville Design Center) and of course our brain power is free. But, wood, hardware, concrete, etc are not free!

The vision must become a reality. Do you want to see it happen? Please consider donating time, materials, or money to the Design-Build Studio so that we are able to create a structure that fosters foundations for a healthy community!!

Overall, we are hoping to raise $5000.
To donate and help support this project:

1)  Send a check made out to the Asheville Design Center with Design-Build in the memo line to:
Asheville Design Center
8 College Street
Asheville, NC 28801

2) Go to the Asheville Design Center’s homepage and click on the orange donate button on the right side of the page.  Under designation, please type “Design-Build” for the fund’s use.


The Design-Build Studio is split into two five week sessions. The first session focused mainly on site analysis, design, construction documents, and obtaining a building permit. The success of the first 5 weeks would determine the fate of the structure as we would need a solid base in order to continue to the construction phase. The week prior to July 4th our team kicked butt, digging, pouring concrete, and setting railroad ties in order to complete the footers so that we could continue to the next stage of (framing the floor) after a well deserved break.

Here is a brief breakdown of what we accomplished in the first 5 weeks of the Design-Build studio:

-worked together as a team incredibly well
-gotten to know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses
-created an attractive studio space in the Design Center
-developed a comprehensive and elegant design that can and will be built
-developed a full drawing sheet that was stamped by a structural engineer
-have successfully applied and received a building permit
-have generated many fantastic ideas
-negotiated many real world constraints
-have gotten to the know the site and our clients
-have built both digital and structural models of the design
-raised $225
-completed a materials list and budget
-dug, poured, and set the footers

The list gets longer as we expand our skills and get to work on the BUILD portion of the studio!