I just finished a 3-week class at the University of Minnesota as part of my Bachelor of Design Architecture (BDA) degree. Those of us in the program have our choice of many 2, 3-, or 4-credit workshops to fulfill our requirements. Some are classroom/computer/research and others are design/build. This class was the latter type, and even though I could have had the summer off after Spring semester ended, I thought three weeks would go by fast. It did. But, this was the most physically demanding course I have taken so far.
We spent one week in the classroom, learning about brick and concrete, presenting some research we did and taking a field trip to Lakewood Cemetery to sketch.
From their website: "The Memorial Chapel at Lakewood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and serves as the architectural focal point of the cemetery. The building was designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Harry Wild Jones and was modeled after the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey." It was completed in 1910. I didn't take any outside photos because there was a repair man in the front door.
Inside, tens of thousands of tiles (my hand for scale) were used to create the beautiful mosaics.
The newer mausoleum and columbarium was "constructed in 1965, and is a Modernist style structure designed by Detroit architects Harley, Ellington, Cowan and Stirton".
This is the chapel. I did most of the drawing below during class time.
The last two weeks of the class were spent at the BAC: Bricklayer and Allied Craftsworkers training center in New Hope. Our first assignment was to design our own concrete block. Since the theme of our project was a ruins park, we decided to design an old-looking block, like those limestone bases of Minneapolis mill buildings from 100 years ago.
I measured 1.5-inch intervals across a 4-foot piece of Masonite and snapped chalk lines. Korynn is clamping a straightedge to the board so we can guide a circular saw every 3". The other lines were randomly cut with a jigsaw. I did cut at least one wavy line myself. Then we clamped the pieces and cut the 8-foot lengths down to match our block size.
We made one long form with 4 sections so that we could try an 18" block and three other standard lengths. Below - the Masonite strips fitted into our form very tightly. No need to glue them together: just a top strip of plywood to keep them in place.
Korynn and Zong brushing all surfaces of our form with a "bond break" solution so that the concrete will not stick to the plywood or the Masonite. I did some of this as well.
The form with the third side attached (below). Joe, our BAC instructor, helped us scoop the concrete into the form and showed us how to use the vibrator to eliminate air bubbles.
Our four block sizes almost ready to set overnight.
The next day, I was the first one to check on our block, and saw it had set and had pulled away from the Masonite. Good! That means it isn't sticking.
But, there was some sticking, and the loose strips of Masonite were a bit hard to pull out. We know this is an experiment.
The final result was actually quite beautiful, appearing more like old limestone than it would have if the Masonite had made an impression with every 3/16" layer!
And here are the new-old blocks at the base of our mock-up as Zong and Alyssia begin the first course of block.