Week 70 (Building up the South Wall)

In construction photos by Michael Tiemann

Despite all the attention to the North wall last week, the South wall has been going up as well.  This wall is complicated because it contains the main control room window, with a 8′ clear opening into the Control Room and  14’8″ clear opening into the Music Room.  Here you can see the start of the angled blocks:


The grout making up the shear wall is now up to the 5th course (and wet when this photo was taken last week):


Here’s a view showing the complexity of the mason’s task—so many different blocks that need to be fit together in so many different ways, yet all look like one unified material when everything’s said and done:


Two more courses going up:


Before you know it, the South wall stands 11 courses high:


And another view:


Here’s a detail of the angled blocks of the Control Room window.  Note that each one has a square cut out of it.  That is so that when the shear wall is grouted, the grout flows through and into those outer blocks, strengthening the integrity of the wall and preventing the blocks from popping out.  The one exception is the bottom block, which acts as a dam to hold the grout of all the blocks above it.


Here’s a peak inside the shear wall, the last time that steel will see daylight for perhaps 500 years (or perhaps longer):


A wooden damn is installed on the east side of the shear wall to hold the grout that will come next:


Here you can see the caulk being applied to the West shear wall, prior to the installation of a similar dam:


Looks like we bought the “variety pack” when it comes to caulk color, but it doesn’t matter.  When the cement dries, the wood will be removed and the caulk (which is really industrial-strength rubber cement) will also be removed, leaving a smooth cement wall to which we can affix our beautiful cherry wood casings.

A nice, full seal:


Finally, the wood is screwed to the blocks (blue cement screw) and locked in place with a wooden stop (also screwed into the cement blocks):


We’re building the dam to be strong, but we’re also going to be cautious.  To prevent a cement blowout, we’ll likely fill the 6 courses of shear wall in three separate lifts.  Better safe that sorry!