Saturday, June 11, 2011

Architecture: The Best Phase

Architects usually describe their work process in phases: schematic design phase, design development phase, construction documents phase, etc. Another phase - the best one, in my opinion - is hardly talked about. My favorite phase is when construction has started and the rough framing is in progress. Residential architecture in the United States is still built mostly with lumber, not cold steel or lumpy concrete. We use real wood, from trees.

I love walking a job site and smelling the sap from fresh sawn wood. Southern pine. Douglas fir. Hem-fir. All woods have a sweet smell that is released by hammer and saw. I love the sound of the rotary blade doing its work. Of nails being driven into the grain. Joists and studs and blocking finding their proper places and roof beams lifted against the sky. All of this is a three-dimensional efflorescence of what previously existed only on paper or on a computer monitor. The idea is taking shape. Nothing mars it at this phase. No wrong colors, no decorating mistakes. Just pure form materializing.

Framing is the best phase of architecture.

All photos: MJK