The Cedar Lee Business district is booming with new businesses including Wine Spot, the Bottlehouse and my architecture firm’s favorite, SweetieFry. The latter, a concept store mixing gourmet ice cream and fries hired studioTECHNE to design and build custom benches in conjunction with our work on the master planning streetscape for the whole Cleveland Heights’ district.
Installed over the course of two weekends, the fabrication is almost complete (one more kid-sized bench is on the way bringing the number of benches we built to a grand total of 7!).
The benches were designed in Rhino, 3-d modeling software, unrolled and made into cad files that we plotted full-scale and used to inform board selection. The materials are galvanized bent steel sheets (supports) and fumed and clear coated white oak. All of the assembly was completed in our wood shop in the basement of our office in University Circle, a short drive from the benches’ new home.
The process of designing and then building (which is atypical in traditional architectural practices as drawings are sent to bid and contractors do the physical labor) was quite enjoyable (despite 7am Saturday wake-up calls). I haven’t had the opportunity to build furniture since my days at Carnegie Mellon, and so becoming reacquainted with the drill press and chop saw and things of the like was quite exhilarating. It feels right to work with your hands, and of course it’s always a learning experience. In fact, after this building process I have just a touch more sympathy for project managers whose schedules are hopelessly added on to. Sometimes stainless steel nails snap off inside the wood. Sometimes the steel tap breaks. Sometimes these happen on the hour.
Below is the process illustrated through photographs. For more photographs and explanations, check out our office Facebook page.
Visit our benches and indulge in some of the finest ice cream around (they were just nominated for “The Best of the Heights”), visit SweetieFry at 2307 Lee Rd.
And while you’re at it, visit our other projects on the streets, including the patio at Brennan’s Colony, the interiors at Antolia Cafe, and the main branch of the Cleveland Heights- University Heights Library linking to the D’Obama Theatre and future ‘Heights Knowlege and Innovation Center’ (also by studioTECHNE!) via the glass and steel bridge you see in the background, above right. NOTE: The gas station you see behind us lovely worker bees is not our work! On the bench: Tim, Kelly, me, Mike and Matt. Missing from Team TECHNE group shot are Ted, Mark and Jim.
White oak panels, stacked and prepped for fuming with an ammonia solution inside a sealed tent, also fabricated by studioTECHNE. We tested many sample panels and found that a fuming time of 12 hours delivered the grain definition and color we desired.
The fuming tent. The former David Davis sculpture studio on our property does glow eerily green at night. Between the smells and the light, I figured I might wake up with an extra arm. Luckily, this was not the case.
Q: How many architects does it take to attach wood panels to steel?
A: Three on the outside, one on the inside. While working I had the sensation that I was in a boat. It was mighty fun.