Category Archives: Building

Tool Boxes prepared for Flock Houses

June 7, 2014 – Picking recycled materials to support and inspire Flock House residents.

tool box boxes 800 72

When I arrived at the Flock House at Bemis, I went upstairs to meet Mary, Alex and John on the 5th floor. Floors 4 and 5 are storage areas for recycled materials. Our job was to search these areas for stuff that Flock house residents and design teams might use to complete the houses. So far, we have installed and are sealing the structures. The next step is to invent ways to capture and store water, and design an electrical and plumbing system, merged with plantings.

The items will be placed in tool boxes; and left in both the Bemis and the Carver Bank Flock Houses.  When we found something we thought might be useful, we put it on a cart. These boxes (above) were originally for pastels.  They are still dusty, but might be handy to organize materials a resident would bring  during their stay. Some things are for fun, like a small wooden airplane, a flute, and an Art book.

“We need something for gutters” – to direct the rain into a storage container.  We do not find anything, until someone spots a large aluminum pipe that could be cut in two. I find white ceramic tiles, a metal weight, cut fiber board rectangles, an enamel bowl and a baby’s spoon.

Then we wheeled the cart over to the Okada facility.

moving tool box stuff from storage 800 72Earlier, Mary found cooking and eating utensils. That box is already in the Flock House at Bemis  (see below), because Dwayne Brown will be staying there tonight. He will write a piece in edible OMAHA magazine.

FH - Bemis utensils 800 72We set out the tool boxes for both Flock houses and the materials to conduct an inventory. (below)

tool boxes and inventory 800 72I pick out items that are dusty, then take them to the sink and spray faucet. Then I set them outside to dry.  Later, Alex divides the materials into the boxes (below).

Alex packs tool boxes 800 72

This is when I notice that the tomatoes have blossoms and two sets.

tomato blossoms 800 72




A plant project with Peter

While Mary and Alex caulked the seams between the large TRIANGLES, Peter and I installed the plant containers around the base platform of the Flock House at Bemis.

planter - in light fixture 800 72

At first Peter and I wanted to hang the planters on the walls of the Flock House at Bemis. Then Alex pointed out that putting holes in the walls for so many planters would let in water and weaken the structure. He then suggested we use the periphery of the foundation platform. We studied the back of the container, finding two holes below the dirt level that could hold a screw head.  Peter designed a jig that let him mark with a pencil the place to drill holes in the foundation wood. He then spiraled the screws into place.

screws for planters 800 72

I hung the plants and helped him distribute them evenly along the periphery of the south and east walls.

planters on base 2 800 72

The building next to the Flock House is the Okada Sculpture Facility at Bemis. The main gallery building at Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts is in the tall brick building in the background, across the paving stone street found in the Old Market.

At 4 pm a KMTV news crew arrived to interview Mary and Amanda.  If you look in the background of some of these clips, you will see me wearing my wide brimmed hat, helping Alex grout the TRIANGLE seams.–262038801.html

A group of children taking a tour of the Bemis galleries, later visited the new Flock House. This photo documents the first group of visitors.

kids on tour of FH 3 800 72


Here come the plants

May 31, 2014 – Bringing all the plants outside.

Today I noticed the plants outside of the building site were very dry.  I filled a bucket in the Okada Sculpture Facility and found a cup to dip and pour into the containers. As I worked, Mary came up and said that maybe we should bring outside the plants in the Bemis Center Flock House gallery.

We went into the main building and Mary found dollies. These platforms on wheels allowed us to lift the large plastic containers and roll them out of the Bemis Center, across the paving stones of the street, and into the grassy area.

This was when I realized that the tomatoes were falling over and their cages were not offering enough support.  As I studied the cages, I realized that they could be wired together so that they supported one another.  This external support was necessary because the soil in the container was not deep enough for the support spikes of the cage to push fully into the ground.

Mary remembered that I had saved the copper wire that we removed from lighting fixtures to make planting containers.

materials 1 800 72

I unwound the braiding and separated 3 wires into strands of two thin wires.  It was easy to wind it around the aluminum cage wires.  As I worked to connect the cages, they became much stronger.

copper wire for support 2 800 72

As I quietly worked to untangle the wires and wind them around the cage wires, I began to feel connected to the place where the Flock House will stand.  I became aware how the simple act of participating and contributing was calming and peaceful. I did this simple task with concentration and a keen awareness. Later, when others commented how much better the tomatoes looked, I felt pleasantly satisfied at doing something of service.

Connecting the Pieces, Developing details

May 31, 204 – Connecting the Pieces

Much of the energy has gone into creating the large TRIANGLES assembled from 4 smaller triangles. Now, it is time to piece them together to make the Flock house.

Flock house Bemis 2 800 72

Above you see the base level of the Flock House at Bemis.  We attached the large TRIANGLES with hinges. (See below) Next, we build a second roof level of large TRIANGLES to form a 4-sided roof line that comes to a point at the top.

We will use large TRIANGLES to build a larger Flock House at Carver Bank.

hinge for foundation 800 72

There are plastic triangles that will become windows.  Below Mary and a design team member study how the framed plastic windows will fit into the opening, and how they might be attached.

hinge assembly 800 72

Below, Peter and Dwayne from the Design Team reference a paper model of the Flock House the team developed in their early meetings. There is an atmosphere that is some excitement about moving to the next level, but also confusion about exactly how to handle these details. Participants envision different approaches to the details, and different criteria for efficient design. One person suggests that windows double as exterior tables or supports when they are open to the outside.

conversation 2 800 72

Outside the Bemis master carpenter is building a plywood foundation for the Flock House.  On  Thursday, June 5 we  will carry the house  to the platform and bolt it down.

foundation flooring 2 800 72

We will place the Flock House on thick rubber tiles. Wood flooring will cover the projected porch in front of the house.  The plywood,  tiles and wood are recycled.



4 triangles = 1 TRIANGLE

May 24, 2014 – Building the basic triangle units for the Flock houses – Omaha

4 triangles consultation

For 2 weeks Bemis staff and Design team members  constructed basic triangles. We use recycled metal and wood from a metal board mural and maple flooring. In the wood shop,  metal is cut into triangles and wood flooring is reshaped into a frame.

To combine these basic units into the essential TRIANGLES that will form the walls of the Flock houses, we fit two plates on either side of the triangle frames.

top and bottom side platesA plain plate is on one side and a plate with holes cut for bolts is on the other side. We place them where the wood frames of 3 triangles meet.

fitting plates


side plate triangles

Triangular plates bolted to the points of the large TRIANGLE secure the tips.

triangle point plate