FOR A WORKING
Ross is a practicing artist in Auburn and a retired professor of Art from the
Auburn University Department of Art.
Prior to his retirement Conrad asked me to design and build a
studio for his use then and later after the completion of his university
activities. I realized early
on during some our first meetings and preliminary discussions that,
not unexpectedly, the budget would become a formidable arbiter exerting
a strong decisive presence in
and build process. Therein lay the basic challenge, to be fiscally prudent
yet not ignore the obligation to imbue the studio with some sense of
character befitting this special occasion. Comparative costs became
a close companion and conventional methodologies, and I, reluctant friends. We began with an ordinary cost per square
foot estimate, factored in several money saving modifiers, and sought
to exclude as many inessentials as possible. The final intuitive overview
resulted in the decision to begin with an affordable floor plan of 7
to 8 hundred square feet. Because the backyard slightly sloping site
lacked any prominent surface characteristics and the functional requirements
for the studio were simple, no special plan configurations were deemed
necessary. Rafter span and spacing and sheathing size
determined a floor plan width dimension of 18 feet, necessity added
an 18 foot by 16 foot loft area above the 1st floor at one
end, and both were easily covered by a modified shed roof.
A seeming free standing stacked concrete block wall encloses
the east and part of the north side of the building.
The remainder of the north facade is composed of large individual
panels arranged to create a composition of hexagonal shapes derived
from the angled lines of the sloping roof.
Wrapped in this patterning the studio became an integral part
of a larger three dimensional composition and therefore an artwork in
itself, similar in concept, to the orthogonal facade patterning of many
final finishing touch, one surely funkier than functional remains,
unfortunately, unimplemented. This culminating addition involved covering the
sheet metal surfaces of the two hexagonal wall pieces on the north side of
the composition with a green grass like astro-turf
material similar to that used on the outside sales area of the University
Motor Cars building. [See the last
exhibit on this page.] I felt the
addition of this close clipped all-American lawn like grass texture would
assist in transforming the buildings edge into an integrated part of the
backyard setting and create a presence similar to that created by certain
adaptive mosses that often take up residence on weathered outdoor surfaces
and collectively add a patina to many of the elements found in many outdoor garden
landscapes and other constructions.
Unfortunately, Conrad has been unable to secure the necessary
additional funding to enable this final touch. This perfect ending therefore, most likely,
will not become a reality in the near or distant future.