New and old :: construction projects or “How long does it take to build that building?”

We drove by this building and Tui exclaimed, “Ooh look, a new house!”

new construction spurred an interesting conversation

This is actually going to be a healthcare building, but Tui does like to figure things out on her own, rather than be told.  As a ‘process’ person, I savored our ensuing conversation about “How long will it take to build that building?”  I am not a construction manager, although I did work on a project management project on a major historic campus building renovation a few years ago. I know time frames can vary widely. It seems that some prefab buildings can be built almost overnight, whereas buildings of old may have taken much longer due to available technologies of the time.  I couldn’t show Tui, but I explained how I had seen this construction project being worked on as I drove by one time – a crane lifted a pre-assembled triangle of wood to build the roof.

I also tried to express to her, about how when I worked at the Frank Lloyd Wright building – The Gordon House, just before I married her dad, that the craftsmanship and precision needed (both sets of construction specialists needed to work together – in partnership and simultaneously) meant a longer time for construction.

images The Gordon House, a Frank Lloyd Wright home in Silverton, Oregon – located at The Oregon Garden.

The new-ness of this building, and Tui’s interest in ‘how’ this happens and ‘how long’ has me thinking of a few things:

Is she interested because I am interested in built spaces?

Or is she interested in her own right?

How are these two things related?


Isn’t it interesting to try to see quality in process – can we see craftsmanship in action? What do we think about a quickly-built building versus one that takes a long time to construct?

St Peter’s Basilica in Italy – groundbreaking 1506/completed 1626 = 120 years!

Oh, and another query – are there any truly long-term buildings being built anymore? Historic buildings that a person could not witness both the beginning and the end result- like St Peters Basilica in Rome?

To follow this line of thinking – how do buildings age? What happens to old buildings? The Gordon House has regular volunteer opportunities to restore and maintain it’s integrity. Homeowners repair and mend their houses as they are able. Perhaps the house in the picture at the bottom will intrigue you with it’s ‘return to nature’ roof – covered in moss and greenery.  Not officially a ‘roof garden’ but yes, it’s a ‘roof garden’…a building being lived in, while it is in the process of being reclaimed by nature. Here is a whole book on the question and I adore how they chose the title words with care: How Buildings Learn 280px-How_Buildings_Learn_(Stewart_Brand_book)_cover(as opposed to How Buildings Age).

For the record, I don’t propose that a building needing 120 years to build is necessarily any better quality than say, one built by children and a few grown-up over the course of a few days – in terms of the “felt-quality” in the heart of the occupant.  Take this grin as fodder for this philosophy.

Child (and grown-up) built fort at our favorite Avery House nature play/place.
Tui at our favorite Avery House nature play/place.

Thank you for joining my child/person centered building space musings.  I’ve got some round-inspired niggling at my built environment thoughts…

Old mossy roofed home.

Until then, happy space, place and meaning making, my mates.



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