Open Arms of Minnesota

Creativity and Construction

What is the relationship between creativity and construction? I find myself pondering this question when looking at the pictures from July 31 of the new building site. To me, the huge square shapes of the steel beams suggest a spacious art installation: gigantic picture frames capturing the trees and clouds and blue skies of the surrounding environment. Such serene images mask the flurry of activity that defines a construction site and its tightly choreographed collaboration of muscles and machines.

The walls are indeed going up, and the carpenters are getting down to business! This is the framing stage of construction. Wood framing works together with the structural steel to give shape and form to the building and on which the finish materials are applied (such as brick or burnished block on the outside, gypsum board on the inside). The bottom plate, called a sill plate, sets the base for the framing, and is capped by the top plate. To provide stability, the vertical pieces, called studs, are spaced evenly apart inside the sill and top plates. The gaps in between the studs serve useful functions, too. On the exterior walls, insulation is installed, while plumbing and electrical wiring will wind their way through the interior walls.

The photographs from August 11 show us two views of the interior partition wall that separates the kitchen from the entry way gathering area. The two carpenters are preparing to install a stud. In the upper photo, you will notice a significant space between two of the studs: this outlines the window into the kitchen, and comprises one of the most important design features of the new building. Because the kitchen forms the heart of what Open Arms is all about, everyone who enters the building will see the amazing work taking place in the kitchen.

Framing the kitchen in such a way is much more than a nice touch, however. In fact, it embodies the fundamental concept of openness that informs the new building’s design. As construction progresses, the kitchen will stand out as the building’s most vital space, accessible and visible from multiple vantage points. The centrality of Open Arms’ new kitchen is intended to mirror the experience we have when visiting the home of friends or loved-ones: we gravitate toward the warmth and creativity of the kitchen—where the action is—to chat, help out, and enjoy the sumptuous textures of cooking and sharing good food.

– Martha Mockus, Open Arms volunteer


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