Photo Archive

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
~ Benjamin Franklin


The Owners determined that the best way to assure an uncompromised execution of the design intent and take advantage of ever changing technologies was to act as Owner / Builder and mills studio act as Construction Manager.  This course allows sufficient flexibility for the design to continue to evolve during construction taking advantage of the increasingly fast paced innovations in product development, technological advances, and sustainability innovations without the constant concern for many of the inherent limitations of a General Contractor’s process, such as Change Orders. With mills studio as the single source of responsibility for both the project design and implementation, many of the inherent limitations of multiple parties with partial control of the process are avoided. The decision to build the DTS Project House as an Owner Builder also grows out of the Owner’s affinity for many of the philosophical approaches of the Maker Movement that developed in California in the later half of the 20th Century.      

mills studio Statement

The building process and construction of the DTS Project House are as critically important as the mills studio’s architectural intent and design. The Owners decided early on in the design process to act as Owner / Builder with mills studio as Construction Manager. This approach allows mills studio to assume the responsibilities of the premodern Master Builder, including the implementation of an intimate knowledge of the details of building construction and devising the processes and methods of the construction. Unfortunately, in the modern world the responsibility for architectural design and the responsibility for the means and methods used to execute the design have generally been contractually separated. This separation is among the reasons why architectural design and construction are now often seen and executed as separate processes with the architectural image less and less informed by the construction process.

The DTS Project House intends to intertwine the design and construction process as it once was under the control of a Master Builder. The ability to control the construction process allowed mills studio to explore materials and detailing in the design that could be further researched, refined, and developed during the construction process. This ability allows mills studio to implement and express the aspect of its architectural agenda that a building’s aesthetic and image manifest how it is constructed.

The construction process began with a thorough set of Contract Documents documenting the design intent sufficiently to define the parameters of design integration, but also allow for adjustments and improvements that take advantage of expert input and developing technologies. The Contract Documents outline the integrated design intent and provide a criteria for evaluating the proposed modifications and refinements during construction. mills studio’s creation of Contract Documents continues during the construction as Shop Drawings detailing particular aspects of the construction such as concrete formwork, steel rebar, and steel framing. The exposed structure of concrete and steel will necessarily show the marks of the construction methods and sequencing in the finished building so all construction means and methods must be accounted for. Pre-planning and documented construction sequencing assure that the integrated design intent is not lost during construction on the challenging limited access hillside.

The architectural agenda determines which aspects of the finished building are to be intentional and which are to be accidental. The purpose of planning the construction process is to establish parameters that assure the intentional is maintained and the accidental enhances the intentional.  

Construction Planning / Management

The complexity of the DTS Project House’s integrated design and the site’s location and physical characteristics present challenges for the execution of the construction process. In order to properly plan and sequence the construction process, mills studio prepared 3-D digital models showing each phase of excavation, concrete foundation, exposed concrete wall, structural steel, and wood / metal framing. The construction had to be properly sequenced so that there was always a way to get materials and equipment into and out of the necessary locations. This necessitated determining which aspects of the construction would be accessed from the lower road and which from the upper road. Access from lower or upper road determined what size vehicles could be used, what size and weight materials could be delivered and installed, and what traffic control measures were required.

Since most aspects of the construction are exposed in the finished building, mills studio  accounted for the details of how these exposed elements were to be fabricated and installed so that the marks left by the construction process were intentional. The physical and visual integration of infrastructure is a significant part of the DTS Project House aesthetic. Thus, the precise location of every physical part of the building had to be located prior to construction so its physical impact in the construction and its visual impact in the finished building would be known and not accidental.

Contract Documents

Thorough planning and documentation of all aspects of the DTS Project House was necessary to integrate the requirements of the various competing interests and assure that the design intent was not compromised by the construction process. mills studio coordinated and documented every aspect and element of the architectural design in drawings and specifications. This documentation extended to all of the design and engineering disciplines integrated into the DTS Project House.

Since most aspects of the construction are exposed in the finished building extensive drawings document the details of how the construction affecting the exposed elements is to be fabricated and installed so that the marks left by the construction process are intentional. Specific aspects of the construction process from concrete formwork and rebar, to conduit locations, to metal stud framing layouts, were all documented in extensive drawings so that all decisions affecting the finished aesthetic were well considered.


Sixteen IP Cameras are mounted throughout the DTS Project House property to capture the construction. The cameras document the construction process with captured still images. The hillside site does not allow for the construction to be observed from a single vantage point, so the multiple cameras provide the ability to monitor the entire construction site both for security and management purposes. The cameras also allow for remote monitoring by the Owners, mills studio, subcontractors and consultants.    

Photo and Video Documentation

The DTS Project House construction process is thoroughly documented in both video and photography. The sixteen IP cameras mounted throughout the site capture still images on a regular basis. These still images are converted into time lapse videos showing the construction progress from  multiple vantage points. Construction processes are regularly documented with camera videos and still photography. Still photography is completed from vantage points corresponding with design rendering views at regularly scheduled time frames to document the unfolding advancement from concept to reality.

At significant stages, such as concrete pours and steel installation, the DTS Project House construction is documented with drone photography and videography. Documentation with the drone provides perspectives that are useful and compelling, especially on the hillside site where changes in elevation provide very different perspectives. The ability of the drone to see and record the entirety of the construction and the surrounding context helps capture the full scope of the construction effort.  

The purpose of construction is to make things hold together; of architecture to move us.
~ Le Corbusier