A well thought out construction can be its own decoration.
~ Hans J. Wegner


The DTS Project House construction process and means and methods are as designed and as documented as the DTS Project House. The planning and documentation of the construction process is intended to prevent all to often expedient construction decisions from compromising the DTS Project House’s design intent. The site’s limited access, steep slope, and confined area made it necessary to plan the construction sequencing to assure materials and equipment could reach the necessary locations within the construction at the appropriate time during the construction process.   

In addition to the physical working parameters of the site, the design’s intended integration of many competing design interests, functional requirements, and technological innovations necessitated construction pre-planning because every design decision affects other, sometimes not readily apparent, aspects of the project. The best way to limit the negative effects of decisions made during construction was to plan the construction and the construction process in sufficient detail to thoroughly expose the repercussions of every design and construction decision. Decisions required during construction would not be eliminated, but at least limited. 

mills studio planned and documented specific aspects of the project from excavation sequencing, to concrete pour sequencing, to concrete formwork, to rebar shop drawings, to conduit plans, to structural steel shop drawings, to dimensioned wood and metal stud framing layouts. The particular architecture of open spaces, exposed structure, and crafted details provides for a very unforgiving building that simultaneously has extensive infrastructure requirements. There are few if any good options for incorporating forgotten or unplanned infrastructure.

The more minimal the design and the fewer visual intrusions, such as lights and light switches,  the greater the visual impact of each intrusion. Controlling precise locations of such visual elements requires planning for the location of each framing member. Materials like exposed concrete and rammed earth where the finished product is dependent upon the construction process provide few opportunities for concealment of accidental blemishes. The only way to reduce chance accidents is disciplined planning. The extensive planning also helped meet LEED requirements by reducing waste on site since most components were either fabricated or cut to fit off site.


The DTS Project House is built into the side of the hill and thus requires substantial excavations. The required excavations have the challenges of getting the equipment on and off site; getting the excavated material stored on site and /or removed from the site; and how to coordinate the excavations with the necessity and ability to get the equipment and materials of the concrete trades to the necessary locations.

Excavation planning includes the extent of each excavation, the order of the excavations, when each excavation is executed, how much excavated material should remain on site, and where excavated material is stored.  


Exposed concrete is one of the most significant elements of the DTS Project House’s design. The exposed concrete walls along with foundation piles, grade beams, and slabs necessitate many multiple pours on varied levels of the hillside. The various pours must be properly sequenced to properly coordinate with the excavation work and installation of other building elements such as structural steel and the stainless steel pool. The pour sequence must also assure that the necessary equipment  and reinforcing steel can get to the required locations. The logistics of each pour must be considered to assure the desired concrete qualities in the finished building.

Concrete planning included the extent of each concrete pour, the order of the various pours, when each pour occurs, how to get reinforcing steel to the proper location at the proper time, how to install the reinforcing steel, and the logistics of each pour from required equipment to how equipment reaches and accesses the site to how to stage the equipment to traffic control.

Concrete Formwork

The character and visual aesthetic of the DTS Project House’s exposed concrete is determined by the design and construction of the formwork. The formwork design includes the material, texture, size, and layout of the surface the concrete is poured against; the pattern and dimensioned locations of penetrations in the concrete; and how best and most efficiently to hold in place the surfaces the concrete is poured against in a manner that provides for penetrations where desired and meets the structural requirements for walls from 12” to 24” thick and up to 24’ tall and floating 12” thick structural slabs.

Concrete Formwork planning included the decisions to use sandblasted wood as the surface to pour against; the extent of the sandblasting; the size and orientation of the textured wood boards for each concrete element; the locations of joints in the textured wood boards; the joint detail between the textured boards; spacing and locations of ties and how the locations relate to the wood joint pattern; and the structure required to support the sandblasted wood boards and locate the concrete penetrations in the desired locations.

Concrete Formwork Shop Drawings

Formwork Shop Drawings document how to implement the formwork design required to achieve DTS Project House’s finished concrete. The Shop Drawings provide the necessary details for the four required physical elements in constructing the formwork: the textured wood surface that concrete is poured against; the plywood sheathing to which the textured boards are attached; the vertical stud and horizontal wales structure holding the sheathing and textured boards in place; and the concrete ties to keep the formwork structure from spreading under the pressure of the concrete until it cures.  

The Shop Drawings serve three purposes: a way to visually work out the necessary means and methods to achieve the design intent for the finished concrete; provide quantity takeoffs for ordering the wood and hardware materials; and show how to construct the formwork. Each horizontal and vertical concrete surface (requires three drawings: drawing one showing layout of textured boards and location of ties and any structural embedments; drawing two showing layout of plywood sheets and tie locations and any structural embedments; and drawing three showing layout of sill and top plates, vertical studs, and horizontal wales.          

Reinforcing Steel Shop Drawings

mills studio completed Steel Reinforcing Shop Drawings for each poured concrete element including piles, grade beams, walls, and slabs. The Shop Drawings provide the following: assure the structural design intent is reflected in the installed rebar; precise placement of steel reinforcing to allow for the desired locations of formwork ties, penetrations, and structural embedments; sizes and configurations for shop fabrication to reduce waste; size and weight of fabrications for equipment sizing; and layout for installation on site.

Structural Steel

A significant amount of the structural steel in the finished DTS Project House is exposed, including columns more than 50’ long and weighing as much as 8000 pounds each. Avoiding splicing the longer pieces required extensive logistical planning for crane and delivery truck access to site, crane setup at site, unloading steel at site, stockpiling steel at site, and sequence of installation coordinated with other trades. The multistory structure required framing of floor platforms to provide safe access to install upper portions of the steel installation.

Structural Steel planning included determining the most efficient sequencing of the steel installation; exactly which pieces of steel would be installed in each sequence; which pieces could be welded together in the shop; the specific logistics of equipment, delivery, and traffic control for each installation sequence; which work of other trades needed to be installed and could not be installed at the time of each steel installation sequence. A specific 3-D model was constructed and a series of images generated to determine and document which elements of the construction would be in place at the commencement of each steel installation sequence and what elements were then required to be installed at the end of each sequence to allow for the next installation sequence to commence.

Structural Steel Shop Drawings

Exposed structural steel is among the significant design elements in the DTS Project House. Thus, the detailing of how the pieces are fabricated and joined is critical to the aesthetic of the finished building. mills studio constructed a specific 3-D model solely for the structural steel with  every individual part, plate, and bolt hole accurately modeled. Most dimensions and angles of the steel pieces in the roof structure, which slopes in two directions, could only be generated from the digital model.  

mills studio completed the Structural Steel Shop Drawings to provide the following: assure structural engineering intent is reflected in steel structure; indicate which pieces are exposed and covered in the finished building; provide necessary information for shop fabrication of all individual pieces and parts; provide quantity information necessary for ordering; provide weight of each individual fabrication necessary to plan crane logistics; show plan and elevation layout as necessary to install pieces in the field; show requirements for all welding to be completed in the field.

Wood Framing

The floor platforms and sloped roofs are the chief wood framed components in the DTS Project House as there are no wood shear walls. The installation of the wood framed floor platforms at the appropriate time were critical to the installation sequencing of the steel. mills studio constructed a 3D model specific to how the concrete structure, structural steel, and wood framing installations were to interface and be sequenced. mills studio created framing plans of each floor plate to show location of all wood framing members assuring the wood framing would allow the infrastructure and ceiling mounted devices to be installed as planned.  The framing plans also assured the structural engineering intent was reflected in the completed framing and helped meet LEED requirements by reducing waste since most of the engineered lumber could either be ordered to length or ordered to lengths minimizing any waste on site.

Wood Framing planning included determining sequencing of the installation of each floor and roof level and framing plans showing: dimensioned locations of all individual framing members; location of framing hardware; layout of plywood sheathing; indication of which ordered piece is to be used at each location with cut dimensions if applicable; bill of materials indicating cut lengths for ordering wood material and hardware.

Metal Stud Framing 

The DTS Project House has very few load bearing walls so most walls are framed with metal studs. The finished building also contains very little drywall so the location of the studs is critical for attachment of the finish wall materials, such as wood panels, and assure the joints in finish materials occur where planned. The precise location of framing members is also necessary to assure all wall mounted devices, such as switches and outlets, are located with intention and do not end up as accidental visual distractions.  

mills studio executed plan and elevational drawings of every wall surface showing the dimensioned location of every metal stud in order to provide: all surface materials and devices attached to the walls are located precisely where intended; all infrastructure within the walls can be located as planned; bill of materials for ordering material; installers know precisely where to put every metal stud. The plans and bill of materials also reduce waste as lengths and quantities of metal studs can be more precisely ordered.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

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