Residential Specialty


Gold Winner: Modern Yankee Builders, Cumberland, R.I.

The challenge of this Residential Specialty Gold winner was to build a 78-ft.-long curved pergola. The two main problems were how to build it and how to make it last for decades outside without maintenance. Made of clear red cedar it was designed to weather to a natural finish so it would be maintenance-free; therefore, no blemishes could be permitted on this custom piece. Made of 38 pieces of wood, the pergola pieces had to be epoxied together outside with over 600 sq. ft. of epoxied surface.

The curves of the glue-up jig are not the curves of the final diameter. The reason is that curved laminations “spring back” when released from their clamps so this had to be carefully calculated and factored into the process. Steel plates had to be embedded within the 60-ft. curved lamination at exactly the correct location along the beam so they’d land over the steel posts. All measurements had to be made from the end of the beam, meaning any error in calculations would be cumulative.

Because posts would be in the way of the beam glue-up, they had to be located, installed/plumbed and grouted, then removed so Modern Yankee Builders could build the deck and the pergola beam. The posts would be reinstalled later with the one-piece poly-cast columns once the pergola was hanging from a crane

The final glue-up day took six men working 12 hours straight to clamp/unclamp the jigs more than 1,000 times and then hoist the structure with a crane. To prepare for this day, three months of testing with dozens of epoxies and mock-ups, countless hours of engineering, over 200 clamps and 300 man-hours of field preparation went into to just getting ready to build the real thing.

The pergola ties the porch to the remainder of the deck, but Modern Yankee Builders knew it would only work if it was believable as one continuous element. In reality, this would be an 18-ft. pergola connected to a 60-ft. curved pergola. Thin 1×2 cedar strips on top of the pergola cross members are supported by the 2×6 cross members, but at the gable end of the porch, it works the other way around. To do this, the team embedded steel plates into the framing and split four of the cedar cross members in half. The cedar cross members were then epoxied around the steel supports.

This year’s judges felt that this project detail was very innovative, and they were impressed by the detail and the involved construction process to create a wonderful outdoor living area for these Rhode Island homeowners.

Gold Winner:
Team Entry: Architectural Resource,
Ann Arbor, Mich. & Giraffe Design Build, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Bronze Winner:
Team Entry: Architectural Resource, Ann Arbor, Mich. & Meadowlark Builders, Ann Arbor, Mich.

Honorable mention:
Team Entry: Architectural Resource,
Ann Arbor, Mich. & Meadowlark Builders, Ann Arbor, Mich.

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