Kurt West

Kurt West

Raleigh, NC, US


Shepherd St. Hall

Situation: A homeowner of a typical DC row house with an english basement income property, desired a cleaner entrance hall for the apartment.

Task: The client’s requirements were as follows: 1.) Create a comfortable and safe environment for entryway to tenant’s front door, 2.) Maintain current lighting, mailbox, and storage access door, 3.) Price not to exceed client’s limited budget. During our conversation, the client had a minimal frame of reference on what could be done, suggesting that I apply new paint and replace old wood to match the style of neighboring basement entrances.

Action: In response, I designed an built a sculptural installation composed of nearly 1,000 pyramid-shaped wood blocks. The design idea was a continuation of a public art proposal submitted earlier in 2012 for a library installation in Utah (see project "Untitled").

Each block, measuring 2 inches cubed, was cut from laminated sheets of leftover plywood, most of which was the white plywood found wrapping the entry way. As a way to stay within the clients budget, I also used leftover wood that was sourced from my previous remodeling jobs, and from the surrounding neighborhood. My intention was to bring beauty back into materials that I was accustomed to disposing of so easily.

The rules guiding the building process were simple and consistent 1.) Laminate 3 pieces of plywood at random, 2.) Cut wood into 2” and 6” cubes , and 3.) Cut each cube on 4 sides at 25 degree angles to achieve pyramid shape. Through this blind process of making I was unable to fully anticipate the character of each block and the overall assembly until after the wood was shaped and placed next to each other. The results of this process revealed numerous varieties of wood grains, interesting juxtapositions of paint color and wood color, and a variety of other unforeseen results.

Each block was affixed to exterior grade plywood panels. All panels (with pyramids attached) were fastened to the existing stud construction surrounding the entry way, including the ceiling and a storage access panel. Additional wood studs were added for support as necessary.

The final installation incorporates an access panel for the existing storage room and a built-in mailbox.

Result: Project was constructed and installed by West A-D on site over a two-week period during spring 2012.

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Status: Built
Location: Washington, DC, US
My Role: Designer & Builder
Additional Credits: Photo Credit: Carpe Lucem Photography

Concealed access panel to storage room
Concealed access panel to storage room
Integrated mailbox
Integrated mailbox