Timber Framed Outdoor Classroom Photo Spread

Timber Framed Outdoor Classroom Photo Spread

The Timber Framing class built the first third of a new outdoor classroom during the spring semester of 2018. Next year’s Timber Framing class will complete the structure by June 2018. Below is a photo spread depicting the students’ progress from concept to reality:

The project began as the class divided into three groups of three to four students each, with each group preparing competing designs using Google Sketch-Up and constructed models. At top, junior Sam Kidder and senior Kai Hotelling-O’Connor explain their group’s concept (a hammer-beam truss design) to TA students and staff. The second photo depicts senior Silas Pollard comparing and contrasting each group’s design. The class received feedback and then elected to build the King post design pictured below.

After the class finalized the King post design, Chris Sanso (above) and several other students described the project—including timeline, materials, cost, and completed design—to the TA Board of Trustees on March 9.

Once the class finished preparing the timber for assembly, sophomores Mya Wolf and Hugh O’Donnell and teacher Chris Schmidt (pictured above) and other students prepared the foundation, which was firmly attached to ledge three feet below ground level. Once the retaining wall system was completed and filled with hard pack, the cement pad was poured.

On raising day, Thursday, June 1, students first raised the south and north walls (top, with other timbers in the foreground awaiting assembly). Above, Silas hammers a cross piece into place in the wall of a shed-roofed closet at the structure’s north side.

With two bents (one bay) raised, the class paused for a group photo (above), which marked the end of a full day of work. From left to right: assistant Whit Van Meter, Lawson Ouellette, Kai, Hugh, Chris, Mya, Thomas Worth, Clay Goodling, Silas, Noah Garrett, and Mr. Schmidt. Also in the class is senior Keegan Erskine.

On Friday, June 2, students completed assembly of two king post trusses (above).  Far too heavy to lift by hand, the rafters of the trusses—including a 19-foot bent plate—were assembled by hand on the concrete pad, and then lifted by crane into place atop the bents.


After the arrival of the crane, the trusses were lifted into place and attached to corner posts and knee braces. Below, Keegan and Lawson attach the knee braces with wooden pegs, which they had hewn months earlier in the shop.

Late in the afternoon of June 2, IT Director Glen Page and Mr. Schmidt install the remaining purlins that the class couldn’t get to during the school day.

Above is the completed framing of the first third of the outdoor classroom. Once the structure is complete, the structure will be open on three sides, with a long closet (with double doors on each side) providing storage space for chairs, desks, and equipment.

More photos may be found on the class website, which also includes posts documenting the entire project.