Plywood pyramids

Name   Shepherd St. Hall
Location   Washington, D.C.
Date   2012

Role   Design & Fabrication

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


Action: In response, I designed an built a sculptural installation composed of nearly 1,000 pyramid-shaped wood blocks.

Plywood pyramids
Plywood pyramids on ceiling
Plywood pyramids
Plywood pyramids

Each block, measuring 2 inches cubed, was cut from laminated sheets of leftover plywood, most of which was the existing 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.

Plywood pyramids - iew from entrance

Each block was sealed and affixed to exterior grade plywood panels. All panels were fastened to the existing stud construction surrounding the entry way, including the ceiling and a storage access door 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 WORKSHOP on site over a two-week period during the spring of 2012.