Article No: 272

2010-04-20 11:38:13
Camelot Meets Tuscany
By: Chad Deters


The front of the Clark Scott castle in Louisville, Ky., is designed to look like the St. Briavels castle close to the
England and Wales border. It is characterized with radius turrets, a gatehouse and dark gray limestone.
 
How many people have toured through Europe and been inspired by the ancient architecture? Throughout history Americans have been inspired to recreate these European masterpieces here in the United States. A simple trip to Nashville, Tenn., and you can see the Parthenon and the Coliseum almost within walking distance of each other. Better yet, a walk through our Nation’s Capitol and you will see countless examples of architecture that was directly influenced by Grecians, Romans, Egyptians and many other ancient civilizations.
 
PURSUING A DREAM
With this being said, it should be no surprise that when Clark Scott and his wife, Kelly, toured the English and Italian countryside they fell in love with their castles. It was at that point he decided that he wanted to bring those styles back to the U.S. and make them the foundation of his new Louisville, Ky., home design.

He also made a decision, like many in those ancient civilizations, to build with concrete. And while he will gain the strength of these castles that have stood for centuries, he found an easier way to do it: insulating concrete forms (ICFs).

The vision for this concrete castle was not formed overnight. The Scotts had been to Europe many times and were fascinated with the castles from many different regions.
“We love the English castles and made the front of our house like that,” Scott said. “We also love Italy and the Tuscany region, so we created the back of the house like that.”
Scott worked on his design for almost a year and when completed he had created two unique looks from front to back. The front has a distinctive English appearance that is accented by radius turrets, a gatehouse and dark gray limestone. You could see a close resemblance to the Scott’s house in St. Briavels castle close to the England and Wales border.

The back of the house is a good representation of the Tuscany region of Italy with its lighter cream-colored stone, enclosed courtyard area and swimming pool. The rear view of the house looks like it could have come directly off of the Castello di Grotti estate in Italy.

INSIDE THE CASTLE
No corners were cut in the construction of this house from the real stone masonry to the hand crafted interior trim and cabinets. However, not everything in the house was built with medieval specifications in mind. The house represents not only the taste of Clark and Kelly, but also their four children: Quinn, Ethan, May and Wayatt.

One look at the Star Wars themed bedroom, state of the art theater room, built-in play area or the large modernized kitchen lets you know that each of the Scotts put a little bit of their own personality into this home.

Upon entering the house, one can move forward completely through glass doors into the courtyard and pool area. Each side of the pool is flanked by a wing of the house.
The kitchen, den, dining room and office dominate the first floor. The second floor provides refuge for the Scotts with the master suite and bedrooms for their children. A trip up a spiral staircase into the stone turret will take you past a custom wine room and then up three floors to the top of the turret.

A custom elevator whisks the family between the second level, first level and a lower level. On the lower level is a play area for both adults and children. Here you will find a home theater, children’s indoor jungle gym and a large billiards room and bar.

ICFs, CONCRETE AND QUALITY
Designing an 11,500-square-foot ICF castle with six bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms is an intricate task that requires foresight and imagination. Some might think to turn around and build it yourself is borderline psychosis. Trying to build such a house with this amount of detail is a major undertaking for even an experienced builder. In fact, many times houses of this size are built using a small commercial contractor to oversee construction.

Many people who can afford to build a house like this are comfortable with hiring it out to a builder or general contractor and taking a passive role in the construction process, but not Scott. He was involved with the construction process from day one and managed it through completion. He knew what he wanted and found the subcontractors who could meet his strict specifications.

The concrete on this job was no exception when it came to meeting strict specifications. Scott contacted Advance Ready Mix Concrete of Louisville (advancereadymix.com) many months before construction. He was in need of concrete, ICFs and a contractor to bring them together to make his vision into reality. It was at this point that Albert Miller of Miller Construction (strawhat58@yahoo.com) was brought into the mix and signed on as the ICF installer.

Advance Ready Mix Concrete was the ready mix supplier for the house and provided its custom residential ARM mixes. These mixes were designed specifically for the application at hand, including ICFs, footers, interior slabs and driveways. They incorporated the latest admixture technologies and a unique blend of aggregates.

There was no shortage of concrete used on this job, exceeding 1,200 cubic yards throughout construction. To put this into perspective, the average house in the Louisville market uses a little more than 100 yards of concrete. In addition to the large amount of concrete used, there were more than 23,000 square feet of Nudura forms with 4,600 of that coming in radius walls. The forms were provided by Advance Ready Mix Concrete through a corporate partnership with Holdfast Technologies of Ohio.

The basement was built using a 12-inch concrete core, the first floor used a 10-inch core and the second floor was an 8-inch core. The radius turrets were all built with ICFs and were custom made at the manufacturing plant and shipped to the job.

Even the cantilevered top of the largest turret was engineered with a double brick ledge and a steel ring beam underneath so that it could also be made of ICFs.

Miller remembers how challenging this job was because of the large number of tight radius walls, flared-out top turret and that the extra weight of natural stone stacked three stories on the exterior required extra reinforcing and design for the brick-ledge.

“There were three issues that were new to us: radius walls, the flare-out on the main turret and the extra weight of the natural stone on the tall walls.” But Miller said it all worked out great.

“With Nudura’s custom radius forms it went up relatively smooth,” he said. “The flare-out was stepped out with a brick-ledge with a Hardie Board extension to create an 8-inch ledge needed to support a 12-inch circular galvanized steel ring with a series of hole and welded studs to support both the stone veneer and the last pour of ICF.”

He said the main turret is 40 feet from footer to roof. “And all the taller walls have a double-height brick-ledge, Hardie Board extension and a double run of rebar and S hooks.
“It was a builder’s dream,” Miller said. “Clark was the perfect homeowner if there ever was one. He was open to suggestions, but he just wanted to get the job done in the best way.”

The concrete used in construction goes further than the walls and slabs. One of the challenges of building this house was its fall-away lot. The Scotts wanted a level backyard for a pool and courtyard and the preconstruction site was not conducive to their needs.

This forced Scott to get creative and he brought in precast concrete blocks to build a multi-tiered retaining wall that ran the length of the lot. These blocks were made locally and incorporated a decorative rock finish with a charcoal release. The blocks were stacked more than six high in some areas to allow dirt to be backfilled against them and provide a flat lot. This allowed the Scotts to have their pool and courtyard. While not real stone, these precast blocks give the appearance of stone and were a perfect solution to fit to the theme of the house.

Scott was no stranger to building with concrete before this endeavor. He built his previous home out of ICFs several years before constructing this castle. Like many homeowners who have owned an ICF home, he understood the value of living in this type of a construction and made sure this house would be built in the same manner.

Scott attributes building with ICFs to the many benefits they offer, including soundproofing, energy efficiency, strength, and resistance to fire, wind and insects. While no energy bill is going to be small in an 11,500-square-foot house, the Scotts are very pleased with their utility bills.

This house was built with the type of craftsmanship that is hard to find in today’s construction world. No expense was spared during the construction process.

The typical house in the Louisville area uses a 9-inch foundation; this house used 12-inch. The typical house uses brick veneer, Scott used real stone. When most builders use stick-frame construction, Scott insisted on ICFs. These examples of fine craftsmanship can be made for almost every facet of construction.

As a concrete supplier and ICF distributor, this is the type of project that makes work fun and interesting. Louisville is a conservative market for home construction, so it is exciting when you can be involved with a project that breaks all the molds.

Scott knew what he wanted in a house after his trips to Europe and many nights of researching products online. He wasn’t afraid to build his dream and as a result he has a house like no other in Louisville. With the way this house was constructed, it will be here in 500 years to inspire another family like the Scotts to build the house of their dreams.

Chad Deters is the residential sales manager for Advance Ready Mix Concrete (deters@advancereadymix.com) in Louisville, Ky. He earned a BA from Hanover College in Geology and Business Administration, and an MBA from the University of Louisville. Deters has been around the concrete industry his entire life and is the son of Jim and Diana Deters of the Kentucky Ready Mix Concrete Association.