Have we mentioned yet that Walter has a home? Don’t answer that, we already know – we have yet to blog about the Walter Dome, located at the historic ponderosa lumber in southwest Scottsdale.
Walter’s Dome just happens to have a pretty sweet entrance – and by pretty sweet we mean that the doors on Walter Dome are unlike anything else on the entire planet. And so today’s post is a highlight about those doors and the amazing team of creative dudes that built them. The team that built the doors for the Walter Dome includes: Rick Fawley, Brice Fawley (Weatherwize), Leland Fawley, Luis, Primo, Larry Greene of Coda Furniture Design & Fabrication, and Hogan. Rick handled most of the finish work, Bryce designed the concept and oversaw the project, Leland put in the windows, Larry delivered a Herculean effort with the metal work, and Luis, Primo, and Hogan contributed to the wood work.
With Walter being 13-foot 2-inches tall and 100 inches wide, he needs some serious clearance to come and go. The story starts with some not-too-adequate roll up steel doors that neither fit with Walter’s unique personality, nor gave him the needed entry space. So Bryce and Kirk talked about it and after trying to work with the existing doors, Bryce decided to take a tip from Walter and get creative. What he came up with was the design of two 14-foot tall by 6 ½ inch wide doors made of Douglas Fir beams. The absolute weight of the doors is a mystery for the ages, but Bryce safely guesses they’re at around 1 ton each. In relation to the hinges (measuring 12 inches each), that is an amazing feat because each hinge is custom made, completely straight, and the pins slide in and out as if smothered in butter. There is also a “Man Door” 8-foot high and 4-foot wide inside the left door for people to walk in and out
If you’re standing outside, you see two tremendous doors with beaded glass windows at about 9 foot up and two rather impressive door knobs. The knobs are 5 inches in diameter, the plates are 3-foot high by 6-inches wide, and made from steel. There is also a special key that Larry made with a W on the end. The plan for the doorknobs was to put them at the head level of an average adult male. Why? Because what age would you have been when a doorknob actually was at head level? Somewhere around 3 to 5, right? The point is that all things Walter related are supposed to bring out your inner child. And the inside gear mechanisms get right to the point of making you feel young (that is, if you’re not already a kid, of course.)
If you’re inside the doors, you’ll see an inspiring and delightful display of metal working skill and playful genius, all courtesy of Larry. Inside the Man Door you’ll locate a smoothly working locking mechanism made from bicycle gears for turning the mechanism and a knife used as a stopper, all of it tied together with a Rube Goldberg effect. On the opposite side, Larry put in the world’s largest panic release button with a hot rod wheel attached for turning the top and bottom dead bolts. The intricately crafted locking mechanism is an elaborate network of carved wood and steel pieces holding the spring assembly in place.
Finally, you need to protect all that glorious artisanship from the elements. This is where Ricky came to the rescue and spent several weeks staining and glazing the doors in 4 separate passes to get just the right weathered look. After that it was 3 coats of spar varnish, typically used on boats to help us get the look of giant doors on a barge…and Rick nailed it.
Overall, the doors took from late October 2009 to early January 2010 to completely finish. You can come on down and check them out from the outside any day and when we’re inside partying or working, you can come and see the interior. For now, you’ve got these pictures and we are gathering up all the construction photos we can find to throw onto the Flickr account for you to dig on.