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An 'Epic' Container Co-op

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The good folks at Epic Software are building a video production studio out of old shipping containers just outside of Houston, Texas. They're also dutifully documenting the Creative Co-op's construction process from permitting to pouring the foundation on their blog. Epic's shipping container saga has humble beginnings: The design was initially developed using Google Sketchup and Vic Cherubini—the man at the helm of Epic—found his architect by posting an ad on Craigslist. Their overarching plan has been to use upcycled, recycled, and sustainable materials wherever possible. Vic answered a few of our burning questions, telling about the difficult and rewarding aspects of the project, and why sometimes the best design tools are free.

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  The design for Epic Software's Creative Co-Op was budget-conscious (the projected cost is $175,000 to $200,000) and reflects a DIY sensibility. The structure was first conceived using Google Sketchup—a free design tool. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The design for Epic Software's Creative Co-Op was budget-conscious (the projected cost is $175,000 to $200,000) and reflects a DIY sensibility. The structure was first conceived using Google Sketchup—a free design tool. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  The studio is currently being built on a small parcel of land in the Woodlands, Texas, which is just outside of Houston. Here, surveyors assess the building site. "I  needed a land use plan, so I called the Dean at the University of Houston, College of Architecture, and he put me in touch with Professor Tom Diehl.  Mr. Diehl’s  4th year architectural students need to do two community projects – one urban and one rural.  We were the rural project for that semester," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The studio is currently being built on a small parcel of land in the Woodlands, Texas, which is just outside of Houston. Here, surveyors assess the building site. "I needed a land use plan, so I called the Dean at the University of Houston, College of Architecture, and he put me in touch with Professor Tom Diehl. Mr. Diehl’s 4th year architectural students need to do two community projects – one urban and one rural. We were the rural project for that semester," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  The structure will be built from eleven shipping containers. First, the foundation must be built, and the water and wastewater piping systems installed. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The structure will be built from eleven shipping containers. First, the foundation must be built, and the water and wastewater piping systems installed. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  Workers lower re-bar framing into the co-op's support system before pouring in concrete. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    Workers lower re-bar framing into the co-op's support system before pouring in concrete. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  After the concrete is poured, the supportive pile is capped with a metal plate, a process which takes expert precision. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    After the concrete is poured, the supportive pile is capped with a metal plate, a process which takes expert precision. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  Here's what the foundation looks like before the concrete is poured. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    Here's what the foundation looks like before the concrete is poured. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  The concrete sets after just a few hours. Here, the foundation being finished. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The concrete sets after just a few hours. Here, the foundation being finished. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  The shipping containers were sourced from Container-IT in Portland, Oregon. Each cost $2,400 and $200 to transport. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The shipping containers were sourced from Container-IT in Portland, Oregon. Each cost $2,400 and $200 to transport. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  After the foundation is set, the containers are moved into place. "I don’t want a building like everyone else’s. I want one that gets you excited about coming to work in the morning so we turned to cargo containers and that got the juices flowing," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    After the foundation is set, the containers are moved into place. "I don’t want a building like everyone else’s. I want one that gets you excited about coming to work in the morning so we turned to cargo containers and that got the juices flowing," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  Moving the containers into place took just over five hours. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    Moving the containers into place took just over five hours. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  The wood framing is built around the containers. "This is a commercial building has to meet a number of building codes that do not apply to residential construction, which Cherubini says is one of the most difficult aspects of the project. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The wood framing is built around the containers. "This is a commercial building has to meet a number of building codes that do not apply to residential construction, which Cherubini says is one of the most difficult aspects of the project. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  Here, a workers welds a container to the framing. "Usually shipping containers are in great abundance, except this year there is a world shortage driving up the price of each unit," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    Here, a workers welds a container to the framing. "Usually shipping containers are in great abundance, except this year there is a world shortage driving up the price of each unit," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  Special hurricane braces are added for structural strength. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    Special hurricane braces are added for structural strength. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  The Creative Co-Op boasts many sustainable qualities. "The interior insulation will be a composite system of high-density spray on foam, and cellulose.  We are working with a manufacturer now on developing an optimal system for the exterior walls.  The ceiling insulation will be blown in cellulose, which for the most part is recycled newspaper," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    The Creative Co-Op boasts many sustainable qualities. "The interior insulation will be a composite system of high-density spray on foam, and cellulose. We are working with a manufacturer now on developing an optimal system for the exterior walls. The ceiling insulation will be blown in cellulose, which for the most part is recycled newspaper," says Cherubini. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  "We went with narrow windows and chose to turn the windows horizontal for a couple of reasons.  The narrow windows are much less prone to theft.  Installing them high and horizontal will allow some light to enter the rooms, but not too much, since they will be edit suites and contain monitors," writes Cherubini on his blog. Some of the windows soon to be installed were found via Craigslist. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    "We went with narrow windows and chose to turn the windows horizontal for a couple of reasons. The narrow windows are much less prone to theft. Installing them high and horizontal will allow some light to enter the rooms, but not too much, since they will be edit suites and contain monitors," writes Cherubini on his blog. Some of the windows soon to be installed were found via Craigslist. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  Here, the roof structure is lifted atop the containers. "The exterior of the building will be painted with WeatherBloc-IC by Mascoat – this paint contains ceramic and silica particles encased in a latex emulsion. When sprayed on it will help insulate the building by reducing the radiant and conducted heat," says Cherubini of his efforts to keep the building as green as possible. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    Here, the roof structure is lifted atop the containers. "The exterior of the building will be painted with WeatherBloc-IC by Mascoat – this paint contains ceramic and silica particles encased in a latex emulsion. When sprayed on it will help insulate the building by reducing the radiant and conducted heat," says Cherubini of his efforts to keep the building as green as possible. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  A beautiful shot of the roof's framing. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    A beautiful shot of the roof's framing. Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
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  A shot of the structure as it appeared mid-February. Cherubini regularly updates his blog with the latest steps in the construction process. We'll definitely be checking in for the newest reports! Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.
    A shot of the structure as it appeared mid-February. Cherubini regularly updates his blog with the latest steps in the construction process. We'll definitely be checking in for the newest reports! Photo ©2011 epic software group, inc.

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