Monday, December 27, 2010

From our small perch what can we see ahead for the future?

As a New Year approaches and despite that we are unable to see very clearly into the future we are able to appreciate the future’s potential to be of interest and entertainment.
We were asked to list projects that we see on our horizon but there is a superstition that we abide that to talk about future work, or even to talk about ongoing work, has a tendency to skunk the odds.

We have been involved with a number of projects that we will likely have nothing to do with in the future but that we will continue to be interested in their progress.

Though it is proper to mention the lead of the design teams in each case we worked with a number of friends and associates who we will not mention here as the lists would get long winded and complicated.

The Edison Memorial Tower in Menlo Park, NJ, where Edison invented the light bulb, is currently working through a prequalification phase prior to going to bid. The project involves restoration of John Earley pre-cast concrete panels -- this is artisan work. The lead architect is Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects. We very much enjoyed working with them to provide in-field support during their design phase investigations. The most memorable statement of the project, "Where is the water?"

The McCarren Park Pool restoration in Brooklyn, NY (in hip Williamsburg) is a Robert Moses structure that we lived across the street from for a number of years when it was an empty and abandoned mound of brick and concrete. It is currently an ongoing project. I had an opportunity to meet the contractor at a holiday party and enjoyed hearing tidbits. The lead architect was Rogers Marvel Architects. We worked on their design team to provide field mock-ups and probes. One memorable adventure was the entire day that it took to do a 1 sf of repointing mock-up in a blizzard... the drive to NJ to get 2 bags of the specified sand took up most of the day. We also regret that our friends at Brooklyn Brewery will probably not be able to continue to host concerts at the pool once it is completed. I also managed to get a flash fiction published about a dead man found at the pool as reported in a small news clipping. He was missing one arm. We did not get to meet him.

The Brick House at Philip Johnson's Glass House. We were advised to be discrete when talking about this National Trust site. I enjoy informing non-architect friends about the glass house by talking about the brick house first. Though a relatively small structure thie project should prove to be an interesting one. The lead architect here was Li-Saltzman Architects.

High Bridge Aqueduct is a curious project for us in that rather than being a vertical logistic problem, as occurs quite often in the NYC environment, it is a horizontal one. We did a series of probes there and with the 1,600 ft length we had to bring in our tools and equipment and materials each day and remove them at the end of the day and fully transport them out of the area (we bought a small yellow wagon that we are very happy with)... nothing could be left behind for fear it would be thrown over and off the bridge. We also had a really good time exploring the innards of the aqueduct pipe, and I mean that literally as our last steel coupon we extracted by cutting from the inside out. The lead on the project is TranSystems.
The Fulton-Nassau Crossroads Program is down near Ground Zero in Manhattan and we had an opportunity to do a few facade storefront probes. Lower Manhattan has to rate as one of the most congested and street populated areas of the planet other than maybe urban population centers in Japan and Asia. Managing to go down there and grind and cut through stucco on the street in broad daylight, safely, with tourists and such walking past, and then to come back again and patch it all up to look good was a tiny but interesting accomplishment. The first day it took us an hour to figure out how to get our small truck, when we were only a few blocks from the site, through the maze of narrow one-way and blocked streets to actually end up at the site and parked. We cheated. Lead on this project, for us, was Li-Saltzman Architects.

It was a year ago the day before Thanks Giving that we did a probe in a plaster ceiling at NY City Hall for Beyer Blinder Belle Architects  and it is this year, a year past our initial brief escapade in making another hole in the built environment that we have got ourselves involved in wondering what will happen to the restoration of the wood windows. We remain wondering.

Our friend Leland Torrence up in Connecticut involved us in an exterior condition survey of two public schools in Providence, RI and other than the usual fun filled field days for the survey the major task was sorting through 1,000+ photographs then assembling them in a Blogger based online visual report, with a few drama laden videos and to do so in such a manner that a report would be produced that would convey the magnitude of the exterior conditions of the masonry of both schools, with a conceptual budget that we also worked up for a 5-year remediation plan. We had thought that it would be really neat to produce a visual report on an iPad and then to send the pre-loaded device to the architect... but the budget for the project did not include for expensive toys and thus we went with wrestling the nearly for-free Blogger format to produce an intelligible online report experience. It helps that once something is developed in a Blogger format that it can be easily cut and pasted into a for-print hard copy report. Now that we know how to do it we hope to have more of this type of communications work in the future.
Warning: turn down your computer volume.
We await what will awake in the New Year. May we all be blessed with work, health and good business!

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