Friday, October 9, 2009

Why I had nothing to add here in September

September was a busy month for our business.

Project #1: We provided site and logistic support services for the design team for investigation of the Edison Memorial Tower in New Jersey. This is the tower at the Menlo Park location where Edison invented the light bulb. The exterior of the tower is made with John Earley exposed aggregate panels. John Earley was an artisan who developed and advanced the early practice (yes, Earley was early) of exposed aggregate concrete. We spent an intensive week there, first in, last out on the site, making sure that the architects and structural engineers, technicians, consultants and conservators got the information that they came looking for. This is our third Edison related project, the first being our lead on the movement of Edison Building #11 from Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI to within 10’ of where it originally resided at the Edison National Historic site in West Orange, NJ. The building had been relocated to Dearborn in 1940 and essentially we reversed the process. We were also involved in an early stage in the rescue of a former schoolhouse from Edison’s Ogden Mine at Mount Sparta, now turned into a local Hungarian culture museum at Franklin, NJ. [Yes, and those are people hanging from ropes off the tower, not us, but our friends at Vertical Access.]

Project #2: Paint stripping from limestone within a vestibule at the 90th Street entrance for the Church of Heavenly Rest. This project had to be done over Labor Day weekend as the Church leases space for a day school and the messy work had to be done when the children, and their parents, would not be around. For some unknown reason the beautiful limestone within the vestibule had been covered over the years with several layers of paint. This project has proven a very messy job and more of a challenge than we anticipated, but we persist, and continue to work at removing the paint. We enjoy logistical problems and in this case you need to imagine using paint stripper within an enclosed space (as if inside the chamber of a large drum) and then coming along with a pressure washer and removing the residue and controlling the run-off. Talk about blow-back! Fortunately the paint stripper that we are using, that appears to work, does not eat through our skin with chemical burns as it appears impossible to undertake this mission without getting ourselves immediately soaked down to our socks and underwear. I absolutely hate paint stripping... but we do a considerable amount of these small missions for the church. We are also involved with the restoration and resetting of a bronze gate on the 5th Ave. elevation. One of our favorite projects with the Church this year was to mount the alms box just in time for Easter. We got to meet the 80+ year old woodworker who made the box... we asked him to drill four holes into the back of it.

Project #3: We had a gig to run a 125’ tall aerial lift around on Park Ave. between 52nd and 53rd Street for a structural engineer to investigate the condition of the terra cotta cornice at the Racquet & Tennis Club. Talking logistics, this project was an interesting challenge. I was worried about traffic both pedestrian and vehicular in a highly congested area of Manhattan, but that was the least of our adventure. I am almost nearly complete with writing up just what went on at this gig, near to 9,000 words. Simply put, first thing 1,000 Chinese showed up and we were in the middle of their demonstration, that is how we found out the hard way that the UN was in session, then we had to deal with being in the path of Obama who wanted to visit Letterman... we were in the path on the street with a 44,000 pound machine (i like this little advert movie). It got sticky. And in the final move of absurdity we were faced with a possible shut-down for a television series shoot on Park Avenue. We managed to survive.

In the midst of all this we had family birthdays, vehicles that needed critical care, worked with a team to assemble a bid on restoration of a windmill tower at Sagamore Hill, the Town of Brookhaven threatening to clean our yard, and a construction project suddenly happening next door to our house. Oh, and we think we finally fixed the damaged sill cock at the Mineola Presbyterian Church.

October is starting up a bit slower, and we are grateful for the rest and the opportunity to put things back in order. It is not a good time of year to have a cold. It is a good time of year to work on the heating system for the office shed. In the mean time we visited a church in Harlem where the roof and parapet are rather dramatically gone, and we looked at maybe doing repair work on sculptural stone benches at the British Memorial Gardens at Hanover Square in lower Manhattan.

Next week we are going to be doing probes at a bath house at Jones Beach. We have worked on a number of Robert Moses structures, most recently as the probe & mock-up contractor for the design team for the restoration of the pool at McCarren Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is a $40M+ project now in stage of going to contract. We used to live across the street from the pool – when the gangs stole from parked vehicles they would go hide in the pool house to sort through the loot -- and we have a long history with the neighborhood that we had sense to run away from, to move to the most obscure spot we could find on Long Island, before Williamsburg became upscale artsy fashionable. And in the past we relocated the Paul Manship aluminum medallions from the façade of the NY Coliseum to remount them on the face of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel ventilation building at Battery Park in lower Manhattan. Our project to mount these medallions held up the filming of Men in Black II as the ventilation building, which houses an array of very large fans, is the structure that is used as the headquarters in the movie.

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