Road Trip: Hanging

by Don Friedman on October 15, 2017

That’s a picture of three men on bosun’s chairs cleaning a glass curtain wall in central Ottawa. Bosun’s chairs have fallen out of favor in New York, so I don’t get to see this very often. A fifteen-story or so building like this back home would have either tracks for a scaffold built into the vertical mullions or, more likely, a pair of davits running on a track at the edge of the roof to allow a single permanent hung scaffold to serve the entire perimeter. Occasionally, you’ll see what looks like a big crane mounted near the center of the roof rather than the moveable davits.

Anyway, three guys suspended on ropes, window-washing.

Road Trip: For Show Or For Blow

October 14, 2017

(Ignore the flying porpoises. I have no idea what they are.) That’s the roof of a shopping mall in Ottawa. Are those trusses real structure or just for show? Their form (diagonals sloped for tension, deepest at midspan) and location (paired on either side of the columns) both make sense as real structure. If so, […]

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Intentionally Tilted Masonry

October 6, 2017

That’s a photograph taken in an attic of a mid-1800s house. The good news is that the wood is dry as a bone, so it’s not rotting. The maybe bad news is that brick chimney…isn’t quite straight. The reason for the chimney running diagonally is, simply, fakery. The fireplace below didn’t, for whatever interior layout […]

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Historic New Structural Detail

September 19, 2017

Even though construction is still in progress – note the blue tarps and the chain fall – that is a beautiful sight that very few people will ever see. That is the inside of a newly-constructed onion dome. The old dome and cupola, which formed the steeple of St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church in Elizabeth, […]

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A New Form of Sidewalk Bridge

September 18, 2017

First, some terminology: the platforms that move up and down on cables are hanging scaffold (AKA swing-stages); the tall temporary constructions of pipe and metal frames that allow access to a facade are standing scaffold (AKA pipe scaffold); the sheds that protect people on the sidewalk from falling tools and debris are sidewalk bridges (AKA […]

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An Inevitable Move Into A New Market

September 17, 2017

I did not know that LEGO was working on full-sized construction. Click on the picture above to enlarge it.

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Historic and Modern Structural and Non-Structural Detail

September 11, 2017

I hope the title is broad enough…I wouldn’t want to leave anything out. This is a probe in the facade of the penthouse of a 1920s apartment house. The exterior of the masonry facade has been stuccoed, which is why the background is so white. The pipe in the lower right corner is part of […]

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Where You Find It

August 26, 2017

That’s the shed roof of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania train station as seen from the waiting area. Obviously I’m biased, but truss roofs have a certain beauty that more modern structures lack. There’s something about the repetition of strong lines combined with perspective…

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Sidewalk Vaults and True Obsolescence

August 14, 2017

For people unfamiliar with sidewalk vaults, the illustration above, from 1865, might seem plausible, but it’s actually Daniel Badger’s fantasy of how he could sell more iron. The left-hand side is reasonably accurate for mid-1800s vaults: the facade columns extend down past the plane of the sidewalk, marking the separation of the cellar proper from […]

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Head Protection

August 12, 2017

I’ve never been comfortable wearing a hard hat, so I may have to give a new protective helmet a try.

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