• Field Notes 29.05.2014

    Coming off of a three-day weekend, I’d like to propose that in the future, we should change the third day off to Friday, instead of Monday. One, how much work do you really get done on the Friday before? Two, how much time do you spend on Tuesday (after being off), just trying to catch up with where you left off, only to realize there are fewer than 3.5 days to meet any deadlines, plus the open issues carried over from the prior week? In that scenario (this morning being no exception) Tuesdays after a Monday off are just plain vicious. Mind you, if I could talk the boss into four 10-hour days to have Fridays off, I think I could make that work. If you’re in, we can start a national petition drive on the White House website. What do you say?

    From the world of let’s find a better/cheaper/faster way of doing building layouts, here’s one that will have some serious consideration: getting a robot to do it straight from cad drawings. The video is pretty impressive.

    One question: who’s going to clean the floor before using this gizmo—the GC? Will they keep the floor clean around the perimeter for the glazier in order for the robot to do the layout? Or, does your crew clear out/clear off all the jobsite debris before turning this ‘bot loose?  And, how do you transfer the marks from the lower floors to the new floor to make sure you’re in the right place?  Right idea, and I think it has some potential, but I would like to see someone work the kinks out.

    An article on USGNN May 27 asked, “Could the Era of Glass Skyscrapers be Over?” Like Mark Twain said, I think the report of its demise might be greatly exaggerated. Yes, there might end up being a lower percentage of vision glass, but there are too many upsides to glass, and manufacturers are bringing more efficient products to market, which will make it difficult for people to let glass go away.

    Frank Lloyd Wright’s Johnson’s Wax office building in Racine Wisconsin, highlights how glass can contribute to buildings. On the original building, there were few, if any, windows. Given its site, there was little to see, as the building was located in a light commercial district, surrounded by some of Johnson Wax’s own manufacturing plants. Instead, Wright turned the roof of the open, two story workspace in the building center into one of the most iconic spaces of all time. There are stories about how the skylights leaked, how the columns got designed and tested, but space and time don’t permit the telling here—ask an architect sometime, it’s common knowledge in their circles. But, the light! It’s really a fantastic space.

    Speaking of light, have you seen pictures of the old Pennsylvania Station in NYC, before it was demo’d in the ’60s for Madison Square Garden? The sun streaming through the windows was stunning. Would the station have been better off without glass? The light gave character and definition to the space. The train station there now has all of the character of a dingy bus depot (not trying to be flattering). There’s no view to the exterior, no sunlight at all. Of course, the only way now to bring sunlight back in would be to put a glass roof on the Garden, and a glass floor for the basketball court and ice rink. Doubtful at best.

    No glass in buildings? I think not. The above examples, and many others, in which architects who work with, not against natural light, to create human, habitable spaces, show that as long as the sun shines, there’ll be glass in buildings. Even homes built underground, or into the side of a hill, have windows and skylights and wouldn’t be occupy-able spaces without them, unless you’re into bunkers.

    Spaces like Wright’s, and others where architects strive to come up with inventive ways to use natural light, make many of us want to come into work on any day, regardless of how many days off we’ve had over the weekend.

    Posted by Blogger @ 10:34 am

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