Mike Russell, EIT, Certified to Level III Rope Access Supervisor

Mike Russell, EIT, recently trained and was certified to the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT) Level III Supervisor. According to SPRAT’s Safe Practices for Rope Access Work, all site work must be performed under the supervision of a Level III Supervisor.

Level III Supervisors are responsible for the overall rope access operations on site.

Mike joins Kelly Streeter, P.E. and Kevin Dalton as Level III Supervisors for Vertical Access.

As part of the training, Mike reviewed basic rope access techniques that we most often use in our site work as well as more advanced skills that are less often used, such as passing knots, rope-to-rope transfers, redirects, rebelays and horizontal aid traverse. The training also covered rope rescue techniques and mechanical advantage systems used for raising or lowering a casualty or other load.

SPRAT is a membership organization that promotes the development of safe practices and standards for rope access work in the United States, Canada, Mexico and beyond. Vertical Access is a member of SPRAT and active in its leadership committees.

Celebrating 50 Years of APT International

The last week of September, Vertical Access attended the hottest conference in preservation: APT International’s 50th anniversary celebration happening in Buffalo and the Niagara Region of Canada.

Fifty years ago, a group of preservation and conservation professionals from both the United States and Canada came together in New Richmond, Quebec to form a new organization called The Association for Preservation Technology International (APT).  APT is a is a multi-disciplinary, membership organization dedicated to promoting the best technology for conserving/preserving historic structures and their settings.

This joint American-Canadian organization has grown to include chapters around the world. It is only fitting that this year’s conference was held in Buffalo with events and celebrations on both sides of the border.  The conference billed itself as “a point of departure for our next 50 years”, alluding to the fact that at one point in history, Buffalo was one of the most important points of departure on the continent.

Vertical Access has had a long history of involvement in APT since our founding in 1992. Founding Partner Kent Diebolt served as President of the Board of Directors from 2001 – 2003. This year, Evan Kopelson served as Co-Chair of the Programs Committee, and also served with Kristen Olson and Patrick Capruso on the Local Planning Committee.  We were excited that some of the events were held at historic locations that we have personally played a role in revitalizing, including:

While there were many field sessions and education opportunities to choose from during this multi-day celebration, two that we had a hand in coordinating are:

What Do Buckingham Palace, Brooklyn Bridge, and Buffalo Have in Common? – Medina Sandstone

(Coordinated by Patrick Capruso): Quarried in Orleans County near the town for which it was named, Medina sandstone was prized by builders and architects for its inherent strength and beauty. Fourteen attendees joined the all-day, Medina Sandstone Field Session as part of APT 2018. The field session included a visit to the Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame where the Medina Sandstone Society offered programming on the stone’s mineral composition, an in-depth look at life in and around the quarries, and the socioeconomic impact that the quarrying industry had on the region. Following lunch in Medina, the trolley was bound for Buffalo for site visits at several ecclesiastic landmarks and the Richardson Olmsted Campus. Mike Lennon, of Flynn Battaglia Architects, provided insight into preservation efforts at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral and First Presbyterian Church. At St. Louis RC Church, the Church historian and a member of the Board of Trustees highlighted the parish’s past restoration campaigns. Finally, our docent at the Richardson Olmsted Campus gave a whirlwind hardhat tour of the site’s exterior façades and a glimpse of an interior space slated for redevelopment.

 

Preservation by the Pint: Revitalization and the Craft Beverage Boom

(Co-coordinated by Kristen Olson): Preservation By the Pint was a driving tour of adaptive use sites where craft beverage producers have rehabilitated existing and historic structures representing three very different areas of Buffalo. Along the way, session co-planner Courtney Creenan-Chorley pointed out historic structures that remain from the city’s incredibly rich history of brewing and malting.

At our first stop, above, Ethan Cox of Community Beer Works showed us their newly-rehabilitated 7th Street space and gave a fascinating history of brewing in Buffalo, from tavern days through the post-Prohibition decline of independent breweries, to the revival of craft brewing in the 1970s and 80s and the current brewing renaissance. Ethan literally wrote the book on Buffalo’s rich brewing history; he is the co-author of Buffalo Beer: The History of Brewing in the Nickel City. He also described some of the technical aspects of converting an existing building for a brewery, utilizing tax credits, and the inherent challenges of locating in a historic neighborhood with older utilities, all driven by the community ethic central to the business’ identity.

Next, we traveled to the mixed-use First Ward neighborhood where Adam Bystran, head distiller at Lakeward Spirits, walked us through the transformation of the Barrel Factory, a historic manufacturing building just one block off the Buffalo River. Adam and his family took on a true labor of love in rehabilitating the 1903 manufacturing structure into apartments, an event center, and commercial spaces including a brewery and distillery (and more). Many of the attendees in our group are working on or have worked on craft beverage projects, and impressed Adam with their questions about code issues and utilities needs!

Our final stop was Big Ditch Brewing’s downtown taproom and production facility, an adaptive use project completed in 2015.

APT The Next 50 Symposium

While Kristen and Patrick packed it in after a whirlwind of educational field sessions and presentations during the conference, Evan Kopelson stayed in Buffalo for Thursday’s Symposium, where speakers and attendees explored:

  • Where are we in the world with preservation technology?
  • How has the field changed in 50 years?
  • What new formula will we need for the next 50? What are the new challenges?
  • How can we be more mainstream, less specialized? As the field matures, who are the partners we must collaborate with to remain vital?
  • How will authenticity, resilience and changing technologies guide us?

With a keynote presentation, summaries of the conference plenary sessions, small group break-outs and facilitated discussion, a facilitator and Technical Committee leaders worked with participants to create a vision for the Next Fifty. The first break-out session focused on the context and trends in preservation as a whole, while the second break-out looked at these issues through the lens of APT’s six technical committees. In wrapping up the symposium, the discussion focused on how to turn this vision into action. The findings and discussions of the symposium will be summarized by the symposium organizers and made available to APT membership.

We thoroughly enjoyed exploring with our colleagues all that is possible in preservation for The Next 50 Years.

For more about the conference, visit: https://www.eventscribe.com/2018/APT/ 

Vertical Access was a Bronze Sponsor of the conference this year.

Mike Russell Earns SPRAT Level II Certification

Mike Russell, EIT, has earned his Level II Certification from the Society of Professional Rope Access Technicians (SPRAT).  A Level II certified individual is responsible for physically conducting rope access operations and/or safety evaluations of rope access operations, including maintenance of associated access equipment and performs all Rope Access Lead Technician duties as assigned in the employer’s rope access work program.  To become a SPRAT-certified technician, Mike was required to attend a certification session and pass a written test, verbal test, and a hands-on physical performance based test assessed by a SPRAT-certified Evaluator, in addition to logging 500 hours on the job as a SPRAT Level I certified professional.

Mike joined Vertical Access in 2016 bringing with him over six years of experience working in the construction industry, both commercial and residential, specifically relating to project management, sustainable building practices, and restoration in residential and maritime environments.

He began restoring boats for the City of Charleston (South Carolina) Maritime Foundation while pursuing a degree in Historic Preservation and Community Planning at the College of Charleston.  Following his switch to the field of engineering, Mike joined a residential construction firm located on the Connecticut shoreline that specialized in the restoration and rehabilitation of barns and historic homes.  From there he went on to join Whiting-Turner, a national contracting firm where he worked as a project engineer on large scale commercial projects before joining Vertical Access in the summer of 2016.

Congressman John Faso Joins Effort to Reform New York State Scaffold Law

Congressman John Faso announced on Tuesday the introduction of innovative, new legislation entitled the “Infrastructure Expansion Act,” which would relieve some of the negative effects of New York State’s Scaffold Law by imposing a liability standard of comparative negligence on all construction projects that receive federal financial assistance. This legislation is directly intended to reduce the cost of new construction – both public and private – which is subsidized using federal funds.  The proposal would ensure that any project using federal dollars is not subject to New York law mandating “absolute liability” on the building owners and contractors.

Listen to the WCNY interview below, and read the full press release here.

September 19, 2017: Rep. John Faso and Mike Elmendorf

 

For more about the Scaffold Law Reform, visit www.scaffoldlaw.org

 

Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island: Restoration of the Child’s Restaurant

In her Applicator cover story, “The Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island and the Seaside Park,” Architect Diane Kaese highlights the redevelopment and restoration effort at the former Child’s Restaurant. For Vertical Access Preservation Technician Patrick Capruso it was a thrill to see photographs of the finished façades. As a former finisher at Boston Valley Terra Cotta, Patrick helped to sculpt a number of the 752 terra cotta units replicated for the building.

As Kaese explains, ornamental elements of the maritime motif originally modeled by Sculptor Max Keck and produced by the Atlantic Terra Cotta Company were meticulously reproduced using undercutting techniques to accentuate shadows and hide the ¼” joints required for seamless assembly.

According to Patrick, shaping these elaborate snails, ships, and seashells was both difficult and immensely rewarding.

Congratulations to Diane Kaese, Boston Valley Terra Cotta, and the rest of the project team on a job well done!

Berta de Miguel Earns Her Ph.D

Berta de Miguel has earned her Ph.D in Preservation of Architectural Heritage from Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Valencia, Spain. She joined VA as in intern in 2011, initially focusing on our continued research into the works of the Guastavino Company in New York City.

A SPRAT Level I technician, she currently participates in Vertical Access field projects and preservation conferences.

 

Berta is our Metropolitan New York branch office manager and is a NYC Department of Buildings CD-5 Filing Representative. She co-instructed a graduate level course, “Restoration of Historic Buildings: Discovery, Design, Execution”, at Manhattan College in New York City in Spring of 2013.

Berta also participated in the award-winning biographical documentary, El Architecto de Nueva York, a celebration of the lives and careers of the Rafael Guastavinos, father and son, developers of the Guastavino vault architectural construction technique.

For six years prior to joining the VA team, Berta was a project manager of building restoration projects at Edycon, one of the top ten architectural conservation and historic preservation firms in Spain. She was responsible for managing multiple projects with large teams simultaneously, in addition to the preparation of reports to clients and institutions. Berta’s professional background also includes two years studying architectural preservation in Cuba and Belgium. She has been the restoration site project manager on more than twenty landmarks, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site Catedral de Teruel (12th century), the National Landmark Castle of Sagunto (Roman origin), and the San Martin Church of Valencia (14th century).

Congratulations Berta!

Tourist In Your Own Town: Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument

View the latest video in the series, Tourist in Your Own Town, made by the New York Landmark Conservancy, all about the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument.  During the Revolutionary War, the British held thousands of prisoners on ships anchored in the East River. These prisoners represented all thirteen colonies and at least thirteen different nationalities. The Monument marks the site of a crypt for more than 11,500 men and women who died of overcrowding, starvation and disease aboard these prison ships.

Vertical Access performed a comprehensive conditions survey of the exterior granite, bronze brazier and interior brick masonry to help inform the preparation of construction documents for repairs and restoration.  More on our work at the Monument.

 

Tourist in Your Own Town: New York Botanical Garden

View the latest video in the series, Tourist in Your Own Town, made by the New York Landmark Conservancy, all about the New York Botanical Garden.

We’ve had the pleasure of working at the Botanical Garden in  the past and are currently assisting with  maintenance and access fall protection design.  (We love our “hero shots'”!)



 

Blair Kamin: Thompson Center Sale Shouldn’t Automatically Mean Demolition (Chicago Tribune)

 

In the course of its storied architectural history, Chicago has come to rue the demolition of buildings like Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange. They were torn down for the usual reasons. Owners claimed they were outdated. Politicians refused to stand in the way of “progress.” Activists protested, but not enough ordinary citizens raised their voices. The Stock Exchange, whose entrance arch outside the Art Institute of Chicago forms the city’s wailing wall of historic preservation, fell in 1971-72.

Now, a new crisis looms, this one over the fate of the James R. Thompson Center, the spaceship-shaped glitter palace that is, despite formal and functional flaws, one of Chicago’s most significant works of postmodern architecture.

Read the rest of the story here.   Learn about our involvement with the Thompson Center here.

Flume Fever Afflicted: 126-Year-Old Mining Flume in Western Colorado Clings to its Secret

There is something about the tattered remnants of a 126-year-old mining marvel that keeps drawing the curious back to this remote area along Colorado 141 located in Colorado Canyon Country, mostly on public lands operated by the Bureau of Land Management, Uncompahgre Field office.

Those who keep returning to measure, survey, photograph and examine the mysterious structure known as the Hanging Flume call it “flume fever.” The afflicted wake in the middle of the night to puzzle over how enterprising but misguided gold seekers pinned a 10-mile-long wooden water chute to a sheer cliff to create a hydraulic gold separator.

Our Hanging Flume investigative team this year: Kent Diebolt, Donn Hewes, Keith Luscinski, and Kevin Dalton

Previous preservation efforts on the Flume identified the need for additional investigative work to better understand the diverse construction, innovative engineering, and significance of the Flume to mining history in Colorado.

The red sandstone cliffs of the Dolores and the San Miguel Rivers are the site of one of the longest and most intriguing heritage sites in Colorado: running parallel to the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway, this storied and iconic western slope structure has awed international travelers and regional passersby for decades. Sparking such questions as, “What was it for?” “How long did it take to build?” “Who built it?” “And how?” Years of research by local residents, BLM archeologists, and national specialists have provided many conclusive answers however answers to the question of the flume’s construction have remained speculative at best, until now. From April 26 –May 5th Anthony & Associates, Vertical Access and Alpine Archaeological Consultants will be completing Phase Three of an Archaeological Survey funded by History Colorado and the State of Colorado Div. of Reclamation, Mining & Safety The team of experts will conduct investigation of construction methodology at approximate six drop locations.

Project Manager Ron Anthony, of Anthony & Associates, a wood scientist from Fort Collins, CO, believes the technical questions about the flume’s construction methods will be best answered with careful research and investigation.

“Construction of the Hanging Flume in the 1880s was accomplished in a time and place that we can barely imagine,” Anthony says, “It would be selfish and irresponsible to allow these construction, engineering and human achievements to vanish without doing our best to make them available for future generations.”

The flume carried 80-million gallons of water in a 24-hour period to the hydraulic mining operations of the Montrose Placer Mining Company. Taking 3 years and 25 local men to complete, the water was used to provide hydraulic power to separate gold from alluvial rock deposits which originated in the San Juan Mountains before being deposited along the Dolores and San Miguel Rivers. “We know what they built; we just don’t know how they built it and to our knowledge, the construction technology was not documented. Over 100 years have past since its construction and the flume is showing its age.”

In 2006 the Hanging Flume made the World Monument Watch list of 100 Most Endangered Sites. Since that time, the BLM has developed partnerships with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Colorado Preservation, Inc., the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway Association, the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado, History Colorado and Colorado Div. of Reclamation, Mining & Safety to help determine how best this unique western slope artifact can be preserved for public education and historic interpretation for future generations.

For more information about the Historic Hanging Flume project please contact Chris Miller, Executive Director, Interpretive Association of Western Colorado at 970-874-6695 or visit www.hangingflume.org

(This story was circulated as a press release on April 20, 2017, and published in the San Miguel Basin Forum).

For more on the hanging flume check out the Unaweep-Tabeguache Scenic Byway Association video here or read some collected musings about our flume fever since 2004.