Be 1% Better: 1% for You, 100% for the Planet

Vertical Access has been a supporting member of 1% for the Planet since 2006, pledging a portion of our profits to non-profit organizations that make our planet a more sustainable place for future generations. In celebration of Earth Day 2019, we wanted to heighten awareness of this organization and take a moment to urge others in the preservation community to step forward and make a commitment to the future of our global environment.

By recognizing the important role that historic preservation plays in the sustainability movement, VA has made a commitment through our 1% FTP contributions to The Association for Preservation Technology International (APT), The U.S. National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS), and Friends of Alta.

 

When Vertical Access first joined 1% for the Planet in 2006, we were one of about 250 other businesses that pledged a small proportion of our annual net revenues to environmental causes. Today, 1% for the Planet is a growing global movement with more than 1,800 members in over 45 countries, working together to protect the future of our planet.

Join us and Be 1% Better! Visit One Percent for the Planet to see how you can make a difference, and check out all the donor and recipient partner organizations. Please consider supporting these organizations when you make purchasing decisions, and consider becoming a supporting member. We can all make a difference.

 

Proposed Changes to NYC’s FISP Regulations

Photo courtesy of Sullivan Engineering

Vertical Access often assists building owners, architects, engineers, with New York City’s Façade Inspection & Safety Program, or FISP, also known as Local Law 11.  We would like to share some proposed changes that were recently brought to light by Brian Sullivan, a principal at Sullivan Engineering in a recent article in Habitat Magazine:

Brian sits on a DOB advisory committee that proposes changes to FISP regulations. The committee’s attention is now focused on Cycle 9, which begins in February 2020.

Here are some proposed changes:

  • Probes to verify and document wall anchors in cavity wall facades might be required in the 9th cycle and every 10 years thereafter.
  • The number of required close-up inspections might increase.
  • Qualified Exterior Wall Inspectors (QEWI) might be required to have at least three years of relevant experience. (VA partner Kelly Streeter, P.E., is a certified QEWI).
  • A time frame to resolve unsafe conditions might be required, with a maximum of five years.
  • Monthly civil penalties for unsafe conditions might accrue and increase annually at a rate based on the length of sidewalk shed.
  • The DOB might perform inspections before granting extension requests.
  • Boards might be required to display a FISP condition certificate – either “safe,” “safe with repair,” or “unsafe” – in the lobby.

To read Brian’s article, go here.

To learn about VA’s façade inspection services, go here.

 

City of Ithaca to Repair Cemetery Vaults Using VA Repair Estimates

(Hint: It’s not all about rope access!)

In 2017 Vertical Access was retained by the City of Ithaca to perform a condition assessment of twelve hillside burial vaults located within the Ithaca City Cemetery in Ithaca, New York.  Early this year the City of Ithaca voted to bond money toward the repair some of the hillside vaults.  

The Ithaca City Cemetery comprises approximately 16 terraced acres on University Hill, between downtown Ithaca and Cornell University, with views over Cayuga Lake and downtown. Vehicle entrances are located at University Avenue, Stewart Avenue, and DeWitt Place. An additional pedestrian entrance is located at Cornell Avenue. Owned by the City of Ithaca and managed by the Parks and Forestry Division, the cemetery is actively used by pedestrians, cyclists, and dog walkers. 

The City Cemetery is Ithaca’s oldest burial ground, dating from the city’s earliest settlement period in the 1790s. During the nineteenth century, it underwent multiple expansions, evolving into a park-like, formally-designed landscape following the “rural cemetery” movement. 

Beginning in the 1860s, hillside burial vaults were constructed by prominent Ithaca families.

VA historian Kristen Olson conducted a  hands-on inspection of the vault exteriors and video documentation of selected vault interiors with assistance from VA partner Evan Kopelson. Ithaca City Forester Jeanne Grace was on site to discuss findings.

The vaults range in overall condition from fair to poor. All exhibit signs of water infiltration and structural movement to some degree. Ten of the vaults are constructed with stone exhibiting widespread mortar failure and erosion. Delamination is widespread in units of locally quarried shale known as Llenroc.

Vertical Access documented existing conditions at all twelve burial vaults within the Ithaca City Cemetery. Notable and representative conditions were documented digitally using the Tablet PC Annotation System (TPAS®), with digital still images linked to condition annotations in an AutoCAD drawing. Additional investigation was conducted at three of the vaults using a GoPro camera mounted to a telescoping pole, inserted through a hole in the door or gap between the door and adjacent masonry, and illuminated with a flashlight.

A Borescope was used in an attempt to obtain imagery of the interior spaces of vaults with gaps that were too narrow to accommodate the GoPro, but the footage was not of use since the depth of the masonry at the door surrounds was generally greater than the length of the Borescope. A fiber optic “See Snake”, incorporating a camera with built-in illumination at the end of a flexible cable, was used to investigate the interior of one of the vaults which had an accessible rooftop vent.

Vertical Access prepared repair recommendations and cost estimates for each vault, with additional emergency stabilization recommendations and cost estimates for the three vaults found to have the most advanced deterioration.

While the current funding is inadequate to reconstruct all of the vaults, it will address the three vaults most in danger of collapse as identified in the Vertical Access study. The City’s continued investment is crucial to maintaining this valuable community historic site and greenspace.

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.