On Rope and In the Air at Trinity Church

Vertical Access has had the privilege of making several trips to Boston’s Trinity Church over the years in order to assist with the investigation of interior and exterior conditions. Consecrated in 1877 and situated on a prominent public square in Boston’s Back Bay, Trinity Church is considered the masterpiece of architect Henry Hobson Richardson. Today, the parish is officially known as Trinity Church in the City of Boston.

trinity boston

Trinity Church, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the finest examples of American architecture of the late nineteenth century. H.H. Richardson’s competition-winning design employs the rounded arches, deep window reveals and turret forms that are characteristic of his eponymous style, Richardsonian Romanesque. Trinity is organized as a compact Greek cross, with an auditorium-like seating arrangement beneath a massive, square central tower. The church is decorated with richly-colored interior murals by John La Farge, sculpture by Daniel Chester French and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and stained glass windows by La Farge and other leading glass designers.

A five-year restoration of the church and parish house began in 2001, directed by Goody Clancy. Work included masonry repairs at the tower exterior, improvements to life safety and mechanical systems, and restoration of the stained glass windows and interior finishes. Also as part of the project, the church undercroft and parish house basement underwent an award-winning conversion into universally-accessible meeting and classroom spaces.

As exterior work began in the spring of 2003, Vertical Access was asked to document the La Farge murals and architectural details at the interior of the central church tower. Industrial rope access was used to gain access to the tower interior, and VA scheduled the work to avoid interrupting the three daily church services. Vertical Access worked closely with Goody Clancy to capture high-quality imagery of the delicate interior finishes.

Looking down from the attic, a Boston Globe photographer captured James Banta, left, and Kent Diebolt, with camera, documenting the La Farge murals inside Trinity Church’s central tower.

Looking down from the attic, a Boston Globe photographer captured James Banta, left, and Kent Diebolt, with camera, documenting the La Farge murals inside Trinity Church’s central tower.

Vertical Access’ photodocumentation was used by the Trinity Boston Preservation Trust in their 2004 campaign to fund the restoration of Trinity’s murals and stained glass windows.

David, photographed by Vertical Access in 2003.

David, photographed by Vertical Access in 2003.

More than a decade after the interior documentation and restoration, VA returned to Trinity in August, 2016. Kelly Streeter and Kristen Olson joined Casey Williams of Simpson, Gumpertz & Heger on the tower roof to document the condition of the clay tile roof, along with the northeast turret. VA was working for SGH, who were under the direction of Goody Clancy.

From left, Casey Williams, Kelly Streeter, and Kristen Olson on the central tower in 2016, with the “world’s longest selfie-stick”. The pole-mounted GoPro camera was used to document the condition of the copper finial.

From left, Casey Williams, Kelly Streeter, and Kristen Olson on the central tower in 2016, with the “world’s longest selfie-stick”. The pole-mounted GoPro camera was used to document the condition of the copper cross and stanchion atop the tower.

VA’s latest visit took place in September, when Kelly and Kristen participated in the Documentation Technologies Workshop presented by the Northeast Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology. The event brought together an international audience for presentations and demonstrations of cutting-edge technology used in the documentation and characterization of historic structures.

Kelly and Kristen presented “Drones: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown”, an overview of the applications for drones in building documentation, the potential for drones to augment hands-on inspections, available drone hardware and accessory technologies, and current FAA regulations. We followed the presentation with a live demonstration of our new drone, a DJI Phantom 4, inside the church sanctuary.

Left, a live feed video stream of the interior murals as they are captured by the drone, at right.

What It Takes To Repair A 9-Million-Pound American Symbol: Preservation Magazine, Spring 2017

Photo by Architect of the Capital

At 289 feet tall, the dome of the United States Capitol towers over the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., an instantly recognizable symbol of democracy. The cast iron dome itself was completed in 1863, after the nation’s rapid growth necessitated a remodel and expansion of the entire Capitol in the 1850s.

By the 1950s, however, the 9 million–pound dome had numerous fissures, and an attempt to weld them during a 1959–60 restoration was largely unsuccessful. The entire surface was cracking by 2014, prompting a three-year project that was completed in time for the 2017 Inauguration.

Vertical Access helped to document 1300 cracks on the United States Capitol Dome.

Read the rest of Katherine Flynn’s story from Preservation magazine here.

 

Mesa to Mountain Recap: Preservation in the American West

Last week, architects, engineers, and preservationists made the trek to Salt Lake City for Mesa to Mountain: Preservation in the American West. The three-day symposium, hosted by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International, drew audiences and presenters from New England to the Pacific North West. Vertical Access’ Kent Diebolt and Kristen Olson served on the Planning Committee. VA technicians Patrick Capruso, Kevin Dalton, and Keith Luscinski also attended.

Mesa to Mountain opened at the historic Alta Club with a reception and plenary session presented by Peter Goss, Ph.D. on architectural typologies found in the Beehive State. The symposium moved across South Temple the following morning to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building where Lee Kreutzer, Cultural Resource Specialist for the NPS National Trails System, delivered her keynote address, “Paths, Pathogens, Ponies, and Wheels: How Trails Changed the Cultural Geography of America.” Kreutzer’s overview provided context for the paper sessions which focused on seismic mitigation, materials, and cultural heritage. Presenters offered talks on a variety of subjects specific to western architecture and preservation ranging from the influence of midcentury precast concrete in the Rocky Mountain Region to documenting the decorated earthen plaster and wood of a 12th century kiva at Utah’s Bare Ladder Ruin. Mesa to Mountain’s regional focus lent a sense of relevance to the paper sessions with common threads woven through each presentation.

Those same themes were apparent during the field sessions offered on the third day of the event. Whether it was a trip to Antelope Island State Park to catch a glimpse of bison and pronghorn sheep while exploring an 1848 adobe ranch house, touring the shop at Historical Arts and Casting, one of the nation’s premier metal casters, or viewing the base isolators at the Utah State Capitol Building and the lattice-truss arch system at the Mormon Tabernacle each session reinforced information presented the day before. The Mesa to Mountain Symposium was a success due in large part to its historic venues and regional focus.

The Powerhouse Workshop To Set Up Shop in Former Brooklyn Rapid Transit Central Power Station

Vertical Access is exited to see The Powerhouse Workshop project moving forward. We had the pleasure of assisting Roux Associates and Silman with the structural characterization and investigation of roof framing components as part of their site investigations.

The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Central Power Station was constructed in 1902 to supply electricity to the newly consolidated local steam railroad, elevated railroad and street car system.

Designed in the Romanesque Revival style by Thomas E. Murray, the BRT Powerhouse consisted of two parts. The extant south building housed the dynamo and engines, and the Boiler House, which contained the furnaces and coal storage. The Powerhouse was decommissioned and the boiler house demolished in the 1950s.

The powerhouse structure is comprised of built up steel lattice columns with infill brick walls. The roof structure is framed by primary modified Raised Toe trusses that span the space and are supported at the steel columns. Two secondary lateral trusses brace the primary trusses at the approximate third points.

Read the New York Times story here: http://nyti.ms/2mJrOLX
For more on the Powerhouse Workshop: http://www.powerhousearts.org/

Vertical Access Sponsors Architectural Paint Research Conference

 

Organizers of the 6th International Architectural Paint Research (APR) Conference are delighted to announce that Vertical Access has signed on as a sponsor of this year’s gathering. “This conference is a much-anticipated opportunity for professionals and academics to learn from each other and work together to protect and restore irreplaceable historic and cultural artifacts. Vertical Access’ support of this effort is critical to our success,” stated Conference Co-Chairs Mary Jablonski of Jablonski Building Conservation, Inc. and Kirsten Moffitt of Colonial Williamsburg.

The International Architectural Paint Research (APR) Conference will be held from March 15-17, 2017 in New York City on the historic campus of Columbia University. APR is a multi-disciplinary field, and this conference promises to bring together members of this vibrant, international community who include historic paint analysts, scholars, curators, art conservators, materials scientists, decorative painters, preservation architects, heritage managers, contractors, suppliers, preservationists, students, historians, and designers.

For more on the conference: http://www.apr2017.org/

 

Scaffold Law Reform Day at the Capital was a SUCCESS!

Evan Kopelson returned from the Scaffold Law Reform Day at the Capital with good news: new legislation has been introduced by Assemblymember John McDonald aimed at modernizing the liability rules under the state’s Scaffold Law. If passed, this fix to New York’s arcane law will go into effect January 1, 2018.

Advocates for reform gathered at the state capitol to urge legislators and Governor Andrew Cuomo to fix this only-in-New York Scaffold Law, and highlight the law’s impact on taxpayers and local governments.

As part of the day’s events, Assemblymember McDonald announced the bill he has sponsored that will provide significant saving for local governments and help keep New York insurance premiums in line with other states while keeping the law’s safety provisions intact.

https://lrany.org/2017/02/16/albany-assemblymember-introduces-bill-to-fix-new-yorks-arcane-scaffold-law/

To view the bill: http://scaffoldlaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/A5624-McDonald-Bill-Text.pdf

For  more on the Scaffold Law Reform efforts: http://scaffoldlaw.org/

Welcome Erin Bullard!

erin3We’re excited to have Erin Bullard join the firm as Director of Marketing and Business Development supporting our Vertical Access, Alta Access, and TPAS services. Erin brings 10 years of experience in the A/E/C industry. Armed with a BS in Physics she sought work in engineering firms but realized marketing is more fun so she earned a BA in Creative Writing Arts and headed to the creative side. Always inquisitive, the science background has come in handy in the A/E/C industry and though she’s afraid of heights, Erin’s pretty excited to join our team.

Scaffold Law Lobby Day 2017

scaffold-law-reform-logo-2017On Tuesday, February 14th, advocates from across New York will meet at the State Capitol in Albany to urge elected officials to reform the antiquated Labor Law Sections 240/241. Evan Kopelson will be attending to show his support for scaffold reform. Here are the facts.

This law, first enacted in the 19th century and sometimes referred to as the Scaffold Law, is the only law of its kind in the country that imposes absolute liability on owners and contractors, without regard to cause and with virtually no opportunity for defense as part of a due process procedure.  This has had a huge economic impact on construction costs, ultimately costing New York taxpayers an estimated $785 million annually, and making some businesses and projects uninsurable.

Join us in the fight. This is your chance to make your voice heard! Registration is free, and you may bring guests.   http://scaffoldlaw.org/scaffold-law-lobby-day-2017/

Mesa to Mountain: Preservation in the American West

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Registration is LIVE for Mesa to Mountain! Join us in Salt Lake City, Utah from March 23-25 for a symposium hosted by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International. Vertical Access is a sponsor of Mesa to Mountain and founding principal Kent Diebolt is a co-chair of the local planning committee.

Salt Lake City is a crossroads of the American West and abounds with historic resources and projects that will be of interest to APT members from across the country. Mesa to Mountain will explore the rich history and unique preservation challenges of this region with a focus on western sites, materials, and conditions.

The symposium kicks off on Thursday, March 23 with a plenary address, “The Architectural History of Utah”, and reception at the historic Alta Club. Friday begins with a keynote addresses, “Paths, Pathogens, Ponies, and Wheels: How Trails Changed the Cultural Geography of America” and “Preserving the Traditional: The Limits of Traditional Skills as a Preservation Approach”. Friday continues with a full day of paper sessions following three tracks: Seismic Retrofit of Historic Buildings, Materials and Construction Techniques, and Cultural Heritage Management. On Saturday, three full-day field sessions will take participants to historic sites and preservation projects in the Salt Lake City area.

Click HERE for the full conference program.

APT is an approved provider of American Institute of Architects continuing education Learning Units (LUs). LUs will be available for paper sessions and tours.

Visit the symposium web page for more information.

 

Happy Upjohn, Cram, and LaFarge Day!

In the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church, December 16 is the feast day celebrating Richard Upjohn, Ralph Adams Cram, and John LaFarge for their contributions to church architecture.

Richard Upjohn (1802-1878) is credited with advancing the Gothic Revival style in the United States in the mid-nineteenth century. He is among several architects of his era who produced vastly influential books of residential designs, which were copied from and adapted by builders across the country. Upjohn designed several dozen churches, primarily located in the eastern U.S.

Richard Upjohn buildings worked on by Vertical Access:

  • St. Peter’s Church, Albany, NY (1876)
  • Christ Church, Binghamton, NY (1855)
  • Grace Church, Utica, NY (1856)
  • Trinity Church, New York City (1846)
  • Trinity Church, Princeton, NJ (1870)
Upjohn's Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ

Upjohn’s Trinity Church in Princeton, NJ

December 16 is the birthday of Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942). Working primarily in the Gothic Revival style, Cram designed many churches, academic and public buildings over a career spanning 40 years. Cram contributed to the “Collegiate Gothic” movement through his designs for Princeton University in the first decades of the twentieth century.

Ralph Adams Cram buildings worked on by Vertical Access:

  • St. Thomas Church, New York City (1914)
  • Cleveland Tower (1913) and Princeton University Chapel (1928), Princeton University
  • Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City (ca. 1909)
  • Cadet Chapel (1910) and Thayer Hall (1911), United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
  • Park Avenue Christian Church, New York City (1911)
Cram's Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

Cram’s Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City

John LaFarge (1835-1910) was a fine artist and writer who found success as a muralist and innovative stained glass designer. His murals and stained glass windows grace the interiors of churches and public buildings throughout the U.S. His son, Christopher Grant LaFarge, became an architect and produced the original Byzantine design for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, later redesigned in the Gothic Revival style by Ralph Adams Cram.

Buildings worked on by Vertical Access that feature works by John LaFarge:

  • Trinity Church, Boston, MA (1877) Interior murals and stained glass windows by LaFarge
  • St. Paul’s Chapel, Columbia University, New York City (1907) Stained glass windows by LaFarge
  • Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, NY (1888) Stained glass windows by LaFarge
The commission for Trinity Church, Boston launched La Farge's career as a muralist

The commission for Trinity Church, Boston launched La Farge’s career as a muralist