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 Ruins of Chan Chan

by Kevin Dalton

On a recent trip to Peru I had the opportunity to visit some of the ruins at Chan Chan, located in La Libertad province around the city of Trujillo. Built around 1200, Chan Chan served as the capital of the Chimu Kingdom until falling to the Incas around 1480. The city covered 20 square km, was the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas and a monumental example of earthen architecture. At its height Chan Chan is believed to have had a population of around 60,000 people.

Due to the consistency of the swells in nearby Huanchaco, I was preoccupied with surfing for most of my time in the Trujillo area and only visited the Tschudi Complex, a relatively small section of the Chimu city. In all the city consisted of 9 walled citadels, or palaces, so there are several more interesting sights worth visiting.

Preservation efforts at the Tschudi Complex, which is the only section of Chan Chan that has been partially restored, are ongoing. Most of the architectural details are modern recreations though there are a few originals that remain. Due to its geographic location on the northern coast of Peru the ruins are susceptible to erosion from the heavy rains brought on by the El Niño phenomenon so much of the Tschudi Complex is now covered by a protective roof structure, which I found to be interesting in its own way. Upon returning to Huanchaco I immediately recognized some of the same architectural motifs at the Instituto del Mar del Peru, Laboratorio Costero de Huanchaco.

Besides being an important cultural site I think that Chan Chan is also a powerful example of ecological construction. It’s interesting to see how a 500+ year old city constructed of locally sourced, earthen material slowly returns to it’s original form leaving almost no trace of it’s existence. Try to imagine what a modern city will look like 500+ years from now.

Learn more about Chan Chan on the UNESCO website.

Notes from the Field – Preservation League of New York State

In October, Technical Services staff visited the Dutch Reformed Church in Newburgh to check in on an important step forward for the structure. The church, built in 1835, was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and is a National Historic Landmark. The League named the Dutch Reformed Church a “Seven to Save” site for 2016-17 and is working with the City of Newburgh and local preservation advocates to make a stabilization, preservation, and re-use plan for the building.

In 2012, the sanctuary ceiling collapsed, crushing the pews inside and destroying additional important interior features. Because the condition of the building rapidly declined after the ceiling collapse, a complete structural analysis of the upper trusses and roof was absolutely necessary in developing a plan to save the building. But how could we complete this inspection and analysis when the building’s condition was so dangerous?

CONTINUE READINGNotes from the Field – Preservation League of New York State

source: Preservation League of New York

New Directive From Archdiocese Is A Call To Arms Against Preservation

Last week the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued an order to pastors and religious officials baring all involvement in placing churches on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Patrick Hildebrandt, founder of the Philadelphia Church Project, says the rigid edict wages war on historic Catholic church survival and preservation.

Source: New Directive From Archdiocese Is A Call To Arms Against Preservation

How the Tent of Tomorrow Got its New Coat of Paint

Predicted by its organizers to be the “greatest single event in history,” the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair was indeed a spectacle. One of the most notable structures of the Fair, and one of the few that still stands, is the New York State Pavilion. Looking to create a symbol of progress and to show off the state’s status as host of the Fair, Governor Rockefeller commissioned Philip Johnson, who worked with structural engineer Lev Zetlin, to design the New York State Pavilion. The pavilion was in fact an assemblage of three separate structures: the open-air Tent of Tomorrow, three interconnected Observation Towers, and the circular Theaterama.

The Tent of Tomorrow was used for several years after the end of the Fair in 1965, first for music and art shows, then as the “Roller Round Skating Rink.” In the summer of 1974, the City closed the tent structure, citing the “hazardous condition” of the Kalwall roof panels. The multicolored roof panels were removed in 1976, leaving the structure in more or less its current state.

Although unused for over forty years, the Tent of Tomorrow is showing new life thanks to the work of New York area painters. The City of New York Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) who owns the structure, teamed with the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, Local 806 (Structural Steel and Bridge Painters of Greater New York) to complete a spectacular painting project during the summer of 2015.

Labor for the painting project was donated through apprenticeship programs of the trade groups. Funding to provide meals for the crew during the work was raised through crowdsourced funding. The paint job not only returns the steel elements of the Tent of Tomorrow to their original appearance, it also helps to protect the structure from continued corrosion and deterioration. The painting project is one step in the long process being undertaken by DPR and the borough of Queens to stabilize and hopefully one day restore the Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers of the New York State Pavilion.

Photos by Vertical Access.

Investigating and Understanding the New York State Pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers

In April of 2015, the Friends of NCPTT, the World Monuments Fund, the American Institute of Architects St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial partnered to jointly present a symposium on the preservation of Mid-Century modern structures in St. Louis, MO. This three-day event brought experts together to present an in-depth understanding of the history, use, and preservation of materials found in Mid-Century modern architecture.

Evan Kopelson, partner at Vertical Access and Nancy Hudson, associate at Silman,  co-authored the presentation Investigating and Understanding the New York State Pavilion’s Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers.  It gives an overview of the New York State Pavilion’s innovative design and engineering, describes the current condition of the Tent of Tomorrow and Observation Towers, highlights the importance of archival research in revealing construction methods and details, and addresses reuse challenges.  The entire presentation is available for viewing below.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c53kMDDaDGQ]

About the Speakers

Nancy R. Hudson has 20 years of consulting structural engineering experience. Ms. Hudson joined Silman in 2005 and was named an Associate in 2007. Her projects include the restoration of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Restoration of New York City Hall and Restoration of Wyoming State Capitol. She is a member of the Structural Engineers Association of New York (SEAoNY) and the Association for Preservation Technology (APT). Ms. Hudson has a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Evan Kopelson is an architectural conservator with over twenty years of experience in the documentation and investigation of historic buildings. He is Vertical Access’ partner-in-charge of teams performing existing condition surveys, in situ testing services, and the characterization of building materials and finishes on buildings and bridges. Evan is a member of the ASTM Committee E06 on Performance of Buildings, and is a professional associate of the American Institute for Conservation, having formerly served as secretary/treasurer of the AIC’s Architecture Specialty Group. Evan has also served as vice-president of the Western Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International.

More presentations from the symposium may be viewed on the NCPTT website.

You Can Help SAVE The Historic Hanging Flume!

The Hanging Flume is the most intact structure of its kind in the United States, and it is the only hanging flume in a condition suitable for preservation, education and interpretation. It illustrates the ingenuity and fortitude of the engineers and miners intent on extracting gold from the land. The Hanging Flume is a historically significant cultural resource recognized by:

  •  The World Monuments Fund – 2006 Most Endangered Sites list
  •   The State of Colorado – Most Endangered Places of 1999
  •   National Register of Historic Places

Time is Running Out to Document the Flume

The Hanging Flume is deteriorating as a result of the ongoing effects of exposure to the elements, falling debris and rock slides, and scavenging. The threat of losing key segments of the flume means the time is now to investigate and document remaining sections before the evidence is gone forever. Previous expeditions have documented approximately 10 percent of the remaining sections of the Hanging Flume. At each location, different construction configurations were discovered. The urgency for conducting this project now is that undocumented segments may contain key information on the construction of the Flume that will be lost as the 130-year-old structure continues to deteriorate.

What We Need & What You Get

Your contribution will help the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado send a team of experts to document additional remaining sections of the flume. The original project team that has made expeditions to the flume and produced technical reports over the past decade is ready to conduct the next phase of investigative work. To get the team to the flume, we only need to raise $20,000 more in order to match over $140,000 already raised!

Contributions at any level are greatly appreciated. Contributors at the $50 level will receive a copy of the 60-minute DVD film about the Hanging Flume, “The Best Kept Secret of the Wild West.” Please share our campaign with your network to make an even greater impact!

Learn more and get involved here.

Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse Restoration Receives Lucy G. Moses Award

On April 30, 2015 the New York Landmarks Conservancy presented their annual prestigious Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards for outstanding preservation projects in New York City.

Vertical Access is proud to have been part of the team that received recognition for the restoration of the Conrad B. Duberstein U. S. Courthouse in Brooklyn, NY.

conrad-b-pic

Project Team
General Services Administration
Goody Clancy & Associates
Boston Valley Terra Cotta
Jablonski Building Conservation
Nicholson & Galloway
Preservation Design
Robert Silman Associates
SUPERSTRUCTURES
Vertical Access
Vidaris

 

Learn more
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
General Services Administration
Traditional Buildings Magazine