TPAS 2017 is here! Join TPAS LLC and Vertical Access for a live, interactive webinar on October 11 at 1pm EDT to learn about the new 2017 features as well as the basics of the Tablet PC Annotation System. Vertical Access uses TPAS for direct-to-digital surveys, saving time in the field and in the office.
Abandoned hospitals and asylums may be a horror film cliche, but the statistics on vacant, threatened, and demolished institutional complexes are all too real. Search “abandoned asylum” and the first hit is an article on the popular website Atlas Obscura: “18 Abandoned Psychiatric Hospitals, and Why They Were Left Behind.” Of the hundreds of asylums built in the U.S. during the 19th and early 20th centuries, most became underused or vacant during the deinstitutionalization movement of mid-20th century. Some have been repurposed, but many more await revitalization.
Psychiatric hospitals are challenging to reuse. Many of them are physical reminders of tragic chapters in the history of mental health treatment, and often include patient burials on the site. Some contain buildings that have been vacant for decades, subject to neglect and vandalism.
But there are many reasons why hospitals and asylums are historically significant and should be preserved. First and foremost, they are places of memory for understanding and recording the histories of the thousands of individuals who lived and died on their grounds. Former hospitals also serve as a record of the changing attitudes about institutionalization and treatment of mental illness in the U.S. during the 19th and 20th centuries. And, many are recognized as works by master designers and as examples of the prevailing architectural styles of their times. Tuberculosis sanatoriums, smallpox hospitals, and soldiers’ homes are among other institutional building types sharing some of the same challenges and opportunities for adaptive use as asylums.
These complexes also contain durable building stock representing a significant amount of embodied energy. Many of the sprawling campuses were designed to be self-sufficient farms, so they have plenty of room for sensitive infill or new construction to meet accessibility standards and modern needs. Hospitals across the U.S. have been repurposed for contemporary healthcare uses, education, and housing. Buildings on the campus of the Richardson Olmsted Complex (formerly the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane and now a National Historic Landmark) have been reborn as Hotel Henry and the Lipsey Buffalo Architecture Center, while other buildings have been stabilized for future renovation. The campus recently hosted enLIGHTen, an outdoor concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra with a custom-designed light show projected onto the H.H. Richardson-designed main building.
Closer to our home office in Ithaca, the former New York State Inebriate Asylum in Binghamton (now also known as the “Castle on the Hill”) is a National Historic Landmark awaiting rehabilitation. It was chartered in 1854 as the first facility in the U.S. to treat alcoholism as a medical illness, but was converted to a mental hospital in the 1870s. Plans were announced in 2008 for SUNY Upstate Medical University to revitalize the complex, but the project was abandoned during the recession. In 2015, Binghamton University took over stewardship of the property, and exterior work is expected to begin in early 2018.
Another large campus currently undergoing long-term revitalization is the 346-acre St. Elizabeths in Washington, D.C. (also a National Historic Landmark), where Vertical Access recently completed a smokestack investigation working with Atkinson-Noland & Associates and Goody Clancy. The multi-phase project includes repurposing some existing buildings, mothballing others, and adding new construction in order to house the United States Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies. Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017 is on exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington D.C through January 15, 2018.
Historic Ithaca is seeking candidates for the position of Executive Director. Established in 1966 as a community response to threats to downtown Ithaca landmarks, HI is the non-profit voice for preservation in Tompkins County and the Finger Lakes Region. The new ED will join an exceptional team of staff, board members, and volunteers promoting the values of historic preservation and livable communities throughout Tompkins County. From job training and architectural salvage to grassroots advocacy, technical services, and educational events, Historic Ithaca makes a big impact in our community. Click here for details on the job posting and to learn more about HI’s work.
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.
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/
We’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.
On 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.
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.
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)
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)
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
Vertical Access was contracted to assist Stephen J. Kelley, Inc. and Heritage Architecture Studio LLC with the assessment of the exterior building materials on the Tower by performing a hands-on and close visual survey of the exterior façades using rope access.
The Mid-Continent Tower is comprised of two distinct buildings: the Cosden Building and the Tower Building. Constructed in 1917, the fifteen-story Cosden Building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is an early concrete frame structure clad in cream-colored glazed terra cotta units. The Tower Building, constructed in 1984, is a thirty-six-story steel frame structure clad with a curtain wall of terra cotta/glass fiber reinforced concrete panels that mimics the design of the Cosden Building. It is cantilevered over the Cosden Building so that the two buildings appear to be one.
Photography by Stephen J. Kelley.
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.