Can You Guess the Building? Series No. 15

Test your knowledge of historic and iconic buildings in the U.S. (and beyond!) in this series of “guess the building” blog posts.

This National Historic Landmark was once the tallest building in the world, and was the tallest in its city for over 90 years. A taller building was built nearby in 1986, allegedly bringing a curse against the city’s professional sports teams. 

Where is it?

Answer: Philadelphia City Hall. This 548-foot-tall masonry building was designed in the Second Empire style by John McArthur Jr. and Thomas U. Walter and was the tallest building in the world from 1894 to 1908. The 37-foot-tall statue of William Penn, sculpted by Alexander Milne Calder, is still the tallest statue atop a building in the world.

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Photos by Vertical Access.

Andrew Broffman Joins Vertical Access

Andrew Broffman has joined Vertical Access. Before joining the team he has worked at height in the Challenge Course industry for over 5 years, facilitating and performing maintenance/inspections on courses and zip lines.

Andrew assists with AutoCAD and is a SPRAT certified Level I rope access technician. He graduated from Springfield College in Western Massachusetts majoring in Psychology and Adventure Education. He was also the Ropes Course Director at Camp Massasoit of the 2019 Season.

Patrick and Dan Reach New Heights!

Patrick at the Nebraska State Capitol

Patrick Capruso 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.

Patrick joins Kelly Streeter, P.E. and Mike Russell, EIT 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.

Dan at Philadelphia City Hall

Daniel Gordeyeva recently trained and was certified to Level I Rope Access Technician.

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.

Daniel Gordeyeva Joins Vertical Access

Vertical Access announces Daniel Gordeyeva joins the company’s Ithaca office at the end of July.  A tree climbing instructor with Cornell Outdoor Education, Daniel will assist with AutoCAD and certify to a SPRAT Level I Rope Access Technician.  He graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, majoring in Sustainability Studies and Economics. He has also served as a Back Country Steward with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and as an Operations and Maintenance Solar Electrician with EMT Solar works.

Can you identify this building? – Series No. 14

Test your knowledge of historic and iconic buildings in the U.S. (and beyond!) in this series of “guess the building” blog posts.

Series No. 14: 

This building was designed by a recently deceased icon in the architecture world, and at the time of writing is the tallest building in its city.

Where am I?

Answer:  Green Building (Building 54), Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Green Building is a 21-story concrete-frame structure designed by I.M. Pei & Associates and completed in 1964.  The cast-in-place concrete is expressed on the exterior facades, with pre-cast units used at the window sills.  It has been the tallest building in Cambridge for over 50 years.

Don’t miss another architectural challenge: subscribe to our blog by signing up with your email address in the sidebar. Click here to see all of the posts in this series.

Photos by Vertical Access.

“Parking Garages are Buildings Too”

Vertical Access is called upon to assist with all kinds of difficult to access civil structures, not just buildings.  Parking garages are no exception, and are increasingly coming under scrutiny by building codes departments across the country.

Vertical Access assisted Elwyn & Palmer with an assessment the ends of the post-tensioned beams on the north and south sides of the Seneca Street Parking Garage in Ithaca, NY.

Last summer, New York State amended Title 19 of the New York Code, Rules, and Regulations to require periodic inspection of parking garages. An initial condition assessment is required prior to an issuance of an updated certificate of occupancy or certificate of compliance being issued for a new structure.

Deadlines are fast approaching. Existing buildings must complete an initial condition assessment prior to:

  • October 1, 2019 if originally constructed prior to January 1, 1984
  • October 1, 2020 if originally constructed between January 1, 1984 and December 31, 2002
  • October 1, 2021 if originally constructed between January 2003 and August 29, 2018 (the date of the release of this new rule).

Following the initial condition assessment of a parking garage, such parking garage shall undergo periodic condition assessments on an ongoing basis every three years. 

According to a recent issue of NYC Building News, the New York City Department of Buildings is currently recommending similar requirements for periodic parking garage inspections for adoption in New York City as a local law through the Department’s Periodic Code Revision Process.

Contact Kelly Streeter, P.E., our resident Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector, to see how we can assist with your parking garage inspections.

Three more technicians certified in Infrared Thermography!

Kristen Olson, Mike Russell, EIT, and Patrick Capruso completed Level I Thermography Certification Training through the Infrared Training Center in Nashua, NH.  Bolstering our team’s already existing infrared thermography skills, the course will help Kristen, Mike, and Patrick better collect quality data about differences in emitted infrared energy and account for measurement effects such as distance and emissivity using infrared cameras. This technology helps with our investigation of moisture infiltration and evaluation of subsurface conditions. Infrared thermography measures emitted and reflective heat coming from an object. This closely corresponds with the temperature of that object; the hotter it is, the more heat it will emit to its surroundings.

It is useful in building inspections to be able to “visualize” differential levels of heat emanating from a building. Water, for example, will heat up and cool down at a slower rate than the rest of a building façade. This makes it possible to view where there may be water infiltration using a thermal imager because wet areas exhibit different heat signatures, whereas a visible light image will not show the temperature differences. Steel rebar and relieving angles in a facade will similarly change temperature at a different rate than the surrounding material and therefore be distinguishable in a thermal image.

The certification and training included:

  • Comprehensive, hands-on introduction to thermal imaging and measurement systems for predictive maintenance applications.
  • Hands-on instruction on how to interpret thermograms and make informed decisions using heat transfer concepts to analyze thermal images
  • Learning about the latest in infrared inspection report generation and database software.
  • Training to distinguish between hot spots and reflections, direct vs. indirect readings and qualitative vs. quantitative thermography.

Read more about our infrared projects and services

Read more about our non-destructive testing services

Heat Wave at the Nebraska State Capitol

Patrick Capruso “mini-me” on top of the Nebraska State Capitol.
Above photo by Steve Kelley.

Note the sombreros on Patrick and Kristen, below!

Vertical Access spent the last two weeks at the Nebraska State Capitol assisting Dan Worth and Julie Cawby at BVH Architects and Stephen J. Kelley, Preservation Consultant, with investigations at the dome and other portions of the 400′ tower. We were retained to assist with a periodic inspection of the masonry following a multi-phased restoration project completed in 2011, and to help assess the condition of roof drains at the dome.

Week one was during a brutal heat wave, but our team kept their cool.

Our team was on site to help verify that those prior repairs were still intact and that no other conditions had developed that couldn’t be seen from the ground.  In addition to a hands on inspection and documentation, VA performed water testing aided by infrared thermography to determine whether repairs were still holding and whether there were any leaks.

Read the story in the Lincoln Journal Star and learn about our butterfly scare! *

*note: Kelly mentions in the article a return to the New York Times Building when we will actually be in the field at the Times Square Building (the former New York Times Building) later this summer.

The History of the Capitol and Renovation

Nebraska State Capitol, the product of a nationwide design competition won by New York Architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue in 1920, is described as the nation’s first truly vernacular State Capitol. The present building, the third to be erected on this site, was the nation’s first statehouse design to radically depart from the prototypical form of the nation’s Capitol and to use an office tower. Constructed in four phases over ten years from 1922-1932, the building, with furnishings and landscaping, was completed at a cost just under the $10 million budget and was paid for when finished. To decorate the building, Bertram Goodhue selected Lee Lawrie, sculptor; Hildreth Meiere, tile and mosaic designer; and Hartley B. Alexander, thematic consultant for inscription and symbolism. 

More on the history of the Nebraska State Capitol

BVH and WJE completed an extensive multi-phase, multi-year restoration project of the entire exterior envelope of the Nebraska State Capitol. The $57.4M project was substantially completed in fall 2010 and included restoration of the masonry at the tower, base and courtyard, gold dome, the iconic bronze Sower atop the dome, bronze windows and copper roof. 

Read about the restoration that is displacing senators for the better part of the next decade…

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.