It’s 0635 a.m. on a wet and chilly Friday morning and I’m sitting at my temporary desk in Tucker Hall looking across the array of tables and filing cabinets, where the accounting office has taken up temporary residence, to a grey* and misty Witchduck Road. Why am I here you may ask? Let me tell you……..
Last Tuesday, 16 February, a willing band of brothers and sister (Ned Kuhns, Diane Miller and I) executed the long-awaited move of the accounting offices from their familiar spot in the office corridor to their temporary billet in Tucker Hall. You will recall the area in Tucker just outside the kitchen doors where there’s tiling on the floor so it’s okay to spill coffee, tea and anything else that might stain a carpet? That has now been transformed into an open plan office space to provide temporary housing for the Parish Administrator, accounting and your blogging correspondent leaving the office corridor empty of inhabitants so it can be refurbished. Many thanks to Dave Wilkinson for bringing the miracle of IT to all of us into Tucker Hall, so the beating heart of regular ODEC business can continue unabated, and thanks to everyone else who helped the accounting office prepare for their move. In the pictures above I’ve tried to capture the “operational-look” of Tucker Hall, might strike a note with anyone who has served in the military and been on deployment!
That’s the background, now let’s fast forward to bright and early this morning, 19 Feb, that saw me heading up the road at an hour I had, since retirement, forgotten even existed to be on the ground in Tucker Hall to meet Scott Crumley and prepare for the arrival of the work “crew,” due in at 0700 a.m. This “crew” will, over the next two or three days, be stripping the old carpet, tiles and assorted glues from the floors in the corridor, the offices and the printer/copier room. To do this the “crew” will also have to shuffle furniture, file cabinets and sundry items around the spaces so they can get at the offending floors, rather like that game where you move little tiles around a small, framed board until they align into a picture or well know phrase.
Just after 0700 a.m. and the “crew,” a band of three, is on site. I really don’t envy them, shuffling all the kit and caboodle around is a big enough job in itself but adding to that the task of lifting carpet and then hand scraping off the underlying glue is quite a mission. Then, of course, there’s the debris to be disposed of, not just pieces of carpet but also the plastic tiles under the carpet and then flakes of glue under that.
It’s 0710 a.m. and time to give the “crew” a quick briefing on what they can and can’t do. The “can” is easy, they can do anything they like in the corridor and offices, it’s their space for the next few days. The “can’t” is straightforward as well, they can’t take anything that’s covered in dust out of the corridor into the rest of the building, that narrows their options down to the contents of Mother Ashley’s office where, rather wisely, the door has been kept closed so everything is dust free.
0830 a.m. and the “crew” are hard at it. What remains of the carpet in the Angel’s office is already gone, all of the cardboard boxes in the corridor (mostly the contents of Father Bob’s shelves) have been stacked back on the shelves and shrouded in plastic sheeting, the Parish Admin office is empty and more plastic sheeting is being used to seal off the area. It’s time to leave the “crew” to do what they do best and take a short “blogging browse” elsewhere.
The rear wing has, as you may know, been waiting for its ceiling tiles and carpet for some time and in this past week that time arrived. Ceiling tiles have been hung and carpet installed, and the result is quite spectacular. Aside from the new accounting office suit there are four spaces in the rear wing. Three of these spaces are rooms of varying sizes, each well-lit with natural light and each offering the promise of a multitude of uses from the small meeting or educational event to the largest room that could easily host a function. The fourth space is the toddler and nursey room divided in two so the cribs have a dedicated area of their own. In each room there is a wall that picks out a colour from the carpet that gives it all a very professional look.
Back to the “crew,” it’s just after midday as I sit at my temporary desk, looking across the temporary open plan office to the back of Diane Miller’s (permanent) head as she works her fiscal magic in the accounting office’s temporary area. Down the corridor from Tucker the “crew” have the office corridor tightly sealed off with dire notices warning the casual bystander to stay away. From the depths of the corridor the sound of scraping can be heard, a sure sign that the “crew” are hard at it but exactly what that “it” is I can’t rightly say because I’m just a casual bystander!
Stay safe and stay healthy,
"Grey" Brit for gray!
As the Flanders and Swan song goes, this week it has been a case of “Mud, mud, glorious mud.”* A very good week to have your wellies* at the ready in the boot* of the car and your best, weather proof coat to hand. Being out and about on the construction site this week has not been a pleasant experience, lashing rain, “a lazy wind*” and temperatures hovering above freezing but even so the construction show must, and does, go on!
Even with the inclement weather, progress has been made on completing the roof on Tucker Hall, on the brickwork around the Great Hall, which is gradually rising either side of the palladium windows, and on Wednesday the HVAC mechanical units were hoisted onto the new flat roof for installation by Atlantic Heating and Air. Inside the Great Hall and narthex, the roofing framing and the HVAC conduits were inspected and approved by a City Inspector and the store front glass was installed either side of the main doors so now the Hall and narthex are not only dry but also weather tight!
Last week I blogged about the challenge of integrating the new construction with the existing buildings, not just the roofing, utilities or even the structural bones but also to give easy passage for us humans to move throughout the buildings. I’ve discovered, from hanging around on the site and picking up the odd tip, these new passages also serve the secondary purpose of “hiding” the joints between the existing and new so it doesn’t look like the rear wing and narthex were just “bolted on after the fact” but rather as if they were always meant to be there.
So, if you were to walk with me from the narthex we would pass through a single set of fire doors into a short “crosswalk,” that used to be the small vestibule between the main doors, and there we would be, standing in the corridor outside Tucker Hall. If you were to continue walking with me down the corridor passing the kitchen door on the left, restrooms on the right moving towards the day school wing it would all look very familiar……that is until we arrived at the courtyard. As you may know from bygone blogs the rotten, wooded doors and windows have already been replaced, so not too much of a surprise there, but if we were to turn our backs to the courtyard we might be a little taken aback to see that the old library is now two thirds of its original size and the tiny passage that used to lead to the back door has now metamorphosed into a fine, wide passage to the new rear wing.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
“Mud, mud, glorious mud,” “The Hippopotamus Song,” Flanders and Swan 1960
“wellies” colloquial English for rubber boots
“boot” what we Brits call the trunk of the car – not to be confused with boot as in a wellie boot!
“a lazy wind” what my old Mum (Brit speak for Mom) used to call a biting, freezing breeze that cut through you because it was too lazy to go around you.
Another week goes by on the construction site and once again the amount of progress offers such a variety of choice to a blogger (yes after all these blogs I have decided to drop the “novice” caveat) it is difficult to know where to start. In this blog I am going to look at what is happening to the interior of the existing buildings but first a quick “blogging gallop” around the outside.
Despite the slightly inclement weather, we have reached some significant milestones. The narthex entrances on both the Old Church and the Withduck sides of the building have doors! Yes, real doors you can open and walk through, of course it is true that on the Old Church side you could just as easily walk through the spaces where the store front glass will go but even that will soon be installed. The other big milestone, at least for me, is the installation of the little semi-circulars of glass that top off the palladium windows, each glass now surrounded by an arch of Flemish Bond pattern brickwork (if you’re wondering what that is please cast you eye over the previous blog), it really is most pleasing to the eye but now let’s cut to the chase and take a look inside.
You may recall the plan to refurbish what I call the “Office Corridor,” that part of the existing building where our Clergy, accountants, the Parish Administrator and the Duty Angel have their respective offices. Some while ago Father Bob and Mother Ashley vacated their offices and Gretchen Hood decamped down the corridor to share that little room where I was a part time occupant. Well now Gretchen and your correspondent have moved out of the corridor to take up temporary residence in Tucker Hall. Father Bob is continuing as the “Rector-Of-No-Fixed-Office,” Mother Ashely is operating from her home and as soon as possible the accounting office will also decamp to Tucker to leave the corridor without occupants. Once fully vacated the refurbishment can begin with removal of the furniture, kit and caboodle all to be stored in Tucker, then the floors will be stripped, walls painted, and new carpet laid.
When I’m not playing at building project manager I like to tinker with an old sports car and it being British it has an endearing, and at times very frustrating, selection of Whitworth, Imperial and Metric sized nuts and bolts and you can guarantee I never pick up the right spanner* to work on the car. Imagine that little confusion multiplied a thousand times, and you will get an idea of what Scott Crumley encounters many times everyday as he wrestles with the challenge of integrating the new buildings with the old. I’ve blogged about some of those challenges before, there was the roof with its different heights, the odd angles, joining flat areas to pitched roofing and then there was the electrical system to say nothing of the sewers and drains. This week the focus has been on starting to connect the Narthex to the passage outside Tucker Hall and the rear wing to what was the back of the existing building (where the door leading out to Alfriend House used to be) all bring new problems for Scott to solve.
Remember the set of double doors you needed a generous soul to hold open if you ever had the misfortune of trying to enter the building when your arms were full? Those doors are no more, removed this very day by the small husband and wife demo team who, when I left the site, had moved on to taking out the little vestibule enclosed by those doors so construction can begin to make the ceilings level, fill the voids* between the walls (get me, tossing around building terminology like I know what I’m talking about), and integrate the floors all necessary to seamlessly connect the old and the new.
Remember the old library where meetings used to be held and every week counters used to do their counting. The old library is no more and that little passage with its sloping floor to the back door is gone. The old library wall where the bookcases and cupboards stood has been demolished and now you can cross into the back wing, albeit whilst navigating around trip hazards and, at least today, another one of Scott’s demo-teams. This “knock through” is no simple task, if you remove about eight feet of supporting wall without due caution there is a good chance some of the new roof will join you and become even more of a trip hazard, although that would probably be the least of your woes. So, like pit-props in a mine, the demo team has set in place wooden props to support the roof until a new weight bearing steel beam is installed to take up the weighty burden.
Way back in the very beginning of the rear wing’s construction the bricklayers built a fire wall outside the library, it stands about a foot off from the existing brick wall. This construction has left a void (there I go again) and walking from the existing building, through the recent demolition and into the rear wing you can still see that void and even look up into the new roofing frames. Glancing to the right as you pass the void you can see one of the scupper’s down pipes, that used to carry away rainwater from the old flat roof, still attached to the brick wall. The void will be closed off when the new corridor is completed and I was struck by the thought that maybe one day, far off in the future, a group of parishioners might have cause to open the void for their own new building project and there they will find that old down pipe and scupper standing as a testament to the work we have undertaken. Perhaps a testament of great interest to a future Historic Traditions commission? I’d like to think so.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
“Spanner” Brit speak for a wrench.
“Void” Not Brit speak this time, these voids are small gaps or spaces in the walls that are sealed off in the final construction.
sAs my old Mum* used to say “It’s been cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey” * this past week on the building site! Before you think I’ve sullied the blog with unbecoming language please take a gander at the translation foot note below!!
Yes it has been a mite chilly but happily we are now at the stage where there’s enough work on the inside of the buildings to keep the site busy and as we know where there’s an opportunity the Scott Crumley driven construction engine will keep rolling down the tracks.
Outside, before the Siberian weather arrived in Hampton Roads, the roofers "went-a-roofing" and now the Great Hall and Narthex are blessed with their shingles. Underneath the roof is a testament to the skills of architects, designers, structural engineers, manufacturers, and the team that erected the trusses. Having been into the Salisbury Cathedral’s roof space and tower more than a couple of times I like to think I know enough about trusses to recognize good truss work when I see it. It is almost a shame that this intricate web of over 500, interlocking, prefabricated trusses will be hidden behind the finished ceiling. Perhaps an opportunity for a Historic Traditions guided tour of the future?
The back wing has also had its share of glory in this past week. The dry, heated and illuminated building is obviously a much more pleasant working environment for the contractors lucky enough to be out of the cold and so it was this week when a team from Secure Network Solutions (SNS) took advantage of the peace and quiet to start the installation of our new data network. When finished this new, integrated system will span the Great Hall, Narthex, rear wing, the Historic Church, day school offices and the office corridor and provide good Wi-Fi connectivity throughout our buildings.
Staying with the “technology theme,” ONYX, our audio/visual (a/v) contractor, has visited the site and met with Father Bob and I to finalize the scope of the a/v system for the Great Hall. The first part of this system has already been installed in the Historic Church, and is regularly used to record and stream services and the Great Hall’s system will greatly expand that capability. We will be able to stream content from both the Historic Church and the Great Hall to the web for home viewing as well as from the Church to the Great Hall where it will be possible to project the audio and visual to a wider audience via a quality projector and sound system. The Great Hall itself will have three fixed cameras covering wide angles, telescopic, and close-up shots and the dais area will be equipped with two connection points where the band can plug in and fill the Hall with sounds.
Next week part of the old library and the corridor that used to run to the back door leading to Alfriend House will be demolished as the first step in constructing the new, much wider corridor connecting the rear wing to the rest of the building. Less there be any undue excitement, or even confusion, there is still a way to go before the new wing is ready for occupation. That new corridor must be built, there is painting yet to be done, the data network and new fire alarm systems need to be cabled and installed and once that cabling is completed the ceiling tiles installed, carpet and tiles laid, and the restrooms finished. Once the fire alarm is fully operational and the building has passed numerous inspections, including the Fire Marshall, then and only then, will it be ready for occupation.
On that cautionary note I will “blog-off!” Stay safe and stay healthy,
“Mum”: Brit for Mom.
"It is cold enough to freeze the balls of a brass monkey": The comes from the days of sail powered warships where iron cannon balls stored on the deck were stacked on a dimpled brass plate called a "monkey." When is very cold the brass contracted sufficiently to cause the iron balls to roll off the brass plate.
I seem to start every blog with the phrase “it has been a busy week!” or similar words so why change a tried and trusted format? Once again, it has been a busy week both on and off the construction site! This week I want to focus on the rear wing but before that lets review what has been happening out and about on the site.
The great hall and narthex are starting to look quite impressive. Inside all the metal framework for the internal walls is in place, the roof and ceiling wooden frames arch over the spaces and high up in the rafters Atlantic Heating and Air are spinning their spider’s web of heating and air-conditioning ducting and pipe work. In the corner of the narthex, where Father Bob used to look out of his windows, the new restrooms are marked out by metal skeletons that will, one day, be the walls and plastic drainpipes protrude expectantly from the concrete floor. Above the new restrooms, in what will be the ceiling space, two heavy duty, flexible, metal pipes shield the power cables that are already delivering electricity to the narthex and great hall.
Outside the bricklayers are cladding the walls in Flemish bond pattern* brickwork (there I go again throwing construction words around like a natural, but you know that not to be true!), this is a style where the normal brick pattern is broken up by interspersing a brick laid end-on between each transvers brick! If your confused, you are not alone so above I’ve included a picture of Flemish bond pattern brickwork! Anyway, enough of this building jargon, the important thing is the brickwork looks beautiful and really does harmonize with the Old Church.
Looking down on the roof, from Scott Crumley’s lift, you cannot fail but to be struck by three things: 1) it is a very big roof 2) it’s a very complicated roof 3) there’s a lot of HVAV and fresh air equipment installed on the flat part. There is much more to be said about the roof but I will leave that as a subject for a future blog, I expect you cannot contain your anticipation!
Now turning to the rear wing where the roof and brickwork were finished long ago, windows installed, doors in place and a rather fine concrete pad laid to connect the wing’s side door to the back of the kitchen. At the back of the wing the main door looks out onto a new path snaking down the slope to seamlessly join with the existing concrete pad in front of Alfriend House. This path provides an Americans with Disabilities Act compliant access to the building and once landscaped it will be embedded in a grass lawn and will not require railings.
It’s a tranquil space inside the rear wing. Entering through the main door, from the Alfriend House end of the corridor, to the left and right are doors to the two largest meeting rooms, the larger to the left. Moving down the corridor on the left is another meeting room and, on the right, the new nursery with its on-suite bathroom and separate space for babies’ cots. Further along, the corridor makes a 90 degree turn to the right and a few more paces takes you to a door on the left to the new accounting office. On the right another door to a small restroom then just before the corridor makes another 90 degree turn, this time to the left, there is the side door exiting onto the concrete pad connecting the wing to the kitchen. Making that left turn and you facing a plastic sheet covering what will eventually be the internal corridor joining the rear wing to the rest of our building. For now the plastic screens off brick work and metal framing that, before all of this started, was the back of the building.
Now the hurly-burly of electricians, plumbers, trimmers, painters and tilers has moved on one can stand in the main corridor without getting in anyone’s way and take in the tiled floor, painted walls and skirting boards*. The lights are on and the heating system burbles away in the background, the restrooms are tiled, toilets flush and sinks work and the new accounting office even has its carpet (and skirting boards).
The rear wing isn’t finished but we are at the “beginning of the end.” Carpets need to be laid in all of the rooms apart from the accounting office, the new data network has to be installed as do the ceiling tiles and both bathrooms have to be completed. There are also two major works to be done; the corridor joining the wing to the rest of the building must be built and, before any occupation is even possible, a new building wide (covering the old and the new) fire alarm system is to be fitted and, of course, everything subjected to City inspection for their approval.
Aside from the rear wing, great hall and narthex there is much more I could “blog” about. Next week the old library will be cleared prior to demolishing the end of the room where the bookcase stands to make way for the new corridor to the rear wing (have no fear the shelves will be salvaged and re-used). Offices in the administration corridor (those belonging to Gretchen, Father Bob, the Angel, Mother Ashley and the room I shared with Summer Johnson) have been mostly cleared and once the account office is able to move into our new, temporary, open plan space (a.k.a. the Parish Hall) the corridor and offices will be completely emptied so the floor can be refurbished, and new carpets laid.
Stepping away from the construction activities; the installation plan for the great hall audio/video system is being refined, the data network installation is due to start this week and the Building and Facilities Planning Commission is busily discussing furniture and fittings and meeting with the Historic Traditions Commission to define our needs for shelving and display cases.
I think that’s more than enough of my waffle for this week’s blog.
Stay safe and stay healthy, David Beach
Flemish bond pattern brickwork: Formed by laying headers and stretchers alternately in each course. The headers of each course are centered on the stretchers of the course below. This bond is strong and often used for walls which are two-bricks thick (I hope that has cleared it up!).
“Skirting boards”: Brits' name for “base boards”
Here we are, the first blog of the New Year so my belated wishes for a peaceful, healthy, and blessed 2021! As always there is much to report so let us dive right in.
The Scott Crumley driven “construction machine” continued to “arc and spark” through the festive season with staggering results. Standing in the Great Hall to take in the progress I was once again struck by the “logic of a building project.” At the beginning there are one or two major sub-contractors on the site preparing the foundation for the new building. Then as the building starts to grow those original “subs” are replaced by an ever-growing army of different contractors and trades each adding their own ingredient to the construction. Then one day you turn around and realize there are framers, roofers, trimmers, windows installers, HVAC engineers, electricians, bricklayers, ceiling installers, painters, drywallers, plumbers and tilers to name but a few all plying their skills so let us take a “blogging” walk around the site to see what’s going on.
Before we start, what do you have on your feet? One day we will have fully landscaped grounds with exposed agate concrete pavements*, I chuck in “exposed agate” like a construction professional which is far from the truth, but for the present we have a serious shortage of “terra firma” and what looks like firm standing suddenly metamorphoses under foot into a sea of clinging mud. I don’t expect I’ll ever see that old right shoe again, entombed forever in the mud between the great hall and carpark so, having learned a lesson I have once again become a “wellie*” devotee when wandering, unsupervised around the site!!
The rear wing is starting to have that “finished look” about it. From the outside the only clue the building is still under construction is the labels attached to the doors and window glass. Inside the walls are painted, including an accent wall in each classroom in a color picked out from the soon to be laid carpets, the ceiling insulation is installed as are the light fixtures, switches, and power points. The hanging ceiling is being installed and the two, small restrooms (one for the new nursery) are getting tiled. Soon it will be time to demolish the narrow passage between the old library and the sexton’s office, which we used to use to get to AFH, so we can build a new corridor that will connect the new rear wing the rest of the building.
That new corridor will have a significant impact on the old library because about a third of the existing space will be lost to create space to widen the existing passage. As you may know the library will eventually be installed in its new location just off the narthex, which will allow the remaining space in the old to be re-purposed at a future date.
Staying inside the existing building the time has come to completely vacate the wing where Father Bob, Mother Ashley, accounts, et al have their offices so the old carpet and tiles can be ripped out, new carpets laid, and a lick of paint applied. So, for a while accounts and parish administration will operate from the ODEC’s open plan facility a.k.a Tucker Hall!
Continuing our “jog” around the building site so, being careful to avoid quagmires masquerading as tera firma, let’s turn to the blogging spotlight on the great hall and narthex where it’s a veritable hive of activity. Most of the windows are installed, the roof is ready for shingles and the flat roof area for sealing. Heavy duty electrical cables have been laid between the main electrical room, located behind the sexton’s office, and the great hall and Atlantic Heating and Air is in the great hall’s rafters installing HVAC conduit accompanied in this high wire act by Its Electric installing the electrical systems. Outside the building a myriad of materials have arrived including the bricks that are already being laid on the outside of the great hall.
That brings us to the end of our descriptive building tour by the day school entrance where a new, albeit temporary, exposed agate (there I go again with these building terms) access ramp has been laid and the columns for the new porch are being set in place.
Behind the construction the relentless detailed planning process keeps two, and at times three, steps ahead of construction needs and has recently included visits to the site by our audio/visual and data contractors as they tune their installation plans against the real building. I cannot end without mentioning our own in-house planning team that takes care of everything from office moves, finalizing requirements for furnishing and fittings, interior design to display case allocation and last, but by no means least, our financial team who continue to find the funds to pay for it all.
Stay safe and stay healthy,
“Pavements”: Brit term for sidewalks.
“Wellie”: Brit slang for a rubber boot, the term “wellie” refers to the Duke of Wellington, Battle of Waterloo fame, who commissioned his cobbler to make a high boot out of leather thereby creating the “Wellington Boot.”
“Sandwich”: I haven’t used the term “sandwich” above but whilst I’m in the mood I thought I throw in the derivation of the word sandwich as a bonus. The sandwich as we know it was popularized in England in 1762 by John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Legend has it, and most food historians agree, that Montagu had a substantial gambling problem that led him to spend hours on end at the card table, hence the handy snack that could be eaten without leaving the game.
As we are drawn into the dying embers of 2020 one is inclined to reflect on the passing year and look forward to what is to come in the new. I’ve done this exercise every year since the advent of a New Year actually meant something more than just being a young teenager enjoying the company of a few friends whilst my parents made “whoopee” at some formal “do” in downtown Plymouth.* In all of that time I’ve reflected on births, deaths, marriages, military postings, state of the Beach bank account, resolutions, evolutions and a host of other matters but in all that time I have never reflected on a building. All of that is about to change!
The start of 2020 was very much a case of “will we, won’t we, yes we might” as on the one hand we looked over our shoulders at the approaching pandemic whilst we rode the bureaucratic wave that is the City of Virginia Beach’s building permit process. By Feburary 2020 the pandemic had arrived as had our permits and by the end of March Scott Crumley had unleashed the wrath of tree fellers, pipe layers and, unforgettably, Ryan and his Higgerson’s site construction team.
With trees gone, pipes and storm water tanks installed, and concrete pad laid the Rear Wing started to rise from the ground. Walls appeared, roofing trusses were installed and a roof, that for the most part didn’t leak, was laid followed by bricks and windows. As work on the rear wing moved inside to fit electrical power and HVAC systems the construction focus turned to the Narthex and Great Hall as the construction dance repeated itself to the beat of Scott Crumley’s construction drum!
And then we had the huge milestone of being able to use the shell of the Great Hall and Narthex for services on Christmas Eve, perhaps not quite as dry as one might have wished, that’s what you get without windows, doors or roof shingles, but the services underpinned by the reflection of lights, clergy and parishioners in the half inch or so of standing water is the stuff legends are made of!
We may be in the festive season but it's a mere bagatelle to the building construction industry, especially when the weather is clear albeit a little chilly, and we have had our full share of wet weather in 2020. So following the old adage “make hay whilst the sun shines” or in our case “make buildings whilst the weather is clear” progress during the month of December has been phenomenal.
The rear wing has (some) doors and paint is going on the walls, the roof is mostly finished and is laced to the old, entrance porches have been added, Father Bob’s office is being worked on whilst a veritable web of pipes and HVAC conduits are being installed in the Great Hall. The old courtyard is now blessed with new “shop windows” so those of you who enjoyed the great outdoors sneaking through the old, rotten doors and frames into the corridor will now have to go elsewhere to seek their blast of fresh air and, contrary to rumors, the Great Hall is not to be fitted with a system to recreate the magic of the 2020 Christmas Eve services by flooding the floor at the turn of a tap*! In the montage of pictures with this blog I’ve tried to capture all of this progress in the hope that a picture really does paint a thousand words!!
Looking forward into 2021 there is still much to do. The rear wing will probably be ready for occupation by the time Spring comes around. In the Narthex and Great Hall internal walls will be installed, the roof will be shingled, windows will go in and electrical and HVAC systems added. As part of the maintenance program new windows will be installed around the courtyard which will also get a new concrete (and smooth) floor then towards the Summer the remaining site work, including the third and final storm water tank, will begin.
So much to look forward to in 2021 and it only remain for me to thank you all for your patience, your support and for your generosity in tolerating my ramblings in this blog. Thank you also for those who have given their time and expertise over the past 12 months supporting the construction project.
I wish you a very peaceful, happy and blessed 2021, stay safe and stay healthy.
“Plymouth”: The City of my birth in Devon/England where the Pilgrim Fathers set sail for the New World, from what are now called the “Mayflower Steps,” on 6 September 1620.
“Tap”: A faucet.
B.C. (in our case that is Before Construction) our existing facilities were a much-loved, patchwork quilt of buildings constructed by different projects in different decades. There was no grand design and although the front façade didn’t quite match the dimensions or style of the rest of the buildings and we had a roof that in places possessed basket like qualities it was all part of the buildings’ charm (well maybe not the roof but even that had a charm of its own to the roof repair company). The problem with our patchwork quilt of buildings comes when you try and add another piece and it is not just the visible that's a problem but also the hidden beams, roofing frames and quirky utilities that our new buildings have to tie in to, it’s all about the “construction integration” challenge.
The integration challenge has been a recurring theme throughout the building process and I have tried to describe these challenges, as they were explained to me, in this blog (unfortunately I’ve probably misinformed the readership on more than one occasion but that is completely my fault and no reflection on those experts who have spent so much of their valuable time trying to explain the details to a complete building novice such as myself). There was the floor challenge (back wing 6 inches lower than the library floor), the electrical challenge (connecting into the existing electrical systems exposed some “odd” cabling), the sewer challenge (unexpected and covert third sewer line running to the day school wing) and of course the ever-enduring roof challenge that I can only describe as akin to being color blind and trying to solve the Rubik’s Cube.
So it is with a merry demeanor and in keeping with the spirt of the season that I am delighted to mark the reaching a critical milestone in this past week. The last major challenge in stitching the new building to the old focused on a patch of roofing above Father Bob’s and Gretchen’s offices for it in this small area that new pitched roof and flat roofs meets the old. It would be no understatement to tell you that even our maestro of construction Scott Crumley was mildly concerned about the implications of this challenge and by way of preparation both Father Bob and Gretchen were evacuated from their respective offices just in case a laminated beam, or worse still a roofer, unexpectedly “dropped in.” The rooms were also cleared and whatever remained covered under sheets of heavy plastic in case it rained (see the pictures above) and my deep gratitude goes to Blair Hood for his help in the “humping and dumping.”
Meanwhile Scott, his carpenter and his roofer huddled in conference to consider the problem and the best approach. The result speaks for itself.
The work started on Thursday and by close of business Friday parts of the old roof were gone, new frames and beams had been installed and the new flat and pitched roofs were in place and joined to the original structures without a gable end in sight! Writing this just doesn’t do justice to the prior planning and preparation that resulted in such a perfect execution so when, in the future, you walk into the Narthex main entrance spare a moment to look up to your right and admire one small piece of roof that meant so much in the grand design (and hopefully by the time you do that we will have moved Father Bob and Gretchen back into their respective offices!).
Before I end (yes, I’m sorry there is more…it’s been a busy week) I have to give a mention to that same Narthex main entrance.
As the sun climbed over the horizon on Saturday morning the Narthex main entrance was but a concrete pad and four upright steel girders but by the time that sun went down on that same day the entrance canopy was in place. To a building luddite, and I count myself as one, this might seem to be a trivial piece of work so, without his permission, let me use Scott’s own words, illuminated by the pictures below, to describe the level of planning and attention to detail that went into making this happen and please know that this level of planning and attention to detail is what has gone into and will continue to go into every piece of construction right to, and probably beyond, the very end:
“It started with Bart's (viz the architect) picture, then the structural engineer sized the beams, then the steel fabrication company drew shop drawings that passed back through the before mentioned (viz Bart) for confirmation. Then it was made and delivered. The beams sat in the mud for a while until the concrete guy poured the floors. On construction day (viz Saturday), all those measurements were accurate enough that a 3/4 inch bolt fitted through a 13/16" hole. Then, wood trusses from another company were tied into the beams making the roof pitch and equal overhangs. Not to mention the architecturally pleasing round columns (for looks only) wound up dropping in place mysteriously along with their vernacular correct cap and bases from yet another company. Easy stuff!!!”
Have a very Peaceful and Blessed Christmas, stay safe and stay healthy,
I am absolutely gobsmacked* (straight in with a good old Brit informal word), yes completely gobsmacked!
Over the past couple of weeks my wife and I have been back and forth to Durham/NC - that drive between Emporia and Virginia Beach seems to defy the laws of physics, the further you go the further you still have to go, I am sure Brigadoon* is located somewhere off the 58 between Emporia and Norfolk! But I digress or whatever is the blogging equivalent of getting off subject.
So I’ve been out of town quite a bit and when I went away the Great Hall was just a skeleton picked out in framing steel and open to the elements. I get back on blogging mission and, as the French say, “Voilà!*”I am gobsmacked and, if I know my blog followers, I think you will be as well.
I have always found those “before and after” pictures you see in the media to be quite powerful, a wee caveat on that statement that I’m not talking about the before and after shots of celebrities’ nose jobs but rather those pictures that bring home the stark reality of global warming or some natural disaster so before and after pictures don’t tend to record a good thing but not so in the case of ODEC.
At the top of this blog I've challenged my blogging skills to offer 3 pictures, ordered left to right. On the left a picture taken on 27th Nov depicting the bare bones of the Great Hall, it’s little more than the concrete pad with some steel framework. In the middle a picture taken on 8th Dec and already there’s a roof, much more framing and even external walls. On the right a picture taken yesterday (11th Dec) and there is the palladium window looking out onto Witchduck Road, albeit without frame and glass but nevertheless clear for all to see. I think it looks rather fine.
That little series of before and after pictures record what I can only call amazing (and that comes with a good slice of Brit understatement) progress over a mere 14 days, from a concrete pad edged with steel to the palladium window.
Progress such of this does not just happen. As the little picture gallery at the end of this blog shows, there has been a mesmerizing mix of trades and contractors on the site over the past few weeks. All working to a construction dance that’s been carefully choreographed by Scott Crumley who when not getting stuck in with saw, Bobcat (that’s a very small bulldozer), dumpster truck or helping the Tuesday Yard Crew is all over the site checking, directing and correcting.
I could not end this blog without mentioning the wonderful examples of forklift trucks we have working on site. I confess my first “love” will always be the yellow heavy roller, but then there was the brooding power of the concrete pump and the magnificent ingenuity of the concrete curb extruding machine but for now it’s the age of forklift truck and what a magnificent display they are putting on, well that’s all expect the large orange one that’s stuck axle deep in mud just outside Parish Administrator’s Office window - but maybe that’s for the telling at another time.
Stay safe and stay healthy, David Beach.
“Gobsmacked”: Generally, gobsmacked refers to something so shocking that it leaves you utterly speechless. Although written examples of the word gobsmacked date from only the last eighty years or so, it is highly likely that the word was used in spoken language before that time.
“Brigadoon”: The legend of Brigadoon is the story of a mythical village in the Scottish Highlands. The village became enchanted centuries ago remaining unchanged and invisible to the outside world except for one special day every hundred years when it could be seen and even visited by outsiders. As I now know, the village of Brigadoon isn’t in the Scottish Highlands but is actually located somewhere off the 58 between Emporia and Norfolk
“Voilà” French meaning “there it is” or “there you have it”
I have been out of town of late and that’s reflected in my recent “blogging” routine but have no concerns, whether I’m in or out of town it’s all quite irrelevant when it comes to the relentless march of building progress. What a difference a week makes but more about that in my next offering.
Today I’m going to turn my “blog light” away from construction and give you the “Bobby Moore*” on the ODEC team working on the construction project, a team that seldom gets a mention!
Just this past week the Building & Facilities Planning Commission (BFPC) met under the able leadership of David Burt – I call him David The Yank (DTY) and he calls me David The Brit (DTB) – to discuss ODEC’s requirements for furnishing the new buildings and the Historic Traditions Commission’s ambitions for bookshelves and display cases. Establishing requirements is always a tricky process so I for one am very grateful to DTY and his BFPC for taking this on and whilst I sat in my car participating in the Zoom meeting from afar, I was struck by how lucky we are to have such dedicated parishioners who are willing to give of their time.
There was Bob Perrine and Jackie Murray ably supported by Chaille Lindo all pitching on behalf of the Historic Traditions Commission and painting a vision for using the new spaces to bring ODEC’s rich history to life. Then after the meeting, Bob giving even more time to translate that vision into tangible requirements by providing detailed sizes for the proposed shelves and display cases, all carefully marked up on the floor plan for the Narthex and new Library.
Then there was Father Bob and Gretchen Hood, the former describing his vision for contemporary worship in the Great Hall (couple of actions falling to me out of that) and then he and Gretchen describing how the rooms in the new rear wing would have multiple roles to maximize their usage.
Of course, everyone had an opinion about furniture – in fact I think there were 16 different opinions from the 10 or so attendees – so how lucky we are to have two professional experts, and longtime building project contributors in so many significant ways, Ann Perry and Bill Waide. Ann who is ODEC’s own “doyenne of internal design” and Bill who is, amongst a great deal of other things, ODEC’s own “dean of furniture and fittings.” Between them they skillfully guided the discussion around the bear traps and pitfalls that without their expertise we would have certainly fallen foul of. Then, at the end of the meeting, both volunteering to apply their professional skills to computer model various options for furniture and fittings so the BFPC’s decision making processes will be better informed.
Stepping away from DTY’s Zoom meeting there are many others who give unstinting support to the new building project. There is Carl Sterzing whose professional review of our contractor’s lighting package proposal made all of us more enlightened and confident we had a good proposal. Then there’s Doug Weiss who with infinite patience has led us through the intricacies of studio construction in order that we might realize another ambition. I couldn’t end this “shout out” to the volunteers without mentioning Stuart Forbes and his Tuesday Yard Crew for all the work they have done to clear up and clear out spaces before and after the flying fickle finger of construction has passed by and one more call out to Bill Waide for his expert advice in the field of neighbor relationship management (or otherwise)!
Nearly last but not nearly least there’s the financial crew. Ned Kuhns for continually finding the money I’m continually spending, Diane Miller and Terri Piston for making it so easy to spend that money and for Jill Woolard, from the Crumley Group, for keeping all of the subs and their subs in tight fiscal order.
And last but not least there’s Mal Higgins our friendly (at least to date) attorney at law not just because he has so freely given an exorbitant amount of his professional time over the past 18 months to the project but also, and more importantly, because he is the regular contributor of comments on this blog (brown envelop in the usual place Mal).
So, folks, when you read about the exciting “doings” of those in the blogging spotlight such as the Bueno Wellie Gang, Ryan’s site team from Higgerson, The Crumley Group or the roof framers please also spare a thought for the rest of the unsung members of the team that make the wheels of our building project turn.
Stay safe and stay healthy, David Beach.
“Bobby Moore:” Cockney rhyming slang “Bobby Moore” means “score” so I expect that’s made it a lot clearer! A cockney is a Londoner who is born within the sounds of the bells of St Mary-le-Bow church and Cockney rhyming slang is a local form of speech. Other examples include “whistle and flute” means suit, “Adam and Eve it” means would you believe it, “apples and pears” mean stairs. Bobby Moore was the captain of the England football team (soccer) that won the FIFA World Cup in 1966 (since then our national side has not exactly been a world football dominating power so we English have to draw succor from the single win albeit over 50 years ago) so in rhyming slang “Bobby Moore” means “score” which in itself means “what’s happening” (after all of that description I’m beginning to wish I had just blogged “what’s happening”!!!)
David Beach is our Building Project Manager. David has been an active part of our parish family for more than a decade. He is retired from NATO and the British Army and is a joy and blessing to all of us.