Saturday, November 21, 2009

scaffold a day: soho V

Spring and West Broadway

It's been a while since I've here's the latest installment in the scaffold a day series. Since I've been busy with the quarantine studio I haven't had much of an opportunity to explore the city for more scaffolding. I am working on some scaffolding research now though, and should have some more information to post in the next month or so, so stay tuned!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Logo!!!!

A very special thanks to A.S. for the new look!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Der Berg by Exyzt

This is an amazing installation with tube & coupler scaffolding. One of the interesting things about the installation is that it used the scaffolding as both interior and exterior elements. Instead of being used in a "supporting" role, the scaffolding becomes the focus itself. It would have been interesting if the installation created more of a cocoon-like space rather than an object. Such a simple idea, but it's the scale that makes it really interesting.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Scaffold Squatter City

Check out BLDGBLOG's latest post. It's a report on a fascinating project called the Museum of the Phantom City by Irene Cheng and Brent Snyder and sponsored by the Van Alen Institute. This virtual museum is an interactive (via iPhone what else?) cataloguing of possible futures for Manhattan. I just downloaded the app and I can't wait to put it to use. The graphics are beautiful; sites with many possible futures are brightened orbs on a darkened Google Earth map of the city. The app calculates your location and shows you (as a very faint orb - no future for me?) on the map as well. Jackson Heights is far away from any possible future...
One of the speculative scaffolding projects I'm currently allowing to gestate a bit is a hyperbolic future landscape of the city in which scaffolding and sidewalk sheds have been allowed to proliferate without regulation in a city devastated by the bankruptcy of the city in the '70s. Let me back up a bit - and I'm sorry there are not yet any illustrations:
New York in the 1970s was not the gentrified and relatively tourist friendly NYC that we are all so familiar with today. It's an old story, but New York almost went bankrupt. Almost. What would have happened? There was no money for city services. Let's say the ripple effect forced banks to foreclose on thousands of properties in the city. Let's also say that as those buildings began to deteriorate from lack of maintenance, that the receivers of those buildings put up sidewalk sheds and scaffolding to avoid injury to passersby (more out of a fear of lawsuits than fear of fines).

(Ponte Vecchio in Florence. Image courtesy

Like a medieval Italian bridge, we could go on to speculate that these temporary structures would go on to stay in place for years, if not decades, centuries. The squatters in the buildings start to make use of the temporary structures as well, extending the 'private' rooms of the adjacent buildings into the 'airspace' of the sidewalk. Makeshift gardens and terraces appear at first, but then after the first few winters, the more resourceful of the squatters start to weatherize their shelters. Soon there are entire duplex and triplex 'apartments' added to the existing buildings. Without the resources (or the political will) to evict the squatters, a new 'scaffold law' is enacted to protect the homesteaders...

(Trial-Living in Slubfurt by Christian Hasucha)

scaffold a day: downtown II

Downtown Manhattan is like a magnet for scaffolding these days. The photos in the last two posts were taken in ten minutes in a two block corridor along Chambers Street on Wednesday September 29, 2009. There are many municipal buildings in the area. I wasn't able to hang around for a long time (I was downtown for a meeting with the Department of Buildings, an event that could be the subject of its own research and speculation) to see how the installations affected pedestrian traffic. The whole area did have this kind of 'in flux' feeling that reminded me of how I felt after 9/11...I'm afraid I've been too busy to enter the urbanshed competition, but it would be interesting to see if any of the entries deal with trying to change the perception of the scaffold so that it is seen as a protector of urban space rather than a nuisance.

scaffold a day: downtown I

Sunday, September 27, 2009

scaffold a day: morningside heights

116th and Broadway. Two layers of scaffolding - I'm not quite sure why the smaller exposed portion of scaffolding in the lower right was added. This is across from the entrance to McKim Mead and White's Columbia University campus.

scaffold a day: nolita

Kenmare and Mulberry (or Mott I always get them confused).

Anyway, this was taken right after the BLDGBLOG book launch happenings at the Storefront for Art and Architecture yesterday...Lebbeus Woods was speaking as this photo was taken; I'm sorry to have missed it, but the presentations by djrupture, Richard Mosse, Mason White and novelist Patrick McGrath were really interesting. For more and sundry information, check out Nicola Twilley's twitter postings from yesterday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

scaffold a day: grand central

This is the sight that greets drivers heading south on Park Avenue.

It would have been amazing to watch this go up!

Monday, August 17, 2009

scaffold a day: jones beach

Mast climbers from the bus headed to Jones Beach.

Monday, August 10, 2009

21st century commandeering?

In the June 6th issue of The Economist's Technology Quarterly, there is a really interesting article on smart grids. "In order to accommodate the flow of energy between new sources of supply and new forms of demand, the world's electrical grids are going to have to get a lot smarter" (page 15). This idea has been getting a lot of media attention lately because of the amounts of money being allocated to infrastructure by the Federal government. What it essentially means is that the grid would have to be become more interactive, with information flowing from consumers to the generators instead of just having energy flow the old-fashioned way. One example that the article highlights is the possibility that a smart grid, in combination with new technology in electric car batteries, could allow the distributed storage of excess generating capacity from electricity generating plants. Basically, individual car owners would allow their cars to be used to store electricity off of the grid at off-peak hours, and then ostensibly to allow the grid to take that electricity back at a higher peak time. What is fascinating is that this would mean that private property is being at least partially commandeered for public purpose - not in the traditional sense, and not without permission and/or compensation, but it brings up all kinds of logistical questions, blurring the line between public and private property. It is ironic that the automobile, ultimate symbol of American individuality, could quite possibly become the first widespread and most acceptable instrument of collective action in our country.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Sunday, August 2, 2009

symbiotic structures

This is from a fascinating exhibition currently at MoMA. The artist arranged all of the items in his mother's home. He collaborated with his mother on laying it all out. This is a shot of a portion of his mother's home with many colorful shopping bags laid out as a continuous surface; in the gallery, the frame of the house is supported by sections of tube & clamp scaffolding. It is interesting because in a typical construction scenario it is usually the scaffolding that relies on the original building structure for stability. Scaffolding itself doesn't resist lateral loads very well, so it needs to be tied back to the main structure for support. In the case of this structure, the original building needs the support of the scaffolding, almost as a prosthetic, to stand.

scaffold a day: northern boulevard

scaffold a day: harrison & abramovitz

Workers installing supported scaffold for a facade restoration of the iconic Great Hall at the New York Hall of Science. There were probably three installers working (two pictured, one on lower roof). At the time this photo was taken, the worker on the low roof was hoisting up the 'x' bracing that was being installed between the blue frames that were already set in place. One worker on the planking was unloading the hoist bucket, and the other was installing the bracing and tightening the fasteners. They were actually moving pretty fast. Here's a short video:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

scaffold a day: rooftop

Here, scaffolding is being used to either protect a large skylight or to provide access to that skylight for maintenance. Rental costs for scaffolding are not outrageously expensive, but neither are they cheap. In an earlier interview with the founder and president of Avontus Software, Brian Webb mentioned that a relatively large portion of the maintenance budget for oil refineries (one of his main clients) is spent on scaffolding - to access portions of the refinery that would otherwise be inaccessible.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

repurposed infrastructures

Opportunism, plain and simple. A former railway and a means of egress...
Some guys in the meatpacking district had the vision and perseverance to shepherd the redevelopment of a derelict viaduct into one of the most beautiful and dynamic places in all of New York City. At the end of the High Line Park, a longtime resident of Chelsea has turned her fire escape into a stage; instead of retreating from the masses, the Renegade Cabaret was born. Now you can watch one from the other.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


This is an image from 'Reef,' an exhibition/installation at the Storefront for Art and Architecture.

scaffold a day: chelsea north

24th Street between 7th and 8th.

scaffold a day: soho III

Mercer Street near Prince.

scaffold a day: soho II

Mercer Street near Spring.

scaffold a day: soho

Lafayette just south of the Puck Building.

scaffold a day: men at work

78th Street in JH

scaffold a day: UES

Another mast-climber. This one is located at 86th and Park.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

scaffold a day: columbus circle II

57th & 9th

scaffold a day: columbus circle

This renovation is utilizing mast climbers instead of supported scaffold. If you look closely you can see the masts on the right side of the image. The platform is hidden, sitting on the lowest level on top of the sidewalk bridge.

scaffold a day: midtown

57th near 7th

scaffold a day: Jackson Heights by night

This sidewalk bridge was in the process of being installed and the required sidewalk lighting had not yet been installed. It made for some dramatic shadows. The lighting was installed the next day.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

scaffold a day: midtown east

Looking slightly northwest from 47th and 2nd Ave.

The green in the middle-ground is supported scaffold with a protective mesh.

scaffold a day: flatiron district-ish

28th & Broadway

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

baby steps

My first time lapse video!  14th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.
This is from photos taken during the process of gathering information for my NYSCA grant proposal.  I know it's pretty rudimentary, but it's a small step in the project!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

scaffold a day: dutch kills (l.i.c.)

37th Avenue near the N train

Here, the sidewalk was completely closed off, so there was no need to erect a sidewalk shed to protect passersby.  It's also a new building, so there is no public access required to the site.  This site is on the border between an industrial zone and a residential zone; there was almost no pedestrian traffic, so closing the sidewalk seems to have had little impact.

Saturday, June 20, 2009