Monday, May 21, 2018

Governmental Affairs.....................

     Traveled over to the big city of Columbus this afternoon for a variance hearing before of the Board of Building Appeals.  The Board of Building Appeals, among other things, has the authority to grant a variance, or relief, in cases where a literal interpretation of the Ohio Building Code could result in an unnecessary hardship.  It was our third trip for the Old School project.
      Let me say here that those of us active in large commercial and development projects tend to have solid working relationships with local government.  Just the nature of the work.  Newark has long been blessed with intelligent, hard working, competent, and fair people sitting in positions of authority.  It has been my experience that this is not true in all jurisdictions.  But  I digress.
      In the case of the  Old School, two separate and distinct governmental agencies, with different agendas, rendered opinions and set forth requirements for the project that were contradictory.
      The first of these governmental agencies is the National Park Service and its deputy, the Ohio History Connection.   They have their say in the project because, upon completion, we will receive some very necessary historic tax credits.  To preserve the historic nature of the building there are some things they say we can't do, and some things they say we must do.  One of those things we must do is preserve the existing, and historic, double door assembly separating the staircases (it is a three story building with two staircases) from the corridors.  Another thing we must do is preserve the historic wood classroom doors.
      The second of the governmental agencies involved in this tale is the local Building Code Department.    They very clearly stated when we submitted our plans for the project that the double door assembly separating the staircases from the corridors are not "fire rated" and as such would need to be replaced by a new "fire rated" assembly.  Coincidentally, they also said the same thing about the wooden class room doors.  (The classroom door situation was resolved in our second variance hearing, but more on that another time.)
     It has been my observation that building code officials take life safety issues VERY seriously.   Fire ratings exist for the purpose of getting people safely out of a building that has become involved with a fire.  It is hard to argue against them.  But.........
    The historic folks were inflexible.  I suspect they have been down this road many times and recognize that development types will figure something out without them having to concede anything.  The building code people were receptive to ideas and solutions that took into account their concerns.
     I'm not sure who first proposed the solution to the staircase/corridor impasse, might have been us, it might have been the code people.  The solution proposed was to add two sprinkler heads on each side of each of the six double door assemblies.  (A total of 24 new sprinkler heads).   These heads would act independently from the rest of the sprinkler system.  When tripped, the heads would generate a "water curtain" providing the necessary fire separation between the corridor and staircase.  While the local code people were willing to support this solution, they would not sign off on it permit-wise without the approval of the Board of Building Appeals.  So, about five months ago we had our first hearing in front of the Board.   They granted the variance under the condition that the alarm tripping the sprinkler system and creating the "water curtain" would be activated by smoke detectors.   We were so relieved to receive the variance that we didn't stop to think about smoke detection tripping the system.
     I don't know if you have any familiarity with smoke detectors, but it has been our practical experience that dust, or non-fire related particulate matter in the air, can set them off.    Creating a "water curtain" sounds like fun, but it would effectively flood a major portion of the building.  Having that happen during a fire event would be a good thing.  Having it happen because of dust or vaping would be a disaster.
     After extensive discussions with the local code people, the sprinkler company, and the alarm designer, we came to the conclusion that we needed to go back to the Board and ask for a variance to their previously granted variance.  We asked that they allow us to use a "rate of heat rise" detection system instead of smoke detection.   Reasonableness prevailed and this afternoon they said yes and granted us our third variance.   Yippee!

One of the six historic doorways separating the staircases from the corridors


A good view of one of the corridors, with the staircase doorway on the right

Four new sprinkler heads to provide for a water curtain




"He that would live in peace and at ease, must not speak all he knows, nor judge all he sees."

-Benjamin Franklin


     To acquire principles that work, it's essential that you embrace reality and deal with it well.   Don't fall into the common trap of wishing that reality worked differently than it does or that your own realities were different.  Instead, embrace your realities and deal with them effectively.  After all, making the most of your circumstances is what life is all about.  This includes being transparent with your thoughts and open-mindedly accepting the feedback of others.  Doing so will dramatically increase your learning.

-Ray Dalio,  Principles

Fifty years ago..............................

Aretha Franklin...............................................I Say A Little Prayer


Sunday, May 20, 2018

Deeper clearer pools of thought..............

A new architectural language is being brokenly, variously, and often falsely spoken by youths with perspicacity and some breadth of view, but with too little depth of knowledge that can only come from continued experience.  Unfortunately, academic training and current criticism have no penetration to this inner world.  The old academic order is bulging with its own important impotence.   Society is cracking under the strain of a sterility education imposes far beyond capacity;  exaggerated capitalism has left all this as academic heritage to its own youth.  General cultural sterility, the cause of the unrest of this uncreative moment that now stalls the world, might be saved and fructified by this ideal of an organic architecture, led from shallow troubled muddy water into deeper clearer pools of thought.  Life needs this deeper fresher pools into which youth may plunge to come out refreshed.

-Frank Lloyd Wright,  The Natural House

image via


My soul doth still shine..............

Fifty years ago............................

1910 Fruitgum Company........................................Simon Says


1968 certainly was an interesting year.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


"That's why the philosopher's warn us not to be satisfied with mere learning, but to add practice and then training.  For as time passes we forget what we learned and end up doing the opposite, and hold opinions the opposite of what we should."

-Epictetus,  Discourses

culled from here

Practicing and training................

"You can't just hear something once and expect to rely on it when the world is crashing down around us.  Remember, Marcus Aurelius wasn't writing his meditations for other people.  He was actively meditating for himself.  Even as a successful, wise, and experienced man, he was until the last days of his life practicing and training himself to do the right thing."

-Ryan Holiday,  from this day's entry in The Daily Stoic

If the twentieth century has lessons to teach us...... must surely be to beware of the self-appointed who throw out the collective wisdom of the past:

     With the decline of clerical power in the eighteenth century, a new kind of mentor emerged to fill the vacuum and capture the ear of society.  The secular intellectual might be deist, sceptic, or atheist.   But he was just as ready as any pontiff or presbyter to tell mankind how to conduct its affairs.  He proclaimed, from the start, a special devotion to the interests of humanity and an evangelical duty to advance them by his teaching.  He brought to this self-appointed task a far more radical approach than his clerical predecessors.  He felt himself  bound by no corpus of revealed religion.  The collective wisdom of the past, the legacy of tradition, the prescriptive codes of ancestral experience existed to be selectively followed or wholly rejected entirely as his own good sense might decide.  For the first time in human history, and with growing confidence and audacity, men arose to assert that they could diagnose the ills of society and cure them with their own unaided intellects:  more, that they could devise formulae whereby not merely the structure of society but the fundamental habits of human beings could be transformed for the better.  Unlike their sacerdotal predecessors, they were not servants and interpreters of the gods but substitutes.  Their hero was Prometheus, who stole the celestial fire and brought it to earth.

-Paul Johnson,  Intellectuals:  From Marx And Tolstoy To Sartre And Chomsky

Fifty years ago..........................

At the movies.....................Clint Eastwood stars in Hang 'Em High


despite what the trailer says, this movie was released in 1968

Friday, May 18, 2018


     Going into the Old School project we knew that adding a sprinkler system was a must.  When the building was first erected in 1939 there was no requirement for such a fire suppression system.  Building Codes have gotten a lot more sophisticated (and complicated) since then.  If we had kept the building in use as a school we would have been "grandfathered,"  and there would have been no mandate to add sprinklers.  But, the magic phrase "change of use" came into play as soon as we decided to convert the 30,000 square foot building into apartments.   "Change of use" opens the door for the application of all sorts of building code requirements.   A sprinkler system became a necessary part of the plan.

Counter-intuitively, at least to one who has never installed a sprinkler system,
the work began in the middle.   First, the black pipe  (visible among the tangle
of the white plumbing drain lines) was hung on the classroom side of the main
 corridor walls.  Then holes were drilled through the corridor wall, allowing a stub
line to penetrate the wall.  Eventually, a sprinkler head will be attached to the stub
line.  One of these days, the installed pipe will be connected back to the riser, the
4" water line that will allow the sprinkler system to sprinkle

Much of the sprinkler system was hidden by chases as the piping spread
its way throughout the building

Pipe fitting actually looks like hard work to me

Threading the pipe

Making pipe connections

Penetrating the walls actually took significant effort

Awaiting the addition of the actual sprinkler head, this unobtrusive sprinkler stub
 will help protect the main corridor.   For the most part, we were able to limit the
visibility of the sprinkler lines in the corridors.  Wasn't an easy task, but it became
a point of emphasis as the sprinkler design evolved to reflect the realities of
the building.

The gash in the ceiling is for wiring the corridor lighting.  It will be plastered
over and go away.  One hardly notices the connections for the sprinkler heads
on the left hand wall.   The heads themselves, when finally added, will be
white, blending into the wall. 

Some of the sprinkler lines had to be exposed.  No other affordable way.

But, when you paint the exposed lines they do tend to disappear into the wall

There is more, much more, to the sprinkler system, but you'll have to wait for future installments.

Better, turn it off completely..............

thanks Jess

Almost like God's fingerprint..............

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature - trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence... We need silence to be able to touch souls.

-attributed to Mother Teresa

image via APOD.  Enlargeable with description

Handle with care.....................

It's fun to think about the future.  It's easy to ruminate on the past.  It's harder to put the energy into what's in front of us right now at this moment - especially if it's something we don't want to do. ... There is an old saying:  "How you handle anything is how you do everything."  It's true.  How you handle today is how you will handle every day.  How you handle this minute is how you'll handle every minute.

-Ryan Holiday, from today's entry in The Daily Stoic

The reading habit writ large...............

     From 1921 Hemingway led the life of a foreign correspondent, using Paris as his base.  He covered warfare in the Middle East and international conferences, but the main focus of his attention was on the expatriate literati of the Left Bank.  He wrote poetry.  He was trying to write prose.  He read ferociously.  On of the many habits he inherited from his mother was carrying books around with him, shoved into his pockets, so that he could read at any time or place during a pause in the action.  He read everything, and all his life he bought books, so that any Hemingway habitation had stacks running along the walls.  At his house in Cuba he was to build up a working library of 7,400 volumes, characterized by expert studies of the subjects in which he was interested and by a wide range of literary texts, which he read and re-read.   He arrived in Paris having read virtually all the English classics but determined to broaden his range.  He was never chippy about having missed a university education, but he regretted it and was anxious to fill any gaps its absence might have left.  So he settled down to Stendhal, Flaubert, Balzac, Maupassant and Zola, the major Russian novelists, Tolstoy, Turgenev and Dostoyevsky, and the Americans, Henry James, Mark Twain and Stephen Crane.  He read the moderns, too:  Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, D. H. Lawrence, Maxwell Anderson, James Joyce.  His reading was wide but also dictated by a growing urge to write.  Since the age of fifteen he had made a cult of Kipling, and continued to study him all his life.  To this was now added close attention to Conrad, and Joyce's brilliant collection, DublinersLike all really good writers, he not only devoured but analysed and learned from the second-rate, such as Marryat, Hugh Walpole and George Moore.

-Paul Johnson,  Intellectuals:  From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky

Fifty years ago.....................

Gary Puckett & The Union Gap.................................Lady Willpower