Marc Alan Goodman’s Building Strange Weather Blog — Step 7: The Structural Work
July 7, 2011 by Marc Alan Goodman
Seventh in the “Building Strange Weather Blog”series by producer/engineer and studio owner Marc Alan Goodman. Click to start at Step 1: Finding A New Home; Step 2: Design; Step 3: Waiting For Permits (Part 1) and Step 4: (Part 2); and Step 5: Stops & Starts, Step 6: Demolition.
Now that things are moving, WOW are they moving fast.
Upon opening the ceiling on the second floor we discovered a situation even worse than what we’d had on the first floor. Whoever had built the second and third floors must not have had joists long enough to span the entire building so they just rested them on the center wall.
However, if you remember from my last blog post, that center wall is the one that was removed on the ground floor and had the joists cut on both sides. Essentially nothing but plaster and good wishes has been holding the top floor up for what’s been at least years and most likely decades.
After some emergency shoring up was done, Nick and his crew went right to work replacing all the joists on the second floor with engineered wood beams called LVLs. You can work with them like wood, but functionally they’re closer to steel in strength. It’s an added expense and our first change order but it was well worth it for the peace of mind.
Once the new second floor ceiling joists were in place it was time to get cracking on the ground floor. Pulling up the floors led us to discover that they weren’t just linoleum covered in parquet; they were wood covered in plywood covered in linoleum covered in parquet covered in linoleum covered in parquet! Our ceiling just grew an extra couple inches by taking all those layers off. It was a difficult job, but once it was done, the rear structure — which will soon be our control room — started going up.
First we took down the top layers of brick and started to build the walls up with cinderblock. This was followed by setting steel I beams for the new ceiling and setting in the tin sub-roof which will have concrete poured over it. Standing straight up off of the I beams are pedestals which will hold the air conditioning units for both the first and second floor. When the original ceiling came out and I got to see the real height of the control room, it was inspiring. 14 feet in height makes for a big room.
Inside the steel C beams have all been getting cut up and placed along the ceiling of the first floor. The difference between C-beams and I-beams is exactly what you’d think: C-beams are shaped like a letter C and I-beams like a letter I. I-beams are much stronger, but the C beams have one flat side to place against the existing joists. That way we can sister them, or bolt them together to increase the strength of the existing structure.
As usual things on the planning side have been hectic. It’s getting close to the time when I’ll need to fly in the studio building crew to frame the control room and do the initial technical wiring, but it’s almost impossible to tell when exactly they’ll be able to start working.
The plywood radiant floor heating system has been delivered but is for now piled in the back of the space waiting for the ceilings to be finished. There’s no way for me to know if installing it will take a day or two weeks, it all depends on how quickly the current crew can figure out the installation process and get the plumber to show up and start working.
To top it all off the HVAC guy wants to sell me the air conditioning units now so he can move them through the empty building and store them in the back yard. It does make sense (otherwise we’d have to crane them over the entire building) but it’s an expense I wasn’t expecting this week and I just spread myself nice and thin investing in a rack of Neves!
To top the whole thing off I stopped by the space Monday and was told by my crew that one of our neighbors had been screaming at them, threatening to call the Buildings Department. Last Friday my GC told me that someone had stopped by asking me to call and left a number, but I was running out of town and didn’t get back until late Sunday night. So I called her back and met up to see what the problem was…
Apparently my one remaining tree in the backyard is pushing her fence over.
I got a good look at it and it must have been happening over the last decade so I can’t imagine what the rush is. The tree is situated in between our two fences. I always figured it was on their side since my fence looks older but she seems to think hers is perfectly surveyed (even if with a quick glance I can see that if it was perfect then her house sits a few inches on to her neighbors property).
Anyway, in order to keep things copasetic I decided to just take the tree down. It’s super sad to have to take down all of my trees but I can always plant more, and this time firmly on my own land. Plus if she’s sure that is the property line I’ll take my fence up and gain an extra twelve inches of property.
This point is only notable because I’m predicting problems with her in the future, when bands are hanging out in the back yard at two in the morning smoking cigarettes and yelling at each other because they’re deaf from hanging out in the control room all day.
In short, things are moving along. I’d say we’re about 75 percent of the way through the structural work, and after that we get to start building the actual studio. You can check out pictures of the progress on our photoblog at http://strangeweatherbrooklyn.blogspot.com and as always please feel free to contact me with any questions.
A number of people have gotten in touch with me through the blog so far and it’s been great to meet other engineers in the neighborhood. I felt like I already knew everyone a year ago and I seem to meet somebody new every week. There are a lot of us out here…
- Marc Alan Goodman
strangeweathersound [at] gmail dot com
Marc Alan Goodman is a producer/engineer who’s worked with artists such as Jolie Holland, Marc Ribot Shudder to Think, Dub Trio, Normal Love, Alfonso Velez, Angel Deradoorian and Pink Skull.