October 2016

Historic Structural Detail: A Different View

by Don Friedman on October 31, 2016


Beautifully picture, no?

In case it’s not intuitively obvious to even the most casual observer, that shot is looking down vertically at the floor and there’s a construction worker facing me at the top. The dark gray rectangle running left to right is a U-section cast iron beam, with the outside flange painted white.  We have this view because the masonry wall that was supported by the beam (the building’s front facade) has been removed (and will be rebuilt).

Just to the right of the plastic sheeting is a splice in the beam, located over one of the columns in the storefront below. If you click on the picture to expand it, it’s clear that all the iron is in pristine condition.

This is, for the middle of the 1800s, a great system. The iron is basically an Erector Set with prefab pieces bolted together, the top U beam tied it all together and provided a seat for the brick wall above, and the brick wall protectd the iron, provided out-of-plan strength and stiffness, and provided enclosure.

Well done, long-ago people.

For The Weekend: Pictures Galore

October 30, 2016

The Metropolitan Life tower, in the 1910s: If you’re looking for pictures of New York, Curbed will tell you where to find them.

Read the full article →

For The Weekend: Specialized

October 29, 2016

MoMA when it was small and cute: Gothamist has provided a nice list of small museums in New York, for those times when the big museums are too daunting. I’ve only been to two of them, but I highly recommend MoMath.

Read the full article →

The Future!

October 28, 2016

Real prisons never looked like this: There is nothing about these ideas that I don’t love. Even the ones that would have been awful if built (such as turning Central Park into some demented version of the Versailles gardens) are great when seen solely as presentation drawings. Raymond Hood – my favorite tall-building architect, for […]

Read the full article →

The Back

October 27, 2016

That’s the north side of Two Rector Street, exposed by the demolition of two neighbors as part of the ongoing Trinity Church development project. Pretty, isn’t it? Two Rector is overall a quite nice building, with a heavily ornamented brick and terra-cotta facade. It runs right up to the lot lines on the east (Trinity […]

Read the full article →


October 26, 2016

A wood-frame house during construction, by Jaksmata. There’s a pretty good article from a house-building contractor: here. I have mixed feelings about his conclusions. The case study he presents, about the construction of a complex open-tread stair for a house, is great. I agree with the changes he suggested (and ended up making) in the […]

Read the full article →

Historic Structural Detail: Inconsistent

October 25, 2016

The U.S. Realty Building, 115 Broadway, is the fraternal twin on the right without the cupola. The cupolaed tower is the Trinity Building, 111 Broadway, OSE’s current home. The practice of history is inherently simplifying.* We have to select which facts are important to us out of a potentially infinite number of facts. One side-effect […]

Read the full article →

Everything Old Is New Again

October 24, 2016

Auditorium Building in Chicago, completed 1889: constructed as a theater, office space, and hotel. The Times Real Estate section recently noted the increase in mixed-use buildings, most commonly with apartments in the floors above commercial space. The recent trend is described as a logical response to the insanely inflated prices that can be had for […]

Read the full article →

For The Weekend: Ruins Then

October 23, 2016

A barracks at Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in 1902: It’s got better. Ordinarily, I’m not a big fan of reconstruction, but Ticonderoga was a central site in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. It’s nice to have it in a state worth visiting.

Read the full article →

For The Weekend: Artsy

October 22, 2016

Some great photographs of New York buildings: here, from “Marc Yankus: The Secret Lives of Buildings.”

Read the full article →