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Construction History: Systems

If you look closely at that picture, something funny is going on at the third floor level up from the bottom. The columns are significantly bigger above that floor than they are below, which does not happen often in modern steel framing and happened even less often with cast-iron columns. What’s going on here? The …

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Construction History: Missing The Point

The Champlain Building in Chicago, built in 1894, was demolished in 1915. The picture above, which could pass for a construction photo, shows the beginning of the structural demo: the windows and interior build-out are gone, and the frame and exterior-wall removal has just started. Holabird & Roche, the architects for Champlain, took the opportunity …

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Construction History: Unearthing Cause And Effect

The 1896 Sanborn Map, above, shows a vacant lot at 1078 Madison Avenue. A while ago I became interested in why that lot was vacant at that time, and the answers show a bit about the usefulness and limitations of historical research in our field. The basic facts are simple: a five-story, one-lot apartment house …

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Construction History: Hints At Process

When the stereoscopic picture above was taken, in 1896, the Manhattan Life Buidling was two years old, and I imagine people were still getting used to seeing Trinity Church overshadowed like that. The 1890 World Building was the first in New York taller than Trinity’s spire, but it was almost half a mile away up …

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A Train Of Thought

Sometimes I’ll read several articles in a row that seem logically connected. Perhaps the current conditions of enforced isolation and poor economics conditions have encouraged writers to move in the same direction, or perhaps there really is a deep connection between the following pieces: “Could a Public Works Program Save New York City’s Economy?” by Samar …

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