Bragging, Too

If half of our projects are restorations where our work should be invisible, what’s the other half? Alterations on old buildings, where our work is neither intended to be hidden nor showcased, but simply part of the process.

The unglamorous construction photo above shows work on the Rugby Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library, an unglamorous building that has been part of its community for 60 years. Work there was recently completed and the library reopened, after a very long and tortuous path. The project was first planned in 2005 and OSE got involved in 2007, work stalled in 2009, picked up again in 2015, entered construction in 2017, and was finished in 2021. Obviously it should not take 14 years to upgrade the facade, interiors, and mechanical systems of a branch library, but everything that could possibly go wrong did.

It is extraordinarily rare for an alteration to take place because someone is interested in changing building structure. Changing the structure is a by-product of architectural alterations, changes in use, changes in mechanical systems, or some combination of those three items. Our work at Rugby therefore consisted of small pieces scattered around the building, isolated from one another: a new front canopy and new rooftop dunnage, for example. The photo above is one of the fanciest we took during construction: I could easily have illustrated this post with endless pictures of the space above the dropped ceiling.

There are, of course, buildings where structural engineering is the focus of the architectural design, but most engineering for buildings is closer to this project. Our job here was to enable the architectural upgrades and mechanical upgrades. Shaquana Lovell, over the course of some 14 years, did so.

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