Saturday, May 31, 2008

What a Week

Yeah . . . I know. And there are a LOT of things missing from this schedule. July is gonna be no fun.

Well, as I see it right now - the steel structure (and therefor the kitchen/PV/greenhouse) on this project has a 50/50 shot of actually getting built. The complexity of the site, the incredibly small time-frame for ordering and construction, the minuscule budget and the complete lack of any functioning construction space are all conspiring to make this thing just impossible.

Working this week. We're gonna keep our 'office' space as is - and use the rest of the floor as shop.

First of all - we're getting really good prices on steel, so we've dropped the price of the whole thing to about $16,000 - ridiculously low if you figure what your getting. So thats a positive. But that is because we've changed it so we are doing every bolt, every hole, every cut and every move. This sounds good, right? - after all - thats what we're doing here, working with the materials ourselves, not just subbing them out - but the problem is we have absolutely no access to any space where we could actually do this work. The big beams are about 1000lbs a piece, and even the columns are 13' long and like 300 lbs. Johnny and I tried to choreograph it out the other night, but they are just too big and too heavy to get into our Manhattan space. And we have no money to rent another space, and while we keep saying that we might be able to work on site, I'm just not sure that Mega (the construction company that is still working on the building) would actually be able to let us do that.

But, of course, even if we could somehow get this thing fabricated - or find enough money to pay someone else to do it (that's pretty much what most people do about anything in Manhattan when they don't have the space), we found out this week that Mega won't be able to let us put a crane on site since they are going to be landscaping the triangle before July 1. So that means that we would have to set up in the street, which is an additional 1500 dollar permit to the city, and we'd need to pay 4 guys to flag cars/sidewalks, and the DOT would tell us when we could do the craning so who knows if the timing would even work for us. So the $5,000 crane operation quickly became a $16000 crane fiasco. Totally outside of our budget right now.

Other than beating our head against steel problems we spent the week trying to get scheduling and budgeting in line, as well as setting up the shop here. The budget is at $150,000 right now. Sigh.

To me, thats a failure on our part: the client said the budget was 100, and we came back and said we couldn't figure out any way to do it for under 150. So Stephen and Anne are coming in to talk first thing Monday morning and we're gonna find out if they think they can live with it, or if we need to start cutting things out of the scheme and/or compromising the quality of some of the materials - which would be a shame. BUT - if there ain't no money, there ain't no money. Simple as that.

Unfortunately, the budget problems are holding us back from ordering some of the materials that we REALLY need to get in: primarily the Black Locust wood that we'll be using for almost everything on site. It is coming from Pennsylvania and its all reclaimed wood and is milled to order - we were hoping to get our first shipment on June 16th, which will never happen now since the earliest we can possibly get the order in will be Monday, and thats assuming everything falls our way during the budgeting meeting. But the wood is all air-dried (not kiln) and so even if we could wait 4 weeks for delivery (which we can't - we want it in 2 - otherwise we'll be way behind), it is still gonna be super wet, and that will make the woodworking on the site that much more difficult.

At any rate, the project is a mess right now and I'm feeling really pessimistic about it. But we'll move forward as if everything will work out fine, and just keep working on it. I worked on detailing the low roof, and a cove light for the kitchen space today; tomorrow I've gotta work on walls and the column-to-low roof detailing.

Margot, Tory, Paul and Joel putting up Poly around the shop space.

Jon and Solveig set up a time lapse camera for the shop - should be a fun way to catch us in the act ;) And wow, somebody in this picture has an incredible tool belt.

They won't let us open the windows on the shop space (they are so old they are about to fall out onto 14th street) and so we rigged up a little duct work this morning. If this architecture thing doesn't work out - at least I know I always have a future in HVAC.

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