I’ve spent my summer at Jan Hird Porkorny Associates working on their myriad of architecture and preservation projects.  As the office has over 40 projects (in various stages of completion) at a time, each person is constantly going back and forth between several projects on any given day. It’s lead to a variety of work, and I’ve learned enormously about all sorts of problems faced on preservation sites, how to create conditions reports, coordinate with sub-contractors, and the importance of selecting the right chocolate babka for the office.

For example, I helped create a DD set for the Leonard Library, in Brooklyn, for the Department of Design and Construction, where our focus was primarily waterproofing – requiring some careful reading about slate installation and kemperol specifications in order to create new details for the set.  On the other hand I also helped to complete a DD set for the Tin Building, where the overriding concern was the careful disassembly and storage of the original tin panels and details that still remain.  It’s been very eye-opening to see how the firm balances the desires of the client (at Leonard the City, while at the Tin building a developer) with the needs of a historic building.

Currently I’ve been working on layouts for the reuse of a barn on the Olana Historic Site property for four-season use. We went up and surveyed for a full day (it was nowhere enough time to get all the information we needed – lesson #551 always take more photos than you think is necessary), and I have now been working on how to install new means of egress, bathrooms, and other amenities needed to make this space usable.  It’s a particularly complex project primarily because of the conflicting desires of several different groups – namely the difficulties in reconciling the Parks Service’s idea to keep the building intact with the board’s desire to make it usable year-round (which means adding insulation to a fragile wood building).  It’s been very instructive to learn how to come up with the various layouts and present them in order to reach some kind of happy medium.  I’ve also learned enormously about setting up construction and design documents – creating sets that are useful on one hand to show the client, but also ultimately useful for the contractor as well.

I’ve been to visit most of the other sites the firm has been working on – from the Knickerbocker Club where we are working on its centennial restoration, to the Battery Lewis bunker in New Jersey, and a wide variety of apartment buildings and townhouses – including the Chelsea Hotel and 1780 Broadway.  I’m very grateful to have been able to work here this summer, as I’ve learned so much (especially about babka), and have been able to visit so many amazing sites.

The Main Barn at the Olana Historic Site