A new coat of paint and a new elevator

September 3, 2021

In 2019, we did a small project, but we did it pretty well:

Client had to update their elevator to meet inspections > they had to update their fire alarm system to update their elevator > they had to hire an engineer to update the fire alarm > they had to hire an architect to prepare the base-plans to hire the engineer to upgrade the fire alarm to upgrade the elevator to meet inspections.

It's the woman who swallowed the fly. And, I'm already bored, just teling the story. But, they did it, they did it all, and they hired us: at the end of the line, at the beginning of the thread. And ... we got the permit.

Today, we responded to a call from a developer / buyer, who's ready to hire us, while they develop their proforma, while they review their options, while they consider redeveloping the whole building. And, yes, we do have a complete set of plans they can reference, and we're happy to share.

One thing leads to another in architecture. We learn a little bit at a time. We collect pieces of the city, we learn from the architects before us: the tricks they used, the bent-rules that they got away with (and no one got hurt),and now we get to chase some new work in the same space. We redeem those who have gone before us.

Don't get me wrong, don't misunderstand my intentions. I love being first, I want to transform a bad parking lot into a profitable and meaningful mixed-use center of sociology and opportunity; I want the infrastructure of the city to mould around our urban monuments of place-making and destination-invention.

But, I do delight in the second generation of built-work. I love the additions, the adaptive reuse, the second coat of paint. I enjoy finding a broken building, constructed to meet the economies of its time, and redeeming it with a new generation, and maybe a canvas for new ideas (on the best of days).

But, the 1980's weren't the best of times for a chititecture in the south. It's not a surprise. The first generation of construction, the generation right before us, it was a hard time, it was developers who were trying to break even (just like today). Value Engineering was a new idea, and they took it to heart. In the 80's they realized that they couldn't afford to build what they needed (just like every generation before them),but they were a little bit smarter, they had Excel for the first time, and they saw the cold truth, in a spreadsheet on their new computer screen, that buildings are expensive and that the future is uncertain. For some reason steeped in hard history, I think this was more explicit in the south. Clay brick, because they knew a guy who could lay brick. Rectangle buildings because they had the space to build them.  And then, an architect who knew the standardized Building Code well enough to have some ideas, and some tricks up their sleeves to save money.

And so in 2019, we had to update the elevator, and the fire alarm.  And now the building gets sold, and now we upgrade the elevator again, and we change the stairs, and the restrooms, and we have new ideas, and we pursue a new tenant with an old-school re-developer, looking for redemption to a broken building, and a new coat of paint.

Back to work, think about the future!