Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gowanus Waste Transfer Site Rising.



























From the filthy mouth of the Gowanus Canal:  Have not updated my previous report on the ongoing construction of the NYC Department of Sanitation's Marine Transfer Station in more than a year.   Extensive pile driving over the Summer and Fall has been completed and now iron workers are hustling the steel.   Roof decking was being installed when I took these photos from the upper deck of Home Depot's parking garage, the best place to check out the action.
More on this state of the art facility can be found here.   LINK










Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brooklyn's Park Avenue Boarded

69 Vanderbilt Avenue Hermetically Sealed.   Hard to believe it but a a Full Vacate Order has been in place since March of 2009.  There are no plans filed for either the demolition or restoration of this wood row house.  Environmental Control Board violations show that the property's owner has failed to maintain the building to the point where it has collapsed in on itself, with beams falling into the cellar and the front porch structurally unsound.  Those familiar with this house will fondly recall the frugal inhabitant's questionable DIY skills.  I seem to remember the porch railings having been reinforced with recycled bed frames in years past.  
The two well maintained frame houses on the right show what might still be possible.  I don't know, sounds like the building's bones might have already turned to jelly.   
Two vacant lots in the very near vicinity have been developed in a much more modern direction.

Posh Park Avenue Address Structurally Unstable

Surprised by the very professional house sealing.... Most of the windows had been without glass even when people lived there.



In Red in the Shadow of The BQE

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Future Looks Blight
































Past performance is a pretty good indication of future results.

Here's a lazy follow up to my last posting on 548 Sixth Avenue... Looks like that partially dismantled, woody two story is still waiting on its zoning approval and building permits. Seems the first attempt has been disapproved by DOB plan examiners.    


Outlook not so good
If the Green-Wood Heights architectural firm of official record, GEE2000 Architect, P.C., eventually gets its way with the DOB,  then I foresee a 40' tall, 4 story, 4 family, masonryesque building rising on the 25 foot wide lot.  The purple fluid inside my Magic 8 Ball seems to have all but dried up, but I might could tell you that our future building will have off street parking for at least one car. What can we expect?



Built samples from the portfolio of GEE2000 Architects, P.C .....................................................................................................................................










Monday, October 31, 2011

South Slope Wood Frame Stripped Bare

 Stripped of most of her exterior cladding,  548 Sixth Avenue shows off her modest bones.  Forensic architectural historians might want to check out the early Twentieth Century building materials and techniques openly on display before she is demolished and a new four story, four family building takes her place.  Judging by the size and placement of the boarded up windows, I imagine some kind of commercial establishment might have been the original occupant.  The interior, it seems, has already been completely gutted.



Tax records show the property was sold 5/27/2011 for $780,000.   The lot is adjacent to  6/15 Green,  the large community garden started in 1987.  There are no demolition permits approved as of right now.  Seems they are waiting for some zoning approval relating to changing the use from a 2 family to a four family.
Corner detail
How many layers?  The protruding nails indicate the depth of the various layers of siding applied over the building's lifetime.
Side wall

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remove and Replace

Vacated 1504 8th Avenue restores its side wall after undergoing extensive foundation repairs. The apartments are in the process of being redone.



After large structural cracks formed throughout the building the entire rear facade and half the side wall was removed. 



Monday, October 24, 2011

In my back yard: Light and Air

Golden Cinder Honey Blocks at Dawn: 400 15th Street progresses from the inside out.

We have lost our panoramic Brooklyn skyline,  one dominated almost entirely for the last century by the monumental 14th Regimental  Park Slope Armory.

Traded it all in for this.  When you live  at the bottom of this man made valley surrounded by these stacked concrete masonry units, your sun rises a little later than it used to.

Construction workers still begin their day at 7AM.

Friday, September 16, 2011

In My Back Yard: Geotechnical Investigations and Subsurface South Slope Exploration

IMBY... In My Back Yard returns to its roots with this  construction update. For those familiar with THE STORY you will be glad to see that we are moving on with the remediation of our damaged crack houses.

After five fucking years of endless soul-killing litigation in the Brooklyn civil court system before the Honorable Justice Laura Jacobson, my neighbors and I have embarked on another financially and emotionally draining journey, hiring what seems like all the king's horses and all the king's men to put our Humpty Dumpty houses together again.

First this, then that, then this.
So you finally find a respected general contractor(s) you like for the job, but they all tell you that foundation repair on 100 year old brick rowhouses is complicated to say the least. The builder tells you he needs detailed drawings, an approved plan, a set of DOB approved marching orders  to know how to bid for the job.  He tells you that he requires the professional advice of a licensed engineer.  Someone who has a vast knowledge of all the possible technological solutions currently out there to remedy your particular shit-storm of a problem.   The one best suited to your individual foundation site.

So now you hire the services of an Engineer.  But Engineers work with hard facts and data.  They need to know what's what.  So your engineer  contracts out the specialized services of a geotechnical engineering firm.  We need someone with a thorough understanding of the principles and practices of subsurface soil investigative techniques in order to determine the current soil conditions and, in our case, how our properties have been affected by the haphazard excavation and construction of the Armory Heights Plaza's three story underground parking garage.

A truck mounted boring rig is the first piece of heavy equipment to show up on a construction site, sometimes even before it starts to look like one.

Leading the Industry Since 1957
So that's where we are today.  Let me introduce you to the Soil Mechanics Drilling Corporation of Seaford Long Island.  They will be performing our subsurface exploration demonstration for today.


The Standard Penetration Test with a Split Barrel Sampler.
This is what is known in the geology business as "The Farmer's Daughter".

First the equipment.  Take note frugal homeowners.  Limited access to the site (say the enclosed backyard of a Brooklyn row house) unfortunately requires the use of a portable drilling/boring rig.  This means all the individual parts of the drilling rig have to be taken off a truck and lugged to the boring site, in this instance through one's kitchen, then assembled out in the backyard.    Afterwards the rig has to be broken down and brought through the kitchen again and out to the street, where it gets loaded back on the truck.  That, as they say... costs a premium.



The portable drilling rig,  assembly required.





Your standard "Donut Hammer".

Briggs and Stratton engine equipped with rotating cathead.





The Parts Diagram for the S.P.T


Opening the borehole. Concrete hole saw cuts right through 5 inch thick patio making way for the iron sampling rods. During the construction of the parking garage this entire patio slab migrated away from the rear wall of our house.

The three man crew sets up and operates the rig.  It took all of three hours to set it up, perform the test sampling, and break it back down.  In Brooklyn it's actually bad news if they strike oil.

Ready to start.  Wrapping the rope around the spinning cathead.

Split Barrel Sampler:  The two haves of the barrel shown separated revealing the soil sample.

The biopsy

The threaded ends allow for the fastening of both halves of the barrel.

The soil samples are removed and placed in glass jars for study back at the lab.  This sample taken from approximately 20 feet deep revealed dense peat-like organic matter. You could actually see what looked like plant material; bark, seeds, stems, within the the sample.   Evidence of some type of long ago bog-like geography perhaps?  Maybe a sheep pasture?

The sample box.  All combined Soil Mechanics performed a total of 6 boring tests.  Besides the actual collection of these samples a written descriptive log was maintained documenting the entire process from start to finish.




video



Once back at the lab, the extracted boring samples are analyzed, and then a geotechnical report will be issued by Soil Mechanics Corp.  
Our engineer will use this information to design, if needed, an underpinning plan to stabilize our compromised foundations.  Our general contractor will work with the engineer to come up with some kind of estimate as to the cost of the repairs.  Anticipating what the engineer is going to prescribe to remedy our ailing homes?   I fear that I already know what he is going to say.  There is seldom good news.   Stay tuned...

Monday, September 12, 2011

Safe Slope Take Back Our Streets Rally September 14th at 8pm



Link to Safe Slope Facebook page  LINK 

Updated police sketch of man suspected in as many as seven assaults and attempted rapes in the South Slope, Greenwood Heights, Sunset Park neighborhoods.








Lest we forget...
The terrifying March 20th assault captured on a neighbors home surveillance tape.