Green House Girl 5: Try, Try Again

| 10/14/2008 4:06:52 PM

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Man, what a difference a few weeks make! To be honest, the last time I visited the Show House, I was kind of disappointed because I couldn’t see that much progress had been made. (Granted, it was hard to see much of anything through the rain that was pouring down inside the building, but still.)

Then spring sprang, and wow: Suddenly the place is blooming, work is booming, and even I—the construction neophyte—can now vaguely picture how the finished product is going to look in real life. During my most recent visit to the site, I knew that major strides had been made before I even crossed the threshold. The building looked radically different on the outside: The yellow DensGlass on the building’s upper floors had been covered over and some of the scaffolding had been removed, so the parapet of the building’s original shell was now visible from the street.

As it turns out, part of that facelift was because of an unforeseen event: The building’s original shell had started to tilt inwards from the scaffolding’s weight, so crews had to fit some pretty major demo work into their already-crammed schedule. They photographed the shell, tested the whole thing brick by brick, removed all the old brick and mortar that seemed weak, and reconstructed much of the shell using new bricks and mortar that had been painstakingly handpicked to match the building’s original pattern exactly.

I would have cried with frustration, but when construction supervisor Dave Moreno told me what had happened, he was calm. That surprised me. I mean, we’re talking about a pretty big undertaking—one that hadn’t been part of the plan—and it seemed like everyone had just taken it in stride and rolled with it. By the time I arrived, the newly reconstructed outer shell was almost complete, and it looked pretty damn perfect (and by perfect, I mean it looked just as it had before). Surprises and setbacks are apparently par for the course in construction, and I find that inspiring in a “try, try again” kind of way.

The inside of the building looked totally different, too. For one thing, there were lots more men toiling away than ever before (25, according to Dave). Everyone was working on a different project. The plumber was installing pipes on the fourth floor. Bricklayers were finishing up the repair work on the outer shell. Guys were installing ventilation ducts on the third-floor ceiling. The third and fourth floors glittered as sunlight hit hundreds of silvery studs that had been put up since my last visit (they’ll support interior walls). Best of all, most of the windows had been put in, so rain won’t be much of a problem from now on.

So much was happening compared to last time, it almost seemed like I’d stepped into some weird alternate universe. Even laid-back Dave seemed a little self-conscious about the chaos. “Sorry about the mess,” he kept saying—as if I’d popped by his place unexpectedly and found it littered with empty beer cans and old pizza boxes. Hilarious!

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