Our Renovation and Expansion Update Blog
Dec. 30, 2013
A First Step in Restoring a Very Special Place
Being in the middle of a major renovation, we today turn our attention to a previous expansion, one made possible by a gift from Wilmer Willis Houston. His gift, roughly $4.4 million in 2013 dollars, made possible a new wing on the south side of our building.
Anonymous donors complimented the new addition with an Italianate garden in the front, a memorial to all who have perished in the service of their country. Our new address, One Memorial Place, grows from that 1967 garden.
To make way for one of our two new additions, the garden had to be ripped out, but fear not—it will be restored to its former glory. The first step in the process, with external construction work complete, was to rebuild the decorative brick wall that marks its border, and reinstall the monument stone.
The crew had started the wall and had kept at it whenever the weather and muddy conditions would allow. On a recent morning, clear and cold, it was time for the monument stone to be hitched to a lift, hoisted into place, and then braced for support as mortar work continued all around it. Since that milestone, workers have been crafting decorative touches to the brick work and slowly working their way toward completing the entire wall. When the weather gets warmer, and the mud dries up, restoration attention will turn to the rest of the garden.
Dec. 23/27, 2013
From All Who Took Time Off at the Holidays, a Salute to Those Who Didn't
It's been fairly quiet here as many Chrysler staffers and construction crew members are away for the holidays.
But not everybody is off, so here's to the electricians chasing circuits, the people framing up walls, the guys putting in lights on a great big ceiling, and even the people sweeping up.
At right, we can't show the art getting moved around, but we can show preparations for where it's going to go. Click any link to view an image, and click any image to enlarge.
Dec. 20, 2013
This Week, We Need a Really Big Thank You Friday
Busy days here this week, with 85 to 105 contractors on site at a time. We thank them all, and here's what they were doing:
• As mechanical work continues in the new cafe, here's what's cooking under the range hood.
• On Monday scrapped air handlers were removed by crane. Tuesday, new equipment came flying in. To understand how big a job this is, look at the size of the ducts.
• It was a week that saw some really cold mornings, some measuring and figuring in what's going to be a really tricky spot for scaffolding, an electrician working his reciprocal saw really hard, and welders in action on every floor.
• Next week we'll have a special feature on work in our Memorial Garden. That feature got a key assist from a welder who just happens to do a pretty good Usain Bolt impersonation.
Dec. 17, 2013
Six Months Ago, a Crewmember Posed a Really Good Question
"If you can't take pictures of the art being moved, aren't you worried you're going to run out of pictures?" Our blogger just shrugged: "All you can do is keep looking. Some pictures are taken. Some are given."
Dec. 13, 2013
A Day in Three Words. "Problem? Problem Solved."
We start our Thank You Friday post with a special nod to the riggers removing the last two old air handlers. All new HVAC equipment is going to make a big dent in our $40,000 a month utility bill, and that's why we thank these guys for climbing into crazy spaces, cutting things out, rigging up the drops, and bringing down the scrap. Shown above, they are using chain hoists to get the heavy stuff to the door. The scrap will fly out by crane from the roof on Monday. From the looks of what's coming out, it was time for an upgrade.
Elsewhere around the project:
• At the beginning of the day, we see chipping out old concrete block for a new clean corner. By the end of the day, it's done.
• In finishing up new safety railings, we see pipes cut to fit, then welded into place. As soon as one project wraps up, another begins.
• The fellas get a chuckle whenever they eat by this sign.
• As work progresses in the Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery, it's hard to get across the sense of the enormous size of the room.
• And finally, there's just an amazing amount of drywall mud being thrown around and sanded down. Museums have high standards, so when it comes to the dust-covered fellow shown below, we say thanks for understanding the importance of a perfect finish.
Dec. 12, 2013
When All Else Fails, Show Sparks Flying
With sparks on the inside and mud on the outside, we can report the flow of work is migrating upstairs. There's framing the ceiling, finishing things in the ceiling, or finishing everything in sight. Shown below is the reaching of a stopping point on a dome ceiling in a new addition. Shown above, work begins on cutting out the last two air handlers in need of replacement.
Dec. 11, 2013
We Interrupt This Renovation Report for Coverage of A Holiday Breakfast
This year's holiday breakfast featured a timely construction twist—a hard-hat decorating contest. Staffers had a short time to assemble a masterpiece before making a catwalk stroll.
As you might imagine, we had several hats inspired by works of art, including Bowl of Apples on a Table by Henri Matisse. As proof the time limit on decorating was too short, we present a hard hat with a Norfolk mermaid. There was considerable creativity on display, including a new use for wire nuts. In terms of capturing a moment, we present a really good sport coming to grips with knowing just how silly things have gotten. Shown below is the lineup to pick the contest winner, which, at the end, was everybody. The event concluded with the announcement that all staffers will get an extra day off over the holidays this year.
Dec. 6, 2013
It's Thank You Friday
When we reopen next spring there will be a really robust Wi-Fi system throughout the Museum. You can thank Alex for that. He's shown above checking a public node.
On Thank You Friday, we want to thank every electrician, welder, and duct worker. We want to thank the mechanical guys boring big holes with big heavy drills, the fellows facing really tall ceilings and a big stack of work, and everybody outside laying brick or block. You know people have been working on this site for a long time when you're on the third replacement of the front door ramp.
In staff news, our reopening will include a refurbished gift shop, and staffers got a sneak preview of new products today. Because of construction, the merchandise was set up in the Jean Chrysler Outland Library, which, as shown below, is starting to prepare for an eventual move to the Old Dominion University campus.
Dec. 4, 2013
Today's Photo Roundup Starts With Inspiration From #GetCloser100
Shown above, before the limestone trim can be hung on our new loading dock, there has to be something to hang it on. Right now it's an intricate dance between welding brackets and manually lifting heavy stones.
Elsewhere around the building:
• Since we closed our last post with a shot of plastic installation, we can now report that when you see the boarded-up front door, it's weatherproofing plywood to protect the doors while they are refinished.
• In our non-Western galleries, seems as soon as a floor is prepped, there's new carpet going down.
• There's an amazing level of detail on display when it comes to the casework going into the new glass wing. Even the shelves are specially sized and numbered to match the artwork to be displayed.
• Outside our new glass wing, the tiles are going on the roof porch and reconstruction of the brick wall in the Memorial Garden has begun. The original wall came down Aug. 17, 2012 to make room for the construction that followed.
• As part of our green initiative to save energy, it seems like whenever there's a new pipe, somebody is covering it in insulation.
• Also seems whenever the railing guys are around, sparks are flying. There are sparks flying now and will be more flying in the future upstairs in our mechanical towers as our last two old air handling units get cut out and removed.
• And finally, shown below, the intricate framing for a domed ceiling in an upstairs addition is almost complete.
Dec. 2, 2013
The Art is Always Protected—Even in the Director's Office
Shown above are the bare walls in the office of the boss. The paintings on display there, a perk of his position, were moved to protective storage once work infiltrated staff office areas.
It's proof there really is work all over the building, from tile installation on a new porch roof to duct work installation in the modern art galleries, from drywall finishers to people prepping the floors for carpet installation. The deadlines are tight but the crew is in a good mood. From a tight spot, you can still see a thumbs up, and outside on the new loading dock, the limestone crew got a kick out of photobombing the welder. Shown below, there's a lot going on with our front door, and we'll get to it in depth in tomorrow's post.