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Our Expansion and Renovation Update Blog

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Jan. 31, 2014

On Thank You Friday, We Revisit a Prediction Made a Year Ago

Last Jan. 28 we published a caption that said this photo "might wind up as our only construction picture with snow on the ground." With two storms in two weeks, we obviously blew that call. We appreciate the crew making their way in when roads were such a mess, and we thank them for their work on tight deadlines.

With work frozen in place outside, things bustled inside. In tall galleries there were tall machines. New carpet was covered in plastic wrap for protection. We spotted one electrician through the hole he was about to fill with a light fixture. And finally, the picture shown below is for everyone who remembers a beautiful wedding in Huber Court. This is how it looks today.

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Jan. 28, 2014

Working Outside in a Wind Chill of 9 Degrees

It was really busy in the galleries today with work in progress on floors, walls and ceilings, and as much as we appreciate everybody working inside, today's post is in honor of two crews working outdoors in brutal conditions. Shown above the operator of the track loader is using the exhaust pipe as a hand-warmer. His ground crew was slowed by topsoil freezing inside the bucket. While they worked near the back parking lot, the concrete crew in Mary's Garden pulled up the forms and backfilled the earth in near-record time. "Forms are always faster coming out than going in," said one worker. "But it's also really, really cold."

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Jan. 27, 2014

Inside, Beating Deadlines. Outside, Trying to Beat an Oncoming Storm

If there's a gallery, seems like there's somebody working in it. Our building is crowded and busy, and among the folks working in dim work lights are drywall finishers, as shown above. Outside, whether it was work on gates in the Memorial Garden or footers in Mary's Garden, there was a definite sense of keeping things moving, (as the forecast says the weather will go south within 24 hours). Shown below is the tie-wire wheel on the belt of a concrete form builder. It wears its years of use well.

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Jan. 24, 2014

A Friday Tempered by a Weekend Catch-Up Day

The galleries were crowded with workers today and a lot was going on. The drywall hangers are now working on curved surfaces, as shown above in the new cafe, and as shown here in a new addition. Seems like anywhere you look there's work going on, even in the hallway right outside the offices of our curators.

For much of this project, on Fridays you'd hear plenty about the upcoming weekend from the guys on the crew. Not so much today; many will work this weekend to make up for the snow day earlier in the week.

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Jan. 23, 2014

Working In Ice And Snow

Thursday morning the crew was back at it, including, as shown above, work on concrete footers in Mary's Garden. About a dozen workers were on site Wednesday despite the weather. When it comes to workers driving company vehicles, a lot of companies ban their driving during inclement weather. All told, we had some banners ripped up by high winds, but no real damage. A tip of the hat has to go to an underground utility spotter, who finished his assignment even if it meant spray-painting snow.

Tuesday, before the snow came:

Inside, work continued on all the new handlers and mechanical equipment up on the third floor. Near the new first-floor cafe we found a worker using a laser level, a bubble level and a speed square all the same time.

Outside, foundational work continued for the Mary Garden's patio and workers also continued to install some cool new concrete walkways. It looks like exposed aggregate, but in fact, water will run right through it. The walkway will stay hard and won't get muddy while being much better for the environment by reducing runoff.

For those who are counting, we're 107 days away from reopening.

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Jan. 17, 2014

A Longer Scrolling Post Thanks to a Really Busy Week

This week it was hard to find a spot where nothing was going on. Shown above is work right off Huber Court and shown here is one of hundreds of cuts made at Huber Court stations this week. We had ceilings going up in our new modern art gallery and armored cable being pulled just one room away. We had fellows installing interior glass doors near the theatre lobby, and we even had duct installers working between walls. Shown below is something you don't see as much of anymore—a gallery still in its early phases.

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The photo below was previewed to a Virginia Beach mom. She called it "a timeless photo of a man working" and started to riff:

"The trades. We're losing the trades. How do people get the skills to continue in these trades anymore? Where do they learn? Who are their mentors?

"Museums preserve art, but here, the preservation is the doing, the building. It all comes down to the builders. I find it all exciting, a tribute to the craftsmen. It took a craftsman to build that wall, to wire it, to visualize it, to make it all come together. It's a lot to accomplish. It's a big deal, and I appreciate it.

"That's what I see in the photograph of the young man working."

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Our final special mention on this Thank You Friday is for all the people who were installing concrete walks and ramps all around the building this week. A lot of heavy rock and concrete has to be moved before a finisher can smooth it. Out front, under a magnificent live oak, the crew cut the grade, shored the surface, erected the forms and started pouring. They finished a new front walk in an amazingly short amount of time. And at the end of the day, as shown below, it's time to change out of dirty boots and head for home.

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Jan. 15, 2014

One Moment for Three Pictures

Shown above, it's either a Jedi mind trick or a habitual flipping to find the right edge and balance. Shown here is a simple scene from a gallery interior. And in a few months this area will be sporting a new sparkle. These are exciting times. We're 115 days away from reopening.

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Jan. 14, 2014

This Place is Starting to Feel Really Crowded

With deadlines approaching, different trades are working in close proximity to each other. From a floor sander, shadow shown above, to electricians and drywall hangers and finishers and masons; seems like everybody is hustling to cross one more thing of their do-lists. Adding to the claustrophobic feeling is that when an area is turned over to allow art handlers to get to work, those areas are blocked off and secured.

On Monday, before the rain rolled in, it was crazy busy outside, too, with work on sidewalks, patios and a decorative wall in our soon-to-be-rebuilt Memorial Garden. And shown below, considering the roofs on the new additions have already experienced a 100-degree temperature swing since their installation, all the flashing and caulking got a just-in-case review.

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Jan. 10, 2014

Lots Going On, Which Makes
For a Big "Thank You Friday"

We'll get to the fellows shown above in a minute, because with temperatures back to normal, things were humming outside today. Shown at right is the dust kicked up by cutting a new hole in an exterior wall on the east side of the building. On the north side, rocks were unloaded and rocks were evenly spread in prepartion for the new concrete patio in Mary's Garden. Inside a crew prepared a 650-pound stone that was installed over the entryway to our new cafe.

There's much work to be done before our May 10 reopening, so thanks to the concrete finishers, the framers, the finishers, the masons, and all the mechanical guys working in the cafe, as seen here and here. At the top of the post we started with the fellows framing new skylights, and here's the view from the floor. Shown below is a case installer working in our new non-Western gallery. Click any image to enlarge.

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Jan. 8, 2014

Changing the Name to Hu-Brrrrr Court

Throughout this long project, the art has always been climate-protected. The same can't be said for the staff. Combine changeovers in heating and cooling systems with proximity to open work areas, and, well, the word "trouper" comes to mind. Doubly so as shown above, because once the nearby gift shop floor was refinished, our guard had petrochemical fumes blowing by his duty station all afternoon.

A walk around the project today found people double-checking plans, people setting up shop right outside the front door, and grading for the soon-to-be-restored patio in Mary's Garden. Shown below is what happens after you unpack 230 new chairs. You get to bust down 40 cardboard boxes for recycling.

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Jan. 7, 2014

What a Difference
a Day Makes

On Monday, as surveyors measured the new front edge of our garden, folks were in shirtsleeves. By Tuesday morning, the crew was dressed like this. We saw a 52-degree drop in a single day.

Inside, things continue to hum along, especially with drywall finishers, as shown here and here. Shown at right is work on the new wheelchair lift just off Huber Court.

And finally, two of our Gallery Hosts had an interesting task ahead of them—unpacking 230 chairs from 40 boxes. It's more proof that when we say we're redoing everything, we mean everything. Including comfy new seats for weddings and other affairs.

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Jan. 3, 2014

Winter Storm Hercules Outside, Thank You Friday Inside

On a day when frozen mud puddles drove the masons to working inside, we had a team, shown above, emptying out the Museum Shop. A new floor gets laid there next week.

As we close out the week with our traditional Thank You Friday, here's a tip of the hat to folks balancing out the heating and air, to the people framing out new galleries, and all the drywall hangers, finishers, painters and even the case installers. We offer a special mention to all the guys working on the wiring, as seen here and here. There's wire everywhere—for security cameras, fire alarms, climate control, telephones, Wi-Fi, and everything involving electricity. At this point, the wire would be measured in miles, and there are still 126 days to go before we reopen.

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Jan. 2, 2014

The Day We Set The Date For Reopening

Work resumed around the building today after the holiday, but the big news came from an executive meeting this morning. We will reopen on May 10, 2014.

Our original plan called for an April 12th reopening, but in the field of big construction projects, few things ever finish exactly on time. All things considered, being only four weeks behind on a 16-month project isn't so bad.

There is, quite simply, an incredible amount of work remaining to be done over the next 127 days, but that's a story for another day. When it comes to the progress we have to make, we'll keep you posted here.

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