Page T1.1 . 11 March 2009                     
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    Rope-Access Surveying

    by Evan H. Shu, FAIA

    "Wanted: Project architect/designer with varied experience in construction documents, detailing, and construction administration. Minimum 5 years CAD experience and familiarity with digital photography. Experience in mountain climbing desirable; athletic ability with no fear of heights is required."

    Did the last line of that "help wanted" ad stop you in your tracks? Although you have probably never seen a classified ad like that one, it may not be as far-fetched as you might think. Just ask the trained technicians who perform rope-access surveying.



    Picture an architect in a jumpsuit rappelling down a rope from a roof parapet ten stories up. Clipped to the architect's harness is a digital camera, a streaming video camera, and a tablet computer — all to allow the architect to inspect existing wall and roof conditions, and make on-the-spot CAD notations with linked-in photographs, while videoconferencing with a consultant team viewing the action from the construction office.

    Surveying the Brooklyn Post Office

    In a recent eye-popping seminar at Build Boston called "Until Walls Could Talk," two such adventuresome surveyors — Lisa Howe, LEED AP, of Boston architecture firm Goody Clancy, and Kelly Streeter, P.E., of Ithaca, New York-based Vertical Access — recounted their derring-do performing these survey and documentation techniques to assess the rehabilitation necessary for the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse building in Brooklyn, New York.

    The project required the design team to assess all the existing slate roof, granite and terra cotta exterior cladding for this historic landmark building — most of it in hard-to-access locations above busy thoroughfares, where restricting or blocking traffic for cranes would have been extremely difficult from a permit standpoint.   >>>

    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...

    This article was reprinted from the March 2009 issue of Cheap Tricks © Shu Associates Inc. with permission of the publisher.



    ArchWeek Image

    Loaded up with tablet computer, linked digital camera, and streaming video, a building surveyor assesses wall conditions at the U.S. Post Office and Courthouse (1892) in Brooklyn, New York.
    Photo: Vertical Access LLC Extra Large Image

    ArchWeek Image

    Rope-access surveyors can document building conditions directly in CAD files on tablet computers.
    Photo: Vertical Access LLC Extra Large Image


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