Thursday, March 22, 2012

Real Steel

It's time for steel. (Yes!) Today, tomorrow, next week there will be steel happenings at the SFJAZZ Center site. 

Embeds for the steel
(protruding from the wall)
From big, multi-piece trusses to single beams. All being welded to the connection points and embeds that are already set into our concrete box. Hathaway Dinwiddie will start with the steel inside the box -- hoisting, positioning, setting, checking, double checking, welding -- and build up the frame that will become the interior structure of the auditorium. It all starts with a set of diagonal crossbeams inside the southeast corner of the auditorium walls. Diagonal. Not much is easy about this job. It's going to be home to music that will challenge our hearts and minds as it captivates us...America's music...  so it is somehow right that even it's very structure be forward thinking, innovative, thoughtful... and start off with steel being welded into place on the diagonal because that is what is right. 

Like it's right for us to have this building exactly where it is... in a striving neighborhood, Hayes Valley. I walk to the site at Franklin and Fell from the Van Ness Muni stop each week. Drove by on Monday evening as I showed a visiting friend a bit of the city including City Hall and the performing arts district. On Tuesday evening I did the easy walk from the site to Valencia St. in the Mission for dinner. All that is just the tiniest bit of why this location is fantastic for jazz, for the students and artists and audiences that will call the SFJAZZ Center home. And, well, it's also why Tara, our HD project manager, and Jeff our HD superintendent will both perhaps be fully grey by the time construction ends! 

Building something this complex, tight and packed, that has what we need to do all we aspire to at the Center, on a site with no excess space, on a major San Francisco thoroughfare, is exciting stuff. The rebar and the concrete forms had to come in at the right time, in the right sequence, and now the steel will have to do the same. Prefabricated wherever possible, sequenced and staged, just what fits in the remaining spaces on the site -- it's a science. And it's blissfully fun for me to be able to participate while the experts do their thing.

Meanwhile, it's time for cranes and such to lift steel into the air! I know that will be simply beautiful. (Even if Mr Jackman isn't here to see it.)


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