It's been a long time since I've updated, and there is no excuse as usual. I’m having a blast hanging out with my sister this summer, but I also miss my friends. Texas is hotter than sin, but thank God for air conditioning. I’ve officially become a commuter this summer driving 45 minutes each way in traffic, but NPR keeps me company and I’m trying hard not to get road rage. I am really missing the Subway, where someone else drives. People here are way too attached to their cars.
As far as my job, I LOVE IT!! I’m working for one of the top preservation firms under one of the top preservation architects in Texas. It’s amazing to finally be doing what I’ve been working towards since I began college. I’m getting a lot of experience in different aspects of the profession and the people I work with are so nice; they’re already asking when I’m coming back.
The main focus of my work has been on the Old Spanish Missions here in San Antonio. They were built by Franciscan monks in the early 1700’s, and have held up pretty well, but the limestone walls have a rising damp problem, and so we are working on a plan to do some repairs before replastering the interior walls. We can’t permanently solve the problem, but we can do a lot to postpone the next round of replastering for as long as possible. All of the Missions are still active Catholic Churches, therefore the Archdiocese owns them and has to pay for all the repairs, but the National Parks Service runs them as a Park. My boss has been doing work on the Missions since she first joined the Firm straight out of school in the 60’s, so she’s pretty much the primary architect on any work done to them. I got to help put together some completion reports for some previous work that was completed on the Missions before I got here. These are reports that go to the State Historic Preservation Office that summarize all the work that was carried out. I’m also learning how to apply for work permits from the SHPO.
At the beginning of the summer I got to take moisture readings with the protimeter on two of the Missions (remember HP'ers, I think it was Theo or someone that let us touch one of those, it has two pointy spikes coming out of the end). I’ve been working in CAD for the past two weeks preparing the drawings for the replastering work for two of the Missions. I had to do the most detailed mappings of the eroded limestone walls that you will ever see. I had to label each different type of plaster and where it was peeling, and then each little stone and the thousands of different types of mortar along the bottom of the wall where the rising damp has exposed the limestone. I can’t wait for you to see them. When I started, the task seemed impossible, but now I look at the drawings with amazement that I actually pulled it off. I did the originals by hand and them put them into CAD, Chris, you would be proud.
The other major project I’ve been working on is the US Post Office and Courts Building here in San Antonio. We are not the lead firm, the government has a firm in St. Louis they prefer, but we are the local, and we are responsible for exterior restoration and the interior paint finishes. I’ve been analyzing little tiny paint samples we took from the hallways, and I even got to use paint thinner once. We uncovered special decorative paint finishes from the 1930’s when the building was built. Paul Cret, a famous Beaux Arts architect was one of the designers. I got to write part of the historic paint report and design the layout. I’m quite proud of my cover design. Now we’re putting together color boards for the St. Louis firms interiors department to work from.
Oh oh, I almost forgot, I also got to make adobe bricks. They paid me to play in the mud!!!! We are testing the local soil taken from one of the Mission sites to see if we can find the right soil to lime mix to use to rebuild the eroded parts of the walls to a level surface before replastering. I have pictures of that. We took them to the Engineers to have them crushed to find out the maximum psi for each ratio. I have pictures of that too. We got to watch! We’re trying to build it like the Indians would have done originally.
In a few weeks we should start working on a new master plan for the Alamo. Yes, I’m working on the Alamo, every Texas architect’s dream! I told you this firm was the coolest!
So work’s great, but I love not having homework on the weekends. I get to do what I want for once in my life, and it is great!!!! Angela and I went to the Mercado (Mexican Market) in downtown San Antonio last weekend and I got a cute Mexican embroidered shirt and some other small stuff. I’m also trying to take in as many cheap movies as I can before coming back to NYC and the land of $10 movies. We got Netflix too, so we are renting a lot of ones I’ve missed over the last year. The rest of the time I’m either swimming in the pool or watching Project Runway. I hope someone with cable is letting Marissa come over and watch it in NYC.
Until next time...