Archive for July, 2011

A duck in a boat floats in a leaky plywood and plexiglass box partly filled with water, and sealed with PROSOCO R-GUARD Emergency Water Stop.

We have this really cool product, PROSOCO R-GUARD Emergency Water Stop. It fixes anything that’s leaking water — even if the water is pouring through the leak at the time!

You can fix leaks that are under water. Emergency Water Stop cures under water — or out of the water.

It’s not a permanent fix. Will probably last about a season in the outdoors. It’ll stop a leak in a boat, for instance, but eventually you’d have to get the leak repaired structurally.

But there’s nothing bettter in an emergency… hence the name.

Anyway, our graphic artist, Stephen Falls, who is also a handy-man DIY kind of guy, who has used Emergency Water Stop at his home, wanted to photograph a demo of how great the stuff actually is. We got our videographer John Young in on it to make a video (which isn’t ready yet).

To do the actual application and demo, we got Matt Travis, our Design Verification Testing Specialist. Matt’s pretty handy, too.

First, Stephen built an open-top plywood box, with one side of plexiglass. He made sure there was a healthy gap between the plexiglass and the plywood edges. The idea was that we’d fill the box with water from a hose, water that would immediately leak out — until Matt sealed it all up with Emergency Water Stop.

Here are the pics of the demo:

This is the box Stephen built for the demo. That's Matt's arm and hand showing where the Emergency Water Stop is going to go.

Matt inserts a quarter in the gap between the plexiglass and the plywood to show how the water can get out of the box. There are also a couple of holes drilled in the side of the box to make the box even leakier.

John clamps the hose to the Leak Box.

Hose runs water into the box, which immediately starts leaking. Who built this thing, anyway?

Water leaks out the side, too. At this rate, our rubber duckie will never get to take a boat ride.

With the hose running, and the box leaking, Matt applies Emergency Water Stop to the seams.

Matt works on sealing the gap between the plexiglass and the plywood edges.

Matt details the Emergency Water Stop into the gap with a putty knife.

Videographer John Young captures the action for a video soon to be released on this blog!

With water leaking all over the place, Matt takes a break so Stephen can shoot the demo progress so far.

Matt continues applying Emergency Water Stop.

More detailing, as the water continues to run.

Finally, Matt tackles the big leak in front.

Done! Hey, notice the water's stopped leaking out of the box?

Matt does a little final detailing.

Now we just let the water rise.

Here's a view of one of the inside corners, under water.

John Elway showed up to help keep us entertained while we waited around for a little while to make sure the Emergency Water Stop held its water-tight integrity.

After that, I had to use my brain to come up with some laughs.

The brain rushes John Elway. Things are getting a little strange, but it is Friday, after all.

The duck shows up and we put him in a little boat. We wanted the duck to give us a little perspective....

...as we shake the box, agitating the water to see if we can get the Emergency Water Stop to leak.

The Emergency Water Stop did fine, but the duck didn't fare so well in the rough water.

That’s the Emergency Water Stop story. We can’t sell you any (unless you’re one of our distributors), since we only sell through distribution. But if you want some to keep in the house, shop or truck, visit our Distributor Finder to find your friendly neighborhood distributor of PROSOCO products.

It’s neat stuff, imho.

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Looks like a brick wall, But it's really cast-in-place concrete, artfully decorated with Consolideck ColorHard by master craftsman and artist Shawn Wardell, Specialized Inc. photo by Nick Savage, PROSOCO

That wall isn’t clay brick masonry? Say it ain’t so!

Sorry, but it’s so. It’s a cast-in-place concrete wall at Warner Park baseball stadium in Madison, Wis., (home of the mighty Mallards) decorated to look — a lot — like brick and mortar masonry.

The 4 1/2 – 5-foot walls front the grandstand along the first- and third-base lines.

They were created with formliners in a brick pattern. Master decorative concrete artist and craftsman Shawn Wardell, Specialized, Inc. got the job of decorating the 3,000 square feet of patterned concrete to make it look like red brick and gray mortar.

He began in late May by blending Consolideck ColorHard “Brownstone” with “Rose Quartz,” two parts to one, to create the familiar red clay brick color.

ColorHard colors, hardens and densifies concrete in one easy step. You just mix a pre-measured amount of ColorHard color concentrate with one of PROSOCO’s lithium-silicate hardener/densifiers — in this case, Consolideck LS/CS — and you’re ready to decorate and make the concrete more durable.

PROSOCO's Project Testing director Courtney Murdock displays one of the pre-measured packs of Consolideck ColorHard color concentrate. Just mix with one of our lithium-silicate hardener/densifiers, and you're ready to color concrete and improve its durability. Photo by Gary Henry

Shawn said he applied his “red clay” ColorHard, by spraying it from a quart spray bottle onto a 9-inch paint pad. He carefully drew the pad across the surface of the wall with just enough pressure to help the ColorHard soak in, without letting it run down the face of the wall.

He said it took some experimenting to get it right.

The formliner indented the “masonry joints” about a quarter-inch beneath the surface. Shawn was able to coat the surface several “courses” at a time, without getting color in the joints.

“I had a deadline,” he said. The project had to be finished by the ballpark’s home opener, so there wasn’t time to color each “brick” individually.

Where color did get into the recesses, Shawn cleaned it out with a 4 1/2-inch wheel on a hand-grinder.

Shawn applied a film-forming acrylic protective treatment over the colored wall to keep water off and give the wall a satin finish.

The cap on the wall got the same ColorHard treatment — with “Desert Sand.”

Are you sure that's not real clay brick masonry? It's cast-in-place concrete, cunningly contrived to look like brick with the help of Consolideck ColorHard and an artistic touch. Nick Savage photo

The park owners liked it enough, Shawn said, that they decided to recreate the look on the ballpark gift shop.

When the grandstand walls were first installed, it turned out that they were too tall. About a foot had to be trimmed from their tops. The trimmed-off tops got duty as retaining walls at the park’s entrance, and also got the Shawn Wardell ColorHard treatment.

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Photos courtesy Carl Stein, Elemental Architecture

Shepard Hall (1907) City College of New York, clad in dark gray, locally quarried Manhattan Schist, features nearly 72,000 individual units of GFRC trim and ornamentation replacing failing terra cotta pieces.

There’s something grand about every high-profile restoration project, but Shepard Hall, City College of New York, with work spanning more than a quarter-century and $100 million, is truly epic in scope.

The project began in 1986 when the award-winning Stein Partnership, New York City, now Elemental Architecture, took on the job of determining how to save the 1907 Gothic Revival centerpiece of the college — if indeed it could be saved.

The building, designed by George Browne Post (1837-1913), was in dire condition inside and out, said Carl Stein, FAIA, one of the firm’s founders. Carl, author of Greening Modernism, published by W. W. Norton, has overseen the Shepard Hall restoration from the beginning.

Structural terra cotta, unable to cope with decades of freeze-thaw cycling and building movement had been failing for 60 years. In some places chunks, falling from the building, were replaced with brick and mortar.

“It wasn’t very pretty,” Carl said.

Of the 72,000 separate terra cotta pieces on the building, a third were already missing from the building and another third were badly damaged. Craftsmen, studying vintage photographs, replaced 65,000 with GFRC replicas.

In the process, they recreated nearly 10,000 different shapes of which 3,000 are sculptures ranging from floral decoration to larger-than-life-sized human figures, gothic grotesques and gargoyles.

GFRC castings wait for installation. They are replicas of original terra cotta ornaments, created by craftsmen after studying vintage photos of the originals.

Correcting the flaws of the original design, Carl specified a substrate using a traditional masonry structure with the GFRC replicas bolted on to it using a steel framing system that accommodates adjustment in all three planes.

Shepard Hall’s dark gray Manhattan Schist, which was quarried from the very ground where Shepard Hall now stands, bore up under the decades much better than the terra cotta, but still had problems in places. Damaged stones were replaced with similar-looking granite.

Dark gray Manhattan Schist and newly installed GFRC await cleaning and weatherproofing with PROSOCO products on Shepard Hall, during its ongoing restoration.

Where cleaning was needed, the preferred method was simply brush and water. When tougher measures were called for workers used Sure Klean Restoration Cleaner.

The technicians used Restoration Cleaner for areas of heavy carbon staining, a common problem on buildings from the coal-fueled early 20th Century.

Sure Klean Weatherseal SL100 Water Repellent was and is specified to weatherproof the cleaned and repaired sections of the building. The protective treatment is designed specifically for dense substrates like schist and GFRC.

“We chose SL100 because it’s highly breathable, and doesn’t create any appearance change,” Carl said. Along with short-circuiting the freeze-thaw cycle by blocking water penetration, the protective treatment also makes the surface easier to keep clean by stopping contaminants from soaking in, he added.

Work proceeded in nine separate phases, with a 10th and final phase set to kick off in late 2011.

Each phase addressed its own portion of the building, the order driven by severity of deterioration. “Life-threatening” conditions topped the list. With its four turrets beginning to bend outward, in danger of catastrophic failure, Shepard Hall’s main tower was first to get attention.

“We dismantled and rebuilt the upper 65 feet of the tower,” Carl said. This included the installation of four, 56-foot-tall structural post-tensioned precast concrete “masts” which were entirely clad with GFRC replicas, faithfully reproducing the original terra cotta forms.

Newly rebuilt, the upper 65 feet of Shephard Hall’s Main Tower awaits installation of GFRC.

A three-story bay window, one of six on the building, that had torn loose and collapsed led to another priority project. Investigation showed that all of the steel in these areas had deteriorated to the point of imminent failure. All six bay windows were carefully removed and replaced.

Inside, the building’s Great Hall, a cathedral-sized space 63 feet high, 185 feet long and 89 feet wide, was equally at risk. In its time, the hall boasted appearances by Albert Einstein, presidents William Howard Taft, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and other luminaries.

Authorities closed the Great Hall in the 1980s because of the risk of masonry falling from upper parts of the window surrounds and other dangers. It stayed closed for 10 years.

By 1997, Carl and his team had put the Hall back in business, with a new limestone floor, new ventilation, lighting, acoustics, and voice and data systems — and restored stained glass windows with new surrounds. That work netted the firm a coveted Lucy G. Moses Preservation award.

Falling masonry and other safety hazards closed Shepard Hall’s cathedral-sized Great Hall for 10 years until it was restored with a new limestone floor, new window surrounds and more.

People caused some of the deterioration. In the 50s and 60s, Carl said, wooden doors and windows were replaced with aluminum. One of the building’s main entrances was taken for a concrete truck dock, which was later abandoned.

The entrance is now restored. Handsome oak door and window frames matching George Post’s original specifications have replaced the deteriorating aluminum frames.

Original oak doors were replaced with aluminum in the 50s and 60s, but were themselves replaced with new replicas, like this entrance to the Bell Tower, matching architect George Browne Post’s original specifications, during Shepard Hall’s epic restoration.

But weather, architectural flaws and human disregard for aesthetics aside, the biggest cause for the building’s descent into near-ruin was neglect, Carl said.

Several New York City budget crises, going back to the 50s, back-burnered maintenance for decades. With nothing to oppose it, weather found the weaknesses in the design and exploited them. By 1986, Shephard Hall was at a turning point where something had to be done — demolition or restoration.

Carl and his associates envisioned a 10-year plan to save the building. Its owners, the Dormitory Authority for the State of New York and City University of New York, agreed. The architects structured the plan to proceed as money became available.

While the vagaries of public funding have stretched the project out to more than two-and-a-half times its intended length, the work has methodically continued to where Shephard Hall, if not complete, is at least out of danger.

During the decades-long project, Elemental and nearly a dozen general contractors worked around building occupants, explored dozens of options for terra cotta replacement, and navigated a complex and constantly changing political and financial landscape to keep the epic project on track.

The payoff is that this landmark building, centerpiece of a campus that has produced more Nobel Laureates (nine) than any other public college, that has hosted presidents, will be around for a long time to come, Carl said.

“I look forward to seeing it completed,” he added.

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This long shot shows Shepard Hall’s Main Tower under reconstruction during the building's epic, ongoing restoration.

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