Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Department of Blunders

This week the Department of Buildings commissioner "retired." It's esssentially understood that she was forced out because an up-tick in the number of people dying due to things like big-ass cranes falling from the sky and crushing 4 story walk-ups. While my job gives me intimate knowledge of the ineptitude of the DOB, and even though I'm not a big fan of of their"initiatives," I don't believe the construction accidents can be pinned entirely on the commissioner or even that department. If you want to buy me lunch, I'll explain in detail after boring detail. In the meantime, please take a look at this unorthodox method of construction.

Please note the thin cables (exaggerated in red) tying back that 40'[?] unbraced column. Now I'm not a general contractor nor a iron worker, but that seems dangerous to me. Who builds a structure in like this? I think it's normal to frame out a floor at a time. At least the cable stays have some chance of keeping a 20 foot section of that column from falling on to the street? Most of the danger seems directed at workers on the site, but in high winds?

This is a few days later. Looks like they got around to attaching one more beam to that column. Only three more floors to go.

The point is the DOB is congenitally flawed. Complete overhaul is what it needs but I can personally testify that's not feasible; it's simply too large, too old and too integral to construction which is not going to stop as it would cripple the economy. The "initiatives" that come from upstairs are made by people that have no idea how that affects the service levels department wide.

Example: the suits upstairs, while rarely every stepping foot on the 3rd floor of the Manhattan DOB (where all the work gets done), are able--every few months--to "streamline" procedures and better their service levels.

After one of the Borough Managers came over and sternly asked me why I was taking pictures , I told him I thought that was a pretty long line. He laughed and said, "oh, it's usually much worse." Ha.

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