New NYC DOB regulations for Local Law 11 work… | Habitat Magazine

May 9, 2016

May 6, 2016 — New DOB regulations will boost the cost of mandatory Local Law 11 work.

As the new cycle for Local Law 11 inspections begins, new regulations, previewed at an industry meeting staged by the Department of Buildings (DOB) on April 18, are causing consternation among building owners and their professionals. The upcoming requirements for Local Law 11, formally known as the Facade Inspection Safety Program (FISP), will affect about 14,000 buildings over six stories high throughout the city, and will be, in the words of Howard L. Zimmerman, president of Howard L. Zimmerman Architects, “more involved, more intense, more expensive.”

Source: Facade Repairs | Habitat Magazine

American Society of Safety Engineers – 2016 Professional Development Conference and Exposition – Atlanta, GA

April 26, 2016

ASSE Professional Development Conference & Exposition takes place in Atlanta, GA from June 26 through June 29, 2016.

For more than 50 years, ASSE’s Professional Development Conference has been and will continue to be the direct reflection of what is taking place in the occupational, safety and health industry.

Source: Safety 2016 – Atlanta, GA

Rafael Guastavino movie, “El arquitecto de Nueva York” premiered in Valencia, Spain

April 12, 2016

On March 1, 2016, Kent Diebolt, founding partner of Vertical Access, and Berta de Miguel, Metropolitan New York branch office manager traveled to Valencia to join 500 people at the world premier of the documentary film, “El arquitecto de Nueva York”.

Lunch on the beach with friends, family and colleagues in Valencia, the day of the Premier. Right to left: María Alcalá, Fernando Vegas, Camilla Mileto, Kent Diebolt, Arturo Zaragozá, Gabriel Pardo, Berta de Miguel

Lunch on the beach with friends, family and colleagues in Valencia, the day of the Premier.
Right to left: María Alcalá, Fernando Vegas, Camilla Mileto, Kent Diebolt, Arturo Zaragozá, Gabriel Pardo, Berta de Miguel

A celebration of the lives and careers of the Rafael Guastavinos – father and son – the film, produced by Endora Productions and produced and directed by Eva Vizcarra, aims to get the public to know and admire this largely unknown architect.

The documentary explores the life and professional achievements of Rafael Guastavino Senior through masterfully designed special effects and 3D recreations, images and testimonials by different persons professionally or personally involved with the architect. Kent and Berta are two of those professionals that participated in the film, sharing their passion and knowledge of the Guastavino legacy.

Right to left: Berta de Miguel, Eva Vizcarra, Kent Diebolt

Right to left: Berta de Miguel, Eva Vizcarra, Kent Diebolt

Filmed in the United States and Spain, El arquitecto de Nueva York is a very well documented, written and executed film, intended to allow the general public in both countries to humanly and professionally know one of the most important figures in the history of architecture of the United States. Eva Vizcarra builds such depth of respect and passion for Rafael Guastavino’s achievements and humanity, that the viewer feels like a friend of his at the end of the 90 minute documentary film. A one-hour version of the film will be broadcast by the public Spanish television TVE2 on April 15th 2016, and a longer version will be projected in cinemas across Spain after that date. The release date for the English version in the United States remains unknown, but we will keep you posted.







Watch the film’s trailer here.


Learn more about Rafael Guastavino

The Valencian Architect and Constructor Who Built (Quite a Bit of) New York

How One Family Built America’s Public Palaces

Recuperando a Guastavino: el qrquitecto de Nueva York’ fue valenciano (y es un desconocideo)

Cleveland City Council approves facade-inspection requirement for buildings (photos) |

April 5, 2016

Many mid-sized and large buildings in Cleveland must undergo an exterior inspection every five years, under a law approved Monday evening.

Source: Cleveland City Council approves facade-inspection requirement for buildings (photos) |

Can you identify this building? – Series No. 7

March 23, 2016

Test your knowledge of historic and iconic buildings in the U.S. (and beyond!) in this series of “guess the building” blog posts.

Series No. 7:

Gargoyles and turrets abound on this monumental government building, constructed just before the turn of the twentieth century to house several federal agencies under one roof. In which city on the shores of Lake Michigan is this building located?



Answer: U.S. Courthouse and Federal Office Building, Milwaukee, WI. This Romanesque Revival building was designed by Willoughby J. Edbrooke, Supervising Architect of the U.S. Treasury. It originally housed a post office, courts and U.S. Customs office. Today, the only original remaining tenant is the United States District Court.


Don’t miss another architectural challenge: subscribe to our blog by signing up with your email address in the sidebar. Click here to see all of the posts in this series.

Photos by Vertical Access.

Reaching a Wide Variety of Audiences about the Ups and Downs of Drones

March 23, 2016

The rise of the development of drones and their game-changing potential to advance applications for commercial use in the building industry is huge.  We’ve been working to stay abreast of opportunities and advances since first recognizing the value these new tools bring to our work.

Vertical Access holds a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) 333 Exemption for the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to assist with the inspection of buildings, monuments, dams, bridges, and other types of structures in the United States. However, FAA regulations and restrictions are keeping drone operators pretty much grounded.  While there are opportunities opening up for the use of drones for inspections in the energy sector and for bridge and dam inspections for example – uses for building inspections in urban environments it is not an option – yet.

While regulations are slow to change, technology and software developments are not hindered at all and we’ve been continuing to invest in the time, hardware, and software to be ready and prepared for future project possibilities.

During the last six months, Vertical Access partners and staff have been presenting to a variety of audiences in California, Michigan and Pennsylvania about the potential for the use of drones for inspections. These presentations to industry organizations have provided updates on the state of the ever-evolving FAA regulations and technical applications.

Drones or UAVs: Life on a Frontier

Last Fall, Kent Diebolt co-presented with John Sier, Principal of the law firm Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook about the use of drones in the building industry. The symposium held in Novi, MI, was organized by the Michigan Chapter of the Construction Owners Association of America (COAA). COAA members include public and private owners and developers from government, academia, and commercial venues who use construction services. The presentation was designed to untangle and de-mystify the many questions about drones from a supply, application and legal / regulatory point of view.

Kent provided an overview of the exponential rise in the potential use of drones in the building and construction industry, including some of the latest stories in the news about the problems they are causing, such as hampering the efforts of fire fighters. FAA regulations and restrictions were presented along with a robust scenario of the myriad opportunities for advancing inspection technologies that are being rapidly developed.

Drones – the Next Big Thing (Maybe)

Kelly Streeter presenting at the 2016 Winter Technical Meeting in San Diego, CA. Photo: @InfoSWR

At the 2016 Winter Technical Meeting of the Sealant, Waterproofing and Restoration Institute (SWRI) in San Diego, CA, Kelly Streeter delivered a 40-minute presentation about drones to an audience of commercial contractors, manufacturers, and building design professionals.

Kelly talked about the increasing popularity of the use of UAVs as a new tool that can be utilized, for example, to increase the sample size of building façade inspections. She explained how still photography, live feed video streams, and infrared thermography could be completed using UAVs, and how improved photogrammetry tools can be integrated to create three-dimensional models of existing conditions and infrared profiles.  A sobering look at the latest state of FAA regulations and they way they’re halting use of UAVs in urban environments was also explained.

Members of SWRI can login and see a video of Kelly’s presentation here.

Q: Was there a high level of interest in this subject at the conference?
Kelly: I always judge the interest level of any presentation I am a part of by the range and number of questions after I stop talking.  If I use that measure, I think there was a lot of interest in the topic of UAVs.  The level of knowledge about both the opportunities for UAV technology in architecture, engineering, and construction was largely limited to visual inspection so the photogrammetry, I think, was new to most.  The review of the regulatory environment was a surprise to most.

Q:  What were some of the questions and concerns of the audience? Anything surprise you about their responses?
Kelly: There were definitely people out in the audience who are using drones in their work without adhering to the current FAA regulations.  In that sense, I was the bearer of bad news.  Specifically, I had to underscore that the “drone registry” is for hobby users only and is not the proper path for users who are using the technology for commercial purposes.

Q: What application for drones in your business are you most excited about ?
Kelly: I think the creation of 3D photogrammetric models is incredibly compelling and could be very useful for developers working with historic structures.  I also constantly think of project examples where a drone could help us rig certain structures more safely.  Again, both of these applications are not viable until the FAA loosens up.

Q: The FAA recently announced it is developing drone regulations to allow some unmanned aerial vehicles to fly over people for commercial purposes. Could this be the beginning of broader approvals coming down the road?   Read article
Kelly: I certainly hope so.  The fact that our applications have both commercial need and public benefit should matter.  Yes, our services would make money, but our applications could also increase the safety of our employees and of the public.  It seems to me that April 1 may be a bit optimistic but we will see.

Drones: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown


Joe Haun presenting at the Documentation Technologies Workshop hosted by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT)

On March 11 and 12, Joe Haun and Kristen Olson presented “Drones: The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown” to a workshop hosted by the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Association for Preservation Technology International (APT). The two-day Documentation Technologies Workshop was presented by the APT Technical Committee for Documentation in partnership with the Delaware Valley Chapter, and is part of a series of traveling workshops on this topic being presented by the Documentation committee.

Other presenters demonstrated laser scanning, photogrammetry, nondestructive evaluation tools, hygrothermal analysis, and a host of digital applications to aid in the documentation of buildings and communication among team members. A common theme was the adaptation of technologies that were originally developed for other applications or industries.

Kristen presented an overview of potential drone applications for Vertical Access, including visual inspection of hard-to-reach areas, reconnaissance survey to identify areas for hands-on inspection, and as an aid to solve difficult rigging challenges. She also demonstrated drawings and 3D models created with photogrammetry using imagery captured by our drone.

Joe presented the wide array of unmanned aircraft and hardware available, as well as innovations that are likely to enable the large-scale commercial use of drones, such as sense-and-avoid technology, and low-altitude air traffic managment. He also discussed the roadblock to successful integration of drone technology with building investigations – the tangle of FAA regulations that severely restrict the commercial use of drones.

The workshop concluded with demonstrations, where attendees were able to see VA’s drone in action.



Additional Resources

Know Before You Fly

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)

FAA Section 333 Exemption for drone operators in the United States who wish to pursue safe and legal entry into the national airspace system (NAS)

sUAS News

Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College

Exterior Conditions Investigation at the Fire Island LIghthouse

March 22, 2016

The week of October 5, 2015 was a busy one at the Fire Island Lighthouse on the Great South Bay of Long Island, NY.  In addition to several 4th grade school groups climbing the 192 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse each day, a team of consultants working with the National Park Service and Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society were on site to perform an investigation of the exterior. The team led by John G. Waite Associates, Architects with Old Structures, Atkinson-Noland & Associates, and Vertical Access was tasked with assessing the exterior concrete coating of the lighthouse.

The current Fire Island Lighthouse was built in 1858 to replace an 1826 lighthouse on a nearby site. At 168 feet in height, it was twice as tall as the previous structure, and its Fresnel light was visible for at least 21 miles. The lighthouse is circular in plan, with load-bearing brick walls tapering from about 11 feet thick at the base to about 2 1/2 feet near the top. The lighthouse was decommissioned in 1974 and management of the structure was transferred from the U.S. Coast Guard to the National Park Service in 1979 when it became part of Fire Island National Seashore. A major restoration in 1985 removed and replaced the exterior concrete coating over the structural brick. The lighthouse is operated by the Fire Island Lighthouse Preservation Society.

As part of the field work performed over three days under perfect weather conditions, Vertical Access performed a hands-on investigation of the exterior of the lighthouse, documenting the conditions and sounding the concrete coating with acrylic mallets to help in the assessment of its condition. During the site work, team members from the National Park Service and JGWA participated in a live-feed video discussion with Vertical Access. While Vertical Access partner Kelly Streeter, P.E. performed a drop from the balcony level of the lighthouse to the ground, the rest of the participants could view on a nearby monitor the conditions as Kelly described them and ask questions to facilitate an understanding of the observations.

As part of the investigation, VA also took core samples for testing by others, performed borescope probes to better understand the condition of the concrete coating as well as the underlying brick masonry,

Fire Island Thermography01

Infrared thermographic images were used to identify moisture and underlying metal elements.

and took infrared thermographic images to identify moisture and underlying metal elements. During the same week, Shan Wo of Atkinson-Noland was on site performing ground penetrating radar (GPR) and other instrumental investigations as part of the non-destructive evaluation of the lighthouse. VA assisted ANA with full-height GPR scans at the exterior of the lighthouse. The information collected on site by Vertical Access and others is now being analyzed by the project team as part of the assessment of the Fire Island Lighthouse.

Learn more

Follow the Fire Island Lighthouse on Facebook

Visit the Lighthouse and National Seashore



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