Saturday, July 30, 2011

De-Construction Part1 - History

NOTE: Part of our Vision Statement is to be a Respected Company in the Community. That comes through communication regarding our activities. A portion of our property that is in high profile to the community is undergoing some changes. This communication series is to communicate what is happening.

Normally, our company is involved with the construction of a new building, specifically the facade skin that protects the occupants from the elements. Soffits, Coping, Curtain-wall, Parapet, Column Covers, etc - all go into constructing the building "envelope". A photo-stream appears to the right on our blog page showing samples of such work.

Sometimes that construction is part of a remodeling of an existing structure. This is the first of several blog entries which will discuss how we addressed a part of our own facility in a "green" manner to recycle the content, rather than just conducting a "demolition", and be an example for others to consider.

First a little history.

Our facility has several components that have been around for some time. It's location utilized water power to turn machinery and manufacture cannons at one time. The Ousatonic Dam is just to our north, and the canal that brought water with it's potential energy is still along side our property. Some buildings are riveted steel construction from that time of the "US Rapid Fire Munitions Company". Here's a picture of the factory when it was operated by the "US Rapid Fire Gun & Power Company" with (22) 6" PDR Semi Automatic Guns, and (1) 15" PDR Rapid Fire Gun.

There were several textile operations over the years, such as "Victory Textile". In the 1980's, the last occupant before us was the "Hull Dye and Print Works", a fabric dye and print factory. They were one of the largest employers in Derby. Unfortunately, they had a fire in the mid 1980's, and the operations ceased. The State of Ct, and then the City of Derby took over control of the property and did remediation of contamination from years of industrial use, rehabilitated the parcel as an Industrial Park, and marketed it as such. That's when we came into ownership.

They Hull Dye company would print fabric in a design according to customer specifications, and in many cases store the bolts of fabric for on-demand delivery to the customer as a warehouse type service. One of the structures on our property housed these bolts of fabric, what we refer to internally as the "rack storage" area. It is the large brown structure that faces the canal and Roosevelt Drive.

This manufactured rack storage structure was from The Steelox Company, a subsidiary company of the Armco Steel Corporation. They had numerous structure types that were quickly and cheaply constructed, and thus popular during WW2 and subsequent years. You can learn a little bit about the company via this link to a history brochure.

The structure is actually very minimalist in design, commonly referred to as "pre-engineered". What is surprising to many is that there are no columns, no beams, no framing other than the storage racks that exist within the sheathing. The racks support the siding and the roof. There are also no stairs, elevator, or access to the floor area after the renovation that was done by the City of Derby. It could solely be accessed by climbing an old conveyor belt. With the racks being the structure of support for the siding and the roof, these racks couldn't be removed to create a clear-span of work space within the walls. It has been over 1 million cubic feet of unusable storage space since the property was purchased in 1987.

Over the years, the structure became compromised, and despite some repair work, reached a state where a decision had to be made for it's removal. Desiring to illustrate a "green" construction method, we focused on how it could be dismantled rather than demolished.

Look for further blog entries that will illustrate how this was accomplished. (Use the blog label "Green Construction" to filter entries for this subject).