This week features the most complex masonry task thus far in the project: the integration of the massive steel beam into the South wall so that when it’s finished, you’ll never know it was even there.
But you might be interested to know how this all came to be…
Because we are blessed with the best public radio station in the country (WUNC), we frequently receive the best that public radio has to offer, live and in person. Earlier this month, A Prairie Home Companion came to Durham, North Carolina to produce and broadcast a show at our new state-of-the-art Performing Arts Center (DPAC). As I settled into my fourth-row seat, I flipped through the program, it was a darned good thing I was sitting down when I read these words written by Garrison Keillor:
In the comic strip Doonesbury, the White House is an iconic representation of all that is wrong with America and American power, the ironic home of presidents who, one way or another, come to represent the very evil they have sworn and affirmed their duty to defeat.
Candidate Obama ran his campaign on a platform of change, and every day the Obamas surprise and delight with the changes they are bringing, not just to American politics, not just to Washington, but to the White House itself. Earlier this week, the Obamas hosted what the Washington Post believes to be the first-ever poetry jam at the White House. Somewhere from his living room in Heaven, Langston Hughes is nodding in approval as many gather to sing a new song. It is a joy to see what happens when we have a President who is willing to let America be America again.
And so we have a President who is willing to listen to both rhyme and reason, to both the arts and science. And we have a First Lady who is willing to bring people with something to say, something to listen to. What a change!
And so for one night at least, the East Room has become a Salon.
The past three weeks    have all been preparation for the events of today: the grouting of the North bond beam. Here is the wall, shrouded to protect the finished blocks from any spills:
But wait! There’s more…
The weather forecast for this week was again anticipated to be terrible, but in the end things shaped up nicely, with only Monday lost due to rain. The major objectives of the week were met: the establishment of the North bond beam and the placement of the massive (1100 lb/500 kg) South steel beam. Read on to see how it’s all taking shape…
The star of this week’s show is the North bond beam. Last week the framing went up to support the bond beam, and this week the blocks started going up. First things first: the blocks are graded and the ones that make the grade are placed into position:
There are actually a lot more than that…
Despite all the attention to the North wall last week, the South wall has been going up as well. This wall is complicated because it contains the main control room window, with a 8′ clear opening into the Control Room and 14’8″ clear opening into the Music Room. Here you can see the start of the angled blocks:
The grout making up the shear wall is now up to the 5th course (and wet when this photo was taken last week):
The weather was quite cooperative this week, and so we were able to work at full speed! The primary objective: preparing to establish the massive bond beam across the North wall of the Music Room. Our starting point is this:
The columns are already fully grouted, but the shear wall is still only half-grouted. That will be remedied by the time the bond beam is poured.