I spent fifteen amazing years in New York during a very amazing time, 1985-2000. During that time, I didn’t think about steel all the time like I do now. Then, I was bothered by the construction noise and the staging and street blocking, not paying attention to the incredible feats of engineering and logistics surrounding me. I would say this level of understanding is typical of most of the city’s 8 million residents.
Jump forward to today, 19 years later, and I find myself in NYC about once a month for Qnect. I see the city in a completely different light. Anyone with this much history of the city can see how the skyline today seems to be punctuated with new towers of gleaming steel and glass. The change marches on as does my appreciation for all that it takes to make these amazing structures go up and become living symbols of NYC.
Once you spend a few hours with the engineers and learn what is involved with each project, you start to understand that we live in a time of exciting technological change. I also spend time with steel fabricators and structural detailers. Compute power has enabled new materials, new architectural possibilities, new shapes and ever more ambitious projects, transformations of rusty train tracks into beautiful gardens (the High Line) and crusty forgotten neighborhoods into vibrant new live/work centers in the sky (Hudson Yards).
Now, as I walk around the city and sample its staples like pizza and bagels mixed with international mash ups of noodles and eggs or coconut and papaya, I’m very attuned to the architecture and engineering behind the architecture and the effort behind the engineering.
And now that I have toured dozens of fabricator shops across the country, and seen miles of wide flange in steel yards and massive steel nodes on shop floors, I have a whole new admiration for new steel construction in NY and elsewhere.
NYC is a living, breathing monument to the wonders of steel fabrication. So here’s to the welders, the inspectors, the erectors, the machine operators, the engineers, the detailers, the planners, the estimators, here’s to the architects, the designers, the GC’s and the owners, here’s to the fitters, the checkers, the project managers and the maintenance crew, the truck drivers, crane operators, software developers and quality controllers, mentors and interns, and here’s to the many others who play just as important a role in bringing safe and beautiful structures into our environment, so that all NYC residents, bodegas and pizza shops have a home and so the skyline continues to inspire us to look up and to aim higher.