News / USA

Company Gets Up Close and Personal With Skyscrapers

Company Gets Up Close and Personal With Skycrapersi
X
Bernard Shusman
August 20, 2014 9:36 PM
Historic landmark buildings, museums, the United States Capitol - all seen from top to bottom just inches from one’s face. To get there you have to be an engineer, an archaeologist, and part-daredevil. More from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York, the city of skyscrapers.
Bernard Shusman

Historic landmark buildings, museums, the United States Capitol - all seen from top to bottom just inches from one’s face.   To get there you have to be an engineer, an archaeologist, and part-daredevil.   

It may look like fun, but this is serious business.  One team from the company “Vertical Access” is preparing to survey the exterior of a 37-story Wall Street building.

Literally climbing the walls is the cheapest way for engineers and architects to monitor a building’s rehabilitation and upkeep.
 
Evan Kopelson, a rope technician, partner and architectural conservator, says it takes a special person to do this work.

"[You need to] have the knowledge and interest in construction and in buildings as well as the general safety, demeanor and awareness for doing work at heights or being on a rope," said Kopelson.

New York City requires such an assessment at least every five years.

That’s why Berta de Miguel was hired. She is an architect and rock climber from Spain.  Like the nine other technicians, Berta is loaded with a computer, tools, and a camera to record trouble spots.  She’s looking for cracks, loose bricks or stone, sealant around windows, general wear and tear.  

“And, if I see any condition that needs to be upgraded, such as a crack, exposed or missing bricks or may need repairs or those kind of things, I will document that," she said.  

It's an enviable view, but when they're up, the technicians are all business.

“I don’t spend a lot of time looking around.  Although you do get some amazing views when you do look around," said Kopelson.

Founding partner Ken Diebolt says safety is number one.

“It looks scary, but the system is redundant at every level.  We are trained by certified third-party evaluators every three years, we practice rescues, self-rescues, rescues for other personnel," he said.  "We pay a lot of attention to public safety, which really a significant issue along with our own workers safety."

“A lot of work we do involves existing buildings and evaluating their condition.  We have to get to a lot of hard to reach places and Vertical Access is the best company to do that,”  said engineer Rebecca Buntrock, who is with Robert Silman Associates, a structural engineering company that uses Vertical Access.

“[We] hired them to come and to finish scoping out the entire building so we know exactly where, what work is needed, where we have to go, where should we focus on and helps with lead times for critical materials,” said Jennifer Murphy, with FS Project Management, that also has a contract with Vertical Access.
 
Vertical Access may someday turn to drones for work like this, but for now gauging the health of a building's outsides requires the human touch, and a love of heights.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid