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The Skylight Project

  • Aerial view of the skylight

Friday, September 14, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

This week trees were planted, completely transforming the Courtyard’s appearance. The lush landscape in combination with the bright sunlight definitely conjures a sense of being outside!

This view of the Courtyard and skylight from the second-floor gallery shows not only that you can see the rooftop architecture from within, but also that the temporary protection is being removed. All of the remaining barriers will be gone next week when the project wraps up. On time and on budget.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

Almost all of the scaffolding has been removed, revealing the new skylight to the Courtyard for the first time. We had wanted the Courtyard to feel more like the open-air space it once was and, WOW, the results have far exceeded my expectations!

Although I never experienced the Courtyard before the original smoked-glass skylight was installed, the natural light provided by our new skylight is completely transformative. From the surrounding arcades, it really looks like the Courtyard is outside and the views of the rooftop architecture and blue sky are just what we had hoped for.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

The rooftop construction camera has been an incredibly helpful tool for those of us working closely on the skylight replacement project. Although I'm out of town, I was glad to know that the skylight installers completed the external trim yesterday. So, from the outside, our new skylight has achieved its final appearance.

Already, some have noticed that the architectural elements on the top of the house are more visible when approaching from the Ticket Booth. Inside, the rootop platform is being removed, allowing light to flow into the Courtyard and providing our visitors with their first views of the new skylight. Happy Labor Day weekend!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

The new skylight was sealed up and the roof tiles reinstalled without a moment to spare, just before Tropical Storm Isaac passed through Miami. Although the image on the right, taken from our rooftop camera during the storm, suggests a degree of distortion worthy of Salvador Dali, the construction site did fine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew this week, it is a pleasure and relief to share that our new skylight is almost complete. In the next few days the skylight will be entirely sealed, providing Vizcaya’s interiors and artifacts with more protection than ever before.

In about a week we hope to begin scaffolding removal and installing new plants inside the Courtyard. After that we’ll apply some finishing touches, including exterior lime paint, as we race to the finish line!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

It’s been breathtaking to watch the crew from Indianapolis-based Skylight Consultants of America install the glass on our new skylight in just two evenings. The sight of massive glass panels lifted by a crane with suction cups and flying through the air was itself astounding.

But seeing the ease with which Frank Lowry and Wes Seger placed these panels into the voids of the aluminum frame was a gratifying highlight of this project. The new skylight has now taken shape and from all angles looks exactly as we hoped it would—light, bright and simple.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

The installation of the skylight is proceeding on schedule. Last night, Super Sky’s installers started working the evening shift to avoid the heat on the construction platform. This photograph from our rooftop camera was taken exactly at the stroke of midnight, and shows the glowing work site, with the colorful skyline of downtown Miami glimmering beyond. We’re pleased to report that, for our daytime visitors, construction disruption is limited to the closure of the Courtyard.

All of the skylight glass is now sitting in front of the Main House ready to be installed on the frame beginning in the next few days. It feels like we’re entering the home stretch!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

Things are moving along quickly! The skylight parts were delivered from Wisconsin and the Super Sky installation team is on site. As finishing touches are placed on the steel columns and beams, the skylight frame is being unpacked in front of the Main House and lifted to the roof by crane. It’s both exciting and uncanny to see the large pieces of metal up in the air!

Today’s progress was impressive. The Super Sky team placed the first framing members in position, giving a clear impression of the new skylight’s color and configuration. I’m glad to share that this work is creating very little noise inside the house, so it’s a great time to visit and take advantage of our discounted admissions.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

The construction effort has been smooth and calm in the past week as the steel columns and beams have been assembled. That’s me (in the pink hardhat) along with Lourdes Solera of M.C. Harry and Felipe Laserna and Tirso Ferrer of Thornton on the temporary construction platform, checking out the steel work.

The view from our time-lapse camera shows the four columns sticking through the construction platform with the beams above. Once the last beam is set at the front of the house, the steel will be painted and the assembly of the new skylight will begin.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

Yesterday, the steel columns and beams arrived from Vulcan Steel in Jacksonville, FL. Architects Lourdes Solera, Jim Piersol, and Tom Carlson of M.C. Harry seem to be having a good time inspecting the sleek structures that will support our new skylight.

On the opposite side of the Forecourt in front of the Main House, the steel “knuckles” that will connect the vertical columns and the horizontal beams more than vaguely resemble a minimalist sculpture installation. The noisy work has now been completed and beginning tomorrow the sensitive installation of the steel will begin. We’re so grateful to our patient visitors who brought excellent attitudes during the cutting and hammering of the previous weeks!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

The 1980s skylight (including its four concrete columns) is “history,” as they say! Thornton Construction Company is now working on some adjustments to the existing concrete footings so they can accept the new steel columns. Our structural engineer, Adriana Jaegerman of Bliss and Nyitray, is seen cheerfully inspecting one of the footings in anticipation of a concrete pour.

Meanwhile, as the second photograph shows, Super Sky is assembling our new skylight at its factory in Mequon, Wisconsin. Although they will disassemble the skylight again for shipment to Miami later in July, this trial will ensure that it all fits together perfectly at Vizcaya.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

 

Around 7:30 a.m. today George’s Crane arrived on site and successfully maneuvered a large piece of equipment around the oval space in front of the Main House. The crane measures 159’ with the boom extended, but strangely it looks a little less out-of-place than expected.

Over the course of the morning and early afternoon, the demo crew cut apart and the crane operator hoisted to the ground virtually all aluminum and steel remnants of the 1980s skylight. The next few days may be the loudest as we remove the concrete columns. But after that the demo will be over and preparations for the new skylight will begin.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Skylight construction at Vizcaya

Garden View of Vizcaya Property

 

The remainder of the skylight glass was removed today and contractor personnel were literally crawling on top of the structure disassembling the aluminum elements. I’m finding it fascinating to watch this rooftop deconstruction from the Ticket Booth or from the South Tower of the Main House.

Last week the temporary protection withstood very heavy rains and even hail. But today was another gorgeous day on Biscayne Bay, and our visitors continue to enjoy this spectacular property. Stay tuned for the arrival of a crane to complete the demolition later this week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Vizcaya image from the time-delay camera on our roof, documents that, by early afternoon, nearly an entire side of glass was removed

Thornton Construction Superintendent Tirso Ferrer and Vizcaya Capital Projects Manager Leigh Heinlein

 

The temporary protection was nearly completed yesterday. A platform on top of the Courtyard scaffolding provides easy access to the skylight and roof elements. And, now, the real work begins! This morning, demolition contractor Quik Cut began the process of removing the glass panels from the skylight, one at a time. Each large panel was then lowered to the floor of the Courtyard and removed from the facility.

The top image, from the time-delay camera on our roof, documents that, by early afternoon, nearly an entire side of glass was removed. The lower photograph is taken from the top of the work platform inside of the Courtyard and shows Thornton Construction Superintendent Tirso Ferrer (left) and Vizcaya Capital Projects Manager Leigh Heinlein (right) within the increasingly open space. Lining the platform is the waterproof membrane that now protects the Courtyard in the event of rain.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vizcaya Marketing Director Holly Blount and picturesque piles of scaffolding parts

Aerial view of Vizcaya skylight.

 

We thank Andres Viglucci and The Miami Herald for their wonderfully informative article on the skylight project published this past Sunday. Over the last several days, the Thornton construction team has overseen the installation of scaffolding inside the Courtyard. In the photo on the left, taken from the second floor of the Main House, you can see this scaffolding, including a staircase and a platform that is being constructed at the top. Demolition of the existing skylight will begin in about a week.

As part of our temporary protection process, we removed the historic caravel model that usually hangs from the ceiling of the East Loggia overlooking Biscayne Bay. In recent weeks, collections care professional Stefania Marino has been cleaning the caravel in public view, as seen on the left. And for the first time ever, so far as we know, our visitors can get a close look at the caravel model as it will be displayed on a table at eye level until the construction is completed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Vizcaya Marketing Director Holly Blount and picturesque piles of scaffolding parts

Aerial view of Vizcaya skylight.

  The Courtyard floor and fountain have now been protected with plywood. And, after a week, the removal of soil from the four Courtyard planters is nearly complete, exposing the concrete "footings" that support the existing skylight columns. This will enable us to reconfigure the footings to accept the new columns in a few weeks. Today, Andres Viglucci of The Miami Herald visited for a report on the skylight project--he's in the adjacent picture with Vizcaya Marketing Director Holly Blount and picturesque piles of scaffolding parts. We were intrigued to learn that our contractor, Thornton, has commissioned monthly aerial photographs to document their progress--the first of these from early May is shown here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The protective plastic barrier was successfully installed around the perimeter of the Courtyard and a tunnel
 

During the first week of construction, the protective plastic barrier was successfully installed around the perimeter of the Courtyard and a tunnel was established across the East Loggia to provide construction access. Thornton Construction Company crafted a beautifully detailed screen that is "Very Vizcaya" and atypical of a construction site!

It's quite exciting to experience the house "without" the Courtyard--the adjoining spaces have become surprisingly intimate and their noteworthy architectural details are now more obvious.

Yesterday, Erdman Video Systems set up a time-delay camera on our roof--once removal of the skylight gets underway, this will become more dynamic. And today the contractor began removal of soil from the Courtyard planters, using wheelbarrows. We invite you to drop by for a visit to see the work in progress.

Monday, May 14, 2012

After an immense amount of planning, work began in the Courtyard today. In the coming days, the contractor will be installing a plastic barrier around the edge of the Courtyard to protect our visitors and our collections from dust while wood barriers are constructed. We expect this work to create a moderate amount of noise in the areas surrounding the Courtyard.

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