Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cum on, feel the noize

My new WAD readers, I have a very good reason for not posting in a couple of days: I'm fucking exhausted.

First of all, our office has been in a continual state of disrepair since last summer from extensive remodeling. We've been adding on space to make our office span a full three stories in the old warehouse in which we're located, and we've been remodeling our existing space as well. Last week, the construction workers, God love 'em, began working on expanding the office mailboxes into a former coat closet and replacing the existing mailboxes with some counters, cabinets, and storage area.

Did I mention that I sit right next to said coat closet and mailboxes?

Last week, the drywallers took a steel cutter to the metal door frame of the coat closet. The noise was so awful, I not only put on my headphones and turned the music up to 11, I also put on my hard hat and impact-resistant safety glasses. Hell, if they're wearing them, why shouldn't I? Today, they began the installation of the new mailboxes next to my desk. In order to make this huge bank of cubbies hang safely on the wall, the contractors have to install plywood backing on the back wall by attaching it to the metal studs in the wall with heavy screws and loud drills. Just as this work started, I had to go into a meeting at 10:30am.

Did I mention that my meeting was in the conference room next to the new mailboxes?

Now, I'm not afraid of some construction noise. It needs to be done, and I understand that it's all temporary in the grand scheme of things. However, I'm sitting in this conference room and reviewing seven floors of the new and renovated Pomme de Terre Hospital with Howie, who's twitching like a germophobe in a fish-packing plant. I'm joined by Susanna, the interior designer on Pomme de Terre who's also having to do architectural space planning, and Leslie, an almost-licensed architect who's helping out "part-time" like I am. Howie marks and marks and marks on our plans, trying to understand where all the departments are and how they relate. His pen runs out of ink, he's made so many marks. He borrows mine. He starts marking over his marks. He takes Leslie's highlighter and marks some more. We hear the announcement over the intercom that the lunch seminar is beginning. A sales representative for a loading dock equipment company was bringing the office lunch and was presenting information about their products while we ate and listened. This was a lunch Leslie and I were counting on having. We missed it. Instead, we tried to explain to Howie how we're still short two NICU cubicles and need to get rid of this stupid useless eleavtor in the North Tower and listened to WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! from the contractors, who were now evidently installing a waterfall and jacuzzi in the mailbox alcove. Susanna's hands started shaking at ten til one, so she went to her desk to get her lunch so she could finish the meeting without passing out. When we finished finally at 1:10pm, Leslie and I went across the street for an overpriced chicken salad to take back to our desks. I attempted to eat while returning phone calls to my contractors on Wheatlands.

Suddenly, the email goes out: another meeting is needed at 2:30 to talk through the changes to the exterior of the building with the Core and Shell team for Pomme de Terre. If a project is large enough, as PdT is, one group of people work to design and detail the exterior of the building as well as the sizes and locations of the elevators, stairs, and mechanical shafts. Another team, which in this case is Leslie, Susanna, and me, locate departments and rooms inside the building. We're called the Interior team. What our whole team should be called is Fucking Exhausted; these plans are due for pricing next Friday, and we're still trying to establish just exactly where the fuck the elevator banks are going and which version of the structure is correct and can we move this column because it's in my ICU corridor? By the time this second meeting was over, the contractors had gone home for the day (they usually start around 6 or 7am), but we were nearly giddy with pressure and exhaustion.

The main Core and Shell designer, Liz, noticed I was sketching an exterior stair to the electrical room in the basement. "Pixie, I see you drawing a stair outside; what's that going to?" she asked, craning her neck and preparing to sketch it on her own drawing.

"It's a stair to the Normal and Emergency Power Rooms. You wanna see it?" I replied.
"Yeah," she said, "Here, how far--"
"Come 'n get it, sista!" I yelled while swiveling my neck, Jerry-Springer style.
"Oh, you wanna go?" she yelled/laughed back, swiveling her neck. The room broke down into pure cackling.

The mostly-upside to Pomme de Terre is that almost the entire design team is female, which is nearly unheard of in architecture. We get a decent amount of cooperation from each other in these meetings. The downside is that there's just so damn many people on the project, so it can be tough to make decisions and easy for tasks to get lost, everyone thinking that someone else drew something in some other plan. When this second meeting ended at 4pm, Leslie declared with outstretched palms and arms: "NO ONE can talk to ANYONE tomorrow! We have to DRAW!" With more laughter, we all went out separate ways. However, by this time, my brain was so fried from constant meetings that I could get very little done. Bone-weary, muscle-weary, and mind-weary, I shut down my computer and wished for some Bailey's.

Meetings, meetings, and more meetings: three reasons why architects drink.


The Wilderness Gina said...

Now Lookee heah, Lil Sistah, you WILL design my deck if I say so! I'm the Wilderness and I RULE. I can wreck things like no one's bidness, but meetings MAKE ME CRAZY!!!!! That's the only up-side to the crappy low paying, or heavy duty manual labor jobs I've always had. NO MEETINGS!!!

Miss Kitty said...

I can't believe they expected you to attend a meeting that didn't involve food. Everyone knows that's the only way to get architects to sit asshole-to-elbow in a cramped room for two hours.