Pride (In the Name of Love)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Now, About the Next Project

Beginning last week, I started working at my new project, which is downtown in the Gallery Place area - it's also known locally as Chinatown, although because of gentrification and development the cultural references are few and far between.

Now my daily commute features a walk to the Metro and about 25 minutes on the train, a welcome change from 45 minutes of driving every day.  This post shares photos from both ends of the ride, the gate downtown, and the view of the Masonic Memorial in Alexandria, near our house.

Among the projects I will be working on with the new assignment is the large construction effort on the DC Courthouse campus - as campus style construction remains a theme of this phase of my career.  I'll also be supporting the client on the development of their capital plans and budgets, even though the worries about how the incoming administration will execute on these critical governmental duties is still unclear.

To be back in this part of Washington is a true pleasure for me - about five-years ago, I managed a small project for this client that was part of the groundwork for their current program; and back in the 2004-2005 timeframe I freelanced out of an office I was subletting from a law firm in the area.

(As proof that the internet is forever, on a whim I looked for some of the work I did during that time - this link includes the report from an economic consulting project.  My deliverable begins on page 378.  Although it was written in 2008, among the successes of that report was the identification of the recession that began in late 2007, although economic data had not yet confirmed it.)  

So, here I am again.  Really looking forward to sinking my teeth in the project, and enjoying the neighborhood.  Like I said in yesterday's post, if we focus on one step at a time, eventually the journey will take us somewhere.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Thing About Projects

"...A project is temporary in that it has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources. And a project is unique in that it is not a routine operation, but a specific set of operations designed to accomplish a singular goal."



Speaking professionally, and about my day job to be specific, 2017 has started with a transition for me, making it a very busy time.  It's easy to predict that I'll spend the year juggling a few priorities, especially with the brewery preparing to open in the spring.  For now, I'm planning to do what I've always done when faced with busy times - I'll just hunker down and try to keep moving forward.

I've just completed nearly five years as a construction executive at the Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda, which we knew as "ICC-B."  Basically a redevelopment project, this effort used a campus design approach to transform a group of six buildings built from the 1940's through the 1980's into a modern office complex.  The early rendering of the design is shown in the graphic at the start of this post; while the final result is slightly modified, and the work on the campus grounds has yet to start, this perspective is pretty similar to what a pedestrian passing by the front of the campus will see.

Now, five years - in my career, that is a pretty significant amount of time to be committed to one project.  My enlistment was only six years, and my stint at one of the large architecture/engineering (A/E) firms was six and a half, but even with those tenures I transferred between efforts every year and a half or so.  I found that I still enjoyed working on the ICC-B project right up to my last day early this month.

There is still design and construction to finish at the project, three or four major efforts that my colleagues are going to see through to completion.  But with two thirds of the occupancy complete, and with tenants in every major building component of the project, it was clearly time for me to move on, and turn it over to other professionals to carry the torch.

In military and intelligence circles, there are traditions for times like these.  The company observed the transition phase by commissioning a "challenge coin," shown in the photo above, and there was a signed memento as well.  As I took my leave, I sent some emails and texts - and received some, including this one, from one of the government leads I worked with:

"...it was great working with you.  The [Program Management Office] wouldn't have been nearly as successful without your time, energy and insight.  We accomplished so much and I learned so much during that period.  Good luck in your future endeavors..."    

To say I learned a lot is an understatement - as I like to say, "I'm an economist, not an engineer."  Even with more than 20 years in the field, working on A/E projects, I'm still learning about the real estate and facilities field.  Every project, even our brewery, has its challenges, and I am not ashamed to say that there's a lot I don't know.

We can't be afraid of moving on.  We're on a journey - there are so many metaphors about the road ahead - we just need to remember to take each step one at a time.  It's the only way to get somewhere.

Friday, December 30, 2016

@hawksbillbrew - Final Construction Update for 2016

For one final brewery post this year, I'll offer a couple of behind the scenes photos to round out the story.  About 40 percent of our construction budget has been allocated to mechanical, plumbing, and air conditioning improvements.  The work goes on in parallel to construction and it's sometimes hard to recognize how significant it is - so I'll do a quick write-up about it today.

Because we need fairly precise temperature controls for fermentation, we're putting in a glycol cooling system that will allow us to manage what is happening at any given time in all those shiny tanks.

We also need a cold room to store ingredients - not to mention finished beer.  On the blog I've showed a few photos of the exterior of that space (here and here, for example), but now the insulation has been installed, and the interior is complete.  They just hung our chiller for it, as shown in the photo.

So the glycol and the cold room are two of the upgrades we're working on.  The other is an upgrade of the air conditioning system.  That's a work in progress and there is not a lot to show just yet.

However, there is the second photo today, showing the new pad we've constructed out back.  This is where our the exterior part of our glycol system will be installed, and it's big enough to accommodate the new air conditioning unit that we'll put in over the next month to six weeks.  So I'll have a few more updates to come on this part of the construction project.

So this is it for 2016 - we saw a lot of progress on the brewery, which we hope to open in spring of 2017.  So in the coming year we'll have a few more posts on the topic of HBC Construction.  But there will also be plenty of them on the topic of operating the brewery!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Our New Bar Top @hawksbillbrew

Some things just come off better than you could ever expect, and that's definitely the case now that we are seeing the final finishes come together at Hawksbill Brewery.

We chose some fairly practical approaches for the big picture - the "board and batten style interior framed walls, for example, and a color palette that featured grays that would play off of the natural wood finishes.

Then we came across the old barn siding that we were able to repurpose - thanks again to Kevin for the find, and to David for rescuing it.  These finishes really have made Hawksbill Brewing Company a place, with a memorable style.

The last item for the bar was delivered this week - the bar top.  We had spec'd white oak, but I hadn't been carefully tracking what we would get once Marathon Millwork in Luray had fabricated it.  I knew it wasn't going to be a single slab though, it's a rare tree that could produce a board that large, and who knows how long it would take to season and then custom cut it to fit.

What we have is a lovely top that was pieced together from white oak planks.  There's lovely variation and character in every square foot of the thing.  The photo here was taken just after the first finish coat was applied, so it's shiny because it's still wet - that will be the first of four coats.

There's still plenty to do, and we are focused on completing everything within the next two months - when we hope that our license will be granted.  That's the long pole for us right now.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Out and About in Alexandria

Mary's been keeping busy these days with her new job with the City of Alexandria.  Earlier this year she joined the Wayfinding program, which involves installing information markers around town.

The signs are designed as mini-kiosks and they are installed on some of the light posts in Old Town.  There's often a bit of historical and interpretive information on each one - there are 28 of them - but there's also immediate directional information about the neighborhood and maps to help folks find their way.

The wayfinding effort is a multi-year program, which began in 2010, as I understand it.  Future phases include welcoming signs that involve significant construction, and also traffic directional signs that will help guide drivers to town attractions.