Historic preservation is part of all sorts of projects, especially sidewalk construction (or reconstruction) in historic villages. Sidewalks encounter contributing features such as walkways, hitching posts, markers, landscaping, fences, and trees, as seen above. This photo shows sidewalk construction ongoing and tree protection barriers in place. Note the tight squeeze of the sidewalk between the trees and the historic properties.
Two years ago (yesterday) was a momentus day in the lives of those involved with the Lake Champlain Bridge. On a frigid January day, the first girder was set on Pier 7 of the Lake Champlain Bridge at Chimney Point. To those of us who had never seen such a feat, it was incredible, and we stayed long past normal working hours. And to those waiting for the bridge to open, it was another visual sign of progress.
Following the first girders, other significant Lake Champlain Bridge events include the Arch Raising on August 26, 2011 and the bridge opening on November 7, 2011 and the opening ceremony on May 19-20, 2012.
While ensuring protection of the historic site and complying with the Programmatic Agreement and Section 106 and Section 4f, I also get to see history as it happens. Behold the first girder of the new Lake Champlain Bridge:
While the new bridge is not the historically significant 1929 Lake Champlain Bridge, and its loss remains a tragedy, I can’t help but be excited by the construction of the new bridge. I think of the anticipation of the 1929 bridge and the photographs that show spectators and the parade on opening day. There are many parallels between 1929 and 2011, and, as cliche as this sounds, this feels like a once-in-a-lifetime event. This isn’t any ordinary bridge; the Champlain Bridge is incredibly important to the region and it is constantly in the news. It’s one of those events about which I’ll tell my grandchildren. I’m witnessing history and loving it.
Consider this: mom, dad, 2 kids, + 1 dog live in a house (in the United States). What would you figure to be the square footage that they need? Would that change if they were building an “eco-friendly” house or would just the materials change?
The Burlington Free Press ran an article over the weekend about a Waitsfield, VT family who built their dream home, which they labeled eco-friendly. The specifics include: 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and about 3100 square feet of living space plus the garage and basement. The eco-friendly factors come in with the materials, generally all local : Vermont slate and marble, local timber, on site fieldstone used. And, of course, the mechanical systems are environmentally friendly: a geothermal heating system, solar panels in the yard to provide electricity, and a passive solar hot water collector, triple pane windows, energy star appliances, and LED bulbs.
Still, the house is 3,100 square feet. Isn’t that too big for a family of 4? But, is that a fair judgment? Should I separate green and size? Is there a fine line between reconciling large buildings and houses and making them green? I don’t want to imply that the Waitsfield family did a horrible thing, they should be commended for their efforts; but I think it brings up an important question of size and space and truly being eco-friendly. My scale for houses is a bit skewed because I grew up with 2 parents, 3 sisters, and multiple pets in a 990 square foot ranch house; we eventually finished part of the basement but that only increased the size to somewhere around 1400 sq ft. (That was awesome because I finally had my own room — which is what every teenage girl dreams about.) And now, as mentioned before, I live in a 350 sq ft. apartment with Vinny and our cats. Anyway…
Thank goodness people who are building homes, large and small, are considering ways to go about reducing the environmental consequences and reliance on fossil fuels, but perhaps the article stands as a reminder that we still have a long way to until we’re successfully practicing what we preach? Perhaps this relates to LEED? What do you think – about all of this?