Thursday, July 23, 2009

Talking Photos: From the Bottom Up

Contributed by volunteer and donor, Martha Mockus.

Have you seen the new building site lately? Construction is moving along swiftly, and at this point the footings and foundation walls are complete! I spoke with members of the design team from DJR Architecture and they explained some of the new building’s features that are now visible. In the photographs from July 10, you can see many of the concrete footings, including those that outline the lovely curve of the building’s main entrance. Footings support the foundation walls, and are dug deep into the ground to protect the building from frost.

The foundation walls are made of concrete block, and wrap the basement. As a kitchen volunteer, I am especially excited about the expanded basement space. While basements are not usually perceived as the most glamorous or picturesque rooms of a building, Open Arms’ new basement deserves extra attention. For starters, it is spacious: slightly more than 4,000 square feet. This is absolutely crucial because of the additional refrigeration and food storage space it will provide—about 1500 square feet, including a walk-in cooler and freezer. Preparing nutritious meals for our clients requires ovens and stoves running at hot temperatures, and the opposite end of the thermometer—cooling and freezing those meals. Even before we start cooking, the basement space significantly improves our meal preparation because an increased variety of food products are readily available to the kitchen staff and volunteers.

In the photographs, you can also see the installation of the structural steel. The most visible columns reach upwards, and create a framework that helps support the ground floor, second floor, and the roof. Steel beams are like the bones of a skeleton, forming the internal structure of the building. Both steel and concrete are common materials for a commercial building in Minnesota because they are economical and easy to construct. What is uncommon, however, is the impressive and complex work Open Arms carries out on a daily basis. How exciting it is that the new building, from the basement on up, will strengthen that work, and nourish a rapidly expanding community of volunteers, donors, board members, staff, and clients.

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