Almost exactly 7 years ago I began working on one of my most beautiful and challenging projects – the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  I remember the start date because I had just returned from leave after having my youngest daughter.  The architect contacted me many months prior and asked me to act as the hardware consultant on the project, and to be honest, I didn’t want to do it.  I already had several “high-maintenance” projects on my desk, and with most of those fancy, prestigious projects, you also get frustrations and headaches.  You get architects with door-related ideas that have never been attempted…gigantic doors, openings that are invisible (codes be damned), doors made out of unusual materials, sliders that slide with the touch of a finger and no sound, and security applications that require variances from the local AHJ.  It was during one of those projects that I first stated, “Sorry, I left my magic wand in the car.”  On another I earned the nickname “the anti-fairy godmother” because I told an architect that the doors in his interior elevation would not look the way he had drawn them because of code-driven hardware requirements.

Crystal BridgesWhen the architect called to ask for my help with Crystal Bridges, I tried to let him down easily.  I offered up our spec team in the project location, Arkansas.  I told him they would write the spec at no charge (I charged a fee).  I said that if they needed to have a meeting in the Boston office, I would attend.  I would even review the spec for him.  In our final conversation of 2006, I told him that I would be away on maternity leave – so sorry – problem solved (for me).

A few months later I returned from leave, and he was waiting.  At that point I felt like if I could handle 3 kids I could handle anything, so I took the job.  And Crystal Bridges is magnificent.  Amazing.  One of my favorite projects.  The architects I’ve worked with would probably find it strange that I think of these buildings as *mine*; I was *only* the hardware consultant.  But many of the hardware specifiers and suppliers that I know refer to their projects with similar pride.  When I drive through downtown Boston it’s not unusual for one of the kids to point out one of *my* buildings.  Last week, one of them was flipping through the channels and I caught a brief glimpse of this video.  Check out my building.  🙂

What’s your favorite project?

Photo: John Horner

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