Thursday, December 21, 2006

The work at the site has continued steadily since the last posting. The crew have been working on the installation of the pavilion floor, windows, and preparing for the pour of the fourth column, which is happening today.
Since the last post Segundo, Cyrille, Nick, and Paul have all left us for the Christmas season. We wish them safe travels and a happy holidays. They will all be returning in early January hopefully refreshed and ready to finish up the construction project.
Stafford our carpenter has been chosen to run the crew in Segundo's absence. Since he has been working with us on the columns he has already gained the respect of the crew and the transition is working quite well.
In the image above the crew work together to sturdy the scaffolding so they can begin the pour of the fourth column. It takes the entire crew working together to mix and move the buckets of concrete up to the top of the column.
Nat and Alfredo are perched high up on the scaffolding ready for the buckets of cement to be passed up to them by the other crew members. The crew form a line and pass the buckets along to the next person in the bucket brigade.
Edward smiles for the camera as usual as he works to fill the buckets with sand and gravel so they can be mixed by hand for the column pour. The column cement mixture is very different than that of the walls and the ceiling which can be poured using a cement truck. The mix for the columns takes a much more intricate procedure. Stafford oversees the mix to insure its structural quality.

The awning window installation has been completed and they have turned out very nicely. In the image above you can see both the upstairs store and the two windows in the back of the kitchen area downstairs. These windows are all equipped with screens so they can be opened for ventilation but also keep out those pesky mosquitoes. Once the backhoe arrives we will begin removing dirt from this area and dig for the two remaining columns. A staircase will also be added on the backside of the cafe for access to the pavilion.

In his last day on the job Paul worked to place more of the floor boards for the pavilion. As you can see above the entire floor is almost complete. Once all of the floor has been laid a satin finish will be applied to insure a smooth and soft surface for our yoga classes and other functions in the pavilion. The trecks you can seen in the left side of the photo will be placed on the outer edge of the pavilion deck.

Francis Finishes mortar company that was hired to apply the stucco and mortar to the buildings are moving along quickly. The have almost finished the work on the bathroom building and they will soon be applying the colored stucco to the outside of both building's. In the image above you can see one of their workers applying the mortar to the wall of the cafe managers office. The mortar must cure for two weeks prior to being painted.

The outer glass block windows have been installed and they look wonderful!!

Of course we have managed to break a few in the process but like everything else it is a learning process. Once the windows have been installed on the inside the colors will be much darker but I think they look great. The aqua color in the middle row is definitely my favorite. The guys in the Maho Bay Glass Studio are working on the vertical windows for the store and bathroom so I will keep you updated on the status of that project as well.

Be sure to scroll down to see how this glass concept has evolved to what it looks like today!!
I would like to wish a sunny Happy Holidays to all of our readers!!!


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Stanley arrives from New York today just in time to see the finishing touches on the pavilion and to meet all the new staff during the annual Christmas party.

It will be nice to relax with everyone at the party on Sunday!!
I hope all of your loyal readers also have a Happy Holidays wherever you are this season!!

The store looks great and the crew have almost completed the electrical wiring and framing for the roof. We are scheduled to pour the ceiling to the store tomorrow as long as we are able to get our inspections today. Maggie is working hard to get the inspectors out to the site today even if she has to drive them out to the site herself!

The picture above was taken from inside of the new store. The view is truly breathtaking. We have hired 2 new crew members to help with the installation of our awning windows that will be placed in the store, cafe, and bathroom areas. We hope they will stay on with us until the end of the construction project.Nick and Bernard are working hard to compact the fill which has been placed behind the retaining wall at the cafe level. You can see behind them how the windows will add a great deal of natural light to the store. The awning windows will also allow extra ventilation on those extra hot days on the island. Remember how the site looked a few month's ago when we only had the cistern poured? It is amazing to see how much progress has occurred on the project the guys are truly working hard.The compactor is a heavy piece of machinery and must be used with extreme caution. You have to have strong arms to operate such a large machine. Nick and Bernard are taking turns shoveling the fill and operating the machine.

We removed the frame from the second column this morning and more adjustments are needed to insure a clean removal of the frames. In the picture above you can see how it turned out. Each of the columns have lights at the top which will enhance their beauty when they are lit at night. The Vaseline is helping but some of the concrete is still sticking. Dave is hoping to have these issues settled by the next pour.The glass block openings are much easier to visualize now that the frames have been removed. You can scroll down through past postings to see how the opening's looked prior to the concrete pour. The blocks were delivered this morning so they should begin installing them either later this week or next week prior to Christmas. I will make sure that I take more pictures during this installation.Once the windows have been installed the scaffolding will be removed so the stucco can be applied and the awning can be installed over the cafe porch. In the picture above you can see the bags of stucco and palates of pavers, which have been stored in the cafe area so they stay dry.As you can see above all of the windows have already been installed in the bathroom area. The guys are working on the store today and hope to be finished by the end of the week. In the foreground you can see the next column which is scheduled to be poured this week.


Friday, December 08, 2006

The crew has begun removing the framing from the store and the decorative windows look great, I can only imagine what they will look like when the glass blocks have been installed. There will be two blocks per window one on the outside and one on the inside of the store.
The image above was taken during our last large delivery of cement. You can see the crew perched on top of the walls while they work together to direct the pump truck in pouring our walls. You can see below how much work goes into framing up the walls prior to the cement delivery. This has all been removed now and the wood is being reused in the framing of the roof inside. During the week we were also able to get our retaining wall for the cafe poured so our sump-pump instalation and back fill can now proceed. As mentioned above the framing for the store roof has begun and we are scheduled to pour again next week. Once the ceiling of the store is complete the crew can begin working on the stucco, columns, and installation of the pavers for the floor in the cafe. The installation of the floor boards in the pavilion will also be completed in the next week.We successfully completed our first column which has served as a learning experience for the crew. Stafford our carpenter has modified his design for the remaining columns to insure a flawless piece. We have decided to use Vaseline instead of wax on the colum frames in order to minimize the concrete's adherence to the framing system. Our architect also feels like this is a very good idea. It may be hard to understand this concept if you aren't in the field of construction!! :-)

I will try to keep you updated next week on our progress.
Keep checking back for more updates prior to your visit with us!!


Friday, December 01, 2006

Happy Anniversary National Park!!!
Today is the 50th Anniversary celebration of our National Park on St. John. If you have never visited the Friends of the Park web site be sure to take a look at it prior to your vacation they may have a function going on during your vacation with us. Go to!

The very creative guys at the Maho Bay Glass Studio have almost completed the 30 glass blocks for the store entrance at the pavilion. After a few trial runs of the blocks they have mastered the procedure and have been able to create them very quickly. The two glass blowers who have taken on this project are Greg Lee and Jake Barron who have both worked at Maho for quite some time. They are honored to be included in our project here at Concordia. Our vice president Maggie took a trip over to the studio to witness the block creation. Glass work utilizes a very intricate and scientific process that I'm not even sure I understand fully. I hope the pictures give you a good idea.
As mentioned before the glass blocks will be two different shades of blue and also green in the bottom level. In the picture above you can see how these blocks will look when light shines through them. The glass that is being used is made from Corona, Carib, and Heineken beers. Thanks to a love of beer in the Virgin Islands we have accumulated quite a collection of these bottles at both Maho and Concordia. The Corona and Carib will be turned blue using different metals as a coloring agent. The deep blue is created using Cobalt Oxide and the aqua is made by adding Copper Carbonate to the molten clear glass. The Heineken, of course, will make the green blocks. Below are the images of the steps of our glass block creation.
In this image you can see Jake gathering the glass from the furnace on his punty(metal rod used to collect glass). Due to the size of the blocks multiple gathers are needed to full the 8" iron mold. He spins the punty in order to get the molten glass to stick together. For the brick to be made they had to set the furnace at 200 degrees higher that usual in order to get the proper viscosity.
Once enough glass has been gathered both Jake and Greg work together to get the glob of molten glass off the punty and into the mold. They use clippers to snip the molten glass off of the punty.
The molten glass is now in the frame so they must apply extreme force to push the glass into the corners of the iron mold. This must be done quickly or the glass will become to cool to form. The guys take a moment to step back and admire their work. These blocks are the deep blue but they appear to be orange due to the extreme temperature. As they cool they begin to show the color they will be when complete.

The glass cools quickly so Greg works quick to remove the mold and place the brick on a spatula much like pizza so the brick can cool slowly for 24hrs in the Annealing oven. This oven is controlled by a computer which drops the temperature by the degree so the bricks can cool slowly. These blocks are a great way to utilize large amounts of recycled glass at one time. I would estimate that each block uses about 5 bottles. They haven't decided how they are going to design the vertical window in the bathroom area that was in the last posting but Greg and Jake are putting their creative minds to work on that one. I'm excited to see what they come up with. Be sure to check back for updates. We got concrete this morning are pouring the store walls today!!!