March 14, 2010

aren’t any books to guide us

The beginning of the week started like most other weeks. We held our usual Monday morning meeting in the conference area and listened to what the week ahead had in store for us. For me, it sounded like I was going to have the chance for a change of scenery.

Promptly after the meeting, Randy was off to a client meeting and told me to meet him in the shop at 2:30 that afternoon. With the deadline for the take a seat project coming up by the end of March, Randy wanted to get a start on the bending and building process of the bench.

Before I had to meet Randy in the shop, I had spent most of the morning filling our jobsite tool bucket with the appropriate tools. Having a tool bucket with everything you might need when you go to a site has proven that it can be very beneficial and time saving. For instance, our first weekend on the job (at the photo shoot) Randy asked me to grab the tool bucket from studio and bring it with me. When he asked me to go grab a philips screw driver, tape, and even wire strippers to fix the fluorescent lights, it was handy to have all of that in the bucket.

With the bucket refilled and ready for its next job visit, I headed down to the shop to get things organized and ready. First thing on the list before Randy showed up was to go out behind the shop and get as many pieces of rebar out of the snow drift. With the frozen rebar pieces thawing in the shop, I organized the space a little better so we could actually begin to build the bench.

By the time Randy showed up, the steel was ready and the shop had some order to it so bending these 35 foot steel pieces was achievable. Twisting the steel with a pipe bender was a new experience. In fact, Randy said that he had never even done something this extreme before either so today was going to be mostly trial and error.  Randy said (and I believe him) “we are bending and twisting rebar in ways no one has done before- there aren’t any books to guide us through this.”

After a few hours of manipulating the rebar and getting a feel of how to work the steel into various geometries, I was pretty tired, but also satisfied. Doing that type of work reminded me of all the previous jobs I have held in the past that involved manual labor. Most people I know in studio would frown on doing that kind of work, but I like working with my hands. When I graduate from school, finding a firm that allows this type of creativity is number one on my list for potential employers. Sitting behind a desk all day, every day is more than I can handle. Hopefully, I’ll be able to avoid this… but who knows.

After the fist day of bending was completed, Randy told me head to the shop in the morning and bend some “u-shaped” pieces and then just start bending the steel into whatever it became. He stated, “It really doesn’t matter if the bench isn’t even close to what the model looks like; all I want is for someone to look at our bench and say, ‘how in the heck did they build that!’” That is what I really like about working and learning at RBA. It’s not just going to work and putting in the hours; it’s about having the ability to try new “experiments.” Everything is one of kind.  Original stuff.

After a few days in shop trying out different ideas for our bench, Randy pulled me back into the office to finish a few last things before the week’s end.  My task was to scan in articles of our projects that have been published in various magazines and newspapers. The idea for these scans is that they will go on the new website Randy has been working on.

When Friday at 5:30 came around, I was out of the office and on my way back to Kansas City. My sister and her husband came in town from Minnesota and I met them and some of my other friend’s downtown for the Big 12 Championship on Saturday. After the depressing loss of KSU to KU, I headed back to Omaha on Sunday evening to prepare for another week of work.

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