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Whistle While You Work

Actually, most people would be snoring at that ungodly hour. The neighbor across the street used to have brown vinyl siding. Mind you, this is in a dense urban neighborhood consisting exclusively with brick buildings. Even worse, the siding ran vertically instead of horizontally.

Ghastly – plain and simple.

In April they removed the vinyl siding and added slate shingles to the top floor wall. Despite the facade being flat (not sloped), it still seemed to work. Since then (it is now nearly 4 months later…August) the building has been exposed and incomplete (I’m guessing it was insulation I’ve had the pleasure of looking at for the past few months).

Until yesterday.

The lower floors are now being covered in copper. Yes, copper. Bright and shiny, brand new, penny-looking copper. Perhaps when it’s weathered green it will look better. But vertical copper strips? (what’s up with that owner and his insistence on vertical facades?)

But what REALLY gets to me is that they began work this morning at 7:00AM. Now, my little court (alley) is a mini-canyon of brick buildings – all hard surfaces that reflect sound. And copper is a rather metalic and loud material to be hammering onto a facade – especially at that hour of the day. I mean, I know contractors start work early…and if they were installing carpet INDOORS that would be one thing. But out in front there were two guys hammering copper onto the exterior of this building.

And that’s how I started my morning.


  1. Comment by karyn on August 16, 2006 10:03 am

    That’s terribly, terribly sad.

    Wait while I get my tissues.

    ; ) Sorry you were so rudely awakened. I think the real question I have about the vertical facade on the ugly house is: “Is it splush?”

  2. Comment by snarl on August 16, 2006 10:05 am

    It’s quite splush, actually.

    I May take photos tonight and post them tomorrow.

    …and don’t be snarky.

  3. Comment by karyn on August 16, 2006 10:11 am

    Moi? Snarky? Nevah! 😉

  4. Comment by Jessie on August 16, 2006 10:30 am

    Copper siding?? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before…

    I’d be all sympathetic to your early morning plight, but by 7 I had already been up for two hours playing baby dolls and watching the Boobahs – without coffee!!

    So, I win the early morning poor me prize 🙂

    Are we rescheduling dinner for September????

  5. Comment by Golden on August 16, 2006 12:25 pm

    Yeah, your readers who are mothers out here have no sympathy. What I wouldn’t do to even sleep til 7. I was awakened with a Goodnight Moon board book flung between my eyes. We had rockets blaring with the energy of a 6 year old, and the screaming, nonverbal begging for breakfast of the almost 2 year old all by 5:45am.

  6. Comment by Brad on August 16, 2006 1:04 pm

    This sounds very “designer-ish” in a good way. As for contractors working that early . . . having renovated my house in the past couple of years, I know what you mean. I can’t tell you how many days I’d have to sprint out of bed in my underwear (or less) in order to let them in to start working . . . the good part (for them) is that they were done by 3. Must be a business wide thing . . . who knows.

  7. Comment by J.P. on August 16, 2006 1:52 pm

    Can’t wait to see what happens during the first thunderstorm. 🙂

  8. Comment by chrispy on August 16, 2006 3:15 pm

    um, did your landlord check building codes of late? is all that flashy copper cladding and wood shingles as facade legal in boston, much less a historical neighborhood like the north end? something doesnt sound right. brads right, it sounds like a bad episode of “curb appeal” or someones let their 19 year old architecture student/set designer run amok with the facade of your tenement. on the cheap too! shingles as siding (or im guessing a faux roofline), and siding run vertically (to save $$$ ugh)hmmm.

    7am? youre so lucky! the contractors building the condo behemoth behind my townhouse start their clanging at 530am.

  9. Comment by Fred on August 16, 2006 4:42 pm

    Speaking as an architect, yeah, the 7AM-3PM day is normative in the construction industry for a number of reasons – in high summer it means they avoid the grossly-overheated late afternoons. Sorry it’s disturbing ye, Karl! I’ve also been there plenty, in various buildings, where I had to sprint to get clothes on in time, lest I be prancing around as the scaffolding outside got populated…then again, lots of roofers are hot…but I don’t think too many of ’em are gay (though the fantasy’s amusing).

    As to the historic concerns, the gray lead-coated copper cladding’s pretty commonplace these days in Boston and widely approved, as is regular copper (which will swiftly dull down to brown from the shiny-penny appearance). Lots of 19th century buildings have copper-clad bays and such, and it’s a durable material, much to be preferred to vinyl or aluminum siding, asphalt shingles, or the wonderful pseudo-brick/stone crap my old professor used to refer to as “New Jersey Shitface.” The North End, while old, isn’t particularly architecturally distinguished – most of the really old stuff was torn down for blah tenements in the 19th century, and it was the worst slum in town until a bit before WWII, so Beacon Hill or the Back Bay it ain’t. Having seen Karl’s little court (and the building in question in its former incarnation/in process), I can’t say it’ll do anything too terrible to general aesthetic standards.

    Hmm…back to the cute-roofer thought….hey, Karl, maybe you get a good morning view out of the rude awakening, at least, eh? (of course, maybe not…)


  10. Comment by Sean on August 16, 2006 6:11 pm

    I remember when I was younger, my dad (a former Boston police officer) said that they used to have a rash of people stealing architectural copper right off of buildings in Boston and selling it to scrap dealers. That is why it fell out of favor for a while with some developers. I hope the same fate doesn’t befall your neighbors. I’m sure the copper siding will look elegant- especially once it develops a patina.

  11. Comment by snarl on August 16, 2006 7:45 pm

    I took photos of my side of the street (typical North End) and the other side of the street (WTF?).

    Fred is right, the historic North End is gone (but the bizarre street pattern remains). Most buildings are newer…from the 1800’s (like mine).

  12. Comment by Will on August 17, 2006 8:48 am

    For durability in a frequently cold, damp climate, copper’s hard to beat although expensive as hell. During the 80s the dome that is Kresge Auditorium at MIT had it’s third surface fail in 25 years (it was a covering of square lead plates, soldered together and a horrid shade of dead gray that made the thing look like a gigantic moldy waffle).

    Copper–which the architect had wanted from the beginning but was judged too costly in 1955–was finally put on in an elegant diagonal pattern. Exepnsive in 1955, it was astronomical in the 80s, and armed guards were on duty 24 hours a day to prevent theft until it was all safely installed.

  13. Comment by fred on August 17, 2006 10:55 am

    One of the reasons lead-coated (or, nowadays, a zinc-alloy-coated, less toxic…) copper is so popular, particularly with institutions like MIT and Harvard, etc. (Niketown on Newbury St. is another good example) is that the kind of moral midget who goes around stealing copper off buildings is often too stupid to realize that the gray stuff has copper underneath (and is actually a MORE expensive material, though more of a pain to separate out in the melting-down).

  14. Comment by Dave in Chicago (2) on August 17, 2006 4:29 pm

    Christ, who knew copper would generate so much discussion!

    The price of copper is through the roof (HA) at the moment, so it’s no cheap endeavour. My friend building a house is getting molested (financially), and 7K to repair the flashing on my Mom’s slate roof.

    Blame it on China! They’re sucking the market dry of most building materials, driving up the prices…

  15. Comment by snarl on August 17, 2006 10:00 pm

    I’ve read that about China…that it’s made the cost of steel skyrocket, causing the construction of skyscrapers to be ridiculously obscene. With Boston’s planning process being so slow, stuff that was estimated to cost a certain amount a few years ago (when planned) is costing tens of millions more as they approach actual construction (causing even more delays getting financing).

  16. Comment by Vilo from RoofingChildsPlay on September 2, 2006 10:12 am

    Snarl, copper gets fully weathered (fade green) after 15-20 years only.
    By that time you will experience couple of quite different colors based on oxidation stage, even dark orange (or dark brown, maybe similar to the vinyl siding they had before :-))

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