<![CDATA[Stephen Brigham's Watercolour Sketches - Watercolour stories]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 20:47:35 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Japan - Walking Tour sketches]]>Fri, 20 Oct 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/japan-walking-tour-sketchesTokyo
September 24-25, 2017
We landed in Haneda Airport after a long flight from Los Angeles to start our “Walk Japan” tours.  The Tokyo airport and subway system were surprisingly friendly for individuals who spoke only English and we soon found our way to the Asakusa (浅草) district to find our hotel.  Asakusa is a popular tourist destination, in Taitō City in Tokyo which is famous for the Sensō-ji, a Buddhist temple, and the many tourist shops at the entry to the temple.  Unfortunately, we had difficulty finding the hotel since the individual streets were all in Japanese Hiragana characters, but we were soon introduced to the friendly way the Japanese people welcome strangers.  A small group of students with t-shirts loudly pronouncing “ASK ME! AND I’LL SEE WHAT I CAN DO” quickly encircled us and after Googling our hotel, they took us directly to our hotel’s front door – after a few selfies.  This welcome gesture happened to us throughout our travels whenever we stood in front of a sign or map looking confused. Picture
​Despite jet-lag, we went out into the shopping district to see what was around the hotel and to see if we could do a warm-up sketch.  It was evening by the time we got to sketching, so I tried a quick image of the main covered shopping street.

​​The next day we were scheduled to take the bullet train to the start of our walking tour in Kyoto, so before breakfast we went to the Sensō-ji temple grounds, and I found a place to sit in the temple porch to sketch the 5-story pagado.

​September 26-27, 2017
Kyoto was once the capital of Japan and the residence of the Emperor from 794 until the Meiji Restoration of 1868, when the imperial capital was moved to Edo/Tokyo.  It is a beautiful city and still famous for its numerous classical Buddhist temples, gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses.  I was looking forward to sketching along our tour and our fabulous guide, Nami, assured me that there would be many opportunities.  Our first visit was to the The kannonden at Jishō-ji, commonly known as the Silver Pavilion (Ginkaku) - a Zen temple in the Sakyo ward of Kyoto.  Unfortunately, it is also a popular site to visit and at the entrance I was greeted with this sign:
​It was apparent that they did not want anyone setting up to do drawings while blocking the crowded paths, so I had to resort to taking a few snapshots and doing a sketch later from my phone/camera image.
We visited many places throughout the city and really could have spent much more time touring the sites.  Here are a few sketches, including an illegal one of the Temple of the Silver Pavilion (Ryōan-ji) which is famous for its rock garden.  It wasn’t until after I started the sketch that I learned that there was a “NO SKETCHING” sign behind me for the rock garden too.
​After a very pleasant stroll along “The Philosopher's Path” through the northern part of Kyoto's Higashiyama district, our tour group took a 15-minute break to see the Sanmon Gate of the Nanzenji Temple.  I rushed a very muddy sketch of a spectacular 2-level temple gate originally constructed in 1628.  This was one of those occasions that I wished I could have taken more time to do justice to a remarkable edifice.
At another brief stop of our Kyoto tour was the Heian-jingu Shrine - built in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto as capital of the country and to coincide with an industrial exposition held that year.  We didn’t have time for me to do a sketch so I had to do one later from my camera image.  The vermillion torii (shrine gate) out front (not captured in my sketch) was spectacularly large while the vast grounds of the Heian Palace seemed equally impressive.  I later learned that this ​important Shinto shrines is actually a 5/8 scale reproduction of the original palace of the early emperors of Kyoto.
​Lindy and I finally figured out that it was too challenging to do sketches while walking and touring with the group, so if we were to do any sketches, we would just need to get up early .  However for some places that really demanded a sketch, I did post-visit sketches from my phone/camera such as this one of the Arashiyama Bamboo Grove:
For our first morning sketch, our hotel in Kyoto was near the Sanjō Ōhashi bridge.  Spanning the Kamo River it was an appropriate first sketch of our Nakasendo tour since it served as the ending location (or for us the beginning) for journeying on both the Nakasendō and the Tōkaidō - two of the famous "Five Routes" for travelers during the Edo Period between Kyoto and Edo/Tokyo.  Hiroshige captured an earlier version of the bridge in the 1830s, as depicted in The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō.

The current bridge is a non-descript 1950 concrete bridge, so I wanted my sketch to capture a view of the river front and one of the original giboshi (onion-shaped posts) that are also seen on many of the bridges, shrines and temples in Japan.​

​September 27 – October 7, 2017
The Nakasendō (with the Japanese characters: 中 山 道 – “Central Mountain Route”), was one of the five routes of the Edo period, and one of the two that connected Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Kyoto in Japan.  There were 69 stations (staging-posts or post towns) between Edo and Kyoto, with a total distance of approximately 534 km (332 mi).  We were scheduled to walk 10 days along the portions of the route staying in a variety of inns and hotels including a night in a classic post-town inn that had a history spanning 1,000 years.  Many of the inns have been managed by many generations of the same family.  Here is a map of the route that shows the post-towns we visited:
​The walks varied from 8 km to 24 km a day and took us through many beautiful red cedar forests and charming rural towns and farms.  I wish I had the opportunity to do sketches along the way, but I managed to do a few morning sketches supplemented by a couple sketches from my phone/camera.  Our tour leader Kaho was an enthusiastic supporter of my sketching efforts.  Each morning she would ask to see my sketch of the day.  I then asked her to augment the sketch with a description in Japanese and English.  This was a wonderful morning ritual for us and became one of my lasting memories of the tour.  My only regret is that the tour and ritual eventually had to end.  Here are some sketches that Kaho enhanced - and a few I had to do later from my phone/camera:
​This spectacular castle deserved a more spectacular sketch, but our wonderful lunch distracted us a bit – at least that’s my excuse for this one.

​For our first Nakasendo inn in Sekigahara, we discovered a Shinto Shrine near our inn.  During the early morning sketch, I was approached by a Japanese man who asked where I was from.  He liked the fact that I was sketching the shrine since he was about to do some maintenance work on its grounds.
​On the following morning, we found a local shrine that was near our 17th century inn in Hosokute.  The small building was in a spectacular red cedar forest backdrop.

​While walking through some of the older portions of the Nakasendo, we emerged from the forest to a spectacular view of the valley and distant mountains.  I did a rushed lunch sketch where I tried to capture too much of the vast scenic valley view.

Ena was a major post-town that still has a charming historic district and a contemporary museum devoted to Hiroshige – one of the chroniclers of the Nakasendo.  We spent some time in the museum watching a video of the wood-block print process and then had an opportunity to do some quick wood block prints using a copies Hiroshige’s blocks. ​Our hotel was near the Agi River which like many of Japan’s rivers was now a delightful river park.  This sketch tried to capture an old paper mill and the vermillion bridge in the distance that we would soon walk over on our way to the next leg of the Nakasendo.

​Our uphill walk to Shinchaya (“New Tea House”) took us through a town that was celebrating the autumn harvest, so we took a break from our walk to watch the drums and some remnants of a parade.  The villagers welcomed us with offers of beer and treats.  When we finally arrived at the Shinchaya inn, it was in a spectacular setting that deserved more time and talent to sketch all the views and character of the inn.  Lindy did some nice sketches under the morning sunrise, and I did a quick energetic impression of the inn.  The inn proprietor was kind enough to sign my crude sketch of his inn that had more character than I was able to capture in a 10 minute sketch.
​The next day we walked through Magome, one of the most picturesque post-town on the Nakasendo, where we saw a master watercolor artist doing a sketch of the town with his students.  He did not speak English so I never learned his name, but his drawing and watercolor washes were inspirational.  We later found him in Tsumago doing another wonderful sketch of this picturesque town, but we still couldn’t communicate with each other.
​For our morning sketch, Lindy and I found this old seemingly abandoned tea house on a hill above our inn.  The “fish hook” was a common device that allowed the tea kettle to be suspended at variable heights above the fire.
​In Kiso Fukushima, we stayed at a modern western-style inn that had a roof-top onsen – public bath.  The inn was still run by the same family for many generations.  The town had many historic sights, including this stretch of old inns and storefronts that was getting ready for another autumn Shinto festival denoted by the numerous Shide, zig-zag lightening strips of paper.
​Our next leg of the tour took us up to the Kaida Plateau that is dominated by Mt. Ontake, an active volcano which also has four large ski slopes.  On our way to the Inn in the valley, we stopped for a special lunch at the Kotoda Poppo Shop which was run by a retired couple who served us amazing home-made pizza on their patio that had a spectacular view of the valley and Mt. Ontake.  While I could not do a sketch during lunch, I did a quick sketch of our modern Japanese Inn that was in the shadow of Mt. Ontake.
​On our way to Karuisawa, our final stay on the Nakasendo, we strolled through Narai.  While savoring a quick lunch, Lindy and I did a quick sketch of the street of this old post-town.

​Karuizawa was an unexpectedly high-class mountain resort town which treated us to a “top-class, historic inn.”  There was so much to see during our morning walk that we settled on a simple sketch of a series of Buddhist figurines with their red scarfs underneath the Jinguji Temple gong – which was being loudly rung by the chanting attendant.

​I close the Nakasendo Way sketches with a sketch done from my phone/camera of our tour group under the shadow of Mt. Ontake.
October 7-11, 2017
​Our tour of Tokyo was led by Satoko and naturally started at the Nihonbashi Bridge – the start and end of the Nakasendo.
​Satoko, our tour leader, did a great job of introducing us to the city of the shogun, the Imperial Palace, the Edo Castle grounds, and the Kiyosumi Teien, one of the best examples of a Japanese garden in Tokyo.  All these sites deserved a few sketches, but after a full two days of touring I only did a couple of sketches from the luxury of our high-rise hotel room.
​On our free days after the tour, we followed up Satoko’s suggestions, which included the small but delightful Sumida Hokusai Museum.  I managed to get in a quick sketch while enjoying a post-museum snack:

​On our last afternoon, we enjoyed a leisurely water ferry ride from Asakusa to Hama Rikyu garden where we did some sketching while overlooking Tokyo Bay:
​Finally, my Japan sketchbook is not complete without all the stamps I imprinted on the front and back end pages.  These stamps were available at most tourist sites and were great collector items for kids…and sketchers.
Many thanks to Lindy for her patience while I tried to get in "one more sketch"; to our amazing tour leaders Nami, Kaho and Satoko; and of course my fellow tourists: Susan and Bob, Ron and Julia, Beth and Alan, Jill and Caroline for all of their entertainment and comradery during many long walks.  A special thanks to Susan and Bob for organizing the adventure and inspiring us to actually go!
<![CDATA[Pima Animal Care Center – Volunteer Dog Walkers]]>Wed, 16 Aug 2017 19:39:13 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/pima-animal-care-center-volunteer-dog-walkersThe Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) is constructing a long over-due new facility as a result of the Pima County voters approval of Proposition 415 in November 2014.  The new PACC will accommodate the thousands of pets brought to the shelter in a much more appropriate shelter and medical facility.  The new facility has energized the PACC staff and volunteers who will soon be able to provide more modern animal care practices.  However in the meantime, there are hundreds of animals that are being cared for by very dedicated individuals including the small army of volunteer dog walkers who show up in the early morning hours to walk all the PACC dogs around the adjacent Christopher Columbus Park.

Last week I visited the center to spend a little time with the dog walkers - it was a humbling experience.  These dedicated volunteers spend hours each week (some are there daily) walking those dogs who can walk, holding those who cannot walk, and, for at least one case that I saw, the volunteer was lifting the hind legs of a dog crippled with Valley Fever so that the dog could keep her front legs active while getting medical care for her hind legs.  It did not matter what the special needs were for each dog.  They all got some attention.  In some cases, the dogs got to spend the better part of a day with a volunteer getting re-socialized with other people.  There were other cases where the dog was being treated for an infection so the volunteer had to wear yellow isolation gown and blue gloves.  While the new building will be invaluable for the animals, it was comforting to know that they are getting incredible care and attention right now.

Part of the reason for me being there was to learn more about the center and to do some watercolors for possible fund-raising purposes.  The following are some quick sketches of some of the volunteers and dogs I visited that day.  I hope that these sketches help communicate the dedication and commitment these individuals have brought to the shelter and to these wonderful animals.  Of course, they could certainly use some help, so if you have any time to share for these deserving creatures, please contact the PACC.  A link to their volunteer web site is:
Pima Animal Care Center - Volunteer page
<![CDATA[The Final "BIG Room" post]]>Wed, 31 May 2017 07:00:00 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/the-final-big-room-postMay 24, 2017 I retired from Banner Health with my colleagues still working away in the BIG Room.  The new hospital is still scheduled to open in April 2019.  Although the exterior is not complete, this final post has to somehow bring a year of sketching and blog posting to a close with a sketch of how the new building will look when it opens.  Fortunately the architects, Shepley Bulfinch, have a series of final design renderings which I referred to for this final sketch.  Their renderings provide a much more accurate view of the final building image which you can view on their web site:
Shepley Bulfinch architects
The new Banner University Medical Center Tucson campus hospital - April 2019 - from a rendering by Shepley Bulfinch architects
I owe a special thanks to the entire BIG Room team for their constant encouragement and support of the sketches.  I look forward to walking through the new hospital front door in 2019 with all the members of the BIG Room.  Thank you for your support of this sketchbook project, but most importantly thank you for your continuing great work together.  The past year of working with you was one of the highlights of my 30 years serving the University of Arizona and the Medical Center.
<![CDATA[It takes a lot people in the BIG Room to build a hospital]]>Sun, 16 Apr 2017 23:49:03 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/it-takes-a-lot-people-in-the-big-room-to-build-a-hospitalThis is the seventh in a series of Blog posts related to the design and construction of the Banner University Medical Center new hospital in Tucson, Arizona.

PictureAlmost all the structural steel is in place
As the hospital building exterior framework nears completion, Schuff Steel organizes the “Topping Off” ceremony which includes speeches, “topping off” hats, and the ceremonial last beam signed by project and hospital staff before hoisting it in place.

The “Topping Off” ceremony audience – some wearing “topping off” hats. The "topping off" beam is there with the American and Arizona flags
Although the building construction continues at a rapid pace, there is still lots of activity in the BIG Room with user group meetings, BIM (Building Information Modeling) systems to coordinate, and all the related project estimating and documentation requirements:
The BIG Room is also filled with big characters who help keep us focused, on-track and in good spirits.  They also remind us that despite the demands of developing a large complex building, it’s important to have fun - whether it’s during a report-out or to create a shrine to weird food and multi-tasking in our shared kitchen.
Nic – the master of BIM and report outs seems to always have the best costume for our special events
The unassuming Steve with Shepley Bulfinch is a master of concise summaries and a ready wry comment.
“Judo” the Serbian Senior Superintendent from Sundt|DPR is always there for emergencies and report-outs from the field
Boss and Project Manager for the architects, Elizabeth, who manages the BIG Room food choices and wayward multi-taskers
The BIG Room is united in their love of local food and in their admiration of the variety of food groups that Elizabeth brings to the kitchen – which resulted in an Elizabeth shrine to weird food and examples of her own skills at multi-tasking
The BIG Room and its talented collection of personalities is truly an experience.  Thankfully I got to enjoy this short time with some dedicated and fun people.
<![CDATA[Season's Greetings from the BIG Room]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2016 00:22:25 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/seasons-greetings-from-the-big-room
As the ironworkers continue to install steel framing for the new hospital, BIG Room holiday cards are now available at the Banner UMC Tucson Gift Shop!
<![CDATA[The BIG ROOM watches the ironworkers]]>Mon, 07 Nov 2016 14:18:17 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/the-big-room-watches-the-ironworkersThis is the sixth in a series of Blog posts related to the design and construction of the Banner University Medical Center new hospital in Tucson, Arizona.
For several months now the two large cranes have been hoisting the steel members up to the new hospital framework at a rapid rate.  Our BIG Room team are now fully distracted with watching not just the motion of the cranes, but also the dexterity and movements of the ironworkers as they dance around the steel framework on narrow flanges of steel or sometimes simply standing on safety wires.  Although each worker is secured with harnesses and self-retracting lifelines, it’s a precarious job and fascinating to watch.  The steel members on the ground are laid out in an organized manner for their ultimate position in the building.  Workers on the ground secure cables to the steel members to be lifted into place by a crane and then ironworkers on the edge of the building frame use a tagline rope to control the beams and ease the steel member into place.  When the steel is close to the point of connection, ironworkers position the beams in place with the long pointed bar of a spud wrenches to align bolt holes. Then bolts are inserted and the wrench end is used to tighten the bolts.   For “moment resisting” connections, where the steel members must resist a combination of tension and compression force, a team of welders makes the connection secure with deep penetrating welds.  The ironworkers are also involved with installing metal decking for the concrete floors that are poured on the decking.
Terry bolting a steel member while safely suspended from a column. While I was studying his work, he told me after he came down that he was worried that I was a safety inspector, although he was sure he was doing everything correctly. Afterward, I tried to be less obvious while watching the ironworkers since they certainly did not need any distractions.
At a recent lunch with some of the ironworkers from Schuff Steel I learned a few things about their lives and risks.  Aaron, a local ironworker, quickly but politely corrected my use of the term “steelworker” by explaining that “steelworkers” work in a steel fabrication shop preparing the steel members for use in the field.  The “ironworkers” are the ones working outside on a building to erect, position, bolt, and weld the steel members into place.  This hospital building that Aaron and his crew were working on is a unique project for them and for Tucson.  Normally these highly specialized workers are on a job for a month and then they are off to the next one – often in another city. Our project will keep them steadily employed in one place for many months.  In Tucson, there are just not that many steel frame buildings being constructed so for an ironworker in Tucson, the opportunity to stay in one place was a uniquely stable situation.
Ed placing the bolts while standing on small steel flanges.
At the very top of the steel framework, an ironworker is preparing a column to connect a beam coming up for positioning.
The jobs these guys do looks risky - and it is.  Many of them told tales of their last or most serious falls, including Aaron's recent free fall of 35 feet resulting in both ankles getting broken, an arm penetrated by a spud wrench and multiple other serious injuries.  He had a deep appreciation for doing a hospital project having spent so much time recovering in one.
Ed and Dylan on opposite sides of a column standing on safety cables while preparing a connection.
Tightening a turnbuckle on a cable guy.
With the BIG Room overlooking the steel framework, the BIG Room participants have a greater appreciation for the work of ironworkers.  We are also constantly reminded that our work together is important for the patients and hospital staff who will soon inhabit the new hospital.  Some of our patients occasionally get to watch the workers erect the building from their patient rooms.  To help connect our pediatric patients to the project and to give them some distractions during their stay, some of our project team have introduced Pokémon characters into the building framework.  It’s important to have some fun during a long and serious project.

Pokémon makes an appearance for the children who are patients in the Medical Center. Their frequent complaint is that Pokémon does not move enough!
<![CDATA[The BIG ROOM has a BIG visitor]]>Tue, 04 Oct 2016 02:57:15 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/the-big-room-has-a-big-visitorThis is the fifth in a series of Blog posts related to the design and construction of the Banner University Medical Center new hospital in Tucson, Arizona. Picture
What requires 18 large flatbed trucks to be delivered…

…three days to assemble…

…requires other smaller versions of itself to get assembled…

…weighs 700,000 pounds when fully assembled...

...will be taller than any building in Tucson, and is decorated with Christmas lights…

…and had 50 members of the BIG ROOM celebrate the final assemble?


Manufactured in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, our BIG CRANE is a Manitowoc 2250 Series 3.  These types of cranes are called “Lattice Boom Crawler” cranes meaning that they are not fixed “tower” cranes but can move around the site at 1 mph.  Due to the excessive weight of the crane, it needs to be disassembled when moving across existing onsite utility tunnels and then reassembled to complete the steel erection of the new building.  The crane has a 200-foot main boom and a 160-foot jib – which is 60 feet longer than a football field.  At its full height, the crane is 400 feet tall.  Christmas lights are installed on the boom of the crane with flashing strobe lights and an orange checkered flag at the highest point to alert helicopter pilots flying to our helipad around the crane.  The crane is scheduled to place 80 pieces of steel each day and will be working on site with a second (even larger) crane for five months on the project site.
<![CDATA[The BIG ROOM deals with monsoon storms and helps manage a power outage]]>Mon, 15 Aug 2016 02:39:56 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/monsoon-storms-and-the-big-room-helps-manage-a-power-outageThis is the fourth in a series of Blog posts related to the design and construction of the Banner University Medical Center new hospital in Tucson, Arizona. PictureThe Sturgeon Electric make-ready team
Last month we got hit by several large storms which challenged the “make-ready” teams.  The “make ready” work is critical work to get all the site utilities, civil engineering elements, and caissons ready for the building construction.

When a construction schedule has the site make-ready work in the summer, it is a race to get site work done and protected from the consequences of the desert monsoon season.  July in the desert is the month that the energy created by the hot and dry weather of May and June shifts the jet stream to north.  This shift brings moist air from the Sea of Cortez and the Gulf of Mexico to the desert.  The heat and moisture combine to create the familiar thunderstorm (cumulonimbus) clouds that build during the day that are a prelude to heavy rains and winds that define our monsoon season.

PictureInstalling pre-cast concrete storm water pipes down Warren Avenue
Not all of our make ready work was completed before the start of the monsoons.  However, each morning when we returned to the Big Room after an evening of storms, we could see the crews below cleaning up the site and continuing their activity with hardly any noticeable impact.

Around our neighborhood areas, we had downed trees, crunched houses, and flooded streets, but our construction site teams just kept going as if all this was normal. 

The rain did provide a momentary cooling of the desert and a celebratory burst of flowers after each storm.

Texas Rangers blooming in the hospital neighborhood
For our construction teams, the monsoons meant higher humidity with the high temperatures.  After a few visits below to the site, I was thankful to be able to escape the hot humid site and return to the chilly air-conditioned Big Room.

On July 14, the day started normally with high heat and humidity from the evening’s storms.  Just as our Big The Big Room team also works with the hospital’s emergency preparedness team which includes the hospital’s Incident Command Team to ensure that we can support any emergency facing the hospital such as power outages during the storm seasons. This season we had a significant power outage involving our high voltage transfer switches and a transformer.
The failed 13,800 volt transfer switch which affected normal power to the hospital
The failed transformer which affected our emergency power
PictureCatepillar's mobile emergency power trailer at the loading dock
The hospital’s Incident Command Team was activated and many of our Big Room team members were involved in helping the hospital successful manage the emergency – including the set-up of a mobile Caterpillar Empire generator outside the hospital above the high voltage room.

All the emergency preparedness training and coordination is a constant reminder of how important our work is to provide stable and reliable systems for the hospital to care for its patients.

Chief Nursing Officer, Cathy Townsend, providing an update to the Incident Command Team
<![CDATA[The BIG ROOM celebrates]]>Sun, 10 Jul 2016 22:17:03 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/the-big-room-celebratesThis is the third in a series of Blog posts related to the design and construction of the Banner University Medical Center new hospital in Tucson, Arizona. PictureKathy Bollinger and the other speakers and guests under the groundbreaking event tent - 5/26/2016
We've had several important milestones and events to celebrate during the past couple of months.  We finally scheduled the formal groundbreaking even though we've been under construction and "breaking ground" for several months.  While it seems logical to have a project groundbreaking at the start of construction, these events are scheduling nightmares for those trying to coordinate the busy calendars of speakers.  For our event, we wanted to include the leadership from the City of Tucson, the University of Arizona, and Banner Health, so this took considerable coordination.   We finally got everyone scheduled for May 26.  Here is the University's press release for the morning event:

Hospital physicians, staff, neighbors, UA leaders and community leaders are invited to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for the $400 million, nine-story tower at Banner – University Medical Center slated to open in early 2019.

Guest speakers include:
  • Kathy Bollinger, Executive Vice President of Academic Delivery for Banner Health, Banner University Medicine
  • Tom Dickson, CEO, Banner-University Medical Center
  • Charles Cairns, MD, Dean, College of Medicine - Tucson and Professor, Emergency Medicine
  • Ann Weaver Hart, President, The University of Arizona
  • Major Jonathan Rothschild, City of Tucson
  • Dr. Akinlolu Ojo, AVP for Clinical Research and Health Initiatives, UAHS

The nine-story tower is the centerpiece of $1 billion in construction undertaken by Banner Health in support of the UA Colleges of Medicine and academic medical centers in Tucson and Phoenix.

Ironically, we put the morning construction activities on-hold while we conducted the ceremonies on the construction site.  We also prepared a series of display posters that included project information and several historic images illustrating the history of the project site including the time that the University supported a R.O.T.C. cavalry training site and a successful polo team.  Since many of the speakers referenced the unique history of the site, it seemed that this was interesting to many of the participants.

There were several groups who participated in the ceremony of digging into the prepared soil with silver shovels including this sketch of the Banner University Medicine Division leadership team.

The other event we celebrated was the design team's completion of the "shell and core" set of drawings.  This massive set of approximately 500 drawings included the building exterior "shell" and "core" interior elements that was submitted to the City of Tucson for review and permitting for the construction team to construct the envelope of the building.  The Shepley Bulfinch and GLHN architectural team with AEI, their mechanical engineering team, and many others including input from the Sundt|DPR construction team and their trade partners did a remarkable job pulling together so many issues and challenges in such a short time.  Having a BIG ROOM where we could all collaborate certainly contributed to the efficiency and success of the team.  At our June 16th Thursday report-out, we took a moment to pose for a group picture sporting their "Foster Grants".  The sunglasses became a trademark for this event after seeing a picture of architect Ned McKnight hiding his eyes after many long nights.

PictureThe Shepley Bulfinch team at their Phoenix office taking a well-deserved Friday lunch break.

PictureThe incomparable Russ Combs on "Dress Like Russ" day.
Another event last month was the first "Dress like Russ Day".  For many months we have been admiring architect Russ Combs’ ability to show up in the BIG ROOM with outfits that defied any clothing tradition.  He was the master of combining plaids and stripes, blending Hawaiian florals with east coast simplicity, and introducing styles to each other that were never intended to be in the same room.  His contradictory and conflicting approach to apparel inspired us to have a special day to see if anyone could come close to matching or at least capturing some element of Russ's inspired dress code.  Of course we had many attempts, but Russ "out –Russed" us all with a vintage Ralph Lauren Madras patch suit, bright orange socks, a Bazinga t-shirt, and topped off with a fedora.  We did give Russ an opportunity to select a runner-up and thanks to a bright vintage 1960s tie made by my wife, I was awarded the runner-up prize to Russ.  However, I suspect that I may have been given special consideration as the project owner's representative.

Celebrations are important – especially during a four year long project!

<![CDATA[Caissons are going down outside the BIG ROOM]]>Sun, 22 May 2016 23:43:21 GMThttp://stephenbrigham.net/watercolour-stories/caissons-are-going-down-outside-the-big-roomThis is the second in a series of Blog posts related to the design and construction of the Banner University Medical Center new hospital in Tucson, Arizona.
The BIG ROOM has been busy since the last posting on May 3.  We conducted a mini retreat that gave us an opportunity to revisit project goals, assess our progress and identify areas to re-focus. We also had a “Half-time” show where some of our team members showed off their talents including a couple of comics (to be expected in a group like this), a woodwind interlude with a flute and soprano saxophone, and yes, a review of some the BIG ROOM sketches.
However, the big activity was down below us as the building pad was created from the soil excavated from a storm water detention basin excavation and the new hospital’s caissons were drilled and poured.  It was hard to capture the energy involved in drilling 50 feet underground, placing a rebar cage, and then pouring the caisson hole full of concrete.  Still, it was a lively sight above ground with the colorful cranes, earth movers, and tall orange concrete pumpers.  All this is foundation work needs to be done in June since the building’s steel framework starts to get erected in July.  It’s an exciting time, working with the project team in the BIG ROOM, while a small army of workers and heavy equipment get the site ready for the building’s skeleton.
Of course the colorful equipment does not work without key people in the field like Jake or design and engineering staff like Laura who is captured here checking the field work and entering reports back in the BIG ROOM.  We also have our weekly report-out sessions when we wrap up the week's activities and focus our priorities for the upcoming weeks as shown with the sketch of Brittany leading a BIG ROOM session.