Winter 2009
Volume 19
Inside this issue:
• "Sunflower Stairs"
• "
Every Casting Begins with a pattern"
• Authentic Detail
• Monroe Strreet Bridgehouses
• Winter Wonderland

A Holiday of Patterns with decorated staircases, ringing bells, laser lights and ice skating…

“Sunflower Stairs”

Only five years after Kansas statehood, the state legislators signed into law a bill authorizing the erection of a Statehouse. The architect whose drawings first inspired the creation of the bill was Edward Townsend Mix from Milwaukee but it was a local Kansas architect, John G. Haskell, whose plans were extensively incorporated into the final design. Construction began in 1867.

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“Every Casting Begins with a Pattern”

A project such as the Kansas Statehouse Restoration requires an enormous amount of patternwork. Each separate and distinct component casting that comprises the entire assembled staircase requires a custom pattern to be made. This is true even when there are existing original pieces that merely need copying.

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Authentic Detail

 Robinson Iron often uses Computer Numeric Control, or CNC equipment, to replicate select parts for many of our most complex patternmaking projects. To generate the necessary code for our CNC router we use Mastercam, a modeling and tool path generating software. When organic in nature these parts present higher technical challenges for the 3D modeler. In order to simplify this task small sections at a time are imaged. As each section is completed they are "meshed" together into one monolithic part.  This can be a difficult and time consuming process especially with larger patterns. 

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Monroe Street Bridgehouses

In the Spring of 2008 the Chicago Department of Transportation completed the rehabilitation of the historic east and west bridgehouses on the Monroe Street Bridge.  The bridge, constructed in 1919, crosses the Chicago River’s South Branch and the bridgehouses contain the mechanical equipment used to raise and lower the bridge for river traffic. Weather and wear had taken its toll on the original terra cotta cladding. In 2002, crews had to remove the east bridgehouse and replace it with a temporary plywood structure. The project rebuilt both bridgehouses upgrading their structural, mechanical and electrical components.

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Winter Wonderland

Winter wonderland accurately describes the installation of these two prefabricated structures at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Each holiday season the sculpture garden is transformed into an ice skating rink with the erection of a matching skate rental pavilion and zamboni enclosure designed by Robinson Iron. Working closely with the Department of Architectural Services Robinson Iron engineered them to break apart and reassemble easily. This allows the museum to utilize the same space for two very different purposes - in the winter as an ice skating rink and throughout the rest of the year as a sculpture garden.

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