Wednesday, February 16, 2011


M.C. Escher self-portrait 1929

M.C. Escher was a famous 20th century Dutch graphic artist known  for images that examine issues of perspective and the representation of three-dimensional images in a two-dimensional picture.

Relativity, one of Escher's most famous pieces of art. It's a picture one can hang any side up!

One of his most famous works is Relativity, with its six stairways all seen from different perspectives at the same time. Technically, there are actually three sources of gravity in the drawing, each being orthogonal to the two others. Each of the 16 people lives in one of the gravity wells, where normal physical laws apply. As a result two inhabitants can use the same stairway in the same direction and on the same side, but each using a different face of each step; thus, one descends the stairway as the other climbs it, even while moving in the same direction nearly side-by-side. If this seems confusing, well it’s intended to be. You can explore this theme more on line at references (1) and (2). "This is all very arcane and mildly amusing" you might say "but what the hell does this have to do with the QVC project?"

We are continuing building the framework for the indoor ramp and second floor mezzanine. The latter will extend the entire length of the building. You’ll enter at the east end, get a spectacular panoramic view of the quarry face as you walk along the upper mezzanine, and at the west end take the ramp down to the lower level exhibits.

However, as can be seen in these photos, the front part of the mezzanine frame is built inside the scaffolding frame that is holding up the huge plywood box enclosing and protecting the quarry face. Um, how did this happen you ask? Before you go spouting off about “typical of government work” let me assure you that there is a method to our madness.

Careful readers will have noticed that what I wrote above is that we are building the frame for the mezzanine. The new mezzanine is wider than the old one and will bring people closer to the bone deposit. The scaffolding cannot be partially dismantled for the mezzanine construction because the integrity of the entire protective structure would be compromised. As a result, the front of the frame was constructed within the scaffolding.

So the strategy is to build the framing first, including that part that sits inside the scaffolding, and then put its completion on hold until after the glass walls are completely installed and the inside of the building is protected from the elements. Then the scaffolding and the plywood sarcophagus will be dismantled and the decking and railing can be installed and the mezzanine completed. In the interim, the intertwined frame and scaffolding will just have a, well, “Escher- like” quality about it.

Escher self-portrait and Relativity from references 1 and 2 below.
Other photos: NPS.



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