Up Close with Andrew Halpin
July 14, 2016
Currently a Project Manager, Andrew Halpin started at HLZAE in 2005 as a Technical Associate. Over the course of 11 years he has found himself working on some of HLZAE’s most complex projects. One of the most challenging, he says, was The Plaza Hotel.
Q: Andrew, you’ve worked on some big HLZAE projects, including ten buildings for London Terrace, Chelsea Mercantile, and The Ritz Tower. Why does The Plaza stand out in your mind?
A: The Plaza Hotel and Condominium is one of New York’s most iconic buildings. Did you know it’s up for sale again? It’s not only in a NYC historic district, but it’s also a landmark building, so its restoration involved a large and challenging scope of work. There were stringent parameters to follow and standards of work to uphold that were frankly not upheld in earlier repairs. We even had workers repelling down the front of the building because, due to its design, we were unable to hang from scaffold platforms.
Poor workmanship, flooding, and deterioration necessitated an enormous amount of material replacement. We launched an extensive investigation into the types of marbles to use and which marble quarries would be able to supply material that matched. And we worked closely with the terracotta manufacturer, who was charged with repairing and/or duplicating 204 pieces of white terracotta, many based solely on our field measurements! The process to design, create, bake and ship terracotta – which literally means ‘baked earth’ – can take three to four months to arrive on site. Opening up the first box of glistening white terracotta was like Christmas morning — we were pretty excited!
Q: Did you meet your schedule?
A: We worked very close to deadline, working in poor weather and documenting our work carefully to ensure we met our deadlines. This was a building with occupants — we had no choice!
Q: What are you working on now?
A very different kind of project. Amalgamated Properties in the Bronx is a 16-building residential complex encompassing a park reservoir, a school, and even a supermarket.
Q: What have you learned as a Project Manager at HLZAE?
A: Communication is key. I talk to my clients and co-workers. Keeping an open line of communication really makes a difference, as does being honest. I like to let our clients know what their options are — “We can do Door Number 1, Number 2, or Number 3 — weighing the merits of each option with them.”
Q: What’s your favorite part of what you do?
Going on site, meeting with clients, and educating them on the best course to take for their buildings. I like to give them a solid understanding of what’s happening, since a lot of what we do is not visible, and when we do our job properly, you’ll never know we were there!
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