A new show about extreme climate construction is interrupted by a global pandemic
I didn’t expect the opening shot of the Building Resilience Show to be windshield footage of driving a rented car across Iowa during the early stages of a global pandemic.
I thought it would be something like a drone selfie of the builder showing the house before we dug into for an exterior insulation retrofit, addition, re-fenestration and cladding replacement.
But here we are, probably driving by one of those meatpacking plants in Waterloo.
How did we get here?
In November, Protradecraft set out to develop a new show called Building RESILIENCE, a show about extreme climate construction.
We decided to shoot season 1 in Minnesota, which sits in the Lower 48's coldest two climate zones. Minneapolis is in Zone 6. Incidentally, Marvin's factory is in the little patch of ice way up north, in Warroad, MN—zone 7.
The idea of the show wasn't really to shoot and build during extreme climate events (we are NOT going to build and shoot the hurricane show DURING hurricanes), but it seemed fun to shoot this project during winter.
And the prospect of flying into the coldest part of the lower 48 during the coldest part of the year wearing a battery-powered jacket from Milwaukee was pretty appealing—even to someone who is sick of winter.
So I've been flying out to Minneapolis each month and shooting progress on the project. March was no different, until it was.
Skycove installation was set to take place in early March.
Skycove, in case you haven’t heard of it, is basically a glass box that gets bolted to the side of a house.
And then you sit in it.
Anyway, this was at the beginning of the coronavirus recognition phase in the US.
Connecticut, where I live, had a couple of confirmed cases, Minnesota had a few, and most states in-between had zero or similarly low numbers.
Airports were becoming risky places to be, so I rented a car and drove out.
As the installation date drew closer, the infection rate and death counts began creeping up.
Stay-at-home orders were implemented, and the installation was pushed back a few days.
Right after the NBA season cancelled, the crane that was supposed to lift the skycove cancelled, and Marvin asked their folks to stay home if possible. I—sensing the non-essential nature of my situation—decided to high-tail it home.
It felt counter-intuitive driving toward the big dots on the COVID-19 map. By now, all of the dots on the COVID map were bigger than on the drive out.
Most concerning was the mushrooming dot over NYC and southern Connecticut.
During the drive, Michael's wife, Andrea, went into labor with their new baby girl.
When I found myself behind behind the truck in the photo, I texted him the picture.
The day after I arrived home, Michael installed the sky cove using a bobcat instead of the crane.
He sent photos and drone footage of the process along with a lot of adrenaline-filled text messages covering the highlights.
After that, we started Zoom calling to cover updates and specifics of the home’s progress.
DM: Let’s just sort of talk that through. The reason I was there is because you were installing skycove, we had planned to have some technical experts from Marvin come down.
It was the first of its kind, and the first installation, and everything was going to be in the Guiness Book of Records, how did that all pan out? Like, after you saw my tail lights driving away, what happened?
MA: Yeah. The most complicated, definitely one of the most comp— I’m just going to say. The most complicated window installation that I have ever taken on.
And one that we didn’t have someone we could turn to for z”How did you do this?” We couldn’t reach out to a tech rep and say, “What was your best practice that you uses, what’s the trick to this bit, it was literally real-time figuring it out.
So everybody knows this is an 870 pound glass box window that is really a steel frame that has to be bolted to the side of the house. Kudos to Marvin, its a really cool window and the engineering and thought that went into it before it reached us, was evident.
But also kudos to Marvin that they didn’t see this as “problem-solved” and this was also a sharing moment. So the engineers were on the phone with us while we were installing. I think we were on the phone, on a Zoom, flying a drone, and manhandling drills to get big bolts in place.
It was five hours that went by in about 30 minutes. It was a pretty intense moment.
We would have loved to have you here…
DM:” Well that’s why I went out. It was the most important aspect of the whole show, I think—not to diminish the other sponsors, but this was something bigger than we’ve ever seen and I just wanted to sit in it. After it was attached to the house—after I’d seen you sit in it.
MA: That first step when we thought we had it secured and we told the Bobcat to back out, there was a very pregnant pause as we wondered if it would shift somehow or rip itself off the house.
But most people have stood in it and worked in it and it is incredibly stable. It was really fascinating and fun and definitely a challenge to remember. Without a doubt.
So the pilot episode of Building Resilience begins in the middle of the project, with #windows from Marvin.
It’ll backs up to the beginning to cover #demolition of the back part of the house, #framing the first and second floors along with the new pitched #roof.
Next, we’ll move on to exterior insulation using ZIP R-12 panels for new construction sheathing, and an exterior shin for the old part of the house.
With the thermal envelope tightened up, Michael’s crew will focus on water-management details, including flashings, weather barriers, and rain screen system from Benjamin Obdyke.
All of that stuff clears the way for AZEK PaintPro panels and a AZEK cladding, an open-joint cladding that’s like decking for walls.
Speaking of #decking, we’re installing that, too.