The Kaswell Family Work Trip
Last month, my family traveled to Chicago and Wisconsin and our visits included Kaswell projects. Here are the highlights:
Wood Paver Alley
Renovated with our Black Locust Blocks in 2011, this wood-paved street looks great despite the snow, rain and winds of Chicago weather!
Set in the Astor Street Historical Landmark District, the approx. 5,000 sq ft street is one of the few in the country. In the 1800s wood paved streets used to be the standard, nearly 50 miles of Chicago’s streets were wood paved and continued through to the early twentieth century.
Chicago’s Navy Pier is undertaking a major redevelopment project to reinvent 50 acres of urban lakefront as a spectacular global destination and model of sustainability that will improve the health and vitality of the local community.
The Architectural firm selected our FSC certified Fir Strip Blocks for the renovation in anticipation of its 100th anniversary. Our blocks were used to modernize the facility while still maintaining the timeless feel.
SC Johnson Headquarters
Avid pilot, Samuel C. Johnson followed his father and grandfather at the helm of SC Johnson products, propelling the company’s reach by selling products on six continents! To commemorate his love of adventure, and how his father would travel all over the world in search of new waxes for cleaning products, their headquarters in Wisconsin has a map of the world made of wood blocks,. We’re proud to be included with our Hornbeam blocks!
Seward Park High School, NYC
While I was in NYC for business, I stopped by Seward Park High School. When Seward Park’s new building in lower Manhattan was built in 1929 they installed an end grain wood block floor for the school’s gymnasium area which was not so uncommon in those days for sports flooring. Last year, funds from the NY School department were allocated to renovate the space. The architect for this renovation project decided they wanted to install a new end grain block floor in the gym , as capturing the aesthetic of the original space was important to the design intent. We supplied 5,000 sq. ft. of our end grain fir strip block flooring that was installed by our colleagues at Haywood Berk Flooring.
— Josh Kaswell
Amherst College, Amherst, MA
On July 21, I visited the Powerhouse Project on the campus of Amherst College, Amherst, MA. The project, designed by Bruner Cott, Architects in Boston, MA, is a conversion of a very old brick structure that once housed several generators for electrical services for the campus. The building is being converted to a new student activities center. The blocks are all 1/2″ depth, in face sizes of 3″ x 2″, 3″ x 3″, 3″ x 4″, and 3″ x 5″. The blocks are being installed by JJCurran Flooring Company, using Bostik Adhesive. I’m looking forward to returning to see the finished floor, and to see all the furnishings that will be used. Smith College in Northampton, MA and the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art are both right nearby. But, this is the first mesquite installation in the area!
Organic Avenue NYC
I had the pleasure of reviewing our flooring at the Organic Avenue (OA) stores with Chad or Architecture Outfit. OA has been using our micro line engineered fumed oak in several of their new store locations in NYC. I was very pleased with the performance and how nicely our material fits into the overall design concept of these health food shops. When in NYC, I highly recommend popping into OA for a juice or a healthy snack!
We recently had a first glimpse of the new Room&Board showroom Boston. Our end grain fir strip block flooring is installed throughout most of the store. While visiting, both Norman and myself were able to watch some installing, sanding, and finishing of the end grain floors. I want to thank Mr. Steve Becht of The Becht Corp. for taking the time to show us around the site. The place is really coming along and we look forward to seeing the finished interiors in a few weeks.
— Josh Kaswell
Retail Store NYC
While in NYC for sales meetings I stopped into a new retail store installation on 5th Ave. Our engineered pre-finished oak end grain was installed throughout the store. The client chose an ebony WOCA oil finish for the retail flooring. After speaking with both the store manager and some customers it seems everyone is very taken with our end grain flooring and how nicely it fits with the decor. If you’d like to see it for yourself … stop by 79 5th Ave. NY, NY
— Josh Kaswell
World Trade Center
I was in NYC three weeks ago and the nice people at Lend Lease gave me a private tour of the
WTC Memorial Pavilion. The museum area is off limits for any photography but I was able to get
some pictures of our edge grain flooring installed in the pavilion both in a congregating theater room,
lobby, and staircase. I’m told the museum and pavilion will open to the public this spring. It is an
unbelievable facility and we are very proud to be a part of this historical place. The tragedy of 9-11
is well documented and respectfully remembered in this long awaited building.
— Josh Kaswell
World Trade Center Museum, New York, NY
One small step at the World Trade Center Museum, One giant step for Kaswell Flooring Systems.
We had known for several years, one of our products was to be installed at the WTC Pavilion. We had shipped the material not long ago, but it wasn’t until last week when I visited Ground Zero, that it became a reality for me.
When I first arrived at the gate, I looked up and saw the majestic tower built adjacent to where the two original towers once stood. The new tower is just beautiful. It is the most beautiful building I’ve ever seen and is a tribute to the design team of Skidmore Owings and Merrill.
I was asked to be on-site to assist the installers with our edge grain wood flooring for the Museum Pavilion. We started the installation at the top step of a large set of stairs that took me to the pavilion section. The building sits beside the tower, opposite the memorial water falls where the original towers once stood.
It was such an honor to be there. Everyone was so professional, there was no fooling around. All the trades seemed very cooperative, they know that they are helping to build a sacred place for our country. Now the reality of it has set in, Kaswell is a small part of it. I took several pictures of the tower as I entered the construction site, and pictures of the installation of our blocks.
Everyone was grateful that I was there. I was grateful for being invited.
CAEN MEMORIAL MUSEUM, CAEN, FRANCE
I recently returned from a trip to Normandy including Omaha Beach and Caen, France. Our end grain Iroko block flooring was chosen for a WWII Nazi Bunker project, and I was requested to assist with the installation. The CAEN Museum (normandy.memorial-caen.com), established in 1988 is regarded as the best World War II museum in France. The site of the museum was chosen because below the ground is a 3,000 sq. ft. Nazi bunker built for General Richter, from which the Nazis ran their war effort in Normandy against the allied forces of the USA, Canada, and Great Britain. The bunker is an eerie place, a long narrow tunnel style concrete bunker, left as it was built for almost 70 years. French officials decided it was time to open it to the general public as part of the museum, but some minimal restoration was needed. The concrete floor was apparently not suitable for public access, so it was first resurfaced. It was then determined that the concrete slab should be covered with a suitable floor to enhance the bunker’s appearance but without making a significant upgrade. Considering the humidity is at or near 80% 24 hours per day, their choices were undoubtedly limited. They found end grain to be a suitable choice for durability and appearance, but would also need rot resistance and stability. They chose Kaswell Iroko End Grain, an African Teak, very stable and rot resistant, neutral in color, mostly tan and brown pieces.
While in Normandy, I also visited Omaha Beach, about 10 miles north of CAEN. I walked through the American cemetery that we all saw in Saving Private Ryan, which is also clearly visable on the Google satellite. My father, Harold, had landed at Omaha Beach 7 days after D-day, and needless to say, it was a very sensitive and meaningful trip. My father got into the block flooring business just 2 years after returning from the war.
Kaswell Edge Grain at the 911 World Trade Center
We recently shipped some of our Edge Grain Ash block flooring to the World Trade Center Pavilion. Installation to begin soon. More to come.