COG Blog: Weekly Updates on Construction

Thank you, Alice Dunn and Valerie Perkins, for your tireless work and your weekly updates! Click on any photos to enlarge. Also, you can check out photo galleries from Joe Turner here.

October 17 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

More and more finishes:  the cabinets are being installed! Here’s the view of the new copier/ mailroom, with the wood laminate doors. We even set the placement for the cabinet handles and then spent a pleasant time laying out the pattern for our new cobalt blue carpet squares. That’s what will go on the floor of this room, and of the whole Offices level and the Anne Smith Room. It will look so great with all the maple trim and doors!

Ceilings and lighting are nearing completion on the upper levels, and sprinkler installation in the new part is largely complete. We’re working on our tactile signage package for the whole building: every room has a number that relates to the fire protection system and all the room names and numbers will have braille and raised lettering.

Here’s a view of the Community Center level bathroom – tile is on, ready for grouting and – while you can’t see this in this photo – the four toilets are mounted. The countertop for the three sinks will be installed next week.


Outside, the site contractors are back for a few weeks to complete the exterior steps, install the fencing for the HVAC condensers, complete the handrails and re-grade the parking lot across the street. The gutters and downspouts arrive some time soon, too. We are very happy with the granite veneer stone and cap at the retaining wall at the Community Center entry.

Do look for the new posts for the Black Lives Matter banner, courtesy of our multi-talented Nancy Sofen.  (The site contractors would like to hire her! ) She also re-planted the azalea at the top of the Marshman ramp, saved in her garden throughout construction.

One step at a time…we are getting there!

 Alice and Valerie

October 10 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

The new features are coming thick and fast!  Check out the new railings for the front walk (the railings for the steps to the Waldorf driveway will come next week, and will be similar in appearance).

Also, the upstairs bathrooms are close to completion, just need a bit more paint and some accessories. Doors are mounted – and looking great – throughout the upstairs, and the kitchenette floors are ready for the sheet Marmoleum flooring, to be quickly followed by the base cabinets. Those are the IKEA cabinets we all assembled!

And here’s a few photos from our new Anne Smith Room and new meeting room on the top floor, right above – with the East Village Fair underway, and after; the views are terrific!  And yes, we will have shades; we’re trying out different fabrics and solar screening types.

We on COG continue to be so very grateful for all the community support!  Thanks again to the VSN and to Anne Englehart and Doug Durant for the delicious dinner.

Your ever-vigilant Alice and Valerie and team COG

October 3 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

We are thrilled to announce – as many may already know –  that we have received a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy to use the Community Center for the East Village Fair flea market! The finishes aren’t complete,  the new flooring isn’t in place, but alarms, lighting and egresses are complete enough in that space for life safety. Lexington building and fire departments have reviewed the whole building and are pleased with the progress, enough to allow us a partial occupancy, and the flea market is a GO!  The set-up volunteers stepped right up and the donations are pouring in and being priced, even as I write. There’s already lots more!

Here’s Valerie enjoying the view of the flea market set up, through one of our new windows!

The new glass is making an enormous difference!  The views from inside are just amazing. The beautiful octagonal form of the Sanctuary and of the steeple are now visible from the north stair well, and from the open corners of the Anne Smith Room and the new meeting room above – the views really highlight the exterior of the unique historical building we love. And, connect us to the lovely spaces all around us!
And a few shot from inside:

Here we are enjoying the scene from the top of the North stair  (For those of you who use Instagram, Maryann is making a video to post on the Maryann Thompson Architects Instagram feed). The space and light are wonderful. The handrails go in next week and the pendant lights await our review- there will be five lights extending the height of the open atrium.

And here’s from inside the new Music Room.

More to go, more to come, and we are really looking forward to getting the whole building open!
Alice and Valerie

September 26 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

We have glass!  We have grass!  We are so happy to see the windows, frames and all: in our commercial system the frames are installed first, and glass is put in separately. Wednesday morning, we saw the first of the glass being installed, and by the end of the day, so much was done. By the time you read this, even more will be in place…less and less flapping plastic!


The view from the North Stair
The view from the Anne Smith Room
And let’s not forget the care and teamwork required to just get that glass in place.

If all goes as fast as we hope, we will be in good shape to use the Community Center to host the Fabulous Follen Flea Market for the East Village Fair on 10/5. To set clear expectations: the builders, ZVI Construction, are working toward clearing the CC for us to set up, starting this Saturday 9/28, assuming that the Town of Lex. approves the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy permit on Friday morning. So far, so good.  The CC will be roughly finished, with glazed windows, full lighting, and some heat. But likely the doors will be rough (plywood!) for security and safety, and we won’t be able to use the bathrooms or CC Kitchen at all.

Contractors will be active all around during the week, so if you are sorting/pricing, there will be noise and activity in all adjacent spaces. Dropping off items: do not bring furniture or sporting goods, and only leave donations  during the hours posted!  We are working around Waldorf’s school pick-up times, and the contractor’s work hours. PLEASE be mindful of the site conditions, and don’t bring items that need cleaning, as we don’t have a water supply.

Last week, we also enjoyed last Sunday’s Religious Education activities:  to help connect our wonderful youth to the new spaces, the kids planted daffodil bulbs in a few of our new garden beds – thanks to Janet Lane, Nancy Sofen and the RE teachers!  And, Valerie and Alice took groups of kids through the new spaces, to talk about what was the same and what will be different. They were so excited and observant!

And, our unending thanks to the Volunteer Service network, and to this week’s dinner provider, Harriet Peterson – delicious and so nourishing, on many levels.

Thanks to all, Alice and Valerie

September 19 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Isn’t it exciting to see our front yard again!? No fences in front (just in time for a wedding this weekend!) and the walkways and exterior ramps are almost complete. The walkways look so good, and we have a complete Anne Smith Room Deck!!

We will keep the fences up around the back part of the project until windows and exterior doors are all installed and other exterior work is done. Here’s Tom enjoying our new CC entry sloped walkway (technically, not a ramp).

Also, there’s been great progress on the windows, and it is transforming to see how the views open up from inside. Here’s the view from the new top floor meeting room!

We are still on target to have a Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) for the Community Center, in time for the East Village Fair Flea Market. The Fair is on Sat. Oct. 5, but set-up (tables & shelves, sorting, pricing) will start the weekend before, and we’ll have CC access all through the week before the Fair!

Again, we are grateful to the Volunteer Service Network, for organizing the regular Wednesday night meal deliveries…this week, our thanks to Caroline Jacobs, Margaret Micholet, and Mary Fitzpatrick!

We’re getting there…

Alice & Valerie

September 12 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

We have windows! We have windows! We have windows! I guess I can’t say it enough — we were so very happy to see many window frames unloaded into the Community Center this morning, with several windows installed already. The outlook is much sunnier, and will be be even more so when they install the glass (commercial systems require a two step process: frames, then glass).

And — We have walkways! We have walkways!

The other huge step forward: the Mass Ave side of the church now has complete ramps, steps and walkways. However, as the railings aren’t installed yet at the two steps up to the main walkway to the Sanctuary, this Sunday we will have everyone use the walkway to Marshman and then traverse the new brick walkway to the Sanctuary front steps. Please don’t step off the walkways, as the newly graded soil is freshly seeded.

And you all can check out the memorial bricks in the pathways. Please note – we intentionally did not do the layout of the names ourselves, but set a pattern and allowed the contractors and Chance to do the infill. It seems to have worked out well. We’ll have a few flowers for this Sunday, too!

And another new feature: our Mechanical Room water heater is ready to be installed – no, that’s not a cryogenic chamber!  😉

Ever onward, Alice and Valerie

p.s. Thanks to Jackie Hawkinson and the Volunteer Service Network, for yet another delicious meal! We are so grateful.

September 5 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

And here it is, September and we’re tantalizingly close, but not quite there yet! Our project is moving forward at a fast clip, with many, many decisions daily and constant changes, but we are still waiting for the window company to install our windows and doors.  Fortunately, we have been able to work around this delay and can keep moving forward on finishes inside and out.

COG and the Fair chairs are putting our heads together this week about the scope of the flea market; come to Ingathering this Sunday and you’ll hear the update.

And then come join us on a tour of the project after service; as with previous tours, please wear close-toed shoes and we will take you through in groups of 10 or so. Line up on the Waldorf driveway side, near our new stone wall!

The site is looking better and better: here’s the new steps from the driveway side, with Mart Ojamaa and Rosemary Trowbridge in front of the alcove for the new bike rack. The concrete walkways were poured today, and the new Terrace is almost completely paved. We think some of the brick walkways may be in place before Ingathering!

Inside, the plasterers and painters are working away. The upper levels of the stairways are being painted, and the ceiling of the Epp Sonin Room is looking amazing. (The ceiling truss beams will be sealed and stained to be a bit lighter)

And we on COG are again grateful to the Volunteer Service Network, and to Sally Cassells and Jane Spickett, for our yummy dinner and beverages last night, at our weekly meeting! So good.

Thank you, thank you, and see you all on Sunday,  Alice and Valerie and COG

August 29 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

The activity intensifies! The site is hopping!  Behind the fencing, there are a lot of site changes, as the landscape contractor sets the granite steps, the pathways are being readied for concrete and brick, the Terrace pavers are being laid (that’s the dark gray pavers, with the Sanctuary wall to the top right) and the new stone retaining wall is underway. We are also expecting to see some necessary re-doing of the curbing work for the next few days, on both sides of the site – better to take the time to get it right.

We also have some railings: the Anne Smith Room deck is framed, and the railings are on, except for the mahogany cap.

Everyone is VERY focused on getting us in, or at least to a Temporary Occupancy permit, before the Fair. We need to have the Community Center for the week before the Fair, if we’re to have the flea market, and the builders are meeting with the Lex. Fire Department and Building Inspectors to see what they will require. Lotta ducks to keep in a row, but we remain hopeful!

And we on COG are deeply grateful to the Volunteer Service Network, and especially to Craig Sandler, for our delicious dinner last night, at our weekly meeting! We are sustained!

Thanks, Alice and Valerie

August 22 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

The late August update from your Construction Oversight Group – We heard some very encouraging news recently: Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Barcelona, Spain, finally received its building permit, after 137 years (and $41 million in fines!).  We are in so much better shape!

But seriously, we are doing fine, even with more schedule delays than we could wish. The trimmed window openings and siding are making all the difference, showing the promise of eventual completion. The photos below show the progress. As to when we see the windows – the metal window parts are at the local fabricators, but won’t be actually installed in the openings for another week, likely after Labor Day.

There is plenty of other progress:  the elevator installation is moving fast (see the metal door frame photo, below). The Anne Smith Room deck (which overlays the flat roof) is being framed and the railings for it and the north terrace are in fabrication. The CC Kitchen floor is being prepped for the new flooring, now that the old range has been taken away (for re-use by our site contractor!) and the new cabinetry is being fabricated. HVAC is being installed throughout the lower levels, sprinkler piping is everywhere, and the drywalling crew is right behind them.

We are pressing our builder to give us the realistic completion date, as it seems unrealistic to look for a mid-September occupancy. Watch this space for a time-line update next week.

Ever onward, Alice and Valerie

August 15 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Hello from Mid-August! The windows are on their way, at last, and the openings are being prepared for quick (we hope!) installation. We expect to see some going in next week. Siding is going on, with most of the north side done by now. Inside, the HVAC work continues, sheetrock is being installed in the undercroft, and the elevator cab is being assembled in the hoistway. Off-site, the railings are being fabricated and our Community Center Kitchen cabinets are being made, and lots and lots of materials and fixtures and appliances are being ordered and stored, ready for installation.

Here’s part of the COG team, along with Rosemary Trowbridge, our valiant President, checking out the new concrete pad for the chiller (the unified condenser unit that will manage the cooling for the church) and the AT&T cell antennae condensers (which we are under contract to relocate). The pad is set well below the level of Barnes Place, and the entire thing will be surrounded by a retaining wall and fencing. The red ‘dot’ behind Stephen is the end of the giant conduit from the Mechanical Room, that will be buried.

The site contractor is starting to layout out all the pathways, and the forms for the concrete walkways will be set tomorrow. Our engraved bricks are on site, both new and old, ready to be placed, sometime in the next few weeks. The other photos (below) show site work under way, as the landscape crew ‘planted’ our really big rock (only 1/3 is exposed, like an iceberg) near the new walkway to the new ramp up to Marshman and the terrace. This is a locally-sourced rock!  (It was excavated from the site and was too big to move elsewhere!)

In the other photo, other rocks await their turn, next to our new gas meter and service. After a long wait, we finally have full gas service, ready for our new boiler.

We remain cautiously optimistic, but there is still a lot left to do, to get to our Certificate of Occupancy in September.  We will keep you all posted

Ever onward, Alice and Valerie

August 8 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

And now, back to your regularly scheduled COG update. The news continues to be that we won’t have Certificate of Occupancy by the end of this month, but are crossing our fingers for mid-September. If you didn’t see the congregation-wide letter, click here.

In the meantime, the site is humming with activity. Our new electric service is up and running and our new gas service is almost complete. The chiller pad is in place and the unit can be installed now. The HVAC ducting installation may be complete next week and the windows should start to arrive – finally – next week! What a huge difference that will make!

The upstairs rooms and office walls have been primed for painting. And check out these photos of exterior finish work: exterior siding and loggia ceilings are going up. It is looking better every day!

Ever onward, Alice and Valerie


July 25 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

So much progress since we last wrote, two weeks ago! Last week, Joe Turner’s cool drone photos showed our ‘submarines’: the drainage structures…this week they are fully buried, and the last pieces of drainage piping are due to be completed very soon, so that our new walkways and exterior ramps and steps can be built. The concrete pad for the chiller (the large air conditioning unit between the CC wall and Barnes Place) is next, as are the block retaining walls for the chiller and the new CC side entry to the playground.
Inside, the elevator company has started assembling the hoistway parts. The painters are busy pre-treating all the trim for the baseboards and door and window casings (all the wood on the racks is stained and drying)

And we all reviewed a ‘mock-up’ of our interior stairway railing system. There will be a maple cap on the top of the guardrail, ultimately, and our architect, Doug Jack, is holding the metal handrail part.

We have been enjoying watching the plasterers – those women are so capable on their stilts!

We also toured the whole site today with our bank loan managers, who were very impressed with the scope and progress of the project. This is encouraging to those of us living with it every day – the windows will be here in mid-August, and it was a pleasure to explain the impact those will have!

Still keeping cool, Alice and Valerie
July 11 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

We’ve had many coordination meetings this week, with lots of problem-solving and detail-sorting, typical of many a construction project. Sprinkler piping, HVAC ducting, venting, flooring selections for the CC Kitchen (a beautiful cheerful blue!), handrails and wood trim…the list goes ever on. We’ve had our last concrete and steel inspections, finally!

The contractors are working their way down from the top. The drywall is largely complete in all the upper levels, taped and ready for painting – even though the windows and the glass panels/doors of the storefront system won’t arrive until August, they have still been able to do lots on the inside, and will be able to put up siding soon, too. With the final roofing connections to the new loggia roofs, on both sides of the Sanctuary, the CC and undercroft level will be dry and ready for HVAC work and for finishing the walls.

Progress, progress!  Alice & Valerie

Here are some photos:

Maryann Thompson, our lead architect, hoping to spot the hawk on the steeple, through the new skylight view in the Sonin Room! The ceiling is ready for the new maple trusses and then for the new acoustic ceiling treatment and tinted pine board finish.
The top of the North Stair, with temporary staging (and Pereira electrician). The ridge will be finished in wood, and the black spots up by the ridge are for the five lovely pendant lights, that will hang at different heights all the way down the open area of the stair.

The North loggia roof and the new ‘eyebrow’ roof, that will define the glazing above and below. The terrace is really starting to take shape!
And in case you are wondering about the ‘up-periscope’ look of those big green pipes – those are our drainage retention chambers with their own clean-outs. Those green pipes will each be trimmed with a 12” Ø hatchway and will be buried below our new lawn; if we need access, we use a magnet (and our as-built drawings) to locate them.

The latest photo gallery from Joe Turner shows the eye-catching run-off tanks!

July 3 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Happy July 4th, Everyone! This week is a story in pictures.

Is that giant hole in the front lawn for a swimming pool? or a hot tub? No – it’s for our new Cultech drywell system. The storm water, gutter and drainage lines all have to go somewhere on our property, and that’s where many of them will end up. And there are two other drywells, as well. We really, really don’t like mopping up floods!
What’s that new box behind the Elevator/Stair tower? It’s the new Shed, for trash, recycling, and landscape equipment. It needs a better name than ’trash shed’…any offers? Here’s the view from Barnes Place.

Does that redtail hawk like to swing on the steeple weathervane? Yes! Surprise – look what we can see from our new Sonin Room skylight!
Are Nancy, Alice and Valerie delighted by the view?

June 27 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

I (Alice) have been away for two weeks and it is great to be back and see the progress! So much more wallboard, insulation, and wiring piping and HVAC, and so much more work on the exterior canopies (or ‘loggias’ as we call them)!  Our Parish Board Chair, Stephen Ervin, has only 3 more days in office, but we will happily keep him on COG, with our AV design and installation supervision – thank you Stephen!  And ever so many thanks to Chris Walters, who will also stay on COG, even as he finishes off his Program Council President term! Rosemary Trowbridge, the incoming President, has been coming to many of our meetings.

Back to construction photos: the shot of the steel frame for the loggia between Marshman and the new elevator/stair tower also shows the crew working on the Sanctuary eaves. For many years, Building & Grounds struggled with ice dams on the various roofs! So we worked with a building consultant to design a new roof ventilation system. That was approved by Lexington Historic well before this project was started, and consists of a ridge ‘cap’ on the octagon, and continuous eave ventilation to provide good flow to remove condensation.  It made sense to fold this roofing project in with the new work, and it is very satisfying to see this proceeding.

Check out the view from our new roof hatch: the new ventilation cap on the octagon, the steeple beyond, and the new ridge for the elevator/stair tower in the foreground. And an easy way to get access to these roofs!

While it is very frustrating that our window order is delayed, we have been keeping up the pressure to get as much done with the protection we have now, so that the windows can be installed later; in a slightly inverted order, the siding will be going on before the window frames are in. Never fear, the flashing details have been well chewed over!

And, so much besides…Valerie has done amazing work while I was away, and it is good to be back with the amazing COG!

Perseverance furthers, Alice and Valerie

June 20 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

This week all trades are on site completing preliminary electrical, AV and Data wiring, rough plumbing, and insulating before wallboard covers it all up over the next few weeks. The steel posts for the North Loggia have been delivered and installed and await the 37 foot steel beams to be set on top.Framing for the sanctuary roof venting is underway – with 2 large hawks keeping a watchful eye from the steeple weather vane! Ongoing HVAC fabrication and installation puzzles continue to be solved. Unfortunately, due to the frustrating number of rain days delaying our complicated site work and complications with our exterior window and door order, ZVI is now estimating a Certificate of Occupancy date of Mid-August at the earliest.

Ever vigilant and hopeful…..Valerie & Alice

June 13 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Be sure to check out the sky view of our new building with its many roof lines. See Joe Turner’s latest drone photos from this afternoon!

Lots happening over the last week:  More HVAC equipment has been installed. The first phase of interior wallboard is complete. Preliminary electrical and plumbing inspection are completed.  And, now 3 full days of insulation are underway. Exterior site work continues with foundation waterproofing (thanks to a few consecutive dry days!), and installation of many trench drain pipes. The first Alaskan Cedar siding boards have arrived and are being prepared. They are so beautiful and smell so good!

Alice & Valerie

June 6 Update from you Construction Oversight Group (COG)

We were so glad to welcome many Follenites to another site walkthrough after service last week!

We on COG are always so happy to get a chance to talk about the project, and all the various measures we are taking to plan for resiliency, accessibility, and delight!

This week we enjoyed the sight of vast quantities of wallboard being delivered.

We are expecting lots more site work in the next two weeks, too.

-Alice and Valerie

Check out this recent article from the Colonial Times!

May 30 Update from you Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Site walkthrough this Sunday (June 2) after service! If you didn’t get a chance to walk though the building project last time, or are curious to see what’s happening, come join us on guided tours of the project!

Here’s the plan: right after service lets out, we will be starting tours from the former French For Kids entry door (off the Waldorf driveway). One COG/CCC guide will take a 10 person group at a time, giving a little space between each group, on a roughly 10-minute tour. The site is a construction zone, so no sandals please, but hard hats won’t be required.

Where we are now:  town inspections of rough plumbing and wiring are complete and the wall-boarders have started on the interior walls! HVAC ducting is largely in place and the chiller arrives in the next week or so. The elevator is being assembled, and you’ll see it in the CC.

Rev. Claire joined us as we walked through confirming switching and outlets and all sorts of other details.
The Sonin Room is going to be so great!

As to the project timeline: You’ll note that the windows aren’t in yet, and boy oh boy, are we eager to see them go in. But they won’t be here for a few more weeks, and the siding is a bit delayed, so the realistic move-in is end of July, not June, as we had hoped.  But we are still making lots of good progress and are very happy with what is developing.

May 23 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

The Ikea assembly party was a huge success! Thanks to Valerie and Stephen’s extraordinary organization skills, 14 Fearless Follenites assembled a giant pile of cabinet boxes and drawers, ready to be installed in our new Kitchenettes, copier room, and meeting room. Thanks to all who came – and very thankful for the sunny day – with just the right level of skills!
The birth of a drawer
The garage workshop

Back at the site, as promised, insulation of the roof is done and fireproofed. The Sonin Room sound has already improved enormously and we’ve been happily imagining all the new activity to come. We’re also very glad to see the new insulation/waterproofing of the undercroft stone foundation walls. B&G has wanted this for decades.  The spray foam insulation is painted with a thin layer of fire-retarding intumescent paint (google that!).

And, many many sub-contractors are installing many many feet of conduit, wiring, ducting, AV low-voltage wiring. We expect rough-in inspections for electrical and plumbing in the next day or so, and then next week, the drywallers will take over. Everything will completely change! In the meantime, we enjoyed the impromptu cup-holder (last photo). Onwards, ever onwards!  Alice and Valerie (who’s off on a well-deserved vacation)

May 16 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

IKEA assembly folks: you know who you are!  Thanks in advance to the 12 or so Follenites who have already volunteered to help build cabinets. This Saturday, May 18, at the Perkins/Ervin home, we will be assembling cabinets, and folks are still welcome to join. The schedule remains: work from 9am – 3pm (allowing for the 3-5 pm tea for Lucinda), in several teams of 2-3. Come all day, or just for a few hours. Please contact Alice or Valerie ( to let us know if you are coming!

On site, to keep ahead of the fast-moving HVAC installers, the roof insulation is underway: The insulation starts with a coat of closed cell spray foam up in the rafter bays and then they add a thicker layer of open cell spray foam below. They stopped the operation so we could do our walk-through inspection; by now, the whole roof is insulated. (See photo as Mart Ojamaa casts his eagle eye!) Many thanks to Mart and Nancy Sofen, who carefully and laboriously cleaned out and re-graveled the drainage in our Undercroft, prior to insulation of those original rubble-stone walls!

Once the roof insulation is complete, the attic HVAC ducting will installed. Rough wiring and plumbing inspections are expected next week and then wallboarding will start; we’re told that there may be a crew of 20 plasterers on site at once. They will make fast work of this project!

Looking forward to a sunny and warmer weekend, Alice and Valerie

May 9 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Calling all IKEA assembly folks! On Sat. May 18, at the Perkins/Ervin home, we’ll be assembling cabinets. (See photo of shipment in the the garage!) We’ll be working from 9am – 3pm (allowing for the 3-5 pm tea for Lucinda), in several teams of 2-3. Come all day, or just for a few hours. Bring a screw gun and lots of good humor, and please contact Alice or Valerie to let us know if you are coming!

On site, now that the building is mostly weathertight, the interior is full of subcontractors, working away on framing details, installing electrical wiring, HVAC ducting, the roof hatch for access to our new hood vent, etc.   The new CC entry roof is underway, complete with cool steel posts that are configured for the wood cladding.

And Nancy and Mart and Alice are ‘breaking in’ our incoming President, Rosemary Trowbridge, so she’ll be up and running for July 1. We’re standing on the North Terrace, where new meets old. The Sanctuary window is blocked to protect it from all the commotion, but once the exterior is done, it’ll be back open!

And ever onward, Alice and Valerie

May 2 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

What a wonderful Sunday after church: we were able to conduct the promised – and long hoped-for – walkthrough of the new construction! We on COG were just thrilled to finally be able to share our vision with so many of you. We think about 90-100 Follenites, young and old, toured through the freshly-framed spaces. It was such a pleasure to take you all up to the new top floor, to see the Music Room and all the new meeting rooms/classrooms and the new stairs.

The only part that wasn’t completely framed was the North Stair, and here’s a few familiar faces enjoying all of our first walk on the new flights. For those of you who didn’t get to join us, we will have more opportunities.

In the meantime, we have been working intensively to get details of the HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system sorted out, coordinate our new fire sprinkler system, and get the undercroft and all the exterior walls and roofs ready for insulation. We’re still working on our Landscape plans, selecting finishes and working to reduce costs. And we’ve had our first planning session with the J2 team (Jane and Jackie) about moving back in!

And we’ll see you at Annual Meeting!

Onward, Alice and Valerie

April 25 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Site Walk-through is still possible this Sunday.

Well, good news and less good news: the good news is that plants are happy with all the rain, and as of this writing, we are really, really close to having a fully closed-in building.

But the less good news is that the rain has delayed our building framers just enough so that we are still tentative on our planned walk-through for this Sunday right after service.  We’ll let you all know at service on Sunday- crossed fingers! The big issue is safety and waterproofing- with the predicted rain on Saturday, we need to be confident that we can safely allow groups to go through. But never fear, we can always try for another Sunday in May.

If we go ahead, here’s the plan: right after service lets out, we will be starting tours from the former French For Kids entry door (off the Waldorf driveway). One COG/CCC guide will take a 10 person group at a time, giving a little space between each group. The 10- minute tour will end over at the new Terrace area between Sanctuary and Marshman. The site is a construction zone, so no sandals please, but hard hats won’t be required.

In the meantime, here’s a few photos from this sunny day, as the site is drying out (until the next rainstorm!).

The roof of the elevator and north stair was just completed. The steps are part of the new North stairway, the section up from Sanctuary level to Offices level, next to the elevator shaft. Our architect, Maryann Thompson, is gazing up at where the next flight of stairs will go. We continue to be very happy with the new spaces that are being created, and look forward to sharing the full experience of both the new stairways and all the new circulation patterns!

Soggily and sunnily yours, Alice and Valerie

April 18 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Save the date (tentative)! On Sunday April 28, after church, please plan for a walk-through of the new spaces (weather and progress dependent, of course). We believe the framing will be far enough along to invite all you patient Follenites to take a managed tour up into the new floor levels, to see what we have all created. Hard hats will not be required, as no one will be doing construction on Sunday, but it is an active site. Children are welcome, with a parent or responsible adult, and they must be carefully supervised the whole time. And we’ll be watching out for adults, too!  Choir members who are going to a 1 pm event get the first tours.

Here’s a few teaser photos –  The top of the South stair (on the Waldorf driveway side), and Claire in the Sonin Room (Which will have a roof in the next few days!)

And here’s us and our design team, hard at work on the HVAC coordination, as the rough-in of plumbing, electrical, and heating/cooling systems is well underway.

We’ll provide more details next week!
Alice and Valerie

April 11 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)
More roofing, more enclosure, more partitions!  Ice & Watershield membrane has been installed over most of the new roof; the other half of the roof is now ready to be framed, with the new North Stair addition and roof to follow. The gray sheets installed over the Tyvek on the playground side are a cementitious board for fireproofing; as our building is so close to the lot line, we are required to provide an extra layer of protection.
At the North Stair, check out the photo of the angling steel – that’s the side of part of the new stairwell, from Sanctuary level up to the Offices level. We’re standing down in the CC level bathrooms and Mechanical room.
We have also been finalizing a lot of the finishes for the floors, ceilings, cabinets. We have a beautiful palette, and will try to bring some of the samples to coffee hour, so you can see the colors and wood and tile.  And, of course, we’ve many, many meetings and emails about HVAC, site grades, door hardware and locks, lighting, AV…so much dedicated work by so many!
Is it really April?!  Alice and Valerie

April 4 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)
We have roof! We have walls! We have Tyvek!  And we promise, there will be window openings, lots of them.
The framers are moving fast and we on COG were able to climb up our new South stairway (on the Waldorf driveway side) to see the actual spaces on the top floor for the first time. The new Sonin Music Room is going to be lovely and spacious – the photos are looking up at the new ridge beam, which roughly defines the shape of the new room (the diagonals in the foreground are temporary bracing). It will be even more real when the roof framing – and the skylight opening – show up, later today.
We are eagerly looking forward to seeing the north stair, next to the elevator shaft, and the connection to the new terrace space between Marshman and Sanctuary. The meeting/class rooms and the offices are taking shape as they raise the partition walls and we were able to measure for the kitchenette cabinets. So good to be above ground!
We continue to tussle with a number of areas;  HVAC ducting coordination, landscape pricing and the constant steam of questions about door hardware, walk-off mats, lighting, audio-visual options etc. etc. As we work to contain the budget and to balance unexpected over-runs with cost-cutting, we very much appreciate the vote by Program Council in support of our use of the pre-approved ‘contingency’ tap on the Heritage Fund, an endowment fund specifically set aside for the building. It means a lot to us to have such support from the congregation and from the leadership.
Also, some very happy news as we look forward to Moving Back In over the summer: Jane Spickett and Jackie Hawkinson are returning to manage the move in! We are delighted and thank them in advance.
Happy April, Alice and Valerie


March 28 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Major Construction Milestone: We Topped Off the Building!

Follen passed a major milestone in the construction/renovation project yesterday with the topping-off of the building. This means the top piece of structural framing was put in place – the trusses that form the roof were dropped onto the top story walls by a huge crane. And, following long-standing building tradition, we attached a small pine tree to the truss, festooned with ribbons, to be the highest point. We signed the truss before it flew up into the air, and then we toasted everyone who worked on the project. Rev. Claire read an excerpt of a poem to celebrate the moment. What a happy occasion!

Now, after months of complicated, but necessary, foundation work, we can see the outline of the finished space. All that remains is enclosing the structure, drywalling, electrical work, plumbing, cabinetry, flooring, painting … okay, there’s a little bit left to be done, but it should be finished by summer!

Here is the poem Rev. Claire read:

For a New Home by John O’Donohue

May this home be a place of discovery,
May it be a home of courage,
Where healing and growth are loved,
Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;
A home where patience of spirit is prized,
And the sight of the destination is never lost
Though the journey be difficult and slow.
May there be great delight around this hearth.
May it be a house of welcome
For the broken and diminished.
May no guest leaves without a blessing.

Finally, Check out Joe Turner’s pictures of the event, including drone shots of the little evergreen placed on top!


March 21 Update from your Construction Oversight Group (COG)

Spring has sprung and the building site is buzzing. Framing has finally started on the top level and walls are going up, and we expect to see a ridge sometime next week. Wow! Roofing will follow very quickly, and we on COG will try for a ‘topping-off’ ceremony in the middle of it all. Watch this space!

And, a big concrete pour yesterday. Thankfully it went quickly, as the concrete truck had to wedge itself on the Marshman front lawn; our Barnes Place neighbors have quite a construction site to live next to, and we’re grateful for their patience!

We on COG continue to work on value-engineering, to reduce costs. We’re developing alternate landscaping approaches, purchasing appliances and some lighting ourselves, and are going to be building some of our own kitchenette cabinets. Those of you who enjoy assembling IKEA cabinets- let us know if you’d like to help!

Hooray for Spring! Alice & Valerie