Maybe gonna make a school

…but maybe not the school I thought I was going to make.

So, the interview that fell out of the blue with SOM went well. You’ve heard of them, right? Probably not unless you’re in architecture. They’ve done about 10,000 projects around the world since they were founded in 1936. A couple notable ones being the Sear’s Tower in Chicago and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is currently the world’s tallest. I’d guess they’re 3rd or 4th largest firm in the world with around 1600 people in 9 offices. I was recommended to them by the same recruiter who got me the same job at HOK in 2005. Their office is at 14 Wall St. though and that whole area feels inhuman with the bollards ringing every building, wedge barricades preventing cars from entering, streets subject to random shutdowns and cops & security everywhere. It’s kind of obscene what we have allowed to happen to our daily lives because of a couple nutjobs with planes.

SOM is certainly much more the kind of global firm that I’d like to work for as part of a hopefully a long-term career move. Of course, I thought the same thing about HOK when I joined them, but they laid me off only 7 months after the school I was hired to work on was completed. This could be the same kind of deal. Only time will tell. I was told there is a niche in their practice for people who do what I do.

SOM wants to decide by Friday on 2 candidates to present to the SCA. They always have the final say, but seeing how I already worked on one $52M school project that had a mere $300,000 in change orders and the top 2 dudes on the A&E side of the agency like me and have gone out of their way to garner interviews for me when I was unemployed and were the ones who presented me to my current employer and suggested he hire me, I’d say I’ll be in the top 2. Then I’ll have to meet with the people I’ll be working with on-site on the project management side and again with the same A&E people I already know. Assuming they make me an offer, then it’s just a question of money and giving notice, etc.  Also, I looked damn good.  It may be crass to say, but I do believe in the value of $1000 suits.

I still don’t have the exact address of the project, but I know it’s on the site of the former Tiffany Glassworks building in Corona, Queens. Scroll down some… Looks to be that giant red brick warehouse building. SOM told me that they’ve made provisions to incorporate any of the glass shards they find into the new design. That’s nice, but I was more concerned with the ground contamination from lead and arsenic used to make leaded glass and other chemicals that may still be there or have leached into the soil. I’d like to avoid all blood cancers if possible. Of course this is why every school built today has a Sub-Slab Depressurization System that sucks all the air out of the ground and vents it away from the building to prevent anything harmful from entering the building and affecting the kids. So many formerly hazardous industrial sites like tanneries and dye works that were abandoned long before the EPA existed that are now residential areas that it pays just to spend a few million to depressurize the slab.

The project is good size for a school. It’s 130,000sf as opposed to my current one in Manhattan, which is 97,000sf, or my last school that was 96,000sf. Seems the NYC DOE has decided that having more grades together makes for a more nuturing environment and that if the same teachers are in kids’ lives from the time they are wee ones, they can call them out and have influence over them if they start to go off the rails in middle school. So this is to be a Pre-K through 8.

Practically speaking taking the job is a no-brainer. 4 weeks vacation plus sick days/personal days as well as medical/dental, flexible spending plan, life insurance, ARE exam fees paid, 401k w/ matching contribution. I took a $10,000 pay cut from my last job to my present one and I lost dental insurance, flexible spending plan, 401k match, life insurance and any exam reimbursement. So really it was like a 35% decrease. From a “I’m in my 40′s and shit starts breaking down on you and benefits matter” perspective, taking the job would be worth it even if I can’t get the salary number back up where it was in the past.

I’d have to give up my cushy 18 minute subway ride in the a.m. from 110th to Union Sq. Instead it looks like it’s an hour commute door to door w/ a 10-15 minute walk on the end of it, which is kind of sucky in Winter. But it is what it is. It would also be more difficult to get to the beach house this Summer. Right now, I’m 5 minutes from Penn Station and could be on Fire Island by 5pm every other Friday. Some would say my priorities are skewed. I would say I’ve been working since I was 14 and like work/play balance.

I’m rather excited about the prospect. Of course in my mind, they’ve already offered me the job and I’ve given my notice and am trying to figure out how I can afford to finagle a couple of weeks off in between the two jobs.

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