Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Atlanta Concert Hall Phase 1

The Concert Hall is/was one of those iconic buildings in Atlanta made famous by photographer George Barnard who accompanied General "Cump" Sherman on his campaign along the W&A in 1864. The Concert Hall was on the corner of Whitehall and Peachtree streets. This view is looking east with a reasonable view of the south wall. It clearly presented a scratch building challenge. I chose to build it to scale primarily because it has a huge space to fill on the layout. The second floor windows scaled out to 10' tall.  Required then are scale windows which, as far as I could locate, no manufacturer makes windows of this size that would be appropriate for this building. Another provocative construction element are the indented upper walls. 
My intent is show you some of my approaches to solving these and other thought provokers.  

First step is always a mock up. My friend and fellow Garden State Central Model RR Club member Jim Judge photo shopped the hall to HO scale. He then sent me the file which I printed and then mounted onto Foamcore.
You can see the immense size of the third floor windows in particular, 10' high as previously mentioned
 WINDOWS - Inside walls
Two different materials were chosen for the walls, Evergreen styrene .010 for the windowed walls, and Foamcore. My greatest challenge was constructing the window mullions. I had several AAAAHH! hair pulling moments trying to line up the narrow styrene strips. As you will see, the mullions are still not lined up after hours of making lines along the inside walls.
Another view showing how PVC was used to shape the unique rounded corner of the building. The compromise for me was choosing sheet styrene thin enough to bend the corner yet strong enough to hold its form. However it was clear I needed to add bracing as shown below.

 WINDOWS - Outside walls
Below is the nearly finished west wall. Each window was framed along the vertical sides with Plastruct angle beams to cover the corners. The lintels and sills are Evergreen strips. These are glued directly onto the brick wall face which is a paper material from the no longer operational Paper Creek company. However, Micro-Mark makes a terrific adhesive paper product that I and LeBron have used very successfully. I also found a paper product by Miniature Planet offering a variety of brick and stone products as well as roofing and miscellaneous structure materials. These paper products are quite good and certainly save enormous time, especially on background structures.

Below a closer-up view and after the primer was applied to the windows. You can see how the mullions have bends and are not perfectly straight. My Achilles heal is sometimes impatience although I was SO certain they were aligned when glue was applied. Good thing the Hall is in the rear of the layout!
The upper indentations are sections of the styrene wall cut out and slightly larger styrene pieces cut to overlap the openings by 1/8", then covered with brick material and glued to the inner walls. The photo below this one illustrates the end result...
You can see below, in the upper portion of the wall, the cutout styrene rectangles placed over the wall openings. Also note the wall reinforcing beams. These were added after I realized a wall this large would flex without them. This structure was a build-as-you-go; one reason why it has taken nearly two years! It sat a LONG time; one year as the mock up, nearly two years in partial construction. I had no idea how to move forward; a great re-learning on patience and when to leave it alone.

Left, clamping an interior brace in prep for the upper outer wall detailing. Right, a view showing the openings in the upper wall that were closed with brick covered styrene sections that provided the relief look.

Coming together, the blue masking tape is used to prevent paint, the gray primer, from getting on the brick wall, making the job quicker. In particular, this tape has less adhesive than standard masking tape and peals away without tearing. Of course pre-painting would have been the wiser move.

Next is to add external details. One being the stairway shown below. I wanted to be able to build this stairway structure so it could be removed causing nominal damage to the brick. So drilled holes 3 holes into the platform structure, glued small brads to the stairway with points facing the wall, then drilled corresponding holes into the wall. I did the same with the stairs using two brads. Now the entire stairway is removable making detailing and painting much easier. Finally a more "thoughtful" move.
The open are to the left of the hall is an alleyway / road that Christopher suggested as converting to an access to the building. This was a concert hall. His rationale was an entrance for musicians, actors and props. I built two. One entrance on the lower level for actors and musicians, the upper platform for props that may have needed to be hauled to the upper level for ease of transport to the stage. All  so made up of course as I have not found any descriptions. Assuming there were, they were most likely destroyed when the fires consumed much of the city.
80% completed as in detailed, painted and landscaped, remaining is the addition of trees which grew between the hall and tracks, painting the sidewalks, blending the backdrop with the background street and adding a dozen or so Atlantians.  

Following three photos show the completed hall. Although not discernible. Just below the roof top brick work is a thin line of what is know in the masonry trade as "dentals". These are bricks that have been placed in an alternate pattern of gaps between each brick as an ornamental design. 

One other modification was the front 3-story stairway. This may need to be altered as the stairway may have only gone to the 2nd floor. But for now its livable! The last addition will be a poetic license of sort, adding a beam and pulley system above upper alleyway door. The idea is to imagine stage props needing to be hauled to the stage level that otherwise would not be possible up the inside stairways. Now we are ready for the May 17 NMRA NE Region Division meet... at least this building.