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Freeze-Frame Videoconferencing Aids the Statue of Liberty Restoration.

Freeze-frame video transmissions combined with audioconferences have proved to be invaluable in the cooperative efforts of professionals involved in restoring the Statue of Liberty. Such cooperation by teams of architects, engineers and contractors is an absolute must for the spectacular, once-in-lifetime project now under way.

Using this system, architects, engineers and consultants working in both New York City and Paris, as well as a general contractor working on the $30-million project on tiny Liberty Island, can consult in detail on the many problems they face. By using freeze-frame teleconferencing they can make faster, mutually agreed-upon decisions to problems requiring visaul solutions--without leaving desk orjobsite.

On a project, such as the current work of refurbishing and restoring the enormous Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, the most exacting attention to detail is an absolute must. Most of the original plans for the 100-year-old structure have been lost and the work to be done is extremely comlex. Furthermore, no slipage on completion will be tolerated. New technologies have been put to work. among these is freeze-frame video teleconferencing, used for rapid visual problem-solving.

Freeze-frame teleconferencing systems are located at the Paris office of the French architects, Cabinet Grandjean Architects; at the Manhattan headquarters of Swanke Hayden Connell Architects, the consulting American architects; and at the job-site construction office of Lehrer/McGovern, construction engineers and managers. The systems consist of a standard CCTV camera, video monitor, two telecphones (one for conversation, the other for impage transmission and a Colorado Video Model 290 analog freeze-frame transceiver. Colorado Video of Boulder, Colorado provided the systems to the Statue of Liberty Eliis Island Foundation.

A manager desiring to initiate a videoconference places a call to the office of his choice on the "conversation" phone. Once contact is established, the "video" phone is activated. This "video" phone is used to transmit sharp still pictures--to Paris, Manhattan or Libert Island. Managers, regardless of location, can confer on a drawing, a suggested change or modification or a job-site problem--sending their own versions back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean in a matter of a minute or less. And nobody has to leave desk, office or job trailer.

Although money is saved on air-courier costs, the real benefit of freeze-frame teleconferencing is its ability to minimize delays and therefore help increase productivity. In the best of circumstances, a full day can be wasted as documents travel through crowded New York streets, traverse the Atlantic Ocean and face traffic jams in Paris. Time zone differences don't help either.

Robert Landsman, Swanke Hayden Connell's project director for the statue restoration, says, "Freeze-frame teleconferencing has been an invaluable tool and has saved the project countless hours. We have transmitted sketches directly to the job superintendant on the island, and have both received and transmitted design sketches to the French architect."

In contrast, with time zones permitting, the freeze-frame network is ready when needed. Visual information can be conveyed quickly and accurately. If work is proceeding smoothly, the teleconferencing equipment stands idle. But if a problem arises, it can be activated in a matter of minutes. When the equipment is used, its capabilities as a technological visual problem-solver have been invaluable to managers who must meet an inflexible deadline; restoring the statue in time for her 100th birthday, July 4, 1986.

Although not directly related to communications, it is worthwhile to look at some of the complexities involved to see why consultation among all parties is so important.

Over the nearly 100 years that the statue has welcomed visitors to the United States' principal port, many things have happened to it--although major damage has been generally held in check. The statue itself is made up of sheets of surprisingly thin (3/32 of an inch) copper plates. These were hammered by hand against wooden molds to achieve the soft folds and features of the robe, the arms and the face desired by Sculptor Auguste Bartholdi. The 80 tons of copper plates, fastened by copper rivets, are supported by an internal skeleton designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (who gave his name to Paris' world-famous Eiffel Tower). This skeleton is an ironwork pylon extending from the base to the crowned head, with a cantilevered section to support the upraised right arm and its torch. From this backbone, iron beams extend at right angles, meeting some 1,600 iron ribs that circle the inside of the statue, horizontally and vertically.

The 151-foot-high statue stands on a concrete and granite pedestal. Within the statue itself, a unique double helical stairway winds around the iron pylon, to provide access to the crown. An iron ladder leads from the crown to the torch.

Eiffel was well aware of certain physical properties of metals and their actions. He knew that the iron of the skeleton and the copper of the skin would be subject to movement with heat and cold, and that the rates of expansion and contraction would be very different. Because the "puddled" iron is far from copper on the galvanic scale, with the presence of an electrolyte (furnished by leadking rainwater and harbor salt), a "battery" is created, consuming the iron, the less-noble material. This, in turn, would result in a swelling at these points, which would damage both joints and riveting.

To counter these problems, Eiffel fabricated some 1500 copper "saddles" riveted to the outer skin at every point where the iron would meet the copper. The iron itself was wrapped in canvas or leather, and impregnated with tar to prevent contact and to premit movement. Gradual Deterioration Over the Years

Over nearly 100 years, however, changes have occurred. Some were caused by man, others by nature. The major man-made change is in the huge torch, held high by the statuehs right arm. Originally, the copper forming the flame of the torch was solid, with no openings. A decision was made to place a light inside it many years ago. Some 142 "windows" were cut, filled with heavy colored glass, and a light installed inside. This changed the weight bearing on the cantilever structure supporting the arm and torch. More significantly, the glass panes leaked under driving winds and rain, permitting water to trickle down the inside of the arm and affect the ironwork.

Nature didn't help either--although the outer skin has stood up remarkably well, with very little damage or erosion. But the constant moisture has rusted and eroded the iron ribs, stairways and other features to a point of danger.

For these reasons and others, a proposal outlining an enormous, painstaking restoration task was presented by an expert panel to the French-American Committee for the Restorations of the Statue of Liberty. This proposal included recommendations that most of the iron ribs be replaced; that all the cooper saddles be refabricated; that thousands of rivels be replaced and refastened; that the torch be rebuilt in its original form; that a small elevator be incorporated into the upper interior sapce; and that the statue be cleaned of tar and paint on its inside.

These needs were complicated by the fact that little information remained about the construction of the statue. Almost all of the original drawings and all of the molds were destroyed years ago in a fire at the French foundry where the items were made.

As a result, all facets of the restoration are extremely complex. Consultation is frequent among widely scattered experts. The ability to provide rapid visual communications is vital. Freeze-frame teleconferencing helps fill this need.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Halmos, E.E.
Publication:Communications News
Date:Feb 1, 1985
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