Squeegee in the clouds
When we construct buildings, do we think about what it will take to operate and maintain them? What about squeegeeing the windows?
Life at the Top
Author: Adam Higginbotham, The New Yorker
Bob Menzer told me that safety checks and delicate maneuvering of the machine mean that it can take almost an hour each morning before he is finally in position to begin washing windows, for which he uses water and dish soap — “a good squirt” of either lemon-scented Dawn or Joy. A sophisticated device for containing this concoction has not yet been devised. “It’s just a bucket,” Menzer said. “Nothing too special.”
Early attempts to fully automate cleaning began in 1973, with the opening of the World Trade Center, where the forty-three thousand six hundred windows were cleaned by a machine on each tower fitted with rotating squeegees and brushes, mounted on mullion tracks that could take it down the full height of the building in twenty minutes. […] “With automatic machines, you really need a building like a box,” Lakhram Brijmohan said. “As soon as a façade has any little kink or a slope, the automatics don’t work anymore.”
The world above the fortieth floor is an almost silent one, where the isolation is often complete, and exhilarating. “You come down, you hear everybody arguing in the street — cars and horns and sirens. Up on top, you don’t hear anything,” Andy Horton told me. “It’s just you and your partner. You can discuss anything, you can talk to yourself, no one’s gonna yell at you.”