RSA Plaza – Parking Deck

RSA Plaza Deck

The RSA Plaza Parking Deck, Where the First Green Was Applied (as seen from Adams Street 25 years later)

The Plaza parking deck was a 2WR project, but it did impact the PH&J Plaza work.  Besides the terrible complexity of the junctures of the floor levels on every floor, there was the matter of the green roof.  We had cautioned 2WR to spec a custom green color for their standing seam metal roof, so that it could look like copper patina.

2WR did indeed require the proper verdigris color (we had checked), but when submittal time came, the roof contractor submitted a standard color card.  Ever true to Murphy’s law, 2WR’s field rep was asleep and approved a crass commercial green right off the card.  When the metal sheets reached the job our field representative, Steve Timms, found out and reported in a panic that the parking deck green would not match the soft gray green planned for the adjacent office building.  2WR had made the mistake but refused to take any corrective action.

We immediately ran to Bronner in protest.  We saw to it that a sheet of the offensive green was placed on the deck mansard, and invited Bronner to come down to the street to see how terrible it was.  Bronner studied the color for some time, stroking his chin.  Finally he said, “Let it stay.  It’s the color of money–you match it on the office building.”  PH&J’s design team was devastated.

That started a game with the RSA buildings that goes on today.  For each subsequent building, we selected a green that was slightly closer to the original gray green than the “money green”.  The further away the building, the more we changed.  Each time Bronner would ask if it matched the deck and we, of course, assured him that it did.  By the time we did the Tower four years later, we had maneuvered the color close to copper green, and when the Tower was complete the RSA annual report pictured the new structure with a proud reference to the “verdigris green” scrolled across the face of the picture.  Maybe he forgot.

There was also the matter of the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.  For some reason or other, an RSA underling (probably James Parish) signed off on a 14-day time extension for the deck contractor.  My recollection is that the completion delay was justified, but since it was not my job, I have no notes on the subject.  What I do remember, however, is being called to an emergency meeting by Dr. Bronner.  At the meeting I found 2WR staffers, Parish, and several men from ABI.  Bronner lashed out at “whoever approved the time extension,” and declared to all of us that any such actions in the future would be investigated by the Bureau.  Rest assured, from that point on, all time extensions given on RSA projects were reviewed with paranoia.

-Charles Humphries (“Peril and Intrigue Within Architecture”)

This is one of many RSA Plaza stories. The rest can be found here.

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