The New Children’s Museum of San Diego

View of some hard to reach windows for the upcoming window cleaning project.

Interior view of some of the windows we need to clean

A true San Diego icon, a unique gem of a building is what we see when we look at the New Children’s Museum in Downtown.

One of the few LEED Certified museums, NCM uses nature to maximize efficiency. Take another peek at that photo to your right.

Do you see any artificial light? Air conditioning vents?

Although the building is beautiful, and memorable; the cleaning of that glass is one thing nature hasn’t been able to handle. Yes, the windows still need to be cleaned.

NCM certainly has its share of presenting seemingly insurmountable deadlines. What you are looking at, isn’t even close to half of the glass that needs to be clean.

The Challenges

  • Must be COMPLETED in one day.
  • High Pedestrian Foot Traffic.
  • No roof access on 2 of the “Saw tooth” roof areas

My company, Elite Window Washing, has cleaned the windows at NCM for the last 5 years now. Each and every year it has been a challenge because of the different art pieces because we have to work around them, and find ways to do so without damaging the art.

The unique architecture (by renowned architect Mr. Robert Quigley), brings about yet MORE challenges. The windows on the east side of the building are all slanted at an angle, which means that each panel can only be cleaned one way: in sections. Windows up high can normally be cleaned using a variety of different methods depending on the glass, obstructions etc…

However; use of water fed pole systems do not work-which would make this project a whole lot quicker which means we can all go home early. Unfortunately, the windows at NCM, every single year, have an oily film on the glass which makes it impossible for purified water to work. Even a pre-scrub didn’t work.

There are no tie backs or anchors on the roof which rules out descending from the roof down. Our only option is by operating a boom lift. The panels seen in this photo on the upper right side give you a view of the roof and also the height of the panels, which are approx. 10 feet high with butt joints on the outside. (the butt joints collect organic material and pollutants. This means that more than likely we will have to do this section twice because it’s inevitable that we will get some bleeds on that section and the other 2 that are identical.

On this particular project, our team uses this as one of our testing grounds for new methods of execution on-site. Upon completion of each project, our team members and I get together and see if there may be areas where we can improve as a unit and on that particular project. Sometimes ideas get put on the “shelf” because they are not practical in the field yet, or we simply do not have the margins to be testing them out on any given project. So this project, NCM, gives us that opportunity.

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