Winning the Job
In 1983 JP Cullen was awarded the refurbishment project of the 62-year old, seven-story Parker Pen office building in Janesville, Wisconsin. Two years before, JP Cullen had finished the expansion of the pen company’s 131,000 square foot headquarters, also in Janesville.
The main challenge with the Parker property was the need to continue working around the company’s 155 employees who needed to work at their desks without distraction or interruption. Throughout the job, with the staff always a floor away from the construction, the JP Cullen team continuously kept down noise and dust pollution as much as possible.
Longtime employee Harold Jennings (left), also known as “Big Daddy”, and Chuck Zinzmaster eye plans for the Parker Pen renovation.
Erecting temporary partitions helped resolve some of these messy workplace issues. In addition to the interior work, a temporary roof was put on the main building’s fourth floor as it was being refurbished and expanded. Steel columns were also sunk through the existing building and the north wall foundation had to have underpinnings to support an overhang that housed the company’s boardroom and executive lounge. A rooftop penthouse was also constructed to hold operating gear for the elevators, along with heating, cooing, and ventilation units.
As part of the project, the old building received a new exterior consisting of 336 travertine panels. Each of the massive pieces weighed one ton. JP Cullen removed the outside face of the building connect attachments to support the new travertine limestone that facades the structure. A structural steel frame was erected around the existing building to support the stone panels and insulated glass skin. The stone was quarried in Winona, Minnesota, and hauled preassembled with its attachment studs to the job site for erecting. These panels cover 41,000 square feet of the building.
The work entailed a lot of detail, from jackhammering out two concrete and steel vaults, to razing the old employees’ clubhouse. The clubhouse was replaced with an eight-tiered plaza that involved pouring 2,600 yards of concrete. To complete each tier, JP Cullen installed footings, and poured a concrete wall which had to set before the soil behind it could be compacted to allow the next wall to be set in place. Stone caps were then set over each of the tiers.
This tough job called for a great amount of attention to detail as well as had challenges such as the safety of the employees and reduction in noise and dust pollution. Despite its complexity and challenges, the project was completed on time.
History of Parker Pen
Parker Pen Company began in Janesville in 1888 by a man named George Safford Parker who patented the first fountain pen. No longer in Janesville, Parker Pen’s headquarters moved to England but still continues to be a well known company in Janesville with reminders of the company scattered around the city in such names as Parker High School and Parker Drive, as well as little treasures such as the arch to the factory’s entrance now which now stands in Rotary Botanical Gardens. Not only do the Parker Pen Company and JP Cullen share a long history in Janesville, but we also share the same management philosophy: our companies are about our people and the appreciation of quality craftsmanship.
Tough Job of the Week Series