Who is Marcus Brandt?
Marcus Brandt: an Introduction
For the last thirty years or so, I’ve been restoring historic stone and timber buildings, mostly in Southeastern Pennsylvania. I’m a working master carpenter and stone mason. Most of the historic buildings I am called to work on are 150 to 300 years old. Solid and well crafted, these old buildings tend to age well, but neglect and damage can take a toll. Much of my effort is spent in repairing and strengthening the timber frames of barns, bridges, houses, gristmills and churches. I’ve had several commissions to build new structures in the old style. I have organized and led many barn raisings, in which hundreds of volunteers gather to raise a barn’s frame in a day. A good crew will have the sides and roof on too.
Straightening, plumbing and repairing damaged stone walls is often called for. It is not uncommon to straighten a wall 10 meters high that is out of plumb by 400 or 500 mm. Having studied and worked with several Scots masons, I’m a strong believer in lime based mortars and good masonry practice. The interface between stone and timber is of particular interest to me.
Since 1989, I’ve been a professional member of the Timber Framer’s Guild (TFG) and a member of the Traditional Timberframe Research and Advisory Group (TTRAG). That part of the Guild focuses on understanding the past practice of the craft with a view that the past might help inform future practice. I have advised many historical and preservation societies and sat on many review boards.
As a result of my participation in Guild efforts and projects, I was invited to go to both Scotland and China to investigate “lost” technologies for the Public Broadcast Service series NOVA. We built working siege weapons in Scotland and in China we built a bridge design that hadn’t been built since the Mongol invasion.
I teach Traditional building skills at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA. I’m particularly interested in ways that the pre-industrial past practice can inform building in the greener, sustainable post-industrial world of the future.
I serve as a sailor, boson and ship’s carpenter aboard the tall ship Gazela (www.Gazela.org). That experience has taught me much about rigging and raising heavy loads in confined spaces. It’s taught me about erecting tall, secure, flexible, stable structures that get tossed about and shaken mercilessly. A sea captain in her own right, my wife serves as First Mate aboard Gazela. She out-ranks me, and helps keep me humble.
Since 22 February, I have been working as much as possible to develop a method to rebuild the Bell tower at Christchurch. With the help of friends and students, and the forbearance of my wife, I developed a plan that is beautiful, solid, strong, flexible, earthquake resistant, buildable, durable, and familiar. But more than anything, I want to use the rebuilding of the steeple as a vehicle for rebuilding and strengthening the community. And, once built, serve as an outward witness to the inward love we have for each other as fellow humans.
I look forward to doing this project with the able help of my best friends in the world…many of whom I haven’t yet met.
Want to Help?
Ring the Cathedral office (03)366 0046 or email Admin@ChristchurchCathedral.co.nz and leave a message of support for the plan. Offer to help as work crew, cooking, logistics, or any other way you can help. Donate financially too.
Bishop announces deconstruction of Cathedral.
OK...the Bishop has anounced that the Cathedral is to be deconstructed. Have a read of the Open Letter to Christchurch and see if that decision makes sense to you. If not, work with us...and find ways to change minds and hearts and save the Cathedral for future generations and the service of God.
Timber Framer's Guild and UK Carpenter's Fellowship pledge support
The Timber Framers Guild (Canada and US) together with the UK Carpenter's fellowship have offered their full support to this proposal and have offered to help augment the skills and resources of Canterbury. They offer to assist by using their member's skills and efforts to prefabricate and help to assemble and raise the needed timber framed sections of the Steeple.