Joel Solkoff’s Column Vol. V, Number 2

Pajama Factory Williamsport Pennsylvania Building, Historic US Rubber Factory

Pajama Factory in Williamsport, PA

Historic US Building – former rubber factory complex: Architectural Column by Joel Solkoff, PA, USA

Mar 23, 2019
Mayor Gabriel Campana, Williamsport PA.

On Thursday March 21, Williamsport’s disarmingly energetic Mayor Gabriel Campana invited e-architect’s US Editor Joel Solkoff to attend his weekly staff meeting. Present, among others, were the police and fire chiefs as well as the head of code enforcement—all of whom report to him.

Joel arrived 30 minutes late because the Chief Executive Officer of the Pajama Factory does not like making the building seven and nine manual freight elevator available to the three paraplegics on the second floor (of which Joel is one) before eight AM.

This video filmed in media res begins with a discussion of who is to pay for sidewalk repair. In Williamsport, the sidewalks are in such desperate need of repair that morning and night Joel must ride with traffic to buy groceries, go to restaurants and do this and that.

Mar 19, 2019

Pajama Factory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Architectural Column Vol. V, Number 1 by Joel Solkoff, PA, USA

Writing on architects plus their role in the imminent/now-already-here global Baby Boom housing crisis
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Joel Solkoff’s Column Vol. V, Number 1

Freight Elevator at the Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.

Freight Elevator at the Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.
photograph Courtesy Joel Solkoff

One of the consequences of maintaining an office at the site where I have been reporting on the excellent design skills of architect Mark Winkelman is that his difficulties at running a business present themselves. Case in point, getting in and out of the Pajama Factory now a US Historical Landmark.

When the US Department of Interior declared the factory as a landmark in its previous incarnation as the Lycoming Rubber Company, Winkelman’s real estate company failed to issue a press release on the subject or if one were issued to make it accessible to this reporter despite repeated attempts.

External signage on facade of the Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.:
External signage on facade of the Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.
photo Courtesy Joel Solkoff

My inability to show you a picture of the historical plaque defies logic given that Winkelman paid a substantial sum—by my estimate at least $50,000—to commission the brilliantly written document on the subject in the public domain.

In the course of traditional business procedure, tenants who have signed a lease (as I did on February first) and paid rent and a security deposit ($1,200) can enter and leave their offices 24/7. This may indeed the case with fellow tenant and fellow paraplegic Paul Clacher, a distinguished self-taught water color portraitist who works right across the hallway.

Photo of Paul Clacher taken by Joel Solkoff at 1 AM Williamsport PA US time (7 AM e-architect UK time) as Clacher works in his Pajama Factory studio:
Paul Clacher at Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.
photo Courtesy Joel Solkoff

Yesterday (March 18th), I had a scheduled interview with Williamsport Mayor Gabriel J. Campana at 10 AM.  State College PA, which is in the same 12th US Congressional District, has an entirely different local government power structure from Williamsport. Go figure.

Sadly, State College Mayor Don Hahn, who though an experienced public official and all-around good guy, has no power to do anything as mayor. In the Borough of State College, some of the power resides with the Borough Council and my thoughts on its seven unpaid members are not fit to print. Much of the real power resides with the Centre County Board of Commissioners, many of whom are excellent. The average salary of a country commissioner is $72,000.

http://centrecountypa.gov/index.aspx?NID=163

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzK8RZrtiBA&t=9s

By contrast, Mayor Campana is very powerful. He appointed the police and fire chiefs and the head of code enforcement as well as running Williamsport’s excellent River Valley bus system. In my role as architecture critic, I follow in the footsteps of the 20th Century’s great architecture critic Lewis Mumford who wrote in the New Yorker, “Buildings should not stand out, they should fit in.”

I intend to interview Mayor Campana on how the city’s bus company improves the value of the Pajama Factory and also on the many challenges his city (my now new city) faces given its dramatically high poverty rate and the dreadful condition of its infrastructure including broken pavement on its streets and highways, sidewalks so cracked and broken it is dangerous for someone in a wheel chair to use them, and a severe flooding problem that causes water to flood the roads. All things considered, snow removal is excellent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xB7IHnpW_44&t=101s

Yesterday, I had a 10 AM appointment with the Mayor. I cannot leave the second floor of Building Seven of the Pajama Factory unless the manually operated freight elevator is on the second floor. To make sure that the elevator was available to me at 8 AM when I required it, I had to ride down with Paul Clacher at 2 AM. This video shows the ride.

Upon returning to the second floor and the US offices of e-architect, I used my elevator key to lock it so others without a key would not be able to access it. Then, of course, someone with an elevator key did use it. I had to call Dee, the Mayor’s assistant and reschedule for today at 9:30.

Stay tuned for the next Joel’s Column to see how the interview went or whether it happened at all. I suspect Mayor Campana will be accessing e-architect.co.uk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriel_J._Campana

Conference room for the law offices of Fred Holland, Esq. Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.:
Conference room for the law offices of Fred Holland, Esq. Pajama Factory, Williamsport PA.
photo Courtesy Joel Solkoff

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My editors beckon: “All right, stop writing, Joel.”

Isabelle Lomholt and Adrian Welch, Editors at e-architect

“Good night and good luck,” as Greensboro, North Carolina born Edward R. Morrow, my hero, used to say.

–Joel

Please write: joel@e-architect.co.uk

Copyright © 2019 by Joel Solkoff. All rights reserved.




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Pajama Factory in Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Website: Williamsport, Pennsylvania