Sunday, March 13, 2011


We broke ground on our new residential condominium project yesterday, after obtaining the excavation permits from the municipality and a handshake agreement with the excavation contractor to agree on a price for hauling fill material offsite (per cubic meter).  Here are a couple of architectural renderings prepared by Amara Architects:

(front view, looking south)

(rear view, looking north)

Building anything on the steep (15%-35% slope) Ramallah grades is challenging, and the solution for new roads has most commonly been to (a) have roads well in excess of 15% slopes, and (b) dump a bunch of fill onto downhill properties, sadly ignoring existing trees and paying no attention to stabilizing soils for water quality purposes (though there is an attempt to provide structural stability, albeit in a rudimentary fashion). You can see a little bit of what I'm talking about in the lower left-hand side of the first two photos below, where some contractor (hopefully directed by the municipality) dumped material there for the future road and encroached by 6 or 7 meters onto our property, as well as in the fifth photo below showing the future road into our project area. I'll post some more extreme examples at a later date.

As anticipated, I'm trying to quickly un-learn the US customary system of measurement I'd grown accustomed to in my past 11 years of land development work in the US and adjust to the metric system in all aspects of life, not just my work. Daily forecasts and your oven temperature are given in degrees Celsius,  gasoline for your car in Liters, and your car odometer reading in kilometers per hour. Even the laundry detergent instructions tell you how many milliliters of the liquid soap to use! This, in addition to figuring out the translation of all technical terms I need to use on a daily basis for work, has kept me on my toes from day one.

Below are the 5 panoramic photos we submitted to the municipality attached to our excavation permit (to keep the neighboring properties condition on file, avoid conflicts during or after construction), looking south-east from the future road / entrance to our project, and turning south-west:

(survey crew and excavation contractor in the corner)

(future views from the balconies of east units)

(future views from the balconies of west units)

(future road leading to site)

These are a few, more scenic, photos of the site wildflowers and my son picking poppies as he accompanies me to the groundbreaking site meeting. Although the contractor offered him a chance to climb on the big excavator before it was running, he (surprisingly) refused this time around. With no hard hats in sight, and the possibility of a 3-year old climbing on a piece of heavy machinery, you could say people do things a little differently in this part of the world.


mamax2 said...

I love the pictures of the building site and our sweet little boy. and the future building looks nice, too. I think it's hilarious how lost we both are with the metric system that the entire world uses except the US---how many milliliters DO we use for the wash?

Stefan said...

Awesome Faris! Great to know that you are contributing to the rebuilding of Palestine and providing housing for people in need. It makes me proud to know you and can't wait to follow your successes. Keep up the good work.

Andy said...

Great stuff, Fab. Glad to see you & your crew are adapting quickly and effectively to your new environs. Best of luck with everything! Andy

mbrandl said...

Outstanding job...what you are doing is very much needed. Hang in there! -M. Brandl

Anonymous said...

Faris -
Great pictures! I'm very interested to see them, they really do show a lot, and where I can see the background and the surrounding area, it looks really pretty. Blues skies and interesting buildings. Best wishes to you and Ravyn! --- Clif