A quick review of the prints told me that this renovation was going to be different. There would be the usual Hoboken, N.J., hurdles, of course — limited parking, virtually no backyard access, and inconvenient curbside deliveries — which would make delivery of materials for the home's new garden-level media room a logistical obstacle course. But the project also involved a unique challenge that would make things even more interesting: We would be cutting an opening large enough to accommodate a new 12-foot-wide, four-panel glass door in a 12-inch-thick, 30-foot-high brick wall. To install a steel header for the door, we'd first need to shore up 22 feet of brick masonry above the new opening.

Opening a solid brick exterior wall always requires care. Generally, our approach is to needle steel supports all the way through the wall, fortifying them on both sides with temporary girders and posts. But this particular door installation was complicated by the fact that only the ground floor was being renovated; with a finished kitchen...

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