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Architectural Dumbing Down?

I’m disappointed that JLC would publish a gross abomination of our architectural heritage (“21st-Century Greek Revival,” 8/08). With this article, you’re contributing to the dumbing down and disappearance of traditional trim. For around $300 spent on molding knives, standard profiles could easily have been made. I’m a minimal Modernist, but grew up in Virginia and studied colonial and Georgian architecture at the University of Virginia. I’d rather see a “colonial” minimum-trim approach than this waste of money. I’m sorry, but this is not a “poor man’s cornice”; it’s a “stupid man’s cornice.”

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Kirby Grimes, Architect

Bridge Hampton, N.Y.

Besides the high Greek Revival seen in many public buildings and mansions from the first half of the 19th century, there are also many vernacular — or “carpenter” — expressions of the style dating from the years leading up to the Civil War. Cape Cod, where author Trevor Kurz lives, is full of homes from the period that were built with flat — rather than molded — cornice trim (see photos, above). Far from diminishing our architectural heritage, Kurz is continuing it. — The Editors


Grounding Three-Prong Outlets

George Flach’s answer (Q&A, 7/08) about using three-prong outlets with BX cable states, “Even if the cable is properly fastened to the metal box, the spiral metal tape jacket alone can’t be considered a reliable equipment grounding conductor.”

This is not entirely true. Assuming reliable mechanical connections at each box (the set screw and clamp nut must both be driven tight), the real issue is the electrical resistance of the grounding conductor, which can be verified.

Adding a GFCI for three-prong receptacle installations on BX cable circuits is good insurance, but it is not absolutely necessary.

Tom Kadesch

Damascus, Md.


Reasons for Red Flags

I’ve been in construction for more than 30 years. The problems described in “Framing Red Flags” (7/08) stem from the growing use of untrained labor during the last decade and the lack of union skills on site. Contractors in every trade are hiring unskilled workers because they can hire three or four for the wages of one trained worker. The result is not only lower incomes but a deterioration in both building quality and respect for the trades.

Craig Thomas Yates

San Rafael, Calif.