Business & Real Estate

West Sacramento company helps keep Michelangelo statue upright

Hired by the city of Milan, West Sacramento-based Miyamoto International Inc. worked with several other firms in Italy to install an earthquake-resistant platform under Michelangelo’s unfinished Rondanini Pieta, a lifesize marble statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ.
Hired by the city of Milan, West Sacramento-based Miyamoto International Inc. worked with several other firms in Italy to install an earthquake-resistant platform under Michelangelo’s unfinished Rondanini Pieta, a lifesize marble statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ. Miyamoto International

Miyamoto International Inc. has built a reputation as a go-to company for stabilizing rickety buildings around the world.

Now the West Sacramento-based firm has used its engineering prowess in a different capacity, providing an earthquake-resistant foundation for one of Italy’s great pieces of sculpture.

Hired by the city of Milan, Miyamoto worked with a couple of other firms to put a new “base isolation” system under Michelangelo Buonarroti’s unfinished Rondanini Pieta, a lifesize marble statue of the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Christ.

Milan officials commissioned the $100,000 engineering job after the statue was moved to a new site where it would be subject to vibrations from a nearby subway system, as well as possible earthquakes. The job was finished in time to meet the city’s deadline: next month’s opening of an international expo.

“This is a national treasure, after all,” said company CEO Kit Miyamoto, referring to the work, which Michelangelo was working on at the time of his death in 1564. “They wanted it to be a focal point of the expo.”

The team used a system called “base isolation,” which employs slides and springs under a concrete pedestal to reduce the impact of tremors. The result: When the earth moves, the statue stays in place.

The system has been used primarily for stabilizing rooms with sensitive equipment such as medical facilities and computer data centers.

The process of creating the stabilization system, including building a computer-generated marble replica of the statue and testing it under different stresses, was filmed by a crew from the Discovery Channel. Check out the video at Miyamoto’s website.

Smoke-free

There was nothing hazy about the reaction to Old Soul’s announcement this week that it is banning smoking on the outdoor patio at its venerable Weatherstone café in midtown Sacramento.

A few patrons expressed disappointment after the company posted signs and used social media to let customers know the change was starting May 1 at Weatherstone, which has been called Sacramento’s “original coffee house.”

But the response from others – at the café, and on Twitter and Instagram – was overwhelmingly positive, Weatherstone manager Greg Gallagher said Wednesday.

“There were a lot of ‘Thank Gods’ and ‘It’s about time,’” he said.

So why did it take so long for a smoking ban that many customers have long been seeking?

Gallagher suspects that Old Soul owners Tim Jordan and Jason Griest, who bought Weatherstone seven years ago, were reluctant to offend smokers who have been congregating at the 21st Street cafe’s magnificent courtyard since Weatherstone opened in 1974.

“They were probably more worried about the blow-back than they needed to be,” he said.

Alarming development

An El Dorado Hills entrepreneur thinks she has a solution for one of modern life’s recurring nuisances: misplacing a phone, keys or wallet.

Karen Crawford has developed a compact case for mobile phones that opens up to provide a secure place for storing cash, IDs and credit cards.

Called New Wallet, it’s a handy, lightweight way to consolidate all your stuff.

But here’s the cool part: It uses wireless technology to help people track down their missing possessions.

“If my phone is (lost) under a couch, I can press a button on my keys and an alarm sounds on the phone,” she said. And if the keys are missing, “I can push a button on the New Wallet and it will send a signal so I can find them.”

There’s even a “distance alarm” that can be set to go off if a phone and keys are separated by, say, 50 feet or more. That would help if you leave either your phone or keys behind at a restaurant or store.

Crawford, whose husband Jack founded Velocity Venture Capital in Folsom, this week launched her Kickstarter fundraising website with a goal of generating $25,000 in commitments in 30 days.

Those who donate $39.95 and up receive a New Wallet, but only if the company reaches its goal.

Initial production will be local but Crawford is lining up manufacturers in other parts of the country and internationally for what she sees as a global rollout. “I think it will be a big hit,” she said.

Call The Bee’s Bob Shallit, (916) 321-1017.

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