Campus Construction Update: June 10, 2015
Getting Here From There Dept.: Are you driving to Bates in July? If so, please note that plans are afoot to close Campus Avenue adjacent to the new student residences for most of the month. The closure will allow for work on storm drainage and pedestrian crossings.
Campus Life Project planners will be consulting across the Bates community to make sure disruptions to campus access for deliveries, etc., are kept to a minimum. We’ll share details as we learn them.
Pedal to the Metal: It’s happening again: Steel is soaring over the construction site for Bates’ Campus Life Project, phase one, which comprises two student residences that will be completed in 2016.
About a week after they finished placing metal roof decking on the first dorm, at 65 Campus Ave., the workers from Stellar Steel Erectors crossed Franklin Street to the 55 Campus construction site, bringing the lofty Link-Belt crane over with them.
The first shipment of steel for the second dorm arrived on June 1 and the building’s metal structure started to grow the following day.
As with 65 Campus, progress has been mind-bendingly fast. By Thursday, June 4, there was steel up to the second story in the area where Stellar had begun, and by June 8, the erectors had turned the corner and started the building’s south wing. It’s expected that the steel framework at No. 55 will be done by the end of June.
Last week Campus Construction Update had the rare pleasure of watching the latest steel choreography from a new perspective: the second and third floors of 65 Campus. (It was a welcome break from teetering atop the 8-foot stepladder next to the construction-site fence.)
In our party were Chris Streifel, managing the project for Bates, and the college’s clerk of the works, Henry Gillert; and Tim Schneider, project manager for lead contractor Consigli Construction.
With 15 months to go before students move in, No. 65 is a raw metal skeleton, open to the four winds and demanding of some caution. Underfoot was corrugated metal subflooring punctuated with so-called Nelson studs, metal projections that will give the concrete floor something to cling to. (A heavy metal mesh, like chicken wire on steroids, embedded in the concrete will strengthen the slab even more.) An occasional shower of sparks tumbled from above as a welder worked on the subflooring one story up.
With walls still to come, the views were impressive, especially into the 55 Campus work area and along Campus Avenue westward toward Chase and Carnegie halls. We also got a bird’s-eye view of the road excavation, for sewer connections, responsible for Campus Avenue closures last week and this week.
But something even more interesting to observe was much closer.
It was a surveyor who was marking spots on the subflooring where plumbers, electricians, and other utilities folks will soon be cutting holes and inserting hardware. Carrying a tall staff, the surveyor worked so fast it almost seemed random, spraying little circles in different colors of paint — red for electrical, blue for potable water, etc. — onto the silvery metal.
What made this possible, of course, was advanced technology. During the past several weeks, in a conference room somewhere in Cutten Maintenance Center, a team of very smart people has been busy building both new residences — electronically.
The team has used three-dimensional modeling techniques to identify the locations of all the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing infrastructure. They have snaked it around steel beams, above ceilings, and behind walls, ensuring that it will be out of sight but accessible when access is needed.
These electronic representations can be downloaded into something called a “total station” — the contemporary version of the surveyor’s theodolite. This gizmo uses infrared light, precision optics, and other unfathomable processes to measure distances, angles, and so forth in three dimensions.
Via that high-tech staff, which can talk to the total station and can also spray paint, the total station guides the surveyor in his mark-making (the potential for very precise graffiti is rather thought-provoking). As he went from place to place, the Trimble-brand total station rotated on its mounting after him like a dog watching its owner.
In addition to precision-guiding a human being within a space, equipment similar to the total station can also map interior and exterior features; useful when you are planning a thorough rehab of a historic building, for example. “Every dimple, every curve, every feature will show up on that scan,” Streifel explained.
What to expect in the coming weeks? Consigli’s Tim Schneider estimated there will be an average of 30 workers on the project over the next few weeks, but that number will grow quickly as more trades arrive on site. At 55 Campus, hanging steel will preclude most other work.
Back at No. 65, though, the chores will diversify. With floor decking complete, pouring the floor slabs atop the decking began June 5, and the big flexible boom of the concrete pump truck is hard to miss. That will take most of June.
“And it won’t be long after the slabs are down that you can start building everything else,” Streifel said. Wall studs for the exteriors and for the residences’ interior cores, where features such as elevators, bathrooms, and stairwells are concentrated, will start showing up before the end of the month.
And, as the surveyor’s work makes obvious, utilities work will soon start — or actually resume, as all kinds of pipes and conduits were set into the concrete while the foundation was being poured during the winter and spring.
Streifel characterized the current utilities work as “roughing in,” installation of the trunk lines that distribute services throughout the building. For vertical conduits, aka risers, tradespeople will be working on cutouts and chases — channels that enclose pipes — to go from the ground floor to the fourth floor.
“They’re also preparing to put in hangers,” brackets that support conduits from the ceiling for horizontal runs. Streifel explained that many of the marks made by the surveyor were locations for bolts and straps to which the hangers will be attached from beneath. “There’s a special kind of fitting that will go into the deck and get covered over by the slab.”
All the various utilities trades will be going at it more or less simultaneously. The roughing-in phase, Streifel adds, “kicks off what’s going to be a long progression” of tasks that are increasingly fine and location-specific — all the way down to screwing on switch plates and attaching shower heads. That phase will likely extend well into spring 2016.
With the salient exception of the basement that underlies half of the building at No. 65, the two dorms are very similar. So the phases of construction that we observe at 65, we’ll see again at 55 — except they may go a bit faster because, after all, practice makes perfect.
And we’ll tell you all about it in July, when Campus Construction Update returns.
Can we talk? Campus Construction Update welcomes your questions and comments about current, past, and future construction at Bates. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, putting “Campus Construction” or “Let’s talk more about the precision-guided graffiti” in the subject line. Or use the 21st-century commenting system below.