If you have ever really watched ants in an ant farm, it’s hard not to be amazed. It is like a well-oiled machine. Each individual goes about his business, within the bigger picture of the community, but focused on his own job at hand. Visiting the construction site for the new Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science has a similar feel, albeit on a monumentally grand scale. Architects, electrical engineers, waterproofing inspectors, structural engineers, site superintendents, geotechnical inspectors, woodworkers, concrete workers, and many more are all intensely focused on their own part of the project, while always mindful of the bigger picture. Have a look through our slideshow to see what’s happening now. (And check the previous post for any construction vocabulary words you may not know!)
Much of the construction is taking place below groundwater level, so water constantly needs to be pumped out, through these grey pipes and into the green holding tank. (See the water flowing?) Then the water travels through the red pipe, which takes it down 60 feet and returns it to the bay.
Each cluster of metal rebar (with the orange caps) is the top of a pile. All piles (a pillar of concrete going 50ft down into the foundation) were tested with 2 times the weight of the eventual building load for 24 hours. Friction with the ground helps keep them in place (a geotechnical engineer did soil studies to inform these tests). Each group of piles is then covered by a larger concrete pile cap and connected together by grade beams (the white structures in the photo), which help distribute the load of the building above it.
The blue steel frame is the beginning of one of the tower cranes that can also be seen in the fly-through time-lapse video of the Museum construction process. (Check out the video on this blog, on the February 28 post.) The tower cranes will assist in heavy construction tasks after the foundation is finished.
Nicknamed the “bathtub,” this area is entirely under groundwater level. Water has to be pumped out continuously during construction, and the rebar is coated with the green-colored epoxy to resist corrosion due to water. This area will house all of the life support systems for the living collections in the Museum, and epoxy-coated rebar will also be used, for example, in the concrete walls of the aquarium tanks.