Construction Update 08/26/2019

Chemistry Learning Center. We are happy to report that bids are in for the new facilities of the Chemistry Learning Center (CLC). The general contractor will be Advanced Building Corporation. Their bid was very slightly above the budgeted amount, but within a range easily accommodated by contingency funds in the budget. Renovation of the new CLC space on the fourth floor in the Medical Sciences Center (diagonally across University Avenue and Charter Street from the block containing the chemistry building) is expected to begin in mid-September. When completed at the end of the spring semester 2020, this project will greatly expand the space available to the CLC and will provide much better learning spaces and offices for the CLC staff. The new space is one floor below what will eventually become laboratories for the general chemistry program so the CLC and general chemistry will have nearly contiguous space in the Medical Sciences Center.

artist's rendering blue carpet with tables and chairs

New Tower. Weather was good this week, which enabled rapid progress on the new tower. Of special interest was preparation for pouring concrete on what will be the basement floor. This level will connect directly with the basement of the Daniels wing of our existing building and will house study space, an undergraduate student lounge, restrooms, and various storage, mechanical, and other support facilities. The area where concrete will be poured Tuesday is the part of the basement west of the elevators.

Until concrete is poured, this area affords a great view of the voided slab concrete construction that will be used for this and the floors above. Voided slab construction is a relatively new, but well established, technique. It reduces by 35-50% the quantity of concrete required for a floor by introducing voids—large, air-filled plastic spheres held in place by a steel rebar mesh—into the concrete slab. Reducing the quantity of concrete has two major advantages: it reduces the energy and environmental costs of the building and it makes each floor lighter. If our building were not using voided slab construction the huge trusses that are clearly visible from the loading-dock area and University Avenue would have needed to be even bigger (or the lecture rooms they span would have to have been smaller). More information about voided slab concrete construction is at this URL:

On Friday, the tower crane was lifting prefabricated void-mesh units into the building site and workers were placing the units into position and fastening them to the concrete forms that define the basement floor. On Saturday and Monday the final preparations for the concrete pour will be done and on Tuesday most of our basement floor will be poured.

round balls of plastic in the squares made by metal rebar

Design Team Visit. On Monday of last week several members of the design team from Ballinger and Strang architects as well as the UW-Madison Architect visited the construction site and the mock-up site (in UW parking lot 45) to view what has already been built and confer with the construction team about future work. Of particular concern was concrete surfaces that will be visible in the finished building and therefore have to be smooth and free of defects. Such surfaces include floors and support columns. Because of the voided slab construction, it is necessary to use a special polishing technique for concrete floors. Developing that technique has required several test pour/polish sequences but now the team has arrived at a method that works well. The concrete columns that will be visible outside the lecture rooms in the sub-basement are being specially finished and polished by a worker brought in solely for that purpose, and they too look very good.

construction workers talking next to a concrete pole

Loading Dock. The loading dock will be closed from 5 am to 11 am Tuesday, August 27, for the basement-level concrete pour. There may be short interruptions at unpredictable times.

In the near future, Miron Construction will backfill gravel around the north wall of the basement and sub-basement of the new tower. This will allow concrete pump trucks to operate from the University-Avenue side of the building site instead of from the loading dock. This should reduce the number of major loading-dock closures. However, a four-day closure (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday) is planned for September 12 – 15 so that the driveway to the loading dock can be paved with asphalt.

This information is up to date as of Friday afternoon. Email bulletins will be provided as needed.
John Moore and Bob McMahon