Friday, April 11, 2014

4th Floor Open Stacks Area Returning to Normal and Other News

Most of the ceiling work in the northeast corner of the 4th floor is nearing completion and the contractor for the construction project has now removed the plastic sheeting from about 3/4 of the book shelves in the 4th floor open stacks area. This uncovers books with call numbers BD241 through DAW1051.

In this area only books with call numbers A through BD241 remain covered.  Books still covered are on the shelving ranges closest to wall separating the open general stacks from the Latin American Library (LAL) closed stacks on the other side.

User seating on the Dixon Hall side of the 4th floor open stacks area has been returned to use.

Work in this area was to have been completed by March 28 and its scope has included the installation of fire suppression system pipe and heads, roof drain and plumbing connections, and related fixtures—all above the ceiling grid.   The work has taken longer than planned because the drawings based on original construction plans for the building have not proven to be an accurate guide in showing existing conditions such as the actual location of duct-work and other building features that conflict with the new construction plans.

To minimize disruption the work has been prescheduled to progress in sequence by the dividing the 4th floor into five separate zones—a process that will eventually be replicated on the lower floors of the building, although with a reduced scope of work limited on the lower floors mainly to just the installation of the fire suppression system. Learning from problems uncovered in first zone on the 4th floor, a new series of sequenced work phases has been devised that calls for workers to first progress quickly through each zone (a few days in each) to simply remove all the ceiling tile on the entire floor. This will allow engineers to come in and produce “as built” drawings showing existing conditions of the entire floor and these will be used by the architects on the project to revise the new construction documents where necessary to avoid more delays as workers move through the 4th floor in scheduled phases.

The new schedule of phases above shows adjusted dates for the periods during which the contractor plans to progress through the 4th floor with the primary ceiling work.  

The current problems have produced some overlap between work in separate zones, which was not originally envisioned. Specifically, pipe connections cannot be made above the open stacks shelves closest to the wall separating the area from the LAL closed stacks until the “as built” drawings are completed for the area on the other side of the wall. Therefore crews proceeded directly to that area on April 1, earlier than planned, to remove the ceiling tiles and begin their reconnaissance there, and problems are slowing being resolved.

Other construction news:
  • Crews have completed the shear wall between the central stairwell and the women’s restrooms on the 3rd and 4th floors, and are now engaged in putting those restrooms back together. Those restrooms have been scheduled to reopen next week, although the work may be at least a few days behind. Crews are still just in the early stages of constructing the shear wall nearby between the men's restrooms and the central chase on the 3rd and 4th floors. 
  • Jack-hammering around the perimeter of the rooftop has been mostly completed.  However, loud noise from drilling and occasional jack-hammering can be expected periodically over the next couple of months on the roof as crews remove in phases portions of the building presently surrounding the elevator mechanical system.  Crews are also continuing to install anchor bolts and other fittings in preparation for the steel frame.
  • The steel for the frame of the 5th and 6th floors is now scheduled to begin to arrive on site on April 21. Delivery and framing of the steel is set to take place in a carefully phased, concentrated 8-week sequence. 
  • Meanwhile, in recovering from February's roof leak, the 2,200 wet books sent to Texas for restoration have been returned. They were shipped to the library's Recovery Center at 900 S. Jeff Davis Parkway. LAC Group staff at the Recovery Center will begin processing the returned books next week so we can quickly get them back on the shelves.

Monday, March 31, 2014

4th Floor Update: Remediation and Construction Progress

Things are slowly returning to normal in the area of the library's 4th floor near the source of a roof leak that occurred a little over a month ago in the northeast corner of the building. The area has long since been dried and some 30,000 dry books that were removed from lower shelves there have been reshelved. The books were initially moved, in no particular order, on about 60 book carts, to the library basement.  They needed sorting before they could be moved back upstairs to shelves covered by plastic sheets from the construction overhead in that area of the building.

The reshelving process took just eight days and was accomplished by a small team of staff diverted from the Tulane Legacy Collection Analysis Project, which is identifying, examining for condition, and physically flagging the library's pre-1938 books stored off site, books that will eventually be among those housed in a new rare books area on a new 6th floor. The reshelvers--principally Kelsey Chapman, Katelyn Howells, and Izzy Oneiric--are employees of the library services firm LAC Group.

Books in preparation for freeze-drying
Meanwhile, the 2,200 wet books that were boxed, frozen, and shipped off to a restoration facility in Fort Worth, TX, are now on their way home. Samples sent in advance have looked good. The restored books will arrive first at our Recovery Center, still in operation after Hurricane Katrina, and they should be back on the shelves at Howard-Tilton in a few weeks. A relatively small number of titles will need to be replaced, but we know exactly which ones and replacements are expected to be ordered soon now that initial discussions of insurance have concluded.

In the 4th floor open stacks area, workers removed all the ceiling tiles and have been installing sprinkler pipe, roof drains, and, over the book stacks, motion sensors that will turn lights off and on in the aisles between each range. The sensors will dole out energy for lighting based on use of the aisles rather than simply leaving the lights on 24/7. Lights in broader access aisles or seating areas will have standard illumination. The ceiling work is expected to be completed in this area by the end of this week or early next, after which the plastic sheeting now covering the book shelves there will be removed.

Next, the same work will be repeated in an adjacent quadrant of the 4th floor and eventually will move sequentially throughout the building, although more limited in scope on the lower floors.

The contractor has completed the forms for the shear wall slab being built in the central stairwell and has poured concrete for about half the slab, with the rest to be completed this week. Nearby, another crew is removing walls between the men's restroom and the building's central chase to soon begin to build forms for a final shear wall there. Roof work has continued to remove a layer of rooftop“membrane” from a ten-foot wide swath around the roof perimeter. Workers are almost completely around the perimeter at this point and, basically, they have peeled the membrane back to where they are already constructing the base of what will be the outer wall of the library's new 5th and 6th floors. Steel for those floors should begin to arrive onsite very soon and erection of the steel frame will likely be accomplished in a concentrated and tightly phased time frame of about eight weeks.