Thursday, August 14, 2014

Central Stairwell News and 3rd Floor Update

The library’s central stairwell will very likely be reopened soon and within the next couple of weeks, maybe not in the sequence originally planned, but reopened nonetheless. Also, the marble that was temporarily removed within the stairwell on floors 3-4 was successfully reinstalled without damage, following demolition of one of the stairwell’s interior cinder block walls and its replacement with a solid concrete slab “shear wall” support connecting to the upper frame for the library’s two more floors.

The central stairwell was closed back in February and was indeed scheduled to reopen tomorrow on August 15, but at the time it was expected that the stairwell would be connected to a fully enclosed, although unfinished, addition above. Those same planned conditions are today probably still a few months away due to a combination of interior and exterior project delays, one of which is that steel for the upper frame hasn’t been arriving on schedule lately and this has a snowball effect in pushing back separately scheduled concrete pours and other work above. So over the past couple of weeks project managers and the construction contractor have cooperated to work out a plan to reopen the central stairwell regardless. Basically, they have built a temporary solid, framed wood floor over the stairwell at the 5th floor level. Workers have already pulled up most of the plywood planking that had been laid to protect each stair and landing. This week only some minor finish work and cleaning within the stairwell remains, and this work is set to continue through this weekend.

The stairs may be especially useful later this fall as the library heads into a difficult period expected to include phased removal of the ceilings in the elevator lobbies and the phased replacement of elevator mechanical systems, controls, and cables that will modernize and extend the elevators to serve the basement through the new 6th floor. While travel within the central stairwell, once reopened, should be relatively uninterrupted through the fall semester, crews will eventually need to replace its railings with higher ones that meet modern building codes and a fire code-required pressurized glass enclosure with doors at the entrance to the stairwell on the 1st floor will need to be installed, probably in the spring after all the ceiling abatement work is complete. Hence, the Freret and Dixon side stairwells will likely remain open for general use until the construction subsides.

The interior shear wall support in the central stairwell was one of four successfully built for the project, but because of the marble and other structural conditions it was by far the most difficult.

3rd Floor Ceiling Work 
Meanwhile, on the 3rd floor the subcontractor installing the fire suppression sprinkler system has moved on schedule to the Phase 3 zone in the southwest quadrant of the floor that includes the stacks area with M-L call numbers. The transition in moving from Phase 2 to Phase 3 had some bumps, with crews moving ahead to cover book ranges in in the Phase 3 zone several days ahead of schedule unannounced. This and some other problems, such as a few missed areas within the zones worked in thus far, are related to the much larger number of workers the subcontractor has brought in to handle the shorter time frames planned for each phase.  The subcontractor has promised to do a better job of both balancing the work and keeping its crews reigned in.

As the work progresses across the floor its “machine shop” with pipe cutting equipment is being moved as well, to the Freret St side of the floor. The sprinkler subcontractor has been told to enclose the pipe-cutting area in its next location with plastic sheeting (so it will not be as visible) and to keep a clear path for the stairwell nearby.

Installation work in the Innovative Learning Center (ILC)/Center for Library User Education (CLUE) area that spanned zones along the western side of the floor has been completed. Here is the set of scheduled dates for the remaining phases on the 3rd floor:

Phase 3: (8/13 – 8/29)
Area location (change): southwest quadrant of the building
  • Faculty carrels affected: F309-F316 
  • Grad student carrels affected: carrels in areas 328V and 329 along the southwest wall of the building
Phase 4: (9/2 – 9/16) 
Area location (change): southeast quadrant of the building
  • Faculty carrels affected: F301-F308

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