Friday, September 18, 2015

Stepped Up Construction Activity

With the construction project due to reach its “substantial completion” stage in a little more than a month, the construction contractor and its subcontractors are working extra shifts and Saturdays to complete remaining tasks and especially tasks on the lower floors.

Here are updates on some current activities:

Crews from Schindler Elevator Co. are very close to completing work on both elevators #1 and #2, and the sump pumps required for the bottom of each shaft were ordered for installation this week. It is technically possible that at least one of the additional elevators could be back in service within a week or so, if the city's elevator inspector approves.

Central Stairs 
As of this afternoon, cement had still not been poured for the complex fabrication of the 5th and 6th floor stairs in the central stairwell. This project has been in stasis for the past month as engineers, architects, and project managers have gone back and forth over its requirements. Once the cement is poured it may need to cure for 21 days before the forms are removed and the stairs can be finished. Thus, the central stairs may one of the last projects completed in the main construction timeline.  Meanwhile, there has been a lot of work activity related to electrical circuits and smoke control system dampers around the interior air shafts adjacent to all of the building’s stairwells.

HVAC (Temperature and Humidity Control)
Basically, the building's new HVAC system is now running on automatic controls but not yet at preferred temperatures and relative humidity consistently throughout the building.  As predicted the building has warmed after introducing hot air into the mix, but the engineers on the project think they are getting closer to working the kinks out.  Still, two things need to happen before the system can be correctly balanced: (1) the engineers and technicians need to complete the work needed to identify and fix faulty pneumatic thermostats, disconnected or undersized horizontal pneumatic mains, faulty actuators on VAV boxes, and frozen or locked up damper shafts on the lower floors and (2) they need to complete work on the replacement or repair of smoke control dampers leading from the overhead air duct in the ceilings to the vertical duct in each of the building’s interior chases by each stairwell. All this could take a couple of weeks, but some gradual climate improvement should be noticeable before then.

Fences and Remaining Perimeter Work
The construction fence occupying Newcomb Place has been been removed, the area within mostly restored, and parking places restriped (repainted).  The area was reopened for parking by Tulane Public Safety yesterday. Meanwhile, crews have begun to dismantle the temporary main entrance on the Freret Street side of the building that served the library during the earlier stages of the construction. Along the back of the building crews have almost completed the removal of the remaining pieces of the galvanized steel towers and other equipment from the temporary HVAC that served the library since January 2006.  Construction building codes require new stairs for the building's three emergency exits and this will require piles to be driven.  Likely next week, the first set of piles will be driven on the west side of the building adjacent to door exiting the center of the Technical Services area on the library’s 1st floor. Those stairs will require 4 piles, 30-ft in length. Next a set of two piles will be driven for the exit on the Freret Street side of the building, and this is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 28. Two more piles for the exit on the Dixon hall side of the building could be driven on either date, depending which pile driver on site at the time is determined to be most suitable for that location, which is squeezed within the contractor’s newly compressed construction staging area.

Shelving and Furniture for the New Upper Floors
Almost all the shelving for the upper floors has been delivered and on the 6th floor most of it has already been installed.  The 5th floor installation is next.  Furniture for the upper floors is expected to begin to arrive early next month and deliveries will be scheduled through the remainder of October. Only minor details in the FF&E (Furniture, Fixtures, & Equipment) process still need to be wrapped up. Tulane Technology Services is assisting with the preparation of specs to seek bids for computer equipment in the 5th and 6th floor elevator lobbies and instructional technology equipment for the two classrooms on the 6th floor.

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