When I think of connections, I am reminded of the song with the line that includes “the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone” and all the connections from head to toe that are part of the lyrics. The actual song title is Dem Dry Bones. There have been a lot of spin offs from the original song that have turned into a whole series of kids learning lessons and an interesting game called “Hip Bone Games” for all ages that is a game about connections.

The Visitor Center is all about connections. And not just all those that are about linking people, places and ideas of which there is an abundance. Those connections are important to the FSB design team but when it comes to the executed design of the building and it’s systems it’s all about the physical connections that hold all the pieces and parts of the building together. For the building, it starts with the structure or the skeleton of the building which brings me back to the thought of the hip bone being connected to the thigh bone. The skeleton of the building holds everything up and everything in turn is then connected to and integrated with it like the skin, circulatory systems, respiratory systems and the body control center.

The construction contract with Flintco Construction Company acting as a construction manager and contractor is now finalized and actual construction of the project is just around the corner. The early sequence of construction is focused on preparing the site and getting the foundations in followed by erecting the structural steel skeleton. The connections between all the elements of the skeleton have been part of the integrated design effort of the FSB engineers and architects.

I will talk you through a representative slice of the project which is cut through the north facing wall of the high bay Gallery space. The footing is appropriately like the foot of the skeleton on which the columns or legs and torso are connected. At the top of the columns are roof beams and roof decking which could represent the shoulders and head of the building. So here are the connections.

It starts with the concrete footing upon which is setting a concrete column engaged into the below grade cast-in-place concrete retaining wall. The footing, concrete slab on grade, concrete retaining wall and column are all connected together with reinforcing steel bars that can be seen in the foundation detail. At the top of the wall there are 2 connections. The one to the right the column is a wide flange beam about 6” wide and 12” deep. It’s connected to the concrete column involves a number of pieces; an embed steel plate that is cast into the concrete, steel clip angles that are welded to the embedded plate and finally the beam is bolted through holes in the end of the beam and clip angles. The beams are holding up the floor slab of the Gallery which is concrete on metal deck that is connected to the beam by a composite slab design.

The rectangular 6” by 12” steel tube column sits on top of the concrete column. Its connection to the concrete column has a number of pieces; 4 – ¾” diameter anchor bolts cast into the concrete and a 14” by 13” base pate that is welded to the bottom of the column. The bolts allow for the column to be leveled after which about 2” of grout is packed under the plate and the top of the concrete column to make a full contact connection.

At the top of the column, there is a connection to an 8” wide by 16” deep tube-shaped roof beam. There is an 8” by 12” cap plate welded to the top of the column which in turn is welded to the bottom of the beam. Sitting on top of the roof beams are 8” deep purlins that span from beam to beam. The purlins are fastened to the beams and the metal roof deck which creates the lid to the building is fastened with screws to the purlins.

So those are all the connections from the toe bone to the foot bone to the ankle bone to the leg bone to the thigh bone to the hip bone to the back bone to the shoulder bone to the neck bone to the head bone. Constructing the skeletal structural frame of the Visitor Center will occupy several months of activity at the beginning of the project.  When the construction of skeletal structural frame is complete, the skin and internal operating parts will be added to the frame.

One of the first documents that the Contractor will create is a detailed schedule of events for the project. When we receive that information, we will share with you just how long the Contractor thinks it will take to get the structural frame in place.

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