Methodical Progress – construction moves forward

Steel Rising

We are picking up where we left off on construction activity. It has been several weeks and during that period we took a healthy diversion looking into LEED; how we were getting the points and where we stood on achieving our certification goal. That story is not over yet; we know pretty much where we are from a design standpoint, but the construction points are still being validated.

The last view of the project was that of the steel structure topping out and the roof decking going on creating a blanket over the roof framing in “Taking It to the Next Level.” The building was ready for the interior guts and exterior envelope to be put into place. These activities started on the lower level of the Visitor Center and will be spreading to the upper level.

The exterior wall studs are 6” cold formed metal at 16” on center. The exterior studs perform a structural duty in helping to resist the lateral loads imposed on the building’s exterior envelope. The interior partitions are a combination of 6” and 3 5/8” metal studs at 16” on center. The 6” inch studs are used for the taller walls for structural stability. The studs are among the first interior elements to be put into place. In concert with the studs, hollow metal door frames are moved into place and tucked into the wall planes.

Metal Stud Framing

On the heels of and often parallel to the partition framing going in, engineering elements begin to infiltrate the interior volume. Mechanical air handling units are being suspended above the ceilings. Sheet metal mechanical ductwork that will deliver conditioned air to each space grows steadily from the mechanical units. Fire sprinkler piping is being run through the spaces above the ceiling line showing up as black piping with red joints. Electrical conduits are running like spaghetti everywhere above the ceilings and being laced through the studs themselves. The conduits eventually terminate with junction boxes where devices like electrical outlets and light switches will be installed.

Engineering Systems

Once the exterior wall studs are in place with window openings framed out, the first exterior covering material begins to go on. This material is referred to as exterior sheathing. The sheathing performs several duties including creating a surface for the moisture barrier to be applied. It also becomes the backing for the exterior finish materials that include stone masonry and metal panels. The sheathing shows up as a bright yellow sheet good on the exterior of the building.

Exterior Sheathing

The upper lever that is dominated by the high volume Gallery space does not have any interior partitions until you get to the east end where the gift shop, video viewing room, restrooms and conference room begin to occupy space. The Gallery is a large open space enclosed by high exterior walls of which a significant portion is glass curtain wall. We will look at the installation of the curtain wall and stone veneer next.

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