Shepherd's Construction Blog

Fredonia Science Center
221 Science Center
State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
Ph: 716-673-3285

Dr. Holly Lawson
Project Shepherd

Markus Kessler
Director of Facilities Planning

John Kijinski
Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Betty Gossett
Associate Vice President for University Development

David Tiffany
Vice President for University Advancement & Executive Director of the Fredonia College Foundation


Project Shepherd

As the Project Shepherd, I have been involved in all aspects of the planning, design and now construction of the new Science Center.  My primary responsibility is to act as a liaison between the "users" and the design and construction teams.  Here I will try to update and inform the community on the progress of the construction.   Holly Lawson

Curtain Wall Details (8/15/13)

These pictures shows some of the details of the envelope and the curtain walls.  The picture on the left shows how there are two regions that have precast concrete - on the coping of the Penthouse and above the ribbon window on the third floor.  Also notice how the curtain wall is divided into three regions - at the top is a row of fritted glass, then vision glass and then two layers of a fritted shadow box.  The fritted glass serves two purposes depending on its location.  In the image below it is mainly decorative since there is a backdrop behind it to cover up the utilities in the ceiling,  A section of curtain wall with and without the backdrop is on the right.  There is also a section of fritted glass that is backed by a "shadow box"  this is textured material that is placed a few inches behind the glass to provide a three dimensional backing that hides the infrastructure at each floor.

The fritted glass also serves to diffuse sunlight on the south and west elevations.  The second set of pictures are of the curtain wall in the linker wing which faces south.  The top section of glass is fritted and aluminum sunshades hang from the mullions that separate the two section of glass.

window details curtain wall details
curtain wall curtain wall


Foundation Board Visit (8/9/13)

We gave a tour to the Fredonia Foundation Board last week.  The members that could make the tour are (left to right) Front Row: Carol Ward, Walter Gotowka, Richard Johnson and Back Row: Joseph Falcone, Phillip Belena, Robert Coon, Dennis Costello, David Tiffany, Betty Gossett and Jim Cullen (Chase Construction Management and our tour guide).  The picture on the right features Dave Tiffany showing off the Marletta Conference Room.  We also took a picture of Dennis Costello in the Costello Reading Room.  The picture on the bottom right caught Phil Belena, Joe Falcone and Betty Gossett on the stairs of the Observatory; the observatory is currently covered with a blue tarp which explains the strange coloring of the picture!

Foundation Board Marletta Conference room
Dennis Costello Observatory


Observatory (8/5/13 and 8/9/13)

They were hoisting the stairs and upper platform into the Observatory and later Richard Johnson (Foundation Board Vice Chair), is seen climbing down the spiral staircase during the Foundation Board tour.

Observatory observatory


New Walks (8/1/13)

They have most of the new walkways in place in the Science Quad.  The next step will be to tie together the Quad, the Courtyard and the area in front of the Atrium - unfortunately, due to a delay in the shipment of the paving stones, a lot of that work will not occur until mid-September.  We will regain use of the Quad before school starts in a few weeks)

walks in quad

Nice! (7/16/13)

This is a great view of the Atrium from the side - notice the "seat wall" in the foreground.  That will be finished with the same brick as the building and topped with a precast concrete capstone.  The capstone is grooved underneath for a LED strip which will provide down-lighting for the wall.

Atrium July 13

Gavin Aerie Takes Shape (7/16/13)

They have begun to frame the only wall in the Gavin Aerie (the rest are glass) at the top of the ornamental stairs. The second picture is from the Science Balcony off the Aerie - that's where I'll be found next summer!

Gavin Wall Balcony


Corrugated Metal Paneling (7/16/13)

They have installed almost all of the corrugated metal paneling around the Penthouse and have almost finished on the stairwells.

penthouse metal panels stair metal panel


Protecting the Grove (6/28/13)

Many people have been speculating on the activity in the Science Quad shown below with considerable orange fencing.  This is in place to protect the (primarily) locust grove as the walkways are replaced to lead into the Science Center and its courtyard.  The new walkways will have 5 inches of aggregate concrete above 12 inches of "subbase".  Because this will involve digging almost 20 inches deep and air spade is used to dig without harming the tree roots.  Anyone who walked through the grove will have notices that the locust roots are very shallow (many are showing above ground and have been harmed by mowers) and therefore at risk of being damaged when there is digging in the area. The air spade stirs up a lot of dust (being vacuumed up in the third picture below) but is gentle on the roots.  Once the roots are exposed they will be trimmed and bent back away from the sidewalk construction area by a certified arborist.

Quad 6/28/13

airspade airspade

This Wall is NOT Coming Down Again! (6/25/13)

They have been working on the retaining wall that holds the higher ground in the President's yard from Academic Avenue.  This road will eventually extend around the back of the Science Center and needed to be pushed slightly back into the President's yard.  Many of us in Houghton have seen this wall go up and down several times over our tenure as the road was widened and the wall reconfigured after falling down (!).  I have been assured by our crew that this wall will not fail in the future as its construction is "Cadillac".  In the picture below you can see that the footing has already been poured and they have framed one side of the wall.  Over the next week, the rebar will be stood and tied, the other side of the wall put in place,  and all will be "buttoned up" so the wall can be poured.  More soon...

wall at Academic Ave

WOW (6/11/13)

This is the view from the balcony off the Gavin Aerie - note the curve of the Atrium walls and the power of the white cantilever beams. 

Gavin View

Defining the Spaces (6/11/13)

The have completed framing the wall between the Kelly Family Auditorium and the Atrium. 



These are two views from inside the Kelly Family Auditorium



Mac Lab (6/11/13)

This is the smaller of the computer labs on the first floor.  As you can see most of the drywall and roughing in is complete.

Mac Lab

Astry/Lee Research Lab (6/11/13)

This is one of the many shared labs on the second floor - their view looks down Science Drive and on the green roof above the Kelly Family Auditorium which will be planted with different types of sedum.

astry lee

New View (5/23/13)

Today they took down the black-clad fence to make way for work in the Science Quad.  This finially gives us a clear view of the building and shows how well fits in its corner of campus.  For those who are concerned about the Quad, the work there involves new walkways and new paving on Science Drive.  In addition, there will be significant tree protection and new soil to protect the rather shallow roots of the Locusts that make up the grove.

new view

Atrium from Outside (5/15/13)

 This is a nice view of the entrance, the balcony off the Gavin Aerie (left) and the Atrium


Finishing Touches on Stairwells A & C (5/14/13)

These are the stairwell at either end of the main wing that have a wonderful strip of windows from top to bottom.

Stair A Stair A

Brickwork Complete on North Side (5/10/13)

The masons have completed all of the brick on the north side of the building giving it a very finished look.  Notice the precast concrete lintel above the windows;  I think it gives the building a sleek look and makes it match many of the other brick buildings on campus.

brick complete lintel

Falcone Greenhouse (5/1/13)

They have just completed pouring the foundation for the Falcone greenhouse. 


The Gavin Aerie - Wow (3/29/13)

This is the first time that I've been able to walk in this meeting room that sits above the Atrium and looks out onto the courtyard.  The walls pictured here will be floor to ceiling glass and the balcony is on the far left.


This is the view down from the Gavin Aerie onto the Atrium and Science Quad.

Gavin view

Brick work (4/29/13)

The masons have been hard at work with the brick work on the north side of the building


Stair work (4/29/13)

There continues to be work of both the Ornamental Stairs (in the Atrium) and the stairs at the end of the linker wing adjacent to the Marletta Conference Room.

Main Stairs stair d

High Lift Operators (4/29/13)

As you can see from the photo of the courtyard on the 24th, a lot of the activity around the building is from the high lifts which are used to both support workers and load materials.  The operator below has repeatedly amazed me with her deft touch with her high lift - here she is delivering pallets to the second floor.

 High lift operator

A Lot of Activity in the Courtyard (4/24/13)

As you can see things are hopping today.  There is a welder working of the cantilever beams and someone else installing more framework for the curtain wall.  If you look carefully to the right, almost half of the glass has been installed around the auditorium.

Fan construction 3 25 13

This is a close up of the new windows that I took from a break in the fence...


Framework for Curtain Wall (4/22/13)

They have made significant progress putting up the frames for the glass that encloses half of the Kelly Family Auditorium and the Atrium.

frame for windows

Cabinets (4/18/13)

Several of us ventured out to Clay NY to look at the casework mock up.  This gave us a chance to inspect the quality and design of the cabinetry.

casework veneer lab casework

The top left photo show how the veneer for the front of the drawers was cut from the same piece of wood so it matches down each level.   Notice also how well the lines between and along the drawers are aligned.

The photo at the top right is one of the lab benches that will be in the biology labs.  There is a "breadboard" (to use as an additional writing surface) pulled out on the right.


The photo on the right is one of the tall cabinets that is found in many of the labs and is also used to house the microscopes.

Tall cabinets

This is a good view of a major section of the "mock up" - the gray-blue counter tops were chosen for the the warmth of the color and the high reflectivity that complements the lighting.


Main Staircase (4/9/13)

Today they began installing the "ornamental" stairs that lead from the Atrium up to the second floor and the Administrative Suite.  They don't look very "ornamental" now and it is very hard to get a good perspective since the atrium (behind me in this picture) is still walled off from the stairway.  It will be very attractive once completed (see insert).

Main Stairs Main Staircase

Office and Lab Walls (4/9/13)

Below is a set of offices with a research lab on the right on the second floor.

Offices and lab

Ramp to Kelly Auditorium (4/9/13)

This is a view of the ramp that leads to the back of the Kelly Family Auditorium.  The orange tubing is part of the radiant heating system.  Notice how they have started assembling the framework (white) for the glass wall.

ramp to auditorium

Firestop (3/14/13)

This is very cool - the red material is called "firestop" and it is an intumescent material (it swells when exposed to heat) that is part of the passive fire protection in the building.  If a fire were to break out, the firestop would expand and then seal off joints and mechanical and electrical penetrations between walls to contain fire and smoke.  This way a fire would be isolated in only one region (or room) which allows occupants time to exit the building and also limits fire damage.  Hmm... sounds like another example of better living through chemistry!


Start of the Tour (3/14/13)

They are doing a lot of work on the walls on the northeast entrance to the building... this entrance is close to Admissions, so future tours will start here! Stairway D will be placed to the right in this picture.  The Marletta Conference Room is above to the left and will have a glass wall looking over this entrance.

NE Entrance  stairs


Typical Scene (3/14/13)

This is a very common scene in the building these days; some labs are used to store materials as they are framing and roughing in adjacent rooms. 

Framing lab

Another way to View (2/25/13)

I just bought a new app for my ipad that allows me to take panoramic photographs... as you can see I really love the WIDE angle.  This is a view of the atrium and the Kelly Family Auditorium with David Tiffany (VP Advancement) and Jim Cullen (LaChase Construction management) on the right.

 Panoramic Atrium

The Kelly Family Auditorium (2/5/13)

The masons took advantage of the last spell of warm weather to complete the back wall of the Kelly Auditorium so it now feels more like an enclosed room.  This picture does not do justice to this wonderful space - it's large but has a very intimate feel. 

Kelly auditorium

Lotsa Hot Water (2/5/13)

 The picture on the left is of the boilers - the plumbing here is very impressive.  The image on the right is of the pumps needed to circulate the water.  The silver mesh-like units between the piping and the pumps are expansion joints.

Boilers Pumps

More Walls (2/5/13)

There is considerable time spent framing (walls) and roughing in (installing pipes, fittings and ducts).  Below a working is roughing in electrical outlets in labs on the second floor.  Below that the masons continue to construct the block walls on the second and third floors.

framing labs

walls 2nd 2 5 13 walls 2 5 13 3rd

View from the Connecting Wing fron the Second Floor (2/5/13)

I really should have insisted my office had this view!!

View from Linker(1)

view science drive

First Floor Connecting Wing (2/5/13)

This is an incredibly sweet space... imagine it lined with tables and chairs.....

Linker 2 5 13 Link looking at Houghton

First Floor Walls (2/5/13)

They have completed essentially all of the block walls in the first floor

 1st floor 2 5 13

View of the East side of the North-South Link (1/16/13)

Linker wing windows

Courtyard Windows (1/7/13)

They have made good progress putting in the windows facing the courtyard.  This picture was taken from the Atrium near where the main doors will be.

courtyard windows

1st Floor walls (1/7/13)

Many of the walls on the first floor are complete.  This was taken at the junction between the ornamental stairwell off the atrium and the Costello Reading room.  The tiles missing in the wall at the left (behind the ornamental stairs) will be colored and added later.  The large hose and fan are part of the temporary heating system.

hall in first floor 1st floor plan


Looking out of the Marletta Conference Room (1/7/13)

This was taken from "inside" the Marletta Conference room located on the second floor looking toward Central Avenue.  This room is adjacent to Stair D (see "Stairs" on 9/20/12 below) which is the opening to the right.  The wall between the stairwell and the conference room is floor to ceiling glass so that almost this entire view is visible from the conference room.

Marletta Rm windows


Close up of Windows (1/7/13)

This is a nice view of the south side of the building where all (except 2) all the windows have been installed and the masonry work in the southeast corner is complete.  The warm spell at the end of this week may allow some more outside masonry work but most will have to wait until warmer weather in the spring.

South windows

Heat Exchangers (1/7/13)

This enormous unit - it takes up almost the width of the building in the penthouse - is one of two heat exchangers that are part of our air handling system. 

heat exchangers

Still warm enough to build one more wall (1/7/13)

The weather got just warm enough for the masons to work on the outside wall of the Kelly Family Auditorium

Auditorium wall

More Windows (12/11/12)

Most of the windows are now in place on the south side of the building.

South windows


Precast Concrete Installation (12/4/12)

In keeping with the campus tradition, the Science Center will have precast concrete accenting the windows in most of the building.  Here they are placing the first of the precast sections in the "linker wing" of the building.

precast installation

Dual Effort (11/28/12)

It takes two cranes to lift one of the air handling units up to the Penthouse.

dual cranes

Windows (11/26/12)

This is the view through the newly installed windows on the first floor looking out at what will be the south garden.

windows 1st floor

More Walls (11/26/12)

The walls in the connector link are beginning to take shape.

Walls in the connecting wing

The walls are flying up! (11/15/12)

I was just on sight two days ago so I was totally unprepared for the pace of the construction of the walls on the first floor - the corridors are visible as are many of the walls separating rooms.  The lower left picture is of the Costello Reading Room which will have a glass wall separating it from the  [busy] Atrium and a floor to ceiling glass wall looking out onto the back garden. The picture at the lower right is of the future Marletta Conference Room which will have a glass wall separating it from the adjacent stairwell which is the opening at the front of this picture.  The far wall is next to Houghton Hall.   This conference room is off of the [radiant heated] linker corridor that looks out onto the Science Courtyard.

1st floor Nov 15 12

Costello Reading Rm Marletta

Kelly Family Auditorium (11/15/12)

Once the walls are up we'll lose this nice view of the tiers in the 120 seat lecture space in the "fan section"

Kelly auditorium

 What's that stuff? (11/15/12)

Anyone walking up Academic Ave will see that the construction guys are spraying black air/vapor barrier onto the outside walls of the east stairwell.  This is a film which prevents infiltration of air and vapor on the concrete block.  This will be covered with foam insulation and then metal panels.

Air vaopr barrier 

And the Winner is..... (11/13/12)

We just discovered over the week-end that our esteemed genetics professor, Dr. Scott Ferguson, has just been awarded a $250,000 NSF grant!!  In recognition of this wonderful achievement and the hard work that will ensue, I present below the future home for genetics research in the Science Center.  (Yeah Scott!)

Ferguson lab 11 12

Windows (11/13/12)

The have installed the first windows on the east side of the building - they look wonderful both outside and in!

first windows window inside

Curtain Wall (11/13/12)

The aluminum framing for the "curtain wall" (i.e., windows) is now up on the second floor of the back wall... glass will be next!

curtian wall

More Walls! (11/13/12)

They have made tremendous progress in the basement - most of the wall in the hallway is up and they are now working of the walls of individual rooms.

basement Nov 12

The image on the right is the future stockroom and that on the  left is the building electrical controls.

electrical stockroom

Walls (10/15/12)

They have begun in earnest to construct the "building envelope".  You can see the walls above the fan section with openings for the windows.  The concrete block will be covered by brick except for a ribbon of precast concrete above the windows.  The material around the penthouse, which many have asked me about, is just metal clad insulation (see insert below) - this will be covered with metal sheeting.

Fan walls

metal clad insulation Science Center Rendering

 The back walls....

South end 10 15 12

 And basement walls....

basement walls 10 15 12


Connecting Wing from Above (9/27/12)

This is a nice view of the courtyard and connecting wing from the Penthouse.  The placement of the connection to Houghton was designed by our architects to minimize the interruption to the I. M. Pei architecture of Houghton - this view really demonstrates how well that was planned.  For more about the I. M. Pei architecture on campus see


 Kelly Family Auditorium (9/27/12)

They have begun pouring the floors for the auditorium and they will do this one level at a time.  The picture below shows the poured first level with the conduits for power and Internet for each bench sticking up.  The second picture shows some of the radiant heat coils for the ramp leading to the back of the auditorium.

lecture hall radiant in ramp

  Update (9/26/12)

This is a quick view of each of the floors so far - most of the recent work has been on the building envelope which they hope to have completed soon.

3rd Floor

Third Floor - not much here but the plumbing for the bathrooms (far right)


Penthouse - the black pipes in the foreground will connect with the boilers in the far right corner

1st floor

1st Floor - there has been significant work on the ductwork and piping - note the fire proofing in the foreground.

2nd floor

2nd Floor - the connecting wing to Houghton is at the far left.  The structure in the middle is the elevator shaft.


Basement - they have essentially completed the duct work here and have many of the walls assembled.  The elevator shaft is to the left.  The chemical stockroom will be to the right.

basement equipment

Basement - the basement is littered with mechanical equipment for building support - most is still wrapped to protect it from construction dust.

  Stairs (9/20/12)

There will be four sets of stairs in the Science Center - listed on the floor plans below as A-D.  Stairs A and C are "external" in that they stick out from the building at the east and west ends- The east stairwell (C) is pictured below at the left.  There will be a vertical ribbon window running down the stair well which is the opening seen in the construction picture.  The other stairs, B & D, are withing the building; stair B will embellish the atrium with its open construction and direct route to the administration suite above.


East Stairs

Main Stairs

Ornamental Stairs ("C")



  Observatory (9/17/12)

They have begun to build the walls for the Observatory - the new telescope will sit on top of the metal pier.


  The "Fan" Emerges(8/21/12)

One of the most stunning features of the "fan section" of the building is the radial geometry which will be echoed in the floors, columns, ceilings and the outside walls.  This geometry is reinforced by the emergence of the cantilevered tapered beams that reach out into the courtyard and which will support the glass canopy that is above the balcony and the front entrance.

cantilever beams

 Walls! (8/21/12)

They have begun putting up walls on the first, second and penthouse levels.

Wall construction on 1st floor These workers are putting up concrete block in the first floor.  The fuzzy looking stuff on the beams is sprayed-on fireproofing which is applied only at critical places like entrances and stairwells.  It is there to maintain the integrity of the steel in the heat of a fire so that there is time for occupants to exit and for rescue workers to do their job.  Otherwise the steel would buckle and collapse.  At one point in time there had been speculation that issues with fireproofing contributed to the collapse of the Trade Center on 9/11.

The mock up of the "exterior envelope" (outside wall) is shown below.  It will be composed of granite block, brick, lots of glass (called the "curtian wall") prerecast concrete copings, corrugated metal panels and aluminum sunshades.

Curtain wall mock up

Wall framing going up in the penthouse

penthouse wall frame

Summer Construction

The construction crew have been involved in big projects that are hidden from view....

Penthouse Parapit Wall

Left is the parapit wall on the penthouse.  The short wall on the left will be the outside wall.

Below  (left) are fixtures for the men's bathroom on the third floor.

Directly below shows a lot of action in the basement.  Ducts are being installed and pipes hung in addition to the formation of walls.  The chillers have also been delivered (no picture as they're still wrapped!)

bathroom fistures ducts in basement

data lines

These are data lines that will eventually tie in to ones going down Science Drive


Heating pipes going up to the second and third floors

Views from the Penthouse (6/14/12)

penthouse view penthouse view
penthouse view penthouse view

Leading to Houghton (6/14/12)

This is a great view of the wing that connects to the second floor of Houghton.  Note the line of columns to the left.  They mark the walls to the corridor that will have windows overlooking the atrium and radiant heating in the floors.

Houghton wing

Basement Taking Shape (6/13/12)

Duct work for the environmental chambers is being hung in addition to the supports for plumbing to the upper floors.

Basement duct work

Curtian Wall Mock-Up (May-June 2012)

They have begun to build a model of the "curtain wall" (outside skin of the building) in the southeast corner of the construction site.  This allows the construction team and subcontractors to see how the multiple components of the outside of the building fit together.

curtian wall

Breaking through to Houghton (5/28/12)

The demolition team has begun the limited work on Houghton Hall that is included in this project.  The have broken through on floors 1 & 2 to start the abatement work and demolition in the labs and offices in the SE part of Houghton. Houghton Abate

Concrete Poured on Second Floor (5/14/12)

 After about a month of detailing all of the penetrations for  heating, plumbing and duct work, they are now pouring the "hanging slab" on the second floor.

Second Floor Concrete Pour

Structural Steel in Fan in Place (4/17/12)

This picture, taken from the roof of Houghton, shows the complete steel framework for the fan.

Fan Steel

Pouring the basement floor (4/13/12)

These workers are spreading the concrete for the basement floor.  This will be done in three sections starting with this one at the west end of the building

basement pour

The "Fan" Takes Shape (4/12/12)

The tall steel for the "fan" which is composed of the atrium and Kelly Family Auditorium has been placed.  The front entrance is at the left and the open space above that is the balcony off the Gavin Aerie.

 Steel for Fan

View from Above (4/6/12)

Chemistry Major Elliot Weaver took this picture from his Dad's plane leaving Fredonia for Easter week-end.

View of Science Center from Above

Steel is Stood in the North/South Corridor (4/3/12)

They are done with all of the steel in the wing that links the Science Center to Houghton.  Notice how the beams in this section are different... within the building are I-beams but those on the outside of the building, closest to the courtyard (where the glass corridor will be) are round since they will be seen from the outside (thanks to Scott Ferguson for noticing!).

steel NS link

Foundation Walls for the "fan" (4/3/12)

They are currently removing the frames from the walls that will support the glass outside the Kelly Family Auditorium.  The gentlemen in this picture are standing where the ramp to the back of the auditorium will be located.

Fan foundation walls

Standing steel in the connecting wing (3/19/12)

They have switched to a smaller crane and have started standing and hanging steel in the wing that connects to Houghton.

Standing steel in link

More Progress (3/23/12)

The foundation of the wing that links the Science Center to Houghton is almost complete...

foundation for linker wing

decking and sheer studs

This is the decking on the second floor - the sheer studs (described 3/12) are quite visible.  Each needs to be individually welded and inspected.

basement plumbing

They have begun to lay the plumbing in the basement


WOW - This place is Hopping! (3/15/12)

There is a lot of action out here today.....

hanging steel

foundation for link

Above They are putting in the foundation for the wing that connects to Houghton.
Right The crane has moved to the south end of the site so they can hang the steel in the west side of the building.

stone to basement

They are using a conveyer to move stone from a dump truck into the basement - you can just make out the stream of stones coming off the end of the conveyer on the left

Basement stone

The stone is coming down from the areaway into the basement (in the middle of this picture)



This is after the floor drains and stone had been installed.  The indentation is a "haunch" which is where the rebar which supports the masonary walls will be placed.

1st floor

This is the first floor looking down from where the cafe will be towards the wing that connects to Houghton



Fan pour

Left The wood plate forms (or walers) seen at the top of the wall form are used to support and mold the plywood to form the curves in the atrium & lecture hall.  There are 5 different radii in the fan section.  Above  They are pouring the foundation for the "fan".


Details... (3/12/12)

Although our building is quickly growing up from the ground, there is considerable work that needs to be done before the rebar can be placed and tied and the hanging slabs (floors above grade) can be poured.  See below for examples.

Bolting back Cutting deck

This "nonacrophobic" gentleman is bolting back the steel beams by making sure that all the required bolts are in place - when the "stand" the steel they only put in a minimum number to increase efficiency.

 This worker is cutting through the decking to detail one of the larger penetrations
Sheer studs Pour stop
 If you look very carefully you can see a series of nail-like objects that hve been welded to the decking.  These are "sheer studs" and they lock the decking to the concrete slab once it's poured.  There are hundreds of these on every floor.  These gentlemen are placing the "pour stop" all around the second floor decking.  As the name suggests, this is the edge that contains the concrete.

Progress so far...WOW (3/7/12)

This picture was taken by Tom Janik from the roof of Houghton.

Site 3 7 12

These "guys" have the coolest toys! (3/7/12)

Take a look at this dump truck which carries it own slinger.   That allows the operator to place loads far into a pit without getting the truck too close to the edge.  The operator manages the slinger with the controller around his neck and he can toss the load with such evenness that there is no need to spread the gravel after it has been dispersed.


This is the piping for the stormwater retention system I talked about two days ago... The dump truck above pulled in about 10 minutes after I shot the picture below.

storm water retention system

Starting the Foundation for the"Fan"  (3/6-7/12)

 They have begun digging the foundation for the Atrium and Kelly Family Auditorium section of the building referred to as the “fan” due to its shape.  Because of the shape, complex series of ramps and stairs and numerous penetrations for the audiovisual support systems, this is a fairly tricky section to construct.  The construction team tells me that this job has been really interesting because of the complexity of many of the design features.

Fan Foundation

This is another view of the fan when they finished framing the footers.  This view, from the roof of Houghton,  really shows how pronounced the curve is in the fan.

fan foundation from above

Stormwater Retention Field

We will have a stormwater retention system to deal with situations when the storm runoff from the building is greater than the capacity of the storm sewers.  In those situations a regulator will direct the storm water to our retention system (remember the 4' pipes I showed you on 8/31/11) where it will be stored until the water levels receed.  At that time the retained water will flow through the filtration system (in the forefront of the picture) and then out to the sewer.  Tomorrow they will begin to lay the piping... more then!

 Retention Field

Basement (3/2/12)

Many people asked me about what was going on with the conveyer belt that could be seen above the fencing. It was providing easy transport of stone from dump trucks into the basement. There it will be used to shore up the drainage shown in this picture. So far they have placed ~700 tons of stone with another 800 tons to add once the piping is in place. Once the plumbing is complete it will be covered with a 4” concrete floor. This view is from the mechanical room (which is lower than the rest of the basement to have enough room for the equipment) and to the right will be the environmental chambers and beyond that the NMR room and the physics spectroscopy lab. The gentleman in the picture is Jim Cullen from LeChase Construction Services

basement drainage

 Fast Progress (2/17/12)

Hohl has done a terrific job of standing the steel - if you can, it's worth watching this process either by web cam or in person (there is a pretty good view from the Science Quad).  I feel like I'm watching really smart kids putting together an advanced Tinker Toy building!  I'm especially impressed with the steady hands of the crane operator.

Standing more steel


Steel Crane

Standing Steel! (2/9/12)

Today was the first day to "swing" and "stand" steel for the second and third floors.  They will be bringing in approximately 2 truckloads a day and putting the steel in place as they load it off the trucks.  And look at that crane!Our Steel Erectors, Hohl Industrial Services, brought it on campus on Tuesday.  The Grove 5275 5-axle, 7 section
boon crane can extend up to 223 ft and has a 77 ton counterweight system!

Steel Erectors

 The picture above shows a close up of the workers on the beam - they have safety lines attached to the top beam to catch them if they fall.


First Third of Ground Floor Poured (1/10/12)

Ground floor pour Finished 1/3 ground floor


First Third of Ground Floor Ready for Concrete (1/9/12)

The crew has been taking advantage of the mild weather to make significant progress on tying rebar and placing the penetrations in preparation for the first ground floor concrete pour. 

Ground Floor before concrete pour


First Floor Scaffolding Grows (12/15/11)

The crew continues to put in the supports, aluminum beams and then plywood that will support the first floor "hanging slab".  This work will continue for the rest of the month.


Support for hanging slab

The Last Basement Wall Pour (12/15/11)

They are completing the last basement wall pour on this balmy December day (50oF!). 

Last basement wall pour


Preparing for the First Floor (12/7/11)

The construction team is starting to assemble the supports for the first floor frame.  This is not simply a matter of placing and tying rebar and then pouring concrete as we saw for the basement pressure slab, since this floor will have countless penatrations such as electrical and data boxes, radiant heating, ducts, drains and beams. These all need to be precisely located and framed with special support features to maintain the strength of the concrete slab. The picture below shows workers just starting this process by installing the scaffolding that with hold up the entire assembly.

Support for hanging slab

And the wall continue to grow... (12/7/11)

The picture below illustrates the progress that has been made on the construction of the basement walls.  Approximately two thirds of the walls have been poured with just the west end to be completed.  As you can see the rebar for that end (closest to us in the picture) has been tied and they are starting to frame the assembly. 

Basement walls


Pouring Walls (11/7/11)

The crew started pumping the concrete for the south east section of the basement walls today.  In a day or two they will remove the wall forms, scrap off the concrete, re-oil the boards and reuse them to form a different section of the walls.

Wall pour

Foundation Pour Part II (11/2/11)

The concrete was poured/pumped for the last third of the foundation.  This picture shows a nice view of the southwest stairwell (on the right) and the "haunch" (center) - which is the area of the foundation that has more depth than the rest to support the load bearing walls and structural steel.  This picture was taken by David Seiflein (Pike Construction) from on top of Nixon Hall.

Pressure slab 2

"Buttoning up" the Walls... (10/26/11)

Rebar placement for reinforcement of the walls is progressing quickly and in some places the walls have been "buttoned up" with the placement of the inside wall form.

Buttoned walls

This picture shows how workers have
placed the inside wall form around the

Wall rebar

This is a side shot of the tied rebar
for a wall coming out toward the

The wall form system used here is called "fly form" which can be reused several times to form different wall sections.  The sections of plywood are oiled to be as waterproof as possible to prevent absorption of water from the concrete as it cures.  The forms need to be re-oiled between uses.

 And the Walls Begin to Grow.... (10/21/11)

Workers begin to "stand up wall form" which is the initial process for construction of the basement walls.  Next the steel workers will tie rebar (in a woven fashion as we saw for the reinforcement of the pressure slab but parallel to the wall form) on the inside of the form now visible.  Once they are done with the rebar the construction crew will "button up" the wall form by placing another section of plywood on the inner side of the wall.

Satanding wall form

Part I of the Foundation Pour (10/13/11)

 With a herculean effort on the part of many workers, about 2/3 of the basement foundation (the “pressure slab”) was poured in a 14 hour effort that ended after midnight just before it started to rain. While the “rod busters” were finishing the rebar tie at one end of the pour area, the pumpers started on the other. The last pumper was in the process of being washed out as the rain started. The rain would have interfered with the concrete pour (hence the push to get it done) but was terrific for “curing” the concrete; the [rain] water serves to help maintain an even temperature throughout the concrete slab while also preventing the concrete from drying out. So the three day rain right after the pour was ideal for strengthening our foundation. Kudos to those who help in this effort!

Pressure slab

Pressure Slab


Tying Rebar (10/11/11)

The "Rod Busters" have been very busy these last two weeks setting the steel reinforcing bars that will increase the tensile strength of the concrete foundation.  Looking like a complex weave of steel and wire, the rebar is placed so that it will be centered in the concrete.

Rebar rebar close up


A Tale of Two Boulders (9/21/11)

Early in the excavation of the Science Center basement a large boulder was unearthed. The Pike Construction Team, heeding the cries of the Department of Geology, put it in a corner by the SW gate where it will sit quietly until we can relocate it in the new Science Courtyard. What is fascinating is that the boulder by the Houghton entrance was also found in that field yet it was formed in a totally different environment. Geologists Jack Berkley and Gordon Baird took a look at the new boulder and Jack has written up the Tale of Two Boulders for our enlightenment. This story is a little too long to fit in the blog but DO take a look – it’s a very interesting story.

New Boulder found at site

The new boulder found in the south
field during excavation in August.

Houghton Boulder

The boulder found in the south field
in 1985

Concrete (9/13/11)Pumping Concrete

Concrete is a mixture of water, “aggregate”, portland cement and air in definite proportions. The aggregate is composed of a mixture of size-gradated particles ranging from sand to gravel and rocks and the composition of the aggregate is very important for the properties of the final concrete. Also important is the cement to water ratio since less water will increase the strength but will also decrease the “placeability” (ability to pour/pump and work the concrete). The key to concrete is the growth of cement crystals as the concrete “cures”. O.K., just a little chemistry here…. cement is made by grinding and heating (to ~3000oF) stuff like crushed limestone, marl (a stone rich in calcium carbonate and clay), shale, iron ore, clay and fly ash. The heating drives off any chemically bonded water and carbon dioxide. The end product is a marble like substance that is ground and added to gypsum. This powdered cement is composed many of calcium silicates (CaO and SiO2) and tricalcium aluminate and tetracalcium aluminoferrite [Yes Betty, I know I’m getting too technical here, but we are talking to scientists!]. The cement is the glue that holds the concrete together. Once the concrete is mixed with water, the calcium silicates begin to “hydrate” - to chemically react with the water to make new compounds with water bound to its structure. These new hydrates form crystals that bind together the entire concrete matrix during the curing process. Since the hydration process is exothermic (gives off heat) the concrete becomes hot and water is usually applied to the surface to keep the water in the mix from evaporating. It is rather interesting in that a rush of heat is produced when the concrete components are initially mixed followed by a “dormant” period of 1-3 hours where the temperature decreases – the concrete is quite fluid (“plastic”) at that time so it can be transported and poured or pumped. It is transported in rotating trucks to stir up the crystals so they don’t harden in a lump in the truck. Once poured, the concrete is left to cure and the crystal lattice forms. At that point the concrete will again slowly warm up to temperatures from 104 – 140oF and slowly cools down over a period of days to weeks During that time the concrete strength increases until it reaches its maximum strength at 14-28 days.

Waterproofing (9/13/11)Waterproofing

Work has begun laying down the waterproofing layer that will sit between the mud mat and the “pressure slab” (the 2’ rebar-reinforced concrete foundation).


Groundbreakings are FUN! (9/9/11)

The Groundbreaking was a wonderful way to celebrate the Science Center, our science programs and a new direction for the campus. The sun even came out


Shepherd Lawson talks with Fredonia College Council Chair Frank Pagano

Shoveling dirt at Groundbreaking

The official GroundBreaking - lots of dirt flying around!

Dr. Marletta at GroundbreakingDr. Michael Marletta ('73) talks about the opportunities that the new building will bring.

Mud Mat (9/9/11)

The Pike Construction people have made good progress pouring the “mud mat” which is a 3” layer of concrete that provides a smooth surface to place the waterproofing.

Mud mat application

 Geologists in the Hole!Geologists


Our faculty from the Department of Geology have been very excited to view the layers exposed by the excavation. Pictured here are Drs. Gordon Baird and Jack Berkley examining the till in the glacial layer. Jack will be working with me on a special blog about the geology below us soon – so stay tuned!

 Why did they do that?

I get all sorts of questions about what's happening on site which usually prompt me to wander out to find Jim Cullen or Sean Hoban (LeChase Construction Services) to get an explanation. Here are two examples:

Houghton gateWhy did they remove the road by the Houghton construction gate and replace it with rocks... if they're still going to drive over it, why not leave the road there?

Removing the paved road and replacing it with large rocks is part of the SWPPP (prounounced "swip" - StormWater Pollution Prevention Plan) compliance – the large rocks provide a wheel cleanout area where the dirt/mud on the truck wheels and undercarriage gets bounced off as the truck travels over the stabilized construction entry.


Plastic on benchesWhy did they cover the sides of the dig with plastic?

Remember that the sides of the dig are benched back as per OSHA rules to prevent cave-ins. The sides will remain exposed until the first floor is poured which will not be until the end of the semester. The first floor will be a stabilizing unit for the basement walls. Once it is cured, the exposed walls of the pit will be back filled. Since the pit walls will be exposed for such a long time, they have been covered to prevent erosion of the benches.


BIG Pipes 8/31/11

Storm Detention PipesA storm water detention system will be located to the south of the building to control storm water runoff from overburdening the storm sewers. If not managed, runoff can overflow drains and result in area flooding. This system will restrict the amount of rainwater that flows in the storm sewers and stores the excess in a system of large PVC pipes until the rain diminishes and the extra water can be released in a controlled manner into the drainage system. This system is composed of five sets of 130 foot long and 48 inch diameter pipe (!) connected to an extensive filtration system.  



Not Rippable Rock! 8/29/11Hole Ram

Our contractors hit bedrock above where we need to excavate for the foundation and found that the rock is not “rippable” – the teeth of the excavator bucket cannot scrape through the rock. Therefore, there have resorted to using a hole ram (see the attachment on this excavator) to bash through the rock so it then can be dug out.



Rock Anchor Installation 8/26/11
Conversation with Dave Seiflein (Pike Construction)

A Rock Anchor is used to bolt a structure to bedrock to prevent uplifting from water or frost. The rock anchors used in the Science Center are 30’ long steel rods enclosed in grout surrounded with PVC sheathing. The end is threaded so it can be bolted to the foundation. The pictures below show the air drill used to drill into the bedrock, insertion of a rock anchor into the grout filled hole and a completed rock anchor. There will be 52 rock anchors holding our building down.

 This is a fairly messy business as the air drill also releases water when engaged. This is to contain the fine rock particles that are generated during the drilling process. Without the water there would be considerable dust thrown into the site. This dust contains crystalline silica (a major component of sand and quartz) which when inhaled, can lead to a condition called silicosis which can be fatal. There is more information about Silicosis at the American Lung Association web site.

Air Drill  Installation of Rock Anchors 

Rock anchors

 Dewatering Wells 8/19/11

The dewatering wells are located around the parameter of the dig and are alternately piped to two settling tanks located to the NW corner of the site. Once particulates settle out, the water is decanted from the tank, filtered and then released into the storm sewer.

 Dewatering wells

Benching Back

OSHA regulations stipulate that open pit excavation must be “benched back” to protect workers from cave ins. You can see from the picture below that there is a bench back of 4’ for every 5’rise. This makes the excavation pit larger (by about 20’ in all dimension) than the actual footprint of the building.

 benching back

Recycling and Green Buildings

Part of our LEED Green Building plan is extensive recycling of all construction materials. Our waste management started when we were removing the old parking lots, sidewalks and lights. All of the ground material will be reused. The pavement materials will be ground up and used for fill, pavement aggregate and drainage material. Asphalt is removed and ground up and the millings are used to pave new roads. Trees and brush are made into mulch. The lights were carefully removed and will be reused at other locations on the campus.

Site Preparation, 7/29-8/1/11

They have started!! We have several excavators, bulldozers and dump trucks all working to remove the parking lots, sidewalks, lights and roads in the site and staging areas. All of the topsoil will be moved to the back of the staging area and seeded and enclosed with a silt fence (“envirofence” which is woven polypropylene yarn) to prevent erosion.

A similar material will be placed on the staging area which will be then covered with gravel recycled from under the parking lots and other campus projects. Soon they will begin to dig 10 feet down for the first excavation and to install the dewatering system.

site preparation

Construction Management -- a conversation with Jim Cullen, 7/29/8/1/11

I first heard about using construction managers (CM’s) at the Tradeline Academic Science Building Meeting in 2006. The session I attended raved about how a CM firm will keep a project moving along with few delays, conflicts and mistakes. Our CMs are Jim Cullen and Sean Hoban of LeChase Construction Services and they serve as consultants to Fredonia and the Construction Fund managing the project but not the contracts. Jim is responsible for all of the field work and Sean deals with all of the administrative business although they work closely on all aspects of the projects.

Construction Meeting, 7/12/11

I attended my first bimonthly construction meeting. It was an impressive meeting in that all parties were at the table – architects, engineers, geologists, and representatives from the construction, pumping and construction management (CM) firms in addition to individuals from Fredonia Facility Planning and the SUNY Construction Fund (SUCF). There was a lengthy and involved discussion and I was again impressed with the level of detail and documentation required and the professionalism of our consultants. All of the bimonthly construction meetings will be like this where the next actions and any problems are discussed thoroughly with all of the consultants.

 So, dewatering is the process of controlling ground water during a construction project – simple really; if you dig a big hole, it will fill with water. The problem with our site is that the test wells that were drilled this spring gave two different results making it uncertain as to what we’ll see once we start digging. One of the concerns is the potential for perched water [watch out – I’m about to teach you some geology!]. A perched aquifer is water that is located above the water table because it’s contained in an impermeable or semi- impermeable layer of rock and sediment (aquiclude or aquitard). The presence of perched water can be missed with test wells and if not accounted for can compromise the excavation walls and add cost and time to the project.  


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