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Glass Covered Center to Be Campus Landmark

Fri March 16, 2012 - Midwest Edition

After a year of construction on a small, outside corner of their campus, students, staff and visitors of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., are seeing the school’s new Carol Young Anderson and Dennis L. Anderson Student Center take shape.

Named in honor of the Anderson’s, major benefactors for the project, the new, three story 133,170 sq. ft. (12,385 sq m) student center will be stationed on Snelling Avenue, one of St. Paul’s busiest arterials. With a three story, curved, glass covered facade facing outward, university officials are marking the new student center as a “welcoming face” to the urban community and a “landmark” for the university.

It will be the official entrance to the campus and a “natural gathering place that will bring a new dimension to university life,” according to the Hamline University web site.

Architectural drawings show the glass covered facade of the main entrance reaching to the third story roof that will radiate a warm glow in the night from its’ interior lighting while the windows sparkle in the day’s sunshine to “help bring the outside in” according to university officials and

Hamline University contracted with Shepley Bulfinch, a full service architectural and design firm out of Boston, Mass., to design the building.

McGough Construction based in Roseville, Minn., won the contract to build the new student center with a $30 million bid. The company has a rich history dating back to mid- nineteenth century Ireland and is now in its fifth generation of family ownership. It is a full service real estate and construction firm.

Construction is on schedule and “we’re now into the interior framing phase so we have all the interior finishes, all the equipment to put in yet,” according to Rick Steinberger, McGough construction superintendent.

“The skin of the building is all buttoned up and water tight, but the balance of the skin material has to go on which includes the zinc panels, the terracotta and curtain wall,” added Dan Malecha, McGough Senior Project Manager.

When students and staff return to the university campus in late summer, they will see and use a building dominated by the glass and terracotta covered walls. The glass covered facade facing Snelling Avenue will serve as the main entrance into the building while a similar, glass covered facade facing the main campus grounds at the opposite corner will be a convenient entrance for students and staff.

The main level, which will be open from one entrance to the other, will feature sit down social areas with soft furniture, computer dens, a coffee shop and convenience store, just a “real nice space to gather in,” said Steinberger.

The second floor will primarily hold the food service department for the campus and includes the kitchen , the servory and sit down dining room. The third floor features meeting rooms, student organization offices, flexible event space and the building’s heating and mechanical room.

Three ceiling windows will radiate more daylight into the student center and downward to the first floor gathering areas.

A two story underground parking ramp with a capacity for 110 vehicles anchors the new student center and adds much needed parking to the campus.

With a long time commitment to a clean environment, the glass dominated student center brings natural day light into to the building to supplement its interior lighting. Other environmental features include the use of sustainable design and operational strategies, a green roof on the third floor terrace and solar panels on the building’s south side.

Even trees removed from the green space to make way for the building became part of the university’s commitment to the environment. Working with people from Wood From the Hood, an environmental preservation non-profit based in Minneapolis, craftsmen are designing and making furniture for the new center from much of the harvested wood.

When excavation crews from Bolander and Sons Construction based in St. Paul, Minn., arrived on the site early last March to dig the huge pit that would become the underground parking ramp, they faced a site covered with nearly 3 ft. (1 m) of snow dumped on it from one of Minnesota’s harshest winters in recent years.

The snow covered, still frozen grounds did not seem to slow Bolander crews though. With two Cat backhoes, a Komatsu backhoe and a couple of Cat dozers, Bolander heavy equipment operators maneuvering in a very tight construction site and battling more moisture from wet, spring rains dug a 229 ft. (70 m) by 124 ft. (38 m) pit 30 ft. (9 m) deep within two months.

Bolander workers had the granular soil to thank for the easy digging. The good soil conditions absorbed all the moisture from the snow melt and rain to prevent flooding or pooling of water making pumping unnecessary during the excavation phase of the construction, Steinberger noted.

It was basically a “dig and haul” operation Steinberger said with Bolander crews digging and dumping approximately 45,000 cu. yds. (34,425) of material from the pit into over 3,000 trucks to haul it away.

With a total estimate of 4,200 trucks hauling out and delivering material, the tight site and geographical layout also called for careful planning of the trucking and delivery operations, Steinberger said.

The west wall of the building sits within yards of Snelling Avenue, a four lane arterial carrying an ADT of 33,000. The south wall borders Englewood Avenue, a residential street, again with little room to spare within the construction site and a major access point for pedestrian and vehicular traffic to the campus. The other two sides face campus grounds and another campus building just north of the construction site.

Further complicating traffic control a bit, a gas station sits directly across from the new student center and required constant access for customers driving off of Snelling Avenue.

Working with the city of St. Paul, Steinberger worked out a plan to maintain traffic and access to the gas station and university campus grounds during most of the construction.

“We’re basically property line to property line here with the open pit. There is virtually no drive lane around the outside perimeter of the hole,” Steinberger explained. “So, we had to have a driveway at the far end of the construction site for in and out traffic."

“It’s similar to doing a job downtown,” Malecha remarked.

The tight site conditions combined with the granular soil also required construction of a shoring wall on the west side of the pit and directly adjacent to the sidewalk on Snelling Avenue that is used heavily by students and staff.

“It was a piling and lagging type wall with H piling and board lagging,” Steinberger said. “It worked out very well and the soils held well. We did not have to do any tie backs underneath the street.”

With the weather suddenly turning around to a much dryer pattern through the summer months, crews completed construction of the two story, underground ramp without a hitch and where most of the estimated 4,400 cu. yds. (3,366 cu m) of concrete was poured. Another 327 tons (294 t) or nearly 83 mi. (133 km) of rebar was placed for the concrete portions of the building.

In August, iron workers from KMH Erectors Inc. based in Maple Plain, Minn., began lifting steel into place for the building’s skeleton using primarily Grove cranes.

Because the two, glass covered facades incorporate multiple curves into their design, Steinberger assigned one layout person to direct the lifting and connection operations of the steel beams and all the other work including the glazing, the masonry and carpentry.

“With the curved design of the steel skeleton, we really had to pay close attention to our layout points and our radii because there are multiple radii in the curved sections,” Steinberger explained. “Each one of the curves is not a single curve so we had one person address all of the curves and radius points.”

“Our layout guy supervised the foundation layout and brought all of our points consistently upward for all the iron workers to use and as all the finishes go on,” Steinberger further explained. “It’s the same set of points for all finishes from the same person.”

McGough staff estimate that ironworkers hung 560 tons (504 t) of steel to complete the buildings frame and 4,500 hours were used to fabricate the steel beams. Before the new year, KMH iron workers hung the last piece of steel beam into place.

The entry ramp running downward into the garage incorporated a design as well that is not always seen on a typical, square building, Steinberger added.

“Not only is the ramp resting on the concrete foundation, the east side of the ramp going into the garage is actually supported by some channel irons that hang from the structure of the first floor,” Steinberger remarked.

This design eliminated the need for support columns that would otherwise impede the designed flow of traffic within the garage itself, Malecha added.

It is also worth noting, Malecha said that designers with Shepley Bullfinch relied on a Autodesk Revit 3D design program to draw the blue prints for the new student center because of its complexity and shape.

“All the trades utilized that model starting with LeJuene Steel fabricators from Wisconsin to make sure the steel fit the foundation and that all the steel fit together,” Malecha explained.

Further, the 3D modeling program also helped forecast potential conflicts between building components including the structural elements and the internal utilities.

Now, as winter fades into early spring, workers are completing the exterior details of the building’s siding. Inside, tradesmen are installing the mechanical, heating, cooling and mechanical components while dry wall tradesmen recently started covering the internal walls.

The student center is scheduled to open in late August of this year just in time for the start of the fall semester.

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