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Our Expansion and Renovation Update Blog

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Sept. 30, 2013

Progress on a Porch, and an Elevator in Pieces

Shown above, limestone trim started going up on the porch for a new addition on Monday. Note the pre-drilled slots in the stone; a welder followed right behind to attach custom-cut braces.

Elsewhere today, our new elevator is here, though it's currently in pieces in our theatre lobby. It arrived via a nifty tractor-trailer, as the trailer walls accordioned back so the elevator could be forklifted off the side.

Also Monday, we were teasing the duct insulators about leaving a mess behind, we found something scribbled on a stucco brown coat (and we have no idea what it means), and we're really grateful for all our talented electricians. They have to make sense of ceilings such as this.

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Sept. 27, 2013

Ending the Week With a "Thank You Friday"

Deadlines are looming, pressure is rising, workdays are lengthening, and all in all, we just can't thank our hard-working crew enough for all their efforts on our behalf. It was a good week of progress, so let's toast:

• The guys wrangling concrete booms and those installing the ceilings
• The folks hanging and taping sheetrock and the people running new ductwork
• The floor installers and the followers of the laser level
• The pipefitters, the wiring guys, and even the fellow assigned to an overlooked item on the demolition list

Thanks to all, and we'll see you on Monday.

Shown at top, before the new flooring was laid in the new glass wing, all the subfloor edges were sanded for a perfectly level base.

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Sept. 25, 2013

Once Again, a Mix of High-Tech and Muscle

This project has seen the use of lasers and ground-penetrating radars and all kinds of state-of-the-art tools, and yet there are still times when it comes down to humans working hard. "It will always be that way," a crewmember said Wednesday. "There are just some things a machine can't do."

This time around it was a case of equipment in an out-of-the-way place that needed a concrete pad for a base. So the mix truck and concrete pump pulled up in the yard. The concrete was pumped over the wall and across the roof to a waiting wheelbarrow. Shown above, the final hurdle—lifting that 300-pound load up a flight of steps so it could be shoveled into place at its final destination.

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Sept. 24, 2013

Flexibility is Crucial as the Pace Picks Back Up

Inside our building Tuesday, we saw some crews start working their first extended hours, something we'll likely see more of as we approach the construction deadline. Amidst the hustle and bustle of plumbers, drywall hangers, and electricians, we also found this scene of duct installers working 15 feet of progress at a time.

From the outside, we present two examples of adapting to change. Shown above, when a new porch addition landed midway in an old blocked up window, it was time to adapt. We'll power-chisel off the trim and install new limestone for a seamless match. Shown below, a mismatch in plans meant a set of roof supports were two inches off. By the end of the day, they weren't. Great work, fellas, and thanks.

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Sept. 23, 2013

A Fairly Quiet Monday on the Job Site

In a big complex project such as this, fits and starts are pretty common. Workers can be waiting on material deliveries, inspections, updated drawings, weather, back-on-site subcontractors—all kinds of things. As one of the crew likes to say: "This ain't no kitchen remodel."

So while it wasn't a slamming, banging day, there's still plenty of drywall to finish, as shown above. There are electricians seemingly everywhere making sense of miles of wire. A metal fabricator set up shop right outside our front door, and in a building full of doorways covered in plastic to keep the dust from travelling, well, sometimes that's exactly where you need to be working.

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Sept. 19, 2013

From Spaceships to Nearing a Major Milestone—100 More Days of Construction

Shown above, a scene from Wednesday morning. That contrail above the cloud (click to enlarge) is a Cygnus spacecraft atop an Antares rocket and it's soaring over the Museum. It has nothing to do with renovation or expansion, but we can't pass up a unique moment.

As of today there are 102 days left in the calendar year, which means, subtracting Thanksgiving and Christmas, we're 100 days away from our construction deadline. The schedule is tight but folks are committed and that's why the place is absolutely buzzing. From steelworkers to electricians, from people taping drywall to folks installing fire-supression systems or doorway lintels, there's a feeling growing, an intensity picking up, as the weather starts turning cool. And shown below, plaster restoration around new doorways off Huber Court.

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Sept. 16, 2013

Lots Going On, But The Jack Hole Grabs The Headline

Pace is picking up around here. The week started with another air handler getting cut out, some stripes on the new parking lot, and walls going up everywhere. We saw the limestone team double-check the plans and start making adjustments measured in flying dust. We saw steel work on the loading dock porch and we got our first photograph of the most photo-elusive woker on the site. "You finally got Sasquatch," said the man holding the flashlight in the photo.

But as shown above, Monday's headline was the jack hole for the new elevator. There are two types of elevators, starting with those that use cables and work via machinery mounted from above. We don't have the ceiling space for that, so we're using the second type, a hydraulic elevator, and that meant boring a 30+ foot hole through the floor for the hydraulic piston.

The crew, used to drilling through bedrock, made short work of the swampy silt under our building. They erected an outdoor unit—visualize oil rig roughnecks at work—inside the elevator shaft and started pounding big metal pipes into the depths. As soon as one went down, another was welded on top, and driven in again. The final phase—pumping up the muck—created a little indoor geyser and a big stink. The final pump-out is scheduled for Tuesday. Shown below, the final welding touches on a roof corner.

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Sept. 13, 2013

It Took a While to Figure Out, but the Job is Flying Now

This picture shows what was going to be a simple task—convert a pedestrian bridge into a wall-to-wall floor to expand gallery space. Thing is, once walls got peeled back, all the existing structural steel was running the wrong way, and it took architects and engineers seven iterations to put together an acceptable plan of attack. So shown above, big steel beams are going in, along with various ledges and strong steel supports all cut to fit. If you work in our Education Department, this picture and this picture show what was causing all the noise on the other side of your office wall.

So as we close the week with our usual Friday thank you to everyone on the crew, we present this picture of a laser level in action, and for those keeping track of whether the job site is dusty or muddy, check out the windshield of the crane truck. And shown below, that's a capital going atop a newly installed porch column.

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Sept. 12, 2013

Busy Week = Lots of Pictures

Shown at right, we're essentially building a bridge inside a hallway, and we'll discuss this project at length in subsequent posts. Now, elsewhere around the project:

• A milestone in the new glass wing, as you can now see new drywall on the ceiling. That made for a happy crew and got us another step closer to no longer seeing walls that look like this.

Window tinting has begun in the old Ricau Gallery. The glass created such a greenhouse effect, on day two the crew put a tarp over the glass outside for shade.

• Two things never to be seen again. This stance atop the new elevator shaft with a view into the mechanical towers is now blocked by a ceiling. This is the last picture taken by leaning out a new second-story window. The glazier has finished installing all the glass.

• The Chrysler staff, used to seeing color samples on the loading dock, enjoyed a hard hat tour this week.

• Lunchtime provides a chance for any climbers on the crew to remove their safety harnesses. Outside, it's easy to leave your hard hat on the fence.

• From the high ceilings of the modern art galleries to the newly insulated ductwork, it's easy to see people are concentrating and working hard.

• And finally, shown below, the columns have been installed for the porch on the north addition. Steelworkers will follow soon with trusses and beams.

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Sept. 10, 2013

A Tip of the Hat to Robert Capa

Robert Capa went down in history as one of the greatest photojournalists ever, but among photographers today, he's most remembered for the single best bit of picture-taking advice ever. Shown above, an electrician works in the tiny space between the drop-ceiling frame below and air ducts above; shown below is a welder inside our new elevator shaft. So what do these pictures have to do with Capa's dictum? "If you're pictures aren't good enough," he said, "you're not close enough." Click either frame to enlarge.

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Sept. 9, 2013

Heating Up—Both in the Weather and in Progress on the Job

An interesting Monday, from the sparks flying in an elevator shaft, shown above, to seven different things going on in a single new addition. The highlight was the new roof going up on the southern addition. Panels were hoisted with the help of a Lull, then screwed into the steel frame below. The decking crew was moving so fast, the truss crew had to hustle to finish the final corner trusses in time. By the end of the day, the ironworkers were attaching a metal support for the final limestone trim.

Elsewhere around the building if you peeked into the Contemporary and Modern Art gallery, you could see walls filling in as studs were covered with plywood, and peeking inside the new glass wing, you could see the drywall is close to being paintable. And shown below, a sneak peek at the new flooring for the glass galleries.

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Sept. 6, 2013

Thanks to the Crew, and Thanks for the Science Lesson

Shown above, that red wedge is what's known as a flowhead balometer. It measures air flow in cubic feet per minute and it was being used this week to balance the air conditioning in what will be our new glass galleries. The testers reported plenty of cool air coming from our newly installed HVAC systems (two stories above) and they tweaked yards and yards of ductwork to balance the breeze.

Also in the glass galleries this week, lots of activity above the ceiling line as electricians wired up circuits in preparation for a key procedural inspection. Instead of pictures of people with hidden heads, here's what it looked like from their perspective.

On Fridays, we like to thank all those who have worked so hard on our behalf, from stucco workers spotted in Styrofoam dust to the guys reworking the back parking lot. At some point, this blog will be about the Museum and the art. At this point, it's more about the people working hard. They deserve the recognition.

And finally, shown below is a view of what we hope is the final retouching on our new elevator. It's the most bedeviled and behind-schedule item on our entire construction schedule, and it will be a wonderful hurdle to clear as we enter our last four months of construction.

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Sept. 4, 2013

Ideas Inside, Improvements Outside. A Day Marked by Porcelain and Concrete

Shown above, a planning meeting on the new porcelain gallery to be located outside the Kaufman Theatre. From left, our special consultant, Letitia (Tish) Roberts, a long-time Sotheby's porcelain expert; our Interpretation Manager, Seth; board member Linda Kaufman, and Education Director Anne. After spending hours in conference room discussions, they moved to the Education Workshop to start assembling case mockups, shown above. When questions came up, staffers moved fast.

Outside Wednesday, there was a big step in a key component of our renovation—new accessibility ramps serving the front door. These concrete forms featured both a curve and a gradient, and the crew made it all look easy. After the forms had a final check, after the first pour had settled, after finishers had done their magic, there was still time for fun and mugging for the camera. The crew was wrapping up the cleanup right at quitting time. Shown below: the business end of the concrete mixer.

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Sept. 3, 2013

Keeping an Eye on What's Going on Behind the Construction Fence

Catching up on all the action wrapped around a long holiday weekend:

• On the new exteriors, what's not covered in limestone will be covered with stucco. What starts with a sealant and a foam barrier looks like a big job on a big wall. Next a brown coat precedes the final color coat. Tuesday the brown coat textures included the shadows of the workers.

• In other exterior activity, the first window frames are in, there's always plenty of dust kicked up when mortar is being loaded into the mixers, and work has begun on the new accessibility ramps for the front door.

• On the inside, when construction types are meeting with the boss, there's always a hard hat nearby. In the flurry of activity in the glass galleries, finishing work is going on simultaneously with wiring and HVAC installation, and on the outer walls of the new additions, insulation goes up steadily. All the case frames are now in place in our non-Western galleries wing. A key passageway in that area is framed by a beam that's a long story that we'll save for another day.