Week 101 (Laying the Bent Steel Beam)

One fact of our construction process is this: everything is important.  The blocks on the 7th course depend on those in the 6th, and those in the 6th depend on the 5th, etc.  Nevertheless, there are days when something extraordinary happens, something that opens the door to the next major transformation of the project, and this week was special because we had one of those days.  This is the week that we laid the bent steel beam that defines the roof ridge of the Control Room.  Here is that profile from the West Elevation:

ControlRoomRoofProfile-detail

This beam has already perplexed a few who have seen it, so let me just explain a few details.

As with all the other roof profiles in this facility, the facets that make up this roof all follow a strict 5:12 roof pitch, and you can easily see the parallelism between the Music Room roof pitch and the right half of the bent steel beam (which is effectively the South facet of the Control Room roof).  The steel bends to a 5:24 pitch because that’s the angle at which the other two roof facets meet each other as they themselves follow the 60° splayed Southeast and Southwest walls of the Control Room.  The very long (almost 7′) overhang to the South of the Control Room is the trick for getting the all-important interior height inside the Control Room, and explains why we have the extra two courses of blocks on the South Wall.  When the rafters are up, in about a week, it will all make sense.

Now, let’s see how we got here, and the many other things that are happening in parallel.

The bent steel beam didn’t arrive until Thursday morning, but plenty was happening starting on Monday morning, with blocks up to the 10th course already grouted on the South side over the weekend:

AnnexOverviewCourse10

Here it is from the other side:

AnnexBlocksCourse10

By the next day the inner wythe was finished to match:

AnnexWindowCourse10

In the mean time, the framing crew took care of some details before disappearing into a private workshop to begin construction of the Music Room windows.  They started finishing the lower soffit by placing one board everywhere there were lookouts to nail to:

LowerSoffitUtilityCorner

all the way around:

LowerSoffitBooths

Here’s a detail of the finish work:

LowerSoffitCypressDetail

And they put top plates on the Control Room walls for the eventual placement of the bent steel beam and other rafters:

ControlRoomTopPlates

But while the masons stayed at the site building up the Annex walls, the carpentry team began building the windows off-site for the Music Room.

This is what the carpenters will be building in one of two lengths, 80″ for the eight North and South windows and 72″ for the eight windows facing East and West:

Music Room Window Section
Music Room Window Section

At approximately 250 lbs per window, that’s 2 tons of glass and wood just for the upper windows!  Anyway, here’s what it looks like to build one.  Here they are checking square:

WindowShop1

then wooden stops are placed to keep the glass tight against the neoprene:

WindowShop2

the stops are nailed into place:

WindowShop3

the window is placed on its side in preparation for getting the 2nd pane of glass.  The glass is so heavy it must be handled in its vertical orientation until it can be properly supported in other dimensions.

WindowShop4

Here’s the glass, in 1/2″ and 3/8″ sizes:

TemperedGlassMusic

and the secret to making a clean, transparent window:

GlassCleaners

After cleaning, the second pane is installed, and the window awaits its stops on the other side:

WindowShop5

One almost down, and several stacks (in the background) to go…

WindowShop6

Speaking of stops, here’s a stop tool (i.e., a tool for measuring the proper distance for placing stops):

WindowStopGuide

Here are some of the many pieces of wood that have been cut to become part of the windows.  While the main frame is made from four pieces of nicely varnished marine-grade plywood (which is beautiful by itself), there are another 20 pieces of cypress to maintain acoustic isolation via three neoprene-suspended barriers (one at the 1/2″ glass, one in the middle of the window, and one at the 3/8″ glass).  Here is some of that wood:

WindowTrim

and some more:

WindowTrim2

Now…did you forget that this is just a detour from the Main Event?

The bent steel beam arrived on Thursday, and that meant another visit from the crane:

CraneAndBentSteel1

Kevin prepares to fly his kite:

BentSteelOnTruck

The landing zone (aka a steel flange) is prepared:

SteelFlange

The bent steel is ready to fly:

BentSteelReadyToFly

And it’s up!

BentSteelInFlight1

Flying high:

BentSteelInFlight2

And coming in for a landing:

BentSteelInLanding

And now in place on the flange:

BentSteelAttachedToFlange

While the beam is now attached to its flange, it still needs to be anchored to the back of the building.  The plan for attachment is to weld a plate to the steel and then anchor the plate down into the concrete wythes.  The coupling plate is measured and then sent off to be fire-cut.  Here’s the oxyacetylene torch getting lit:

FlameOn

And the fire-cutting begins:

FireCut1

And it goes pretty fast!  Here’s the moment before the top part is fully cut off:

FireCut2

Then its ground smooth for welding:

FinishingSteel

Now the beam and the plate will be aligned for arc-welding.  Here the steel guy is asking for the crane to go up a touch:

UpATouch

Then down a touch:

DownATouch

And then we’re ready to weld.  Cover your eyes!

ArcWelding1

And keep them covered!

ArcWelding2

Finally, it is done:

BentSteelInPlace

And another view, from a few steps back:

BentSteelInstalled

In the mean time the masons have another two courses up on the Annex, converging toward the window void:

AnnexWindowCourse12Outer

Suddenly, a truck shows up carrying the rafters, joists, and other materials for framing the Control Room roof:

ControlRoomRoofMaterials1

Wait!  Where’s the plywood?  Oh, there it is:

ControlRoomRoofMaterials2

That’s probably enough for now…next week should also be very exciting!

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