February 27, 2009
South – west – east: that’s the order of construction tasks for the three main towers, and construction is proceeding smoothly on all three.
The south tower now has a good number of concrete slabs in place, but the last of the slabs won’t be affixed to the structure until more materials have been delivered into the space. After all, it’s a lot easier to move large items into a building without solid walls.
The pre-cast slabs are made in a factory off site and can weigh anywhere from 1,600 pounds to 13,000 pounds. In spite of their considerable weight, they can still catch the wind if it rises above twenty miles per hour, so in windy conditions, slab placement must stop temporarily.
Fireproofing continues in the west tower, along with pouring the floor slabs. In the east tower, workers are working on the floor slab that’s on grade, meaning on the ground. This is both the most difficult and critical slab in the tower. It will be thicker than the slabs for other floors, and problems now could mean breakage over time. The difficulty lies in the fact that it’s poured over dirt and a compressed stone base, so it’s exposed to ground moisture. In contrast, the other floors have metal decking that functions like a giant tray. The concrete is poured into this decking at a particular thickness, and it’s a more controlled environment.
There is some steelwork still underway in the two-story structure that will house the hospital’s main entrance and admitting/registration areas. Altogether there will be 3,000 tons of steel in the new hospital, with 2,000 of those tons in the three main towers.
February 20, 2009
The south tower is the tower to watch this week, because workers are beginning to erect the large pre-cast concrete slabs that will make up the external covering of the tower. This skin has holes where the windows will be placed, but otherwise it provides our first glimpse of the appearance of the exterior of the new hospital.
Behind the south tower will be the emergency department complex, a one-story structure with a landing pad on top for the helicopter. Steel construction for the first half of this area is now underway.
The plastic sheeting that previously encased the south tower has moved on to the west tower so that workers can pour slabs for the floors and complete the fireproofing there. Moving to the east tower, the steel there has been erected, and workers are beginning to put metal decks in place that will serve as flooring until they’re able to pour the concrete slabs. Unlike the south tower, which has five floors with one below grade (underground), the east tower will have just four floors, all above grade. These floors include the future home of the Family Birthing Center and the women’s medical-surgical unit.
In addition, the steel for the main elevator complex has been erected. The elevator shafts have been completed as well, and our new elevators are on order.
February 6, 2009
Well, the plastic sheeting wrapped around the South tower is already starting to come down. That’s good news, actually, because it means that the concrete and fireproofing work in that tower has been completed.
Next up is the west tower, which will be wrapped up for the same reasons. Right now that tower has had about 90% of its steel work done. By the way, of the four cranes currently at the site, three of them are dedicated to erecting steel.
Another important part of the concrete work is mostly complete as well, and that’s the slab for the connector between Robinwood Medical Center and the new hospital. The connector will have a two-story section that connects to Robinwood and a single-story section that connects to the new hospital’s entrance. Steel work on the two-story section is now complete. Ultimately, the first floor of the connector will house the chapel and a number of outpatient treatment areas.
If you happen to drive by the construction site, keep an eye out for large concrete panels being affixed to the outside of the South tower. This “skin” as it’s called will make up the exterior covering of the new hospital.
January 28, 2009
If you’ve driven by Robinwood Medical Center, you might wonder why part of the new construction appears to be gift-wrapped.
The South tower is, in fact, completely encased in plastic sheeting right now. It’s not some form of modern art; the plastic serves a very practical purpose. The wrapping allows the building to be heated, so that the temperature is high enough for concrete to be poured and to set properly. The higher temperature also means that workers will be able to apply fireproofing to the steel. While it’s not exactly balmy weather inside, the construction workers appreciate the warmer temperature and being sheltered from the wind.
The South tower has five floors, with the lowest level below grade. Concrete slabs have been poured for all five floors, and the building has stairs so that workers don’t have to climb ladders to move the fifteen feet from floor to floor.
The plastic will later have to be removed, but by insulating and heating the space, crews are able to keep the project moving forward.
August 8, 2008
Right now, the construction at Robinwood is all about the rock—bedrock. Efforts are focused on locating placements for and pouring the caissons, a type of foundation that is built on bedrock and can support particularly heavy weight.
Caissons are long concrete cylinders that are three to four feet wide and can be forty feet long or even longer. They’ll support the heaviest parts of the hospital, the towers. A total of 150 caissons will be needed for the hospital, and so far about thirty caissons have been poured, all for the south tower.
For stability and strength, it’s critical that caissons be placed on bedrock. In order to reach bedrock, the construction engineers are finding it necessary to drill through limestone—in places, as much as twenty feet of limestone.
Caisson holes are drilled using cylinders four feet across covered in teeth at the bottom. As the drill rotates, the teeth dig into the limestone.
The original construction plans called for using three drilling rigs. However, because of the drilling difficulties, now four drills are being used, with plans to add a fifth.
Once the caissons are in place, then the foundation pieces will be joined together and steel construction will begin.
The time has also come for hospital administration to begin thinking about an alternate use for the current hospital site. The hospital is working with the city, county, and state to determine if an urgent care center or an emergency department would be appropriate in downtown Hagerstown. The state will make the final decision on the type of facility.