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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Steel Arrives at the Library

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, June 17, 2018


Over the 45 years of my library career, I have served as the owner’s supervisor of various building construction projects.


I have always felt it important that someone have responsibility and oversight of projects involving public funds.


My first supervision project was 41 years ago.  Immediately after being hired, I was told that the central air conditioning system in the library was completely broken and the main “chiller unit” needed replaced, and had actually been ordered.


It was June, and of course the chiller unit arrived the first week of November after the cooling season was over.


In addition, the truck delivering this huge piece of equipment struck 2 cars in the library parking lot requiring insurance notification, and it was found that a valve in the new unit was damaged by the accident and would need replaced.


In the meantime, I read about air conditioning and how a chiller unit works as part of the system.


In the spring, the unit was installed and connected to the system, and A/C was available the next year.


I have also supervised a number of other heating and air conditioning projects in libraries, but the largest oversight before the Main Library Project was the two-part construction of the Schiappa Branch Library in 1986 and 1992.


That was unique with the foundation design requiring 119 concrete caissons to support the building in the former strip mined area.


The Toronto and Dillonvale libraries were both new buildings, while the Tiltonsville and Adena libraries were renovations of existing buildings.


During the design phase (over 3 years) of the Main Library renovation and addition project, I could tell that this project would be much more complex in several ways:


---Joining a 117 years old building with a brand, new building

---Making a Carnegie Library building ADA accessible with a myriad of floor levels

---Merging and replacing utilities that would serve both parts of the complex

---Meeting historical preservation requirements for a National Register of Historic Places structure


In addition, I later found that the foundation would require deep pilings similar to the Schiappa Branch, but different because they were addressing a gravel base with no rock layer within the scope of the surface.


Combined with the complex design addressing the need to access the 4 floor levels of the complex, I found that the steel design was also complicated to achieve the design.


This week the steel arrived in three trucks from the local fabricator, and five workers began the process of erecting the complicated mess of steel structure.


In the middle is the already-constructed elevator that makes ADA compliance a reality.


Every piece of steel was different, but the workers made the whole process seem simple.  No two pieces of steel were the same in format or length.


It looks to me like an “erector set” of my childhood, or perhaps “Lincoln logs.”  Each piece serves a purpose and was designed for a particular engineering need.


The Project is finally “out of the ground” according to the contractor, and people are slowing as they drive by on Slack Street to see the new view of the project.