Noise, dust, progress: An update on the MARC

By Emily Smith

How’s the project going?Construction on the Macalester Athletic and Recreation Center has gone smoothly so far, according to project supervisors.

“I would say we’re right on schedule for an August 1, 2008, turnover,” Dustin Schwake, project manager for McGough Construction, said in an interview. Schwake described his role as coordinating financial and administrative details on the McGough end of the project.

“At this point, we’re on budget,” Schwake said. “The only change that would take place is if anything gets added.”

Fortunately for the project, neither this summer’s 90-degree-plus weather nor its period of heavy rain caused lost time.

Work began early in the morning to avoid the worst heat of the day. The rain made the site “soupy,” but its sandy soil drained quickly.

“I think Macalester’s doing an excellent job of talking to the departments and finding out what they want…in the design stage, which is crucial,” Brad Cole-man, project superintendent for McGough, said in an interview. Coleman has previously managed projects in which owners required major changes late in the construction process, which wastes time, resources and money.

Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?

Director of Facilities Management Mark Dickinson commented that landscape design for the area around the MARC has been unexpectedly challenging.

Dickinson frequently interacts with both McGough officials, who manage technical aspects of construction, and with Macalester administrators, who make decisions about aesthetic details.

“The design for the landscape is still being finalized,”?Dickinson said. “We’re trying to create a different feeling in the whole Shaw Field area.”

Before construction on the MARC began, the field was an open space that included the softball field. It has proved challenging to design a more park-like area with trees and landscaping that leaves room for green space for activities such as frisbee and events such as Springfest.

Officials on the McGough end of the project had a complaint that was practical, rather than aesthetic.

“It’s a large building and a nice site, but it’s a little congested,”?Schwake said. “We could have used more of Shaw?Field.”

Overall, the weather has been great, Schwake said, and there have been no lost-time injuries among workers. Schwake and Coleman commented that they have enjoyed working with Dickinson and Macalester Project Manager Kevin Maynard-both of whom said that McGough has managed the project well.

“Probably the biggest challenge is being on Snelling,” Schwake said, referring to state regulations that made it difficult to block a lane.

“Parking is the only negative,” Coleman said. There are currently 63 workers on the site, he said, and parking space is limited in the area around the construction site.—–

Have any changes been made since May?

In order to use space as efficiently as possible, offices will be located underneath the fieldhouse. A previous design placed the offices on the west side of the MARC.

“By all definitions, it’s a big building,” Dickinson said, “but it’s a smaller building than it would have been.”

This design change does not affect square footage, but will make the building more compact and energy-efficient. “There have been no major program changes at all,” Dickinson said. “There has been confirmation that the two multipurpose spaces will have the appropriate floor for dance.” Vice President for Student Affairs Laurie Hamre has been talking with Director of the Dance Program Becky Heist about the appropriate kind of floor for those rooms so they can also serve for dance classes, Dickinson said.

What’s next?

An immediate goal for the project is to enclose the building so that construction can continue in the winter with minimal use of temporary heat.

“The number one priority is to get the structural precast walls up,” Coleman said.

This step should give viewers a better idea of what the MARC will look like when it is complete.

“You’ll be able to see the definition of the entire complex,” Maynard said.

“One way to heat the building is to use Xcel Energy natural gas…but that’s very expensive,” Dickinson said. “We want to be able to heat it with our [heating plant’s] steam…If the roof gets on and the walls are up…they can do a better job of temporary heat.”

Coleman and Maynard concurred that this goal will be accomplished by the end of the month. The structural precast walls should be up in the next week, and roof trusses will follow by mid to late September.

The MARC so far, by the numbers:

96,000 bricks will be used in the construction of the building.

On July 31, 652 yards of concrete were poured. It took 24 people six hours to complete.

The structure is made up of 347 precast panels that took 220 loads to bring to campus.

2516 cubic yards of concrete were used to create these panels-enough concrete to pour a three-feet wide sidewalk over 14 miles.

The total weight of the panels is just over ten million pounds.

The largest precast piece is one foot thick, ten feet wide, and 61 feet tall. It weighs in at 91,500 pounds.

Source: McGough Construction