Building Ascent: Chapter 1
Work on Ascent Innovation’s new campus at 108 E. Main Street began almost immediately after the groundbreaking ceremony on October 9, 2019. Scull Construction started preliminary work by establishing benchmarks, physical markers that are used to set elevations that enable dirt crews to get started, while waiting for the plans and building permits to come back. Thom Palm, a nineteen-year veteran of Scull Construction, serves as job site supervisor; his responsibilities included managing crews and subcontractors and working with architects and engineers.
Once the permits were received, the dirt contractor and site work specialist cleared dirt from the site and began digging holes for the pilings—198 eight-inch steel pipes that provide support for the structure. GRL Engineers ran a load test to determine that the piles needed to be driven 36 feet deep. A crew from Constructors Services then welded pile points—flat plates attached to the bottom of the piles to prevent them from filling up with dirt and water as they are driven into the ground—on, with 270,000 lbs. of bearing per pile. Once these were in place, concrete caps were poured on top to serve as a footing for the building.
“You’ve heard the saying, ‘a strong foundation makes a good building,’” Thom Palm said. “Well, if the foundation is not correct, you have problems from day one, so yeah...it’s crucial.”
Construction crews encountered inclement weather in October, with snow, wind, and cold arriving early. Temperatures are the biggest challenge, but in Rapid City bad weather rarely lasts more than a couple of days, and this proved to be the case. Thom had faith in his concrete guys, who are used to working in cold weather and knew how to deal with the temperatures. Besides, he thrives on a little adversity.
“I always prefer doing a challenging project,” he said. “It’s more interesting, and I think on this particular project, everyone’s aware of just how much of a difference it’s going to make to both this area specifically and to Rapid City in general. It’s an exciting project.”