Building Ascent: Chapter 6

Building Ascent: Chapter 6
March 2020

Construction on the Ascent Innovation campus encountered an unexpected challenge when the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11. Despite the threat, work continued, albeit with stricter guidelines in place.

"With the COVID-19 outbreak we're dealing with, we've changed a few of our company policies," Kenan Miller, Assistant Superintendent with Scull Construction, explained. "We are taking it seriously and doing our part to minimize the spread."

While plumbers from Heil Mechanical did trench work and Freeman's Electric Service got some underground electrical put in, much of the progress in March involved masonry. Block was laid around the elevator shaft and stairwell, always the first things to go up during building construction. The process involves measuring every single block that is laid, squaring it up, and installing plates. "All our heights have got to be right on the money," said Mike Artlip with WD Masonry. "If you start out a building just right, it ends up just right."

Mike is a strong safety proponent, calling it the most important aspect on any construction site. "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link," he said. "Everybody has to do their job, whether it's a laborer, a mason, the foreman, [or] the make this work right." 

Also arriving at the job site in March was National Crane Steel Erectors, who proudly laid the first column for Ascent Innovation. Freddie Laflin, crane operator, knows firsthand the danger involved in his line of work. "I've been operating a crane for 37 years," he explained. "This is a dangerous job. You've got 2,000-pound beams hanging over your head all day. There's a lot of hazards."

The first day of work involved erecting the crane; on the second day, steel was delivered. The crew's first task was to unload it, shake it out on the ground, mark the centers, and erect the columns. Next, they tied in all the steel for the first floor before moving up to the second floor. Once all the steel is erected using a system that involves two bolts on each end, the crew goes back and stuff all the bolts and plumbs and torques the build-in before advancing to the next section of the building. 

Admiring the progress at month's end, Freddie Laflin declared, "It's coming together pretty good from my perspective. I'll be curious to see how the other half of it goes."


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