Douglass Hall Update #3

12/1/1997

By now, you've undoubtedly noticed the work going on down in the pit next to The Hall. As this column progresses, I hope to document the progress of the construction site and deliver detailed reports on construction activities. Several weeks ago, I toured the site and was able to view the progress on the foundation. Therefore, I will focus on the foundations of the new building.

For the past two months, the construction workers are doing is laying the foundations for the new building. The caissons that were installed into the ground in September are what really holds the building up; these caissons go 50 feet through the ground and are embedded into the bedrock underneath. If you could fly over the construction site, you would notice that the bottom of the construction pit has several long grooves cut into it. These grooves intersect at the caissons to form a grid-like structure; the foundation fits into this grid. The purpose of this 'grid' is to distribute building stresses more evenly. When earthquakes occur, the grid acts like a surfboard; the energy of the wave is absorbed throughout the foundation, rather focusing on one side of the building. The structure of this particular building absorbs some of the energy coming from the rest of The Hall.

Caisson
If you can see deeper into the site, you probably have noticed a web of metal rods in the pit. These rods are called rebar; when concrete is poured, we have reinforced concrete. Reinforced concrete uses these steel rods in a manner similar to how humans use bones to hold themselves up. The steel rebar cage effectively locks the concrete inside so there is no movement of the concrete. The diagram at right illustrates the placement of the rebar inside the concrete columns. The grid of concrete that makes up the foundation is made of reinforced concrete constructed in a similar fashion. So far, the only work done inside The Hall is clearing out the furniture, wall coverings and paneling for construction preparations.

If you're wondering about the progress inside the construction fence, the concrete for the foundation was poured during the first week of November. When the foundation was complete, the steel frame of the new building was put in. Concrete pouring continues until around the 20th of November; after that, the steel frame of the new building will go up.

The construction manager would like to thank the Menlo student body for not climbing over the fence to retrieve lost articles. He would also like to request that you do not lean on the fence. Menlo would also like to note that the Douglass Hall underwent a name change last year; it is now called "The Hall."

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