Playing with Dirt


City and County Public Works departments are experts at designing horizontal construction projects. Think about anything that transports vehicles, people, and utility infrastructure (e.g. roads, sidewalks, bridges, utilities, street signs, etc.). Their staff engineers, surveyors, and maintenance crews are a talented bunch of people but there are occasions when the fork in the road leads to vertical construction. And when this occurs all signs point to the expertise of an architect.

As the architect we bring our talent for designing functional and aesthetically pleasing building that suits the Owner’s budget and schedule. More information regarding this projects’ program and goals for the Administration building can be found here and the Vehicle Maintenance building here

While designing the project on paper and computer is fun it’s a whole lot more fun once construction starts. And this is where we get to show Public Works Departments we’re just as good as playing in the dirt!

Because this site has been occupied by the department for so long there were a multitude of pole barns sprinkled throughout the site. The contractor’s first job was demolishing the existing building and paving to make way for the building pad and deep underground infrastructure installations.

This is a hydraulic dinosaur… it likes to eat buildings.

Once the buildings and paving are demo’d the concrete slab on grade gets prepped. This means scarifying the ground to get the soil to the condition required by the geotech report.

Because the construction site is an existing facility utilities were already onsite. However, due to the age of buildings the existing infrastructure was insufficient handle the load of the new buildings. Thus we had to bring water, sewer, storm drain, power, etc. in new pipes and conduits from the right-of-way.

Building foundations are excavated at the same time as utility trenching to help maintain the construction schedule.

Once anchor bolts and rebar cages are placed, the foundations (this is called a grade beam) get filled with concrete. The foundations will tie the building into the ground to resist lateral, vertical and uplift loads on the structure. See that random poke-o-dot pattern in the concrete - those are called keyways and help the slab-on-grade tie into the structural foundation (along with rebar)

Getting out of the dirt correctly is the most important part of constructing a building. Although the work can appear fairly straight forward each pipe, conduit, anchor bolt, grade beam, etc. has been designed to serve a specific task at a specific location within the building and site. If any one of these items is misplaced it can cause hang-ups going forward. The contractor on this project is very aware of this and has taken great measure to assure things are correct. We like contractors that pay attention!