Reaching new heights at the Albert Sherman Center

By Michael Cohen

UMass Medical School Communications

February 03, 2011

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Since the first piece of steel rose on the Albert Sherman Center (ASC) site on Dec. 22, nearly 1,000 pieces have followed, marking a brisk pace of 49 pieces of structural steel erected on the site each working day. 

Steel on the upper section of the building, near the corner of Plantation Street and North Road, has now reached the sixth floor of the ASC. “We’ve had some challenges with the weather, but we are working hard to stay on schedule,” said Jason Lansberry, a project manager at Berry, the construction manager for the ASC. 

After reaching the sixth floor of the upper section, the 300-foot-tall Manitowoc crane handling the steel rolled to the east to begin placing beams and columns on the lower portion of the building. This shift was made so the iron workers could start welding and other detailing work on the steel now in place on the upper sector of the building.

While every piece of steel in the building is bolted into place, nearly half of those connections are also welded for additional strength and stability. The welding is a tightly controlled process, with each weld inspected both visually and with an ultrasonic scan to make sure it is properly done. 

Other processes, like placing the steel decking that will eventually support the poured concrete floors of the building, and installing crossbeams and braces within the steel framework, will also continue on the upper portion of the building before the steel extends up higher. 

Overall, as of the end of January, 992 pieces of steel have been placed at the ASC—that’s nearly 15 percent of the 6,664 pieces that will be used in the structure. 

While the steel continues to rise, the excavation team is digging deep on the southeastern corner of the site to build the tunnel that will link the ASC to the Medical School building. Toward that effort, some additional blasting is necessary to remove ledge. The blasting will be limited to two days, and will begin (weather permitting) on Friday, Feb 4, after 3:30 p.m., and continue on Saturday, Feb. 5, from 7:30 a.m.to 4 p.m. 

The areas involved were not included in last year’s blasting plan because pre-existing utility lines serving the campus needed to be relocated for construction to proceed. After those utility lines were relocated, the construction team evaluated how best to deal with the remaining rock removal. It was determined that a short round of blasting would be preferable to several weeks of hammering and chipping with large excavators that would otherwise be needed to remove the rock.