Feb. 25, 2011
By Matt Winkeljohn
– A Friday visit to Rose Bowl . . . What would you call it about now? That’s not a field where the football team has practiced for decades, for sure . . . did not produce surprises unless you count sense of skewed scope.
Construction of the Brock Family Indoor Practice Facility has been under way for just shy of four weeks, and anyone thinking that there might be a large rectangular work space in the rough footprint of the building that will eventually stand there would be as shocked as I was.
There is nothing left of what was other than a huge pile of sand that previously was under both the grass and artificial surfaces. That will be re-used. All the turf is gone. All the grass is gone. Everything is scalped. There are two huge piles of sand, a massive crane, a very large pile of team handball-sized rock, a big machine that drills holes way down into the earth and some other equipment.
Jason McFadden, project manager for Barton Mallow Construction, was buoyant in mood.
“We’re actually, knock on wood, on schedule,” he said. “The weather in January didn’t really hurt us. We didn’t get formal approval from the city until really the first week in February. The weather in February has been our best friend. We’ve worked a lot of weekends just to take advantage of the weather because July 31st will be here before you know it.”
Foundation work began late last week, and a concrete truck was on site pouring when I was there. That work is beginning on the north side of the property, right next to the fence that separates the track from the Rose Bowl Fields, and there is a reason for that.
“The reason we’re doing that is we don’t have any access from the north,” McFadden said. “We’re using a ship-in-a-bottle approach, starting at the big end and funneling our way out.”
There’s only one serviceable entrance to the land being worked, and that’s at the northwest corner, coming down from Cherry Street, between the third-base side of the baseball field and that fancy building to the immediate west.
So foundations are being poured on the north side first, with some of that work going down as deep as 50 feet. That seemed awfully deep, so I asked. Anyone with knowledge that there is a massive sewer viaduct or something of that sort under the Tech campus might guess.
“The structure is designed so that if that sewer should ever fail, as it has in other areas of town, the structure stands,” McFadden said.
Methinks, given the history of infrastructure in Atlanta, that’s good thinking.
So why is everything gone? And I mean everything. Even the hill that previously ran along the west side of the fields has been dug up. A retaining wall is there now, almost up against the fence at the top of said hill.
Reason: to carve out even more space.
“The goal was to maximize the use of this land. The athletic department said this is the only time we’re going to be able to do this so let’s do it right,” McFadden said. “We pushed the building as far west as possible; we’re about 15 feet away from the street line. That allows us to maximize player safety. From the sideline [indoors] to where you would hit some sort of structure is about 30 feet.”
There’s a great reason, too, why even the grass field on the eastern edge of the property was taken up. This project calls for a 280,000-gallon cistern to be sunk over there. So the turf was taken up, the sand sub base pushed up into a massive pile (probably 15 or 20 feet high, and about as big around as a couple basketball courts).
“That’s going to capture water from our building and some nearby areas on campus,” McFadden said. “That will be enough water to irrigate, we hope, track, football and baseball in a two-week drought period. It has an inherent overflow into the city system.”
The goal is for foundation work to be finished within 10 days, preferably less. Steel will begin arriving next Thursday. Four more cranes are on the way.
Visually, there has not been as much tangible evidence of work over the past few weeks as there will be over the next several. Times are about to start changin’ and fast. The work will not be finished in time for spring practice, which begins late next month. But the goal is for the facility to be available by late July.
“The steel erection process is about a five- or six-week process, weather permitting,” McFadden said. “As the steel erection gets close to the [south] end, the other trades will begin to work, masonry, metal panels, electrical and mechanical and all of that stuff on the north end.”
There’s a lot of stuff on the site now. Depending on where you might choose to sit at a baseball game, you can see a lot of this. Keep an eye open. We’ll offer updates every month or so.
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