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Morning Sun
  • Art under construction

  • The towering walls that will form the bones of Pittsburg State University’s Center for the Arts are taking shape quickly following a few months worth of groundwork to prepare the site for this step.

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    The towering walls that will form the bones of Pittsburg State University’s Center for the Arts are taking shape quickly following a few months worth of groundwork to prepare the site for this step.

    Additionally, recent rains have put the groundwork and drainage systems to the test and the work has proven successful.

    Paul Stewart, Pittsburg State’s facilities planning director, said the vertical work has made a very visible impression from the road, but concrete has been going in throughout most of this year.

    “From Ford Street or Homer you couldn’t see how much work was going on in the pit level,” Stewart said. “Everything was put in place preparing for these tilt-up panels.”

    He said the technical name for the building’s type of construction isn’t actually tilt-up panels, which often are poured on site and then tilted up, but that the process is similar and involves using pre-poured forms that then are put into place on site.

    He said at this point enough dirt work has been done that the more than 225 piers put in place are below ground, but they form the foundation for the walls that now tower over the area.

    “This is the focus right now. To get these up,” he said.

    Stewart also clarified that the walls currently on display are the inside structure only.

    “You will not see any of this when the building is complete,” he said.

    Within the site, the scope of the project becomes even more impressive, as a deep pit, which is not visible from the surrounding roadways, opens up where the ventilation systems and sub-floor equipment will be.

    The pit is deeper than the area where orchestras eventually will be housed and also encompasses equipment that will allow the stage to be used in versatile ways and will provide the highest technology in heating and air so as to not interfere with performance.

    Stewart said traditional ductwork will be used throughout most of the building, but the large performance area will be served by a low-velocity heating and cooling system that will have no fan noise and filter out the air.

    Page 2 of 3 - “The pit area probably goes down another 20 feet, maybe more,” Stewart said.

    The concrete walls extend well above the pit and are permanently placed one by one, but remain supported by a bracing system that was designed and approved by a structural engineer.

    They will be braced until eventually they are linked by additional structure and by the roof.

    “The roof would be considered a diaphragm to hold the structure together,” Stewart said.

    As the Center for the Arts structure comes together, Stewart said it is interesting to note the two-wall system that help make the Center a state-of-the-art facility, and he said this also aids in the acoustics, as do light and sound locks between double doors that provide access to performing arts spaces.

    The walls that currently can be seen surround the stage and pit area, and Stewart said the eventual layout of the building will feature art gallery and rehearsal hall extensions just off Ford, and a 250-seat smaller performance space that extends toward the Weede Physical Education Building.

    Stewart said walls will continue to go up during the summer, and a second set will look like a second building as the smaller performance space is constructed, but the two eventually will be connected.

    “In the next several months you’ll start seeing slab on grade,” Stewart said, adding that the tennis courts will be closed as of Aug. 1 and site work continues on the northeast corner.

    “Right now, our contract date is Aug. 2014,” he said, adding that he has been very pleased with the work of Crossland Construction.

    “I’m really impressed with my project manager and my superintendent on this project,” he said.”

    The floor plan for the Center for the Arts was developed in conjunction with a number of specialized consultants, as well as a team of faculty and students who gave input into the project.

    “It’s so specialized you have to have the specialty consultants for acoustical and theater,” Stewart said.

    Stewart said the arts building and many other projects are keeping him busy, but that is a good thing and enjoyable

    Page 3 of 3 - “I feel blessed that I lucked into so many projects,” he said.

    In addition to the Center for the Arts, this summer Pittsburg State University also is working on a number of other projects, including:

    – Renovations at Dillinger Hall

    – Masonry restoration and a new roof and doors at the physical plant

    – New office space at the chemistry department

    – New labs at Tyler Research Center

    – A new Student Success Center at Axe Library

    – The new indoor events center

    – Renovations on the mezzanine in the Weede

    – Future work on the Jack Overman Student Center

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