Since 1891, California Institute of Technology has produced some of the world's greatest discoveries in chemistry, physics and other disciplines. It has produced 31 Nobel winners with 32 awards, as well as dozens more scientific awards.
Now, to keep pace with technological advances, the 124-acre Southern California campus is constructing three new science buildings and renovating an old one. While Caltech's Nobel laureates and others are addressing abstract theories of nanotechnology and quantum physics, Paul Risko, project manager for Heery International, Inc., has more down-to-earth issues to tackle at Caltech.
"Getting the construction sites prepared on this compact campus ranges from asbestos containment and abatement to re-routing utilities, pedestrian and vehicle traffic, removal of trees — even making accommodations for bird species during construction. It's an ongoing challenge," he said.
The Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI) is located in a 1965-built campus facility. While surveying renovation work, asbestos was discovered in the building's floor tiles, ceiling panels and pipe insulation, and lead paint was found on the walls. These materials were found before work began. Heery had to delay the construction schedule while HazMat teams safely removed asbestos from the entire building — two months of full-time asbestos containment and abatement.
The Warren & Katharine Schlinger Laboratory for Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (CCE)
Automotive and pedestrian traffic were disrupted while a service road was rerouted to a new road and sidewalk area. A delivery entrance to an adjacent building had to be relocated, also.
Utilities there had to be moved, as well as a 42-inch diameter, 100-year-old storm drain that was placed in the footprint area of the new CCE building some 36 years ago for construction of an adjacent building. Its relocation to the east by 125 yards caused another challenge, as the new placement was beneath the graduation commencement site of Caltech and had to be in place, with grass on grade, in time for the June 13 ceremonies. The deadline was met early by the project team.
Heery oversaw the removal and on-campus relocation (by ValleyCrest Company) of multiple mature trees, including sycamore, oak, jacaranda, and other varieties. Some are still awaiting final placement at other sites.
"The relocation was highly coordinated so that it was completed prior to February, the beginning of bird nesting season," said Risko. "Otherwise, the trees would have had to be covered to prevent nesting."
"Also, some existing artwork — originally built in 1995 — had to be removed," Risko added. "As a city of Pasadena requirement, we had to get permission from the original artist prior to demolition. But we were also able to hire the same artist to build a new art piece that will be located near the site."
Completion for all the projects is scheduled for 2009.