World War II Museum Expansion

By Lisa Doyle | September 28, 2010

Satterfield & Pontikes Construction Group, LLC is in the middle of foundation work for a $42-million Theater-USO Complex and Canteen that will be part of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La. The construction is one of six new pavilions planned for the museum. A $300-million expansion is planned over several phases with expected completion in 2014. Once complete, the museum will be four times its current size.

Rendering of the World War II Museum Expansion. Architect for the expansion is Voorsanger Mathes, L.L.C., a partnership between New York architectural firm Voorsanger Architects P.L.C. and the New Orleans firm Mathes Brierre Architects.

"This is our pride and joy," commented Art Theriot, Vice President, Operations — Gulf Coast for Satterfield & Pontikes LLC, of the high profile project. The public works and commercial contractor helped reopen a number of Orleans Parish schools after Katrina. Other projects on the docket at this time for Satterfield & Pontikes include an $18-million office building for a major oil company, and an $18-million contract with St. Bernard Parish. "This is our largest project in New Orleans right now."

Construction began in January across the street from the current museum facility. Concrete Busters of Louisiana had demolished the majority of the buildings between Magazine Street, Andrew Higgens Boulevard, Camp Street, and Calliope Street, and removed Poeyfarre Street to make way for the expansion. Portions of the original buildings were preserved, including a fire station and a wall to one structurally unsound building. The wall will be incorporated into the design of the canteen.

In support of the expansion and the revitalization of the neighborhood, the major street improvements on MagazineStreet from St. Joseph to Callipe are also in the works. Resurfacing Magazine Street, installing brick sidewalks, historic lamp posts and lighted street trees, and moving power lines below ground are all planned for the future.

The 250-seat theater project will feature special effects, a 4-D multi-sensory experience and dimensional sound. "You've heard of an I-Max theater. This four-dimensional theater will be an I-Max with a scenery pit about 16 feet deep where elements that accompany the film will pop up." Theriot says one example is snowfall during the story of the Battle of the Bulge, which brings the screen to life.

The theater will premiere a signature cinematic presentation being created exclusively for the museum. The production, entitled "Beyond all boundaries," is executive produced by Tom Hanks, a major supporter of the museum.

A wellpoint system, unique to the job site, will be used during the excavation of the theater pit to dewater the area at depths of 10 feet or more. Twenty wells, pipes driven 35 feet to 40 feet deep, will be injected by a pump with pressurized water through one pipe. Once filled, the pressure in the pipe will create a vacuum that will lift water out of the ground.

Concrete Busters of Louisiana removed buildings and Poeyfarre Street to make way for the expansion.

Wood and steel pilings are being driven 60 feet and 70 feet for the foundation work. Pilings are being driven with an American 5299 crane. A Vulcan No. 1 air hammer is being used to drive wood pilings, and a Vulcan No. 6 air hammer is driving steel pilings.

Wood pilings are being used to support a structural concrete slab on the project. "The structural concrete slab is 7 inches thick, and the wood piles will go 1 inch into the bottom of the slab," says Jim Opitz, senior project manager for Satterfield & Pontikes. A number of subcontractors will be used for various stages of the project, but Satterfield & Pontikes plans to self-perform the concrete work on the project.

The theater is projected to open summer 2009.