Construction Update 11/30/2020

Art in the New Tower

In the basement and sub-basement of the new tower, there are two lengthy corridors along which chemistry-based artworks are to be installed. The design of this corridor art has just been finalized. In the basement, a series of eight photos will show the reaction of a copper penny with concentrated nitric acid. In the sub-basement, there will be a series of seven photos of chemical flame tests. In both cases there is a plaque describing the art and providing QR-code access to a website with more details. Each photograph also has its own caption. Setups for the demonstrations and photos were by Jim Maynard, Jerry Jacobsen, and John Moore. John also wrote the descriptions and captions. The art design was by Whitney Wexler of Ballinger. The small photos here barely do justice to what will be eight-foot-high photos gracing the two corridors.

Top photo shows art for the basement corridor in the new tower, which features a reaction of a copper penny from right to left. The bottom photo shows art for the sub-basement corridor shows several flame tests.

New Tower

Visible progress! The exterior of the new tower continues to look better and better. During the past two weeks decorative granite facing has been installed on the east side and is clearly visible from Mills Street. Also, terra cotta decorative panels have been installed on the south side of the tower and can be seen from the loading dock area. Work continues on the portico and entryway at the north-east corner of the tower at the corner of Mills Street and University Avenue. We expect even more progress on the exterior in the next few weeks.

The left photo shows scaffolding that supported workers installing granite panels along the east side of the tower. The right photo shows after the removal of the scaffolding, the decorative granite panels enhance the exterior of the building.

Inside the tower there is also much progress. Side panels and handrails are being installed along stairways. Floors have been prepared for the installation of terrazzo. Plasterboard walls are being installed and painted. Labs are being enclosed and made ready for casework to be installed. Ventilation ducts, electric conduits, and plumbing are going into floors and ceilings. Each week brings us closer to a completed building.

The left photo displays side panels and handrails that have been installed on the stairway leading from the Information Commons down the first floor. The right photo shows the monumental staircase and other areas that are prepared for installation of terrazzo flooring.

Fire Protection

There are fire-protection crews working in Daniels and Mathews. Here is a schedule of activities:


Please do not schedule hazardous experimentation on this day. In case of emergency, dial 911.

The contractor will be monitoring the building (fire watch) during the time that the fire alarm system is disabled.  You may expect to see a member of the crew from Staff Electric circulating through the building as they conduct the fire watch.

All ventilation systems and normal power circuits will remain fully functional during these activities.

30-Nov – 22-Dec         Floor SB Mathews building – installation of fire sprinklers and fire alarm

This notice is just FYI.  There are no occupied spaces on Floor SB Mathews.  Crews will work around all materials stored in this area.

The blue print of the building.

30 Nov-21 Dec  Installation of fire doors between Mathews and Daniels, floors B through 7

The floor plant at the right highlights corridors affected by this work, which will often involve simultaneous activities on several floors. The work will complicate travel between Mathews and Daniels as well as access to elevators on floors where construction is in progress. You might have to go up or down stairs to travel from Mathews to Daniels or vice versa. These circumstances may disrupt the sequence of ‘up’ and ‘down’ stairwells.  If you need to use a stairwell in the ‘wrong’ direction, step aside on a landing if you encounter another individual moving in the opposite direction. Installation of these fire doors between Mathews and Daniels will improve fire safety and also increase the maximum allowable quantities (MAQs) of flammables and other hazardous materials in our building complex.

The Facilities Committee does not feel that it is necessary to close any portion of the building complex for these fire-protection activities. Each individual, of course, is free to make their own decision about whether or not they wish to work in the building when construction is occurring in their area. Con­struction activities typically begin at approximately 6:00-7:00 am and are completed by ca. 3:00-3:30 pm.

Wang lab renovation project (Floor 2, Mathews, north side) begins 30 Nov.

During this construction project restroom 2243 has been designated for the exclusive use of the contractors. There will be occasional work on Floor 1, Mathews, north side, at the ceiling level.

Two-week shutdown in late January 2021   

Exact dates for this work are not yet known but it will require the Daniels building to be unoccupied for two weeks because there will be no air supply and exhaust must necessarily be minimized to maintain normal air pressure in the building. To minimize the number of shutdowns engendered by construction, the facilities committee has worked hard to consolidate many activities that would otherwise require separate shutdowns into this two-week period. Among these are installation of fire sprinklers and fire alarm, replacement of internet cables, and other construction activities in the Daniels sub-basement laboratory and shop areas.

The supply-air shutdown is a major step in the “heart-lung transplant” the chemistry complex is undergoing. Ventilation will be improved in all buildings except Shain tower by utilizing new equipment on the ninth and tenth floors of the new tower. Dates of the Daniels closure are not yet certain but will be confirmed with one-month advance notice. Please be aware that one-month advance notice could occur during holiday break periods, so it is a good idea to check emails even if you are not in town.

Construction at North End of Daniels Begins 4-Jan 2021

The new tower will be connected to the existing Daniels wing at the fourth and fifth floors, as well as from the second floor down to the sub-basement. We expect that on Monday, January 4, 2021 construction will begin to reconfigure the corridors at the north end of the Daniels building and accommodate doorways to the new building.

4th-floor work involves the reconfiguration of Rms. 4343 and 4351.

5th-floor work involves the demolition of Rms. 5341 and 5351.

Construction activities will not affect access to labs, offices, or the stairwell.  Dust and debris will be contained behind construction barriers.  There will be occasional noise and vibration.  Expected completion in early March.

Graphic Schedule of Upcoming Events

Many different construction activities affect our building complex. We summarize them graphically below.

Construction activities calendar impacting existing buildings.

This information is up to date as of Monday morning. Email bulletins will be provided as needed.

We thank Jim Maynard, Gerald David of Miron Construction, and Whitney Wexler of Ballinger for images used in this newsletter issue.

John Moore and Bob McMahon