Hard hats required: Foundation work starts at new Alcoa High School
By Matthew Stewart | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The new Alcoa High School site is a hard hat zone.
Workers started excavations Thursday for the building’s foundation, said Steve Heatherly, Merit Construction’s senior vice president. They will require about five months to complete all foundation work.
“We’re three-fourths of the way through a year that’s been marked with historic proportions of rain, and we’ve started foundations about six weeks ahead of schedule,” Heatherly said. “It’s a tribute to our entire team who have worked Saturdays and holidays to minimize the rain’s impact on this project. We’re delighted to be where we are now.”
“The team has worked wisely to compress the grading schedule and get utilities under ground,” said Barry Brooke, executive vice president of commercial development for property development and management firm Lawler-Wood. The company is serving as Alcoa City Schools’ project representative.
Team members also wanted to publicly thank Alcoa Electric System for its assistance. Employees removed an electric pole, which was located in the future auxiliary gym.
“We couldn’t proceed until they got it out, and they quickly addressed our problem,” Brooke said. “They’ve played a critical part in getting us to where we are today.”
Team members have organized the building’s scope of work into eight sections, Heatherly said. They are starting in the auditorium/lecture hall and commons area, which are “high volume spaces” with 25- to 30-foot ceilings, then expanding out to surrounding areas that have lower ceilings.
The project will average between 60 and 80 workers every day, said superintendent Mike King. More than 100 employees are expected on site at peak times.
Manufacturers have started fabricating the new Alcoa High School’s 65-foot-tall aluminum dome, which will be visible from nearby roads, Heatherly said. They will ship the 38-foot diameter dome in four pieces.
Workers will assemble the four pieces on the building’s south side, he said. They plan to lift the 32,000-pound dome with a 200-ton crane and set it on the finished roof.
Team members are also working on a 12-foot diameter aluminum medallion, Heatherly said. They will place the 1½-inch thick medallion, which recreates Alcoa High School’s 1957-58 seal, in a floor recess and put a protective covering on top of it.
ALCOA Inc. is designing, fabricating and installing the medallion, he said. Alcoa Director of Schools Brian Bell envisioned placing a medallion in the building’s rotunda underneath the 65-foot dome.
“(ALCOA Tennessee Operations Location Manager) Ken McMillen has done a tremendous job,” Heatherly said. “We’re very excited that he’s helped us pull it off.”
School officials recently selected nine combinations of brick and mortar colors, Heatherly said. They’ve spent several months working with project team members on the selections.
Crews will start producing brick selection panels next week, he said. Alcoa Board of Education members and school employees will review the panels when they’re completed in several weeks.
Team members are also working on a time capsule, Heatherly said. They will seal items in a nitrogen-sealed container that will be placed within the building’s walls and covered with a plaque.
Educators are gathering items from the district’s three schools, Bell said. They will open the time capsule in 50 years.