The last two weeks have been quite exciting in terms of progress on the new Thompson Exhibition Building. Since the groundbreaking last January, the bulk of the work has been underground. The infrastructures systems–electrical, IT, water, sewer and storm water drainage–had to be located, moved, or replaced, and the building site excavated, the foundation poured, and then back filled. It was a lot of work, but not visible behind the construction fence.
All that changed last week when the first of the laminated wood beams arrived and the contractors began to finally build up.
The exposed wooden beams are major feature of the design. Their giant curve is meant to invoke the frames of a ship or the curl of a wave. The beams are laminated from multiple pieces of Douglas fir at a factory outside of Montreal, Canada. At 105-foot long, they need to be shipped in pieces and assembled on site. The engineers cleverly hid the steel plates holding the parts together by inserted them in a kerf, or slot, cut into the beam leaving only the bolts visible.
The limited space around the site presents a challenge for the general contractor A/Z Corporation. They have to stage materials off site or have them delivered pre-fabricated, and everything needs to arrive exactly when needed. It is a complicated task that involves a lot of planning and coordination, but the results can now be seen. All told, there will be 10 beams, and A/Z plans to have all of the beams up and the building enclosed by the December holidays.