News, University News

New crane to tower over campus

200-foot-tower crane to begin laying foundation for Performing Arts Center in November

Staff Writer
Thursday, October 10, 2019

The tower crane will be the tallest structure on campus, standing 20 feet taller than the Sciences Library. It will stand for at least 14 months.

A 200-foot-tall tower crane will be installed at the construction site for the Performing Arts Center in early November, and it will remain there for at least 14 months.

The tower crane will be the tallest structure on campus, standing 20 feet taller than the Sciences Library. Tower cranes have not been used in construction projects at the University in decades, and project contractor Shawmut Design and Construction has only opted to use three in its nearly 40-year existence, partially due to logistics.

“Nobody I’ve talked to is aware of the last time Brown ever had a tower crane on campus,” said Paul Dietel, assistant vice president of planning, design and construction, though he added that the SciLi, constructed in 1971, may have used one.

The Federal Aviation Administration must approve the crane before it arrives on campus because the structure falls within the flight path of T.F. Green Airport. The Providence Department of Inspections and Standards and the Providence Fire Department will also review the crane before its arrival. It will arrive at campus in 22 different pieces contained in 15 trailer loads.

The crane is expected to be installed between Nov. 2 and Nov. 4, with the help of a smaller, assisting crane at the PAC site between Angell and Olive streets. Construction will then begin on the PAC’s concrete foundation and eventually on the building’s steel framework.

According to Dietel, the erection of the crane will involve a third-party testing agency to ensure that installation meets safety standards. There will be monthly inspections of the crane following its installation.

During the installation period, the area around the site will be a “controlled access zone,”  meaning no one will able to enter within the swing radius of the crane, said Mike Kotuby, project superintendent for Shawmut. The mobile component of the crane, called the boom, can carry loads of up to 55,000 pounds and measures 170 feet. While the crane is in use, the boom of the crane will swing over the street and pedestrian walkways. However, Dietel said “we would never swing a load over a walkway or a street.”

“Everything we’re doing is safe, certified and monitored,” he added.

Standing 200 feet above street level and 226 feet from the base of the construction site, the crane will be powered electrically. Compared to diesel-powered alternatives, called crawler cranes, the tower crane has “no impact (on) traffic outside the project site,” Dietel said, adding that its noise level will also be low.  The electric crane also allows for more flexibility with where trucks can be located and has a limited effect on pedestrians, Kotuby said.

“We just want to make sure the community understands that we are doing everything possible on the project to lessen the impact to the community,” Dietel said.

According to Senior Lecturer in Environment and Society Kurt Teichert, the tower crane is more environmentally friendly than diesel-powered equipment. While crawler cranes create emissions on their own, like trucks and cars, tower cranes are connected to power plants.

“Whenever (pollutants are) emitted from trucks and cars at ground level, you’ve got smog-forming particles,” Teichert said, explaining that such emission is linked to respiratory illnesses.

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