While we were restoring a Swift Hall at the University of Chicago, engineers noticed the walls of the cloister link between it and Bond Chapel were shifting. Frozen water in the roof had pushed the walls outward and an eventual collapse was possible. They quickly realized they had a life-safety issue on the campus that had to be addressed and hired Berglund to make the repairs. A team of masons quickly developed a plan to dismantle the 25-by-50-foot structure to the foundation and reconstruct it exactly as it stood before demolition.
The project began in June and had to be finished by the start of the University’s fall quarter in September. Berglund managers determined two 10-hour shifts of 10 to 16 masons and laborers would be required to finish on time.
Our team’s embrace of technology made it possible to work quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality. We scanned the cloister link and produced drawings that assigned a number to each stone. No two stones were the same. As the masons disassembled the archways, they marked the back of each stone with its number and set it on one of 50 pallets. A foreman tracked which stone went to which pallet and entered the information into a database.
When it came time for reconstruction, the masons used iPads to view the drawings produced by the laser scan to determine which stone they needed next. Then, they typed the identifying number into the database and quickly determined which pallet held the piece they needed. This process saved considerable time that would have otherwise been spent searching the pallets.
Once the our team finished the project, we still had one more challenge to meet: Convincing owner representatives that the project really happened.
“They could not fathom what had gone on there because everything looked the same as before,” Roger Janiak, a senior project manager at Berglund Construction, said.
This issue, however, was more of a feature than a bug. The use of technology — including laser scanning, iPads, and a searchable database — ensured our team reset the 4,200 unique stones exactly as they were previously assembled.
The project required two 10-hour shifts of 10 to 16 highly skilled masons working nearly around the clock to meet the aggressive schedule.
The technology was really the key to getting that project done on time — it accelerated our work and eliminated the need for tons of paper documentation.