Extra Innings Win: Reasoning With the Construction Season

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This is part three of a series on how 3D design and construction procurement was used in the restoration of Wrigley Field. See parts one and two if you missed them.

Wrigley Field’s bleacher restoration schedule was aggressive and precise, since the MLB off-season is among the shortest in pro sports. It’s also the coldest, as the term “boys of summer” means the only time to work on your stadium is during winter. The Chicago winter. Known for its wind and snow.

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The Chicago winter did not cooperate with the off-season schedule. Much colder than the relatively light winter in 2013, the weather complicated the ballpark restoration and concurrent city of Chicago work to modernize underground utilities serving the stadium and the neighborhood.

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Structural steel placement for the new Wrigley Field jumbotron had to take place during the cold winter months. Image: Pepper Construction

The bleacher phase of the project was completely exposed to the elements and that made for a grueling and challenging January, February and March. Safety is the number one priority for general contractor Pepper Construction and many days the temperatures were simply too cold for the team to safely work.

“We planned ahead, knowing we couldn’t work all of the days we wanted to,” said Pepper Project Executive Kevin Heatter. “Every person on our site committed to being as productive as possible, and the effort they put forth was incredible.”

Structural Model Used For Concrete Work

That hard work was coupled with creative ideas to accelerate the work as spring began to arrive.

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Excavation and planning for a new building adjacent to the field began during the winter and nearby parking lots were used to expedite the arrival of steel and other building materials at Wrigley Field. Image: Jeff Yoders

“We were looking for creative ways to expedite the work, so we further developed the existing structural 3D model to design and prefabricate temporary formwork for the cast-in-place (concrete) of the bleachers and risers.”

The creativity paid off and also shaved an estimated $500,000 from the project’s budget.

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“The savings from prefabrication came from earlier purchasing as we were able to make all of the formwork ahead of time,” Heatter said. “It was just a matter of stacking steel and shipping the pieces on the back of a flatbed truck to the location and we literally took them right off the truck and installed them.”

The finale of extra innings win will run next week. Follow Jeff Yoders on twitter at @jyoders19.

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