April 2012

Local 27 Builds City Creek Project in Downtown Salt Lake City

Story by Patty Johnson | Photos by Jeremy Stam, City Creek Reserve, Inc. and Don Green Photography

Salt Lake City embarked on a massive rebuilding enterprise to infuse new life into its downtown doldrums. The most impressive and largest portion of the renovation is the City Creek Project, checking in at an estimated $1.5 billion. SME Steel Contractors was awarded the contract for two full city blocks: Block 75 and Block 76. Okland Construction grandly kicked off each of these city blocks with four levels of parking structure below street level and above, which SME carefully positioned transfer decks. Next, Jacobsen Construction built the necessary crane roads on each block, which required shoring through all five levels of the parking structure to terra firma and meticulously traced the crane paths that had been previously configured.

The erection of Block 75 consisted of five levels of structural steel encompassing the entire block in addition to high-rise buildings. SME also erected the structural steel for Building Four, a seven-story structure, along with four podium levels and one roof mechanical support level on Tower Five, a twenty-three story structure. Erection of Block 76 included four major buildings ranging from five to eight stories and interconnects with two levels of commercial space accessed by a series of bridges, elevators, and escalators. Additionally, ironworkers on Block 76 erected three levels of mechanical support on Tower One, a 32-story high rise, as well as two levels of mechanical support on Buildings Six and Seven, twin ten-story structures.

Two other impressive aspects are the enormous transfer deck plate girders and the AESS end wall design. The transfer deck plate girders range from 175 pounds per foot to an incredible 720 pounds per foot with an average length of sixty feet. The end walls, which connect to the sky bridge, were designed with a reverse camber on the main beams and tethered with cable tensions to pull the beams perfectly into place. Stately positioned, the end walls utilized twelve 54' beams with an 18' arc to skillfully enclose the retail galleries.

The transfer deck required such strength in order to accommodate the weight of a creek-like water feature, as well as the building structures that would be erected. Sections of the creek water feature run on top of the transfer deck beginning on one end of Block 75 and continuing through Block 76. The heaviest pieces of steel for this project were positioned on the roof with a skylight above a retail entrance on Block 75 and on the end walls of each block.

There are several unique features of this building project that include a 67' wide skylight above a retail entrance, which required five 70' beams with a 12' arc. These massive AESS beams were fabricated in two pieces and assembled in the field simply in order to transport them. The Local 27 ironworkers did a phenomenal job in seamlessly welding the beams while balancing from an impressive 80' above the ground. These beams are truly a work of art.

Rich Allen, SME Block 76 project manager, said this project is extraordinary and ranks among his favorites. The dynamics of building an eight-story complex structure on top of a four-story concrete parking structure is an amazing challenge and a rewarding outcome. Allen gained greater appreciation for our shop workers and their abilities as well as increased admiration and respect for the many ironworkers who built this project. “They have agility and moxie that most men don’t possess. This will be a project that will improve downtown Salt Lake City for decades to follow and thousands will enjoy its magnificence and beauty each year.”

Local 27 (Salt Lake City) and SME Steel joined forces to erect the steel structural system, which includes the sky bridge featured on National Geographic’s program “World’s Toughest Fixes.” Two hundred and sixty ironworkers, with more than 150,000 hours clocked on the project, helped make the impossible possible when they hoisted a 320 thousand pound sky bridge inches above two commuter train high voltage power lines. They carefully erected the sky bridge snugly between two high-rise buildings while working under a tight four-hour window from midnight to four a.m. This incredibly unique structure is secured with only one anchor pin. The remaining three feet float; however, they remain fixated by gravity with steel plates on either side to restrict movement, yet allow flexibility. Jeremy Stam, SME Block 75 project manager, stated that four months of careful planning came down to one breathless moment. Everything came together perfectly as the sky bridge was strategically maneuvered into its new home with mere inches to move. Two cranes working in tandem were carefully positioned—one stationary and one to crawl forward carrying its load. Before this amazing feat could even begin, the enormous structure arrived on several truckloads and required the skill and craftsmanship of ironworkers to assemble it on the ground.

The City Creek downtown project boasts 900,000 square feet of retail space and 2.1 million square feet of office space in addition to several hundred residential units.

Stam captures the thoughts and perspective of everyone at SME Steel Contractors: “Without the pride and professionalism of our shop and field ironworkers, this job could not be completed on time and on budget.”