Crane Gets Into a Tight Spot

A tight urban jobsite prompted Century Steel Erectors, a local lifting services provider, to seek out a unique solution for a department store conversion project in downtown Pittsburgh, PA. Called the Piatt Place, the well-known commercial site underwent redevelopment to transform it into a high-end condominium and retail complex.

Century Steel was involved in the construction of the original department store back in 1998. The 150’ x 150’ building was initially 70 ft. above street level. The latest project would add two stories to the existing five-story building, raising its overall height by another 35 ft.

According to Chuck McKee, project manager for Century Steel, a lack of space forced the company to look at alternatives to its normal lifting choices. It elected to use a Potain HDT 80 self-erecting tower crane, supplied by American Contractors, the local Potain dealer.

“We chose the HDT 80 because lifting work had to take place in a narrow street. Space was very limited,” he explains. “But with the small outrigger footprint, we could set up the crane and keep pedestrians moving.”

Construction work took place in 30’ x 30’ bays. The heaviest loads were header beams weighing up to 4,500 lbs. each. The crane also lifted 1,500-lb. infill beams and bundles of metal floor decks weighing up to 4,500 lbs.

“We were very impressed with the line speed of the crane, and the chart was fabulous,” McKee says. “It picked exactly what it said it would.”

Another feature Century Steel used to its advantage was the crane’s remote control. According to McKee, it allowed the contractor to save on labor costs. “By using the remote control, we were able to eliminate the radio man,” he states.

Portability was also a selling point. “At one stage, we had to move the crane to another location, which took just five or six hours. If you look at that vs. a normal top-slewing tower crane, there’s no comparison in terms of speed and ease,” McKee notes.

“They are definitely an attractive prospect,” he adds, “especially somewhere like Pittsburgh with its tight, narrow streets.” ?