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Lifts Help University of Chicago Students "See the Light"

Student input was a large part of the planning process for the new residence hall that was constructed at the University of Chicago. Among their requests were more sunlight in the dorm rooms, a glassed-in communal library and two central courtyards – features that required the installation of lots of glass panels. In fact, more than 6,000 glass panels were installed.

ASI Limited of Whitestown, IN, was awarded the contract for fabricating and installing over 298,000 sq. ft. of curtain wall enclosing the building. The work consisted of installing all exterior light-gauge framing, sheathing, weather barrier, 165,000 sq. ft. of custom unitized limestone rain screen panels, 80,000 sq. ft. of composite and plate paneling and 925 custom operable punched openings.

Todd Ficek, 15-year veteran of the company and ASI Limited's senior superintendent for the job, said that the most common method for installing curtain walls is to utilize swing stages anchored to the roof of a building and lowered to the installation site. Because of the large amount of glass panels and tight time schedule for the project's completion, a different method of installation was used.

Ficek chose to use the JLG 1350SJP telescopic boom lift fitted with a SkyGlazier accessory. Because the glass panes weighed anywhere from 40 to 250 lbs., holding two workers, their tools and the panes was well within the 1,000-lb. capacity of the machine. The lift has a 135-ft. platform height and 80 ft. of horizontal reach. It also incorporates the JibPlus, an 8-ft. jib boom that can rotate 180° horizontally and 130° vertically to help workers precisely position the platform for easier installation of the glass panes.

The SkyGlazier is a manufacturer-authorized glass and panel holding accessory for boom lifts. It is mounted below the platform's frame and has a channel positioned directly in front and below the floor. This allows glass panes and panels to be contained outside the platform and easily secured to the railing.

Brian Pascoe, general foreman of ironworkers for the project, was responsible for overseeing the installation of the curtain walls. His crews used four model 1350 SJP boom lifts fitted with SkyGlaziers. ASI Limited also rented two 80-ft. platform height JLG boom lifts, as well as a 60- and a 40-ft. model for other installation requirements, detailing and inspection.

The lifts enabled required safety inspections to be performed at ground level on the boom lift. On swing stages, Pascoe would have needed to send a crew to climb to the top of a structure to inspect the anchor points, platform, motors and cables before the work begins. And because the booms are self-propelled, all panels and glass could be loaded at a central location, driven into position on the ground and elevated to the point of installation, rather than having to place loads on the top of the building where they could be loaded onto a swing stage.

In addition to the 6,000+ glass panes, Pascoe also supervised the installation of over 4,000 unitized limestone rain screen panels weighing approximately 800 lbs. each. For this job, a crane was used to lift the stone panels to the point of installation, while workers on booms helped guide the panels into position.

Using the lifts, Pascoe's crews were able to maintain installation at the fast track rate scheduled for the project. He also witnessed installation savings of 50% over previous panel and glass installation jobs.