Rockefeller university project:

Monitoring Construction on a Historic Campus Amid Cutting Edge Research

The new Kravis Research Building and platform structure, which are part of the River Campus Project, are now taking shape on the East River side of New York’s Rockefeller University campus. The new facility is part of an extensive program that also involves the urgently needed repair of the portion of the East River seawall adjacent to the campus.

The new building, which will be developed on a platform structure, was designed to provide state-of-the-art research facilities and other amenities for the University. By 2019 the new development will horizontally extend the campus out over the FDR Drive for the length of almost four city blocks. Importantly. It will also feature a green roof that will provide the campus with almost two acres of additional landscaped green space overlooking the river.

The northern portion of the Rockefeller University campus is within the Rockefeller University Historic District (New York City Landmark-eligible, State/National Register-eligible). It is protected by restrictions on vibration produced by construction by New York City Department of Buildings regulations. The eastern boundary of the existing campus, beyond which the new facility is being constructed, is established by an approximately 45-foot-tall schist retaining wall that extends along the west side of the FDR Drive. 

Critical research and experiments

Additionally, as part of the university’s research facilities, the existing campus buildings contain several types of vibration-sensitive equipment used for critical research and experiments. With these factors all present on the Rockefeller University campus, keeping a handle on vibration produced by the construction of the new research facility and platform structure is essential for the project team.

AKRF, Inc., a leading provider of environmental services in New York City and the eastern seaboard of the United States, was tasked with a myriad responsibilities on the project. These include securing environmental approvals, pre-construction survey work, and hazardous materials monitoring – creating and implementing a Construction Protection Plan (CPP) for the project.

The CPP was developed in consultation with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to protect the sensitive research buildings and historic architectural resources on the campus. Vibration monitoring was a key tool specified by the CPP to protect these structures. The planning of the River Campus Project was initiated in 2011 and the actual construction work commenced in October, 2015.

Daniel Abatemarco is AKRF’s lead on the vibration-monitoring task for this prestigious project at the heart of Manhattan. The primary goal of the monitoring program, as specified in the CPP, is to protect structures on the campus from potential damage caused by construction activity. However, the vibration-monitoring program also presents an opportunity to keep tabs on the construction-generated vibration to aid in communications with the faculty and students concerned about construction adjacent to their workplaces. 

Consequently, Daniel needs to maintain the typical scheduled monitoring and reporting, as well as respond to inquiries from University staff in a timely and detailed manner. The convenient and flexible Sigicom INFRA Net system allows in-depth information to be at Daniel’s fingertips when questions come in from the campus. AKRF is known for its responsiveness to clients, delivering efficient and effective solutions with very fast turn-around. To maintain this reputation for responsiveness, AKRF depends on real time information provided in a clear and concise manner from INFRA Net.

Ultra-compact geophones

Implementing a vibration monitoring program for the buildings that could be affected by construction-related vibration on Rockefeller University’s 14-acre campus containing 26 buildings without disturbing or getting in the way of the University’s ongoing activities presents unique challenges for AKRF. The structures to be monitored include buildings as well as outdoor structures including walls and a formal landscaped garden. 

Sigicom’s fleet of vibration monitoring hardware provided solutions to meet these challenges. This includes the ultra-compact Sigicom C12 triaxial geophone, combinations of Sigicom’s INFRA Master data-loggers with networks of multiple Sigicom V12 triaxial geophone sensors, and solar panels for outdoor locations where grid power was not available. The available selection of devices allows AKRF to effectively implement its monitoring program in such a way as to be integrated into the University’s campus environment without interference. 

Construction of the platform over the FDR Drive, due to restrictions on FDR Drive lane closures, primarily occurs during over-night hours, and as such, the vibration-monitoring program must cover these over-night shifts and ensure that information reaches the over-night shift site superintendents quickly and reliably. 

Sigicom’s INFRA Net messaging system allows for the over-night construction management and University staff to receive email and SMS alerts when vibration reaches designated thresholds so that they are always on top of the construction vibration, no matter the time of day or night. 

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