The “big beam” floats through the NAC lobby

Question: How do you move a 10 ton steel beam through the NAC lobby?

Answer: On a cushion of air.

In mid May PCL construction completed a significant milestone in the NAC renovation project. Members of Ironworkers local 765 installed a 10 ton (9071 kg) steel beam to support the new addition at the north end of the building. This 60 foot beam is the single largest piece of structural steel on the project.

The first challenge was the fact that the polished terrazzo floor of the NAC lobby would crack under the weight of the beam. As a solution the structural steel contractor brought in construction compressor. A series of hoses were then connected from the compressor to a distribution tank to three pneumatic air casters, sort of miniature hovercrafts, which lifted the beam 1 inch above the floor enabling the crew to gently guide the beam through the NAC lobby.

"The installation of this structural element in this manner is a great example of the many innovative construction approaches being implemented throughout the project. Our integrated project delivery partnership with our contractors, consultants, and suppliers enables this innovation and is at the core of the success of the project." explains David Mc Cuaig the Architectural Rejuvenation Project Director.

Fun facts relating to the steel beam:

  • The beam was manufactured in Toronto.
  • Only 100 psi of compressed air is required to float the beam 1 inch above the floor.
  • 10 tons is equivalent in weight to 20 adult male polar bears and roughly 5000 lbs less than a DHC-8-300 turbo prop airliner.
  • As innovative as the delivery of the beam was, once in location it had to be lifted into place manually in the traditional way using chain hoists and muscle!
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Marnie Richardson's avatar
Marnie Richardson

Associate Producer, Digital Media Creation and Community Engagement / Productrice associée, Médias numériques et volet communautaire

Follow the renovation progress from ground-breaking to today.

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