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A day in the life of the carpenter foreman on site

In the changing South Waterfront district, construction continues on the site for the Knight Cancer Research Building along Moody Avenue — even in the pre-dawn hours.

"We did a concrete pour at 3 o'clock in the morning Thursday morning," said Jeremy Harteloo, carpenter foreman on the KCRB. "We're here extra early if need be, we're here extra late to watch and oversee the quality on the concrete pours."

He lives on the Vancouver side, and has been working in Portland for the past three years.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JON HOUSE - A construction worker waits for a deck to be lowered as a tower crane flies a table up to what will be the third floor at the site of the new Knight Cancer Research Building.

"We have two sides to our team, the carpenter construction on the building and the side management," Harteloo said. "My role as the carpenters on our side of the job, those guys out there are building the building, and we assist site services — any access that needs to be put in, any signage, we're trying to keep the site clean, safe and provide them with anything they need to keep their day going smoothly."

Harteloo works under Brian Anthony, the senior project manager at the KCRB. Together they most recently worked on the Pearl District's NV tower.

"He (Harteloo) was in the concrete crew out at the tower I was doing. He has tremendous skills above and beyond working out in the field," Anthony said. "On that other project I noticed it, other super agreed, and we made him a foreman number one."

Now on the KCRB, Harteloo manages the team that does the carpentry.

"He did great, and then I took him out of that as soon as I could and put him into the general contractor role, so he was doing (quality control) for our exteriors on the other job," Anthony said. "He's in this position now, and he can go out in the field and do whatever they're doing. He's on a path to take my place eventually: do a lot of mentoring, hire from within, that's our goal."

CoLo picnic

The coworking location, a big blue trailer in the site parking lot, is where people from every department can come and troubleshoot, getting advice from other team members in real time.

That's where the KCRB team recently hosted a lunch for everyone according to Tiffani Howard, core team member.

"The picnic that we had, all our construction folks out on the job were invited to come over to the CoLo(cation) to have a barbecue picnic," Howard said. "At that, we gave them information about what the project was all about and told them what we're trying to do with the KCRB and what our mission is, and how early detection might mean to them and their families. We basically told them their how important their contribution was to changing cancer as we know it."

About 75-80 people were at the picnic, including subcontractors and everyone who is currently working on the site — concrete workers, plumbers, technicians and mechanical trade people.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JON HOUSE - Carpenter foreman Jeremy Harteloo talks about the steel structural support, both temporary and permanent, at the Knight Cancer Research Building.

"We all ate and came into the CoLo, and we showed them a video of the 3D model," Howard said. "We walked them through — floor-by-floor — the model, explained what all the rooms were used for, what the science would be like in the rooms, talked about teamwork, the team science we were planning in the building, also about the collaboration we're doing in the CoLo and how that was so similar to how they're going to collaborate in the building."

Many construction folks who came to the picnic said they'd never been shown the inside of the building before, or even the floor plans or elevation of what they're building.

"I can honestly say coming from in the field, people really appreciate it. It's not like they're getting a bonus, but those shirts and a sandwich do mean a lot to the craft workers, it really does," Harteloo said. "I'm proud to be a part of the team, to see the joy that they get out of a simple lunch, but it the part that caught my attention the most was being able to come in and meet people like (Howard) and have them be able to do the virtual tour and understand what the building is about."

The group working on-site now is mostly pouring concrete, working on the foundation of the building. Howard said they aim to have picnics twice a year.

Carpenter's life

"I've been in construction about 14 years. I started out doing concrete residential foundation work," Harteloo said. "10 years ago I moved into the commercial side, and was trying to find something better to brighten my future and family. I inquired about the union, I heard it has such wonderful benefits and everything is nice, and I came aboard with these guys in Dec. 2014."

He likes being a member of the union because he said he didn't find good pay and benefits without it.

"Today, we applied the spider boxes — electrical junction boxes," Harteloo said. "Somebody had a great innovative idea to make a stand. It hangs off the side of the handrail to keep it off the ground, to keep from trip hazards."

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JON HOUSE - Because of the collaborative culture, Harteloo came up with ideas such as filling tool boxes with first aid kits and safety gear, and putting them on wheels. He also lifted electrical junction boxes, avoiding trip hazards, and built temporary wooden stairs so people dont always have to take the ladders.Work is also being done on a 100x31 lunchroom for all craft members on the job to have a dry climate to sit in on breaks.

"Today we went to a new parking lot to put up signage to guide them in," Harteloo said. "We've done some grading of the rock, cleaned up the road a little bit and had some material delivered for the "Taj Majal" lunchroom."

He said the co-working location is at a whole new caliber of communication between departments compared to other jobs.

"The management team, this trailer — the way everything is arranged is phenomenal," Harteloo said. "The motto we have for the lean construction is the five Ss. Set in order, sort, sustain, shine and standardize. If you can follow those five things in your daily routine, you will shine."

His team of 12 includes the two tower crane operators, two carpenters and a forklift operator.

"The lean construction is cutting out all the unneeded waste. We're running as lean as possible, efficient and safe," Harteloo said. "This job is amazing in comparison to the other jobs I've been on, there's no comparison."

Concrete crunch

Right now, the concrete floors are being poured, but the team struggled to find dry times to do the work.

"We've just finished pouring the second floor," said Ed Trotter, OHSU core team leader. "That was yesterday at 3 a.m. They'll be pulling cables tomorrow or Sunday — that's a big deal, building the formwork for the third floor."PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JON HOUSE - Ed Trotter goes over architectural plans for the Knight Cancer Research Building.

The second floor is the first science floor. For the pours, they pour the center first, then the west side and east side, pulling cables outward to help it set correctly. Each pour is about a week apart. Pouring the center first gives more time to work on the center walls.

"The weather has been unfriendly, between the snow and cold. That obviously slows everybody down," Trotter said. "There were days we couldn't work and there were days spent cleaning up the snow when really not much work got done."

Custom-built stairs will also be pre-fabricated before being transferred to the site for installation.

"There are 80 guys out in the field, and another 80 people in shops throughout the country (working on this)," Trotter said. "We looked at our costs outside material, and probably at the end of the day 1 million man hours are going into the design and construction of this project — probably a little more."

The team lost 12 days to snow.

"The entire town sees the same problem. When everybody sees three days from now it's going to be nice, every concrete finisher is getting called and they can't do all the jobs," Trotter said. "We've had pours that started at 2 a.m. We started at 4 a.m. yesterday, we were working odd shifts because it's when you can get people."

Concrete has been a challenging material to work with for the support columns, as well.

"We have a hanging column. Instead of the column being supported from below, it's hanging from a beam above," Trotter said. "To build the building, we had to support it from below with a monster structure. We had to build a whole 8 foot cube of steel. We're really trying to push the limits of the structural engineer."

That temporary steel cube, a 10-ton series of columns welded together, will have to be removed later.

"It's a monstrosity, it's physically not possible for a man to take it apart without a machine," Harteloo said.

After the permanent concrete columns were initially poured, cardboard was placed around them and strapped into place. However, the concrete bulged between the straps, leaving wobbles.

Now they're using a fiberglass formwork, a big plastic tube bolted together with a minor seam on one side that can be rubbed out with a brick tool.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: JON HOUSE - Workers lay sheeting on newly-poured concrete at the Knight Cancer Research Building site to protect it from the weather, saving time and money. 'The $50,000 to tarp the building saves seven weeks, which was $25,000 a day in general conditions or $850,000 a week,' Howard said. 'That's amazing thinking.'

"It's an architectural solution to cultural desire in the building — it allows us to have the whole auditorium without having a column in the center of it," Howard said. "People sitting in there could see the face of the people in the other side of the clamshell. It wouldn't matter where the column was, but the layout of the auditorium — we went back to the guiding principals and made it easier for people to collaborate more easily in that space."

The KCRB's completion date is still on for July 2018.

By Jules Rogers
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