Crews prepare to lay the foundation at the new Children’s Hospital

Crews prepare to lay the foundation at the new Children’s Hospital

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The new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital eventually will connect with Ciminelli Real Estate Group’s Conventus Building and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences on the burgeoning downtown medical campus. John Hickey/Buffalo News file photo

Construction crews are finishing up excavation work and soon will begin pouring concrete at the site of the new John. R. Oishei Children’s Hospital

By the end of this month, the giant hole that has been excavated at Ellicott and High streets in downtown Buffalo will start filling with concrete as workers begin pouring the foundations for the new John R. Oishei Children’s Hospital.

Workers for Turner Construction Co. have already spent weeks “digging like crazy” to lay the groundwork for the 12-story hospital, which will take the place of the longtime Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo on Bryant Street.

Crews will work through the next several months to pour the concrete, drive piles deep into the ground and drill tiebacks to support construction of the 410,000-square-foot facility, said Ronald A. Krukowski, vice president, senior project executive and operations manager for Turner, which is the construction manager and general contractor for the $270 million project.

“They’ll be slogging all winter, which isn’t so bad, because you’re below grade level,” Krukowski said. “It isn’t ideal, but it’s not the end of the world.”

The first steel will start going up in April, marking the next milestone in the project, followed by the “topping off” of the steel structure later in the year, he added. An underground utility tunnel was already finished under Ellicott Street from Buffalo General Medical Center. Completion of the project is expected in November 2017.

The new 183-bed hospital at the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is the third piece of major construction going on now in close proximity, including Ciminelli Real Estate Corp.’s Conventus Building next door and the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences across High Street. More than 500 construction workers are expected at the peak of employment on the project, Krukowski said.

Once again, a giant tower crane will be brought in to help with construction – the sixth such installation in Buffalo in the last two years after decades without a single tower crane deployed in the city. But this time, the project requires use of a “luffing jib” crane, which is specially designed for urban use when other tall structures or construction sites are nearby.

Such “luffer” cranes rotate by first raising the long arm or “boom” and then moving into position, reducing or eliminating the risk of a fixed boom hitting another building. Turner has used luffer cranes on other jobs around the country, especially in cities like New York or Chicago, but “nobody’s seen them here,” Krukowski said.

Winds are another complicating factor, he said, both for the crane itself and for lifting the pre-fabricated glass and metal panels for the exterior wall, since the construction site is at a high point in the city.

The new Children’s will have direct connections through sky-bridges to Conventus – and through that, to UB – and to Buffalo General Medical Center, which itself is linked to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and other facilities. It will also include a helipad on its roof, for emergency medical transport.

Kaleida Health, which owns Buffalo General and Children’s, has set up a webcam on top of the Buffalo General tower for the public to view the construction activity.

email: jepstein@buffnews.com

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