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Arctic Achievement

A mezzanine is transported to Greenland and installed under harsh conditions

Mcn Editors Pick Oct17 2
Greenland is one of the world's largest islands and three-quarters of it is covered by the only permanent ice sheet outside Antarctica. Located near the apex of the Greenland ice sheet, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) houses a Greenland Summit Station.

There, NSF needed a warehouse mezzanine to support utility equipment and an office for the station. NSF is a United States government agency that supports fundamental research and education in all the nonmedical fields of science and engineering.

But the station’s location and environment is unforgiving. The physical altitude of the site is 10,600 feet above sea level, where wind speeds exceeding 100 mph have been recorded and temperatures range from approximately 30 F to -76 F. Given the unique and remote location, where resources and the ability to correct for defaults are limited; any issues with design or fit-up can have significant cost and schedule impacts.

Cold Solution

CH2M Polar Services (CPS), Littleton, Colo., provides arctic research support and logistics services under contract to its client, the NSF’s Arctic Program. CPS contracted with Panel Built Inc., Blairsville Ga., to design and supply the mezzanine for installation at the site.

Panel Built worked directly with CH2M Hill, Englewood, Colo., to supply the mezzanine to the end customer in Greenland. “The customer was in need of a mezzanine that required little to no fabrication or welding on-site and it had to meet Seismic 4 requirements,” says Conrad Walker, salesperson at Panel Built. “The other major constraint was that the project is located 800 miles away from civilization (Greenland) and had to ship in an 8- by 24- by 8-foot space on a cargo plane. Panel Built engineered a mezzanine to meet the design requirements and ensured all materials would fit in the allotted space.” Interstate Welding and Steel Supply, Murphy, N.C. supplied pre-formed hotrolled steel sections for it.

Because of the remote location of the project, a smooth installation was critical. CPS and Panel Built completed a test-build of the mezzanine at Panel Built’s location in Blairsville, Ga., prior to shipment to the field. “We arranged to have the installation crew come to our facility and be trained with our system by test fitting the beams, columns, bar joist and stair system for this project and ensuring everything fit,” says Shane Strohl, drafting supervisor, Panel Built.

“The test assembly went very well, but it was discovered that switching a particular bolt from 2.5 to 3 inches would make the installation of stairs much easier, so that change was made immediately,” Walker says. “Panel Built performed the test build before powder coating was applied to ensure the customer received a brand new, scratch-free product.”

The mezzanine’s final dimensions were 14 by 29 by 8 feet, with a 125 pounds-per-square-foot rating. It has an International Building Code-certified stair system and a 48- by 48-inch landing on top. It was shipped to Scotia, N.Y. where it was flown by the 109th New York Air National Guard to Summit Station Greenland via LC-130 aircraft. “Since, Greenland's ice sheet is constantly covered in a thick layer of snow and ice, the actual location of the Summit Station is changing all of the time,” Strohl says. “Heavy winds cause snow drift and can completely reshape the snow on the sheet, making the transportation of materials very difficult. However, all of the project members were more than prepared to handle these variables and make this a success.” It was installed by CPS in an insulated warehouse in line with the project schedule without any major issues.