On the Jobsite

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The Van Ness and Geary Campus of Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center was still a dirt pit when we visited the site at the beginning of the year to photograph laborers preparing for the foundation concrete pours. When we revisited the site this fall, the metal structure had risen out of the ground and grown several stories.

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Today’s buildings are designed to withstand natural and even man-made disasters. To do that, they must be constructed to the engineers’ specifications. Inspectors and surveyors make sure that everything is constructed according to the approved design.

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Pile drivers install huge iron struts to shore up the building foundations, and iron workers fasten together the iron beams that make up the building’s skeleton. Operating engineers drive the cranes that pick up those 10 to 20-ton objects and hoist them into place.

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The Arden, a 16-story, multi-tower residential complex on Long Bridge Street, is part of the Mission Bay urban village project of Bosa Development. The interiors feature a lavish use of tile. Working on the project has been a thrill for members of Brick and Allied Craft Workers Local 3.

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One thinks of cement masons pouring a gray, mud-like substance that they frantically rake and trowel to level and shape in place before it sets. But pouring the cement is only half the job. After it dries, they have to patch and grind until the surface is either aesthetically pleasing or functionally smooth – or both.

Article thumbnail image A large dirt pit consumes the entire block of Van Ness and Geary, several stories deep, with what looks like landscaped rectangles at one end and mounds of dirt at the other. It’s the job of laborers to keep the site orderly, directing traffic, moving materials, digging holes, manicuring the dirt, cleaning the rebar and preparing the holes for the concrete pours.

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The Lumina towers rising up on Folsom and Main streets across from the Transbay Terminal will consist of 655 luxury condos in four towers ranging from eight to 42 stories high.

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Calibrating and designing a sprinkler system involves lots of calculations and decisions by teams of people working together, from the planning stage to the final tenant improvement stage.

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Insulators wrap insulation around heating, cooling and ventilation pipes. But imagine wrapping insulation around a pump the size of a small car, or around a 100-foot wide and 85-foot high water tank? It’s hard even to wrap one’s mind around that. But that was the job of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers Local 16 members working on the Stanford Energy Systems Innovations Project (SESI).

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On Third Street, across from the Mission Rock Muni stop, the historic 1920s Fire Station Number 30 is going through a major renovation. But renovation does not fully describe what is taking place. The old two-story red brick firehouse will be surrounded by a six-story, 260,000 square-foot, glass and steel structure that will be the new San Francisco Public Safety building. The building will include a fire station, the headquarters for the San Francisco Police Department Southern Division, and the command center for the city during natural disasters. The project has a budget of $164 million. Pankow is the general contractor.

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