Tag Archives: construction

Burning Off Neighborhood Gas

Working from home introduces you to sounds from the street that you never normally hear when you are there outside working hours.  Nancy knows all of these things since she hears them all the time but they are new to me.  However, we were both taken aback by something that sounded like a roaring noise.  I had to investigate.  It appears that the power company was doing some work digging up the road outside our street.  I guess they had to cut in to a gas line and they had set up some device, presumably to burn off excess gas before continuing their work.  It was only a brief event but a noisy one!

Building a Tower Crane

Tower cranes are ubiquitous in big cities.  The only way to construct tall buildings, there are the sign of a prosperous city when there are lots of them.  They can be a nuisance when you are taking photos of a skyline of course since they interrupt the flow of a cityscape.  You seen them all the time but you don’t often get to see how one is assembled.  When we were watching the tower construction across from our building in Chicago, we got to see the cranes being put together.

The first thing that is needed is a big crane!  Got to have a crane to make a crane!  The base was put in place and then the cab was lifted into place.  From this, the elements of both booms were lifted and attached.  Then the counterbalance weights could be added along with the machinery to do the lifting work.  It was fun to watch it all go together and to see the guys walking around on the structure once it was in place including all of the bracing elements.  Once the crane is complete, there is a sleeve section that allows the inner section to be slide up and a new section to be inserted.

Two cranes were built for this project.  They were both within the footprint of the building so it grew around them and they grew above it.  There was never terribly much of the crane exposed above the building so it was well supported.  One of the crane operators on this project used to take his camera up.  He had a great selection of images from up there with all sorts of things going on a round him and some incredibly variable weather.  I will have to see whether those images are still available online.

The Raiders’ New Home

Across from McCarran airport is a construction site.  While plenty remains to be done, it is easy to see that this is the new home of the Oakland Raiders (not Oakland for much longer).  We drove right by it on the interstate but I had no way of photographing it then.  However, I did get a shot of the structure from the airport parking lot.  I wonder what it will look like when it is finished?  Can it be as impressive as the new stadium in LA?

Building a Big Box

I have stayed in the same hotel in Addison TX a couple of times recently for work trips.  The view from my window has been of a building site that has been progressively developing on each visit.  On one morning, I was just getting ready to check out when I could see the crew getting ready to lift a concrete panel into place.  The crane they were using was a substantial beast.  The crew were scattering to different locations to carry out their roles and then they started lifting the panel.  They had several lift lines which could be controlled individually to allow the, to rotate the panel as required.  Sadly I had to go before they finished.  I should be back before too long, though, so I shall see how progress is going.


Stadium Construction Update

A previous post showed the start of construction of the new stadium in LA.  When I was on that trip, my arriving flight had passed right by the construction site but I didn’t have a camera to hand at the time.  I made another LA trip more recently and, this time, I had a camera at hand as we made our final approach.  Obviously the construction process has moved on a bit but there is still plenty to be done.  Maybe I will make some more trips and get further updates in the future.

The Start of a New Stadium

NFL fans in a couple of cities are still mourning the loss of their teams to Los Angeles.  With the Rams and the Chargers both now based in LA, a new stadium is being built to accommodate them.  Meanwhile, they are playing in existing stadiums.  The new stadium, when it is finished, will be one of the most extravagant designs and will be used for other tasks including the future Olympics.  Right now, construction work is underway.  I saw the work site from my plane as I came in to LAX but didn’t have the camera to hand.  However, when flying above LAX in the helicopter, I was able to get some shots at a bit of a distance of the work in progress.

Trump Tower Construction Time Lapse

Every once in a while, I think about something that I was working on before I started blogging and wonder whether it would make a good post or not.  Where we live in Chicago, we are very close to the Trump International Hotel and Tower.  When we first moved here, it was the Chicago Sun-Times building.  They demolished that and built the tower on the same site.

During the construction, I took a lot of pictures, first of the demolition and then the new construction.  Building the tower would have made a good blog on its own if I had been blogging then.  However, can’t turn back time!  One thing I tried to do was take pictures from the same position on a regular basis to maybe make a time lapse.  These pictures have languished for a long time.  However, since Photoshop is now a lot more useful for making video, I brought all of the files in as layers to make a video.  Since the position moved each time I took a picture despite my best efforts, Photoshop allowed me to align the layers and get tings (almost) back in register.  Then some transitions and some music and we have a video.  Hope you like it.

Construction Helicopters at the Mart

wpid7220-C59F9985.jpgPreviously I posted about the work with Midwest Helicopters at the Merchandise Mart.  This post included the stills of the job while this one had some video.  That job was all about erecting the steel to support the new chiller units.  Construction Helicopters had the job to lift the chillers themselves since they were considerably heavier than the S-58T can lift.

wpid7210-C59F9951.jpgThis time I ended up shooting the lift from along the river.  While I had originally planned to be back on the roof, the plan changed but it ended up being a better solution.  I wish I had planned it to be so but I will take being lucky any day.  The view from the ground was one I had intended for the first lift if it had gone to the second day so this time i was able to get shots of the building with the helicopter operating in front of and above it.

wpid7218-C59F9978.jpgThis was the first time I had seen the Super Puma that Construction Helicopters have acquired.  I have had a soft spot for the Puma family for many years dating back to a model of an RAF Puma I made as a kid.  It is a great looking helicopter and certainly a powerful performer.

wpid7222-C59F0030.jpgThe weather was excellent and the lift went very smoothly.  The chillers were picked from a barge on the river in front of the Mart and lifted to the roof.  I certainly wasn’t alone in watching the work as quite a crowd gathered along the river to watch.  Great job to everyone involved.

On Top of the City

I have been very fortunate to be on top of some of the largest buildings in the city of Chicago in recent years.  Helicopter lifting operations take me to places that are off limits to many and that provide a great perspective on the city.  However, until recently, the highest point in the city was not one I had been to.  The top of the Sears Tower (I don’t know many that use its other name) had eluded me.  The Skydeck doesn’t count of course!

This changed with the installation of the new TV antenna for ABC on top of the building.  The good team at Construction Helicopters had been contracted to install the new antenna having helped removing the old one.  We gathered early one Sunday morning for the job to commence.  This is a location that is unmatched unless you are actually airborne.  I will post some views from on high in upcoming posts.  However, the first post is an aviation themed one – no great surprise for this blog!

The aircraft used was a Sikorsky S-61N.  The aircraft was leased from a Canadian company and was actually on its last job with Construction before being returned.  They have acquired a Super Puma which I hope to see in action at some point.  The S-61N is an old design but regular upgrades have kept it as a very capable machine.  It staged out of Midway and picked the loads from down at the bottom of the tower.  The vertical climb is quite a long one but they did well, not only in placing the loads, but holding them for some time while they were secured.  Good job to everyone involved.

Up a Big Pole!

Today we have a bit of a flashback.  Regular readers will know that I shoot a lot of helicopter operations.  Midwest Helicopters is the large local operator so they do most of the work in the city.  However, there other operators that undertake similar work and some of them will work in Chicago at times.  This is often a function of the weight of the loads to be lifted.  Construction Helicopters of Howell MI are one such operator and their S-61N aircraft can lift 10,000lbs – a big increase over the 4,500lbs of the S-58T.  If you need even bigger things lifted, Erickson Aircrane are probably your people!

This piece, though, is not about the helicopter so much as the people it was working with.  A few years ago, the Trump International Hotel and Tower was built here in the city – in fact just across the street from us.  We had the best seats to watch the demolition of the old Sun Times building and the growth from a hole in the ground to 92 floors of building.  It was fun to watch, even if it did take a chunk out of our view!  The building was topped off with a spire.  The parts for the spire were lifted to the roof by the construction cranes before they were assembled but it was going to be significantly higher than the rest of the building so those cranes were not suitable for assembling it.  The pieces would be lifted into place by helicopter.








The first attempt at this was unsuccessful as the winds were so strong that keeping each piece in place long enough to secure it proved impossible.  There was a long wait before the second attempt but the job finally went ahead.  The heroes of this story are the guys on the tower.  If you think that the tower itself is over a 1,000′ tall and the spire is a significant (and flexible) structure above that, you can see that this is quite an exposed location to be working.  From talking to the team that assembled it, the most senior guys are the ones at the very top – they want to be there.








Three guys were on the spire at the top.  As each section was brought into place, they grabbed the tag lines and pulled it into position.  When they had located it, they would put in a bolt in each corner.  Then, one would climb up the new piece to release the lifting line.  The other two would follow while a second group came behind them to insert the additional bolts to finally secure the section.  While they were finishing that off, the next piece was coming in.








To add to the fun of this, the spire narrows as it gets higher so the working space gets progressively more limited.  All the time you are dealing with whatever wind conditions there are at this height combined with the not inconsiderable down-wash from the helicopter and trying to make sure you maintain your grip and don’t drop anything on the team below you!

The job ran a little long but they did finish it off and put the final cap in place.  They seemed to do a great job but were so far away from anyone else, I suspect that very few people appreciate exactly what they had done.  It was only recently as I was culling a bunch of old images that I looked again at them as saw exactly what they were doing.  I feel guilty for paying more attention to the helicopter operations when I first shot the job so decided to give them a little publicity now.  Well done everyone.