Raising The Dome
If you travel highway 281 north frequently, you have seen the landscape along 281 change dramatically. Buildings were demolished to make way for 281’s much needed highway expansion making way for additional travel lanes.
The Mission Park Life Center was just one of the buildings torn down to make way for the highway expansion. But the beautiful building would not stay down. The owners would raise it again to offer families a place to celebrate every milestone of their lives from baptism to birthdays, weddings to anniversaries, luncheons and even final life tribute.
Setien Group which has been in the forefront of structural design and steel fabrication since 1978 did the drawings of the facility.
As the work got under way, the owner could see that things were not going according to plan. The contractor constructed the main focal point of the facility, a 30,000-plus lb. dome, on the ground. It seemed to be a great idea at the time, but it needed to be on top of the building, not the ground.
Once again, the owner reached out to Domingo Setien, owner of Setien Group, a collaboration of Setien & Associates, structural design and engineering; Setien Properties, real estate acquisitions and land development; S&I Welding & Erection; S&I Transport and Setien Investments and asked him to come to work for him on the project. With years of experience in steel erection and concrete wall construction, Setien agreed.
“We designed the dome. Somebody else constructed it on the ground. Our intent was for the construction of it to be done up in the air,” says Setien.
Setien took into consideration every inch of the already constructed dome. “I lasered out and developed what looked like a spiderweb, so we called it the spider design. I added extra bracing to support the legs so that when we lifted the dome, it would not spring in breaking all the insulation, all the work that had been done and all the studs that were there in place.”
Through Setien’s engineering, his team laid 1/4 inch stud pegs sticking up at eight points atop the walls of the dome’s seat. On the frame bottom they set the “spider brace”. From there they took a 5-ton and also a 2 1/2 -ton tire jack at 14 points and started cranking them up to level the octagon shaped dome. With the spider brace in place, structurally the dome would not shift. Once the dome structure was level, Setien’s team drilled holes to match the pegs placed at the eight points of the dome’s final resting place.
Before raising the dome, Setien shaved the pegs on opposite sides to 2 inches and 1-1/2 inches. “We had two men in baskets, one on each side to guide. When they lifted the dome, they dropped the holes that I made on the frame into the male end sticking up. As the base of the dome hit the two inch pegs on opposite sides, they guided the frame to line up the holes to fall into the shorter pegs.
“One shot, one deal, one try, and it could not have gone any better. It was a proud moment for everyone. We had to bring a crane in from out of state to lift the dome. 32,600 lbs. and we nailed it. It looked like a piece of art,” recalls Setien.
“Nothing like this has really happened since the moving of the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Antonio. So once again we are creating history,” says Robert Tips, owner of Mission Park Life Center.
Setien Group is a full-service structural design, engineering, steel fabrication and erection construction firm in Schertz, TX.
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