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Installing a New Aquarium Using An 800 Ton Crane and Cantilever Beam
Moody Gardens is a destination resort and spa located in Galveston, Texas which features a golf course, waterpark and several special attractions. One of the largest attractions is a 10-story glass Pyramid that contains several aquariums that allow visitors to experience ocean depths from around the world.
In 2015, a was initiated with Gilbane Builders selected as general contractor. The plan included the addition of a cylindrical aquarium built around one leg of an off-shore oil production rig to give visitors an up-close view of the ecosystem and marine life found around offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico.
The new aquarium is approximately 16 feet in diameter and constructed in two pieces. The largest piece is just over 15 feet tall and weighs approximately 15,000 pounds. Now, under normal circumstances lifting a 15,000 cylinder is NO PROBLEM. But here is where things get challenging: First, positioning a crane inside the pyramid was not possible
Second, the aquariums components had to be lifted over an existing 35 foot steel platform decorated to look like a reef.
Third, the new aquarium was to be positioned in the center of the pyramid, directly under its apex. And no structural steel could be removed to complete the lift.
And finally, just to make things even more complicated, the closest the crane could be position was over 200 feet away from the apex of the pyramid.
So, here was our solution! We skate the aquarium sections into the pyramid through an opening in the lobby wall. To lift the components, we position a 625 ton crane outside the pyramid and attach 207 feet of luffing jib to the 121 feet of main boom. And since no structural steel could be removed, the general contractor would remove four three foot by 5 foot sections of glass near the top of the pyramid. This allows us to utilize a 10- ton cantilever bar, insert it through the opening and complete the offset lift. The plan sounded great, but on a job this complicated, it needed to be tested. Our team set up a trial run at our Houston facility to test the ability to lift and counter balance with 85 feet of rigging below the cantilever bar. The system passed all of our test during the trial run.
As always, safety comes first. All potential safety hazards were reviewed both inside and outside the structure and a Job Safety Analysis prepared, discussed and signed with everyone involved prior to the lift.