Field Notes: The Polar Field Services Newsletter

Postcard from Chico

The ever-exhuberant Richard Perales reports from Toolik
A worker assembles the steel-and-aluminium foundation for the new kitchen/dining facility at Toolik Field Station. All photos: Richard Perales

Richard “Chico” Perales, on summer break from his studies at U Texas, El Paso, wrote to us from Toolik Field Station a week or so ago. He’s overseeing the construction of a new dining facility by Johnson River Enterprises, ensuring that the builders and the scientists can each get their work done during this busy research season. After October, when it is commissioned and turned over to the Institute of Arctic Biology (which operates the station), the new building will be able to operate year-round and serve 150 people.

Meanwhile, the economical, custom-designed, easily installed, maintenance-free, fully adjustable, multipoint foundation made of 80% recycled materials had everyone a bit geeked-up as it was being put together.

From Chico: “When you have people who have been around for awhile and seen everything—such as Jeff Scaniello, Jason Neely, Tracy Dahl, Solar Joe [Yarkin], and a slew of scientists—and you witness how positively intrigued they are by the foundation, you know it has to be something special.  It can be hypnotizing to look at.

“The Triodetic foundation, as it is referred to, is becoming more typically used in the Arctic.  In a nutshell, it sits on top of the ground and keeps the building level and straight regardless of soil heaving and settling due to sinking or permafrost thawing.  The multi-point system is built to never allow damage to the integrity of the foundation.  Personally the Triodetic system looks to me like it was designed by some out-of-control engineer genius.”

After laying down a gravel pad (to help with drainage), the supports are screwed into 10" x 10" prefabbed concrete pads. Buildings in the background, L-R: existing dining facility, laboratory, maintenance shop (green building).

Bottom bracings come next.

Diagonal bracings are installed.

The top chord with beam saddles are placed. In the end, the super-strong, flexible foundation lifts the building ~3' above ground.

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