By Leon T. Switzer
The largest move in North America this year started early in the morning on Nov 2nd and would have ended that same day if not for a few signatures and some backfill on the east side of the new garage. The CDS Building Movers team shut down forward progress about 40 feet from the 98 year old structures new home. CDS was told rolling over the parking garage with 1,700 tons could not resume until November 8th.
PART 1 (Nov 2nd)
The weather was less than ideal in the early morning hours moving day. I made my way to Lansdowne Park before sun-up and while pulling into the front gate, you could feel the buzz in the air. There were teams of workers all around the CDS trailer & groups of people standing in the parking lot waiting for sunrise. The surge of help came from building movers far and wide, many drove through the night to make it and some even brought equipment to lend a hand in moving massive steel drive plates.
In the end a team of 53 had assembled on site, almost doubling the number of CDS workers. Everyone was grateful for the show of help; however, CDS had to go to great lengths to get everyone approved to be on site with safety training and an orientation class on specific site protocol.
Eventstream was providing a live feed of the move and gave tape measure updates on the progress. The building started moving around 9am and after about 100 feet of progress workers were halted for a media tour with Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson.
Once the building got rolling again, there was not much getting in the way of a perfectly executed plan that would see teams of back-hoes and bobcats moving steel plates from one side of the building to the other. Everyone remained focus on tracking the building along the 2 steel survey lines that had been placed out and confirmed hours before the move. These lines would be key in getting the building lined up to track over the garage square which was paramount for hitting the predetermined foundation points for the building.
CDS owner John Sweetnam & project manager Barb Pierce both took turns at the drive stick that was manned by Richard Lorraine most of the day. At days end the Horticulture Building had travelled about 340’ to the east and the 48 dollies were chalked & blocked.
Part 2 (Nov 8th)
The second part of this historic move would not come without some minor delays. After the morning safety meeting CDS would roll the building 1 inch from the top of the parking garage and be forced to wait for final approval on shoring and compaction around the garage area. Once the approval came, everyone knew the task at hand.
Gab Matyiko who was present and lending his expertise on stage one of the move, now his legendary father Jerry making an appearance for the home stretch. John Sweetnam reach out early to the Matyiko family for the use of their dollies and pumps for this massive move at the projects inception.
Along with Jerry & Gab came the expert house mover Larry Cline & structural steel engineer Keith Blackwell. Larry Cline has unmatched knowledge about moving some of the biggest buildings on the planet. His hands-on approach a calming demeanor puts everyone at ease when problems arise. Larry also has the most knowledge of unique 60 pump unified jacking system used on this project. Keith Blackwell may have made a name for himself in the moving industry with the large structural cage design for the Horticulture Building. The lift went just as stated with the 98 year old structure having no idea it had been displaced.
CDS site supervisors Guy Sergerie & Mario Lapalme docked the ship within 5mm of perfection. 4 pen lasers tracked a steel cable over some 484’ with 2 drive points. The final 5 pushes went from feet to inches in just seconds and in the end when the big lasers were brought out to confirm the final location many handshakes and smiles confirmed that the building now had reached its new home.
Workers quickly chalked the 48 dollies and the drive brakes were applied to the massive engines that a pushed the building forward. The move doubled the previous record for weight in Canada and we may never see a larger building preservation in our lifetime. This truly was a unique experience and opportunity for everyone involved.