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posted: 6/25/2014 5:30 AM

Oakton replacing slab that cracked

Problem delays building's opening

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  • A new concrete slab is being constructed on the west side of Oakton Community College's new Science and Health Careers Center. The old slab, now demolished, was cracking.

      A new concrete slab is being constructed on the west side of Oakton Community College's new Science and Health Careers Center. The old slab, now demolished, was cracking.
    Christopher Placek | Staff Photographer

  • Video: New name for college center


Crews are constructing a new concrete slab to replace one that was cracking at the site of Oakton Community College's new $39 million Science and Health Careers Center in Des Plaines.

The old 8,300-square-foot section of the slab on grade at the west end of the building experienced settlement issues and has been demolished to make way for a new slab, expected to be complete by November, according to Oakton President Margaret Lee.

The problems with the slab have delayed the opening of the new 93,000-square-foot building to the start of the spring semester in January. Officials had previously hoped to open the building for this summer's classes but had to push back their timeline because of weather-related delays. Construction began in April 2012.

Weather -- specifically the floods of April 2013 -- may have contributed to the settlement issues underneath the concrete slab, though Lee said the exact cause is still unknown.

The college's board of trustees on Tuesday night retroactively approved a $40,000 contract with AECOM, a Warrenville-based engineering firm that conducted soil testing on site.

Lee said the college will share costs of repair work with contractors Turner Construction and Legat Architects, though how the costs will be split is still to be determined. The college isn't pursuing litigation against either contractor; Lee said the goal now is to get the building finished.

"Let's get it fixed, and then assess who may be responsible," she said.

An exact cost for the repairs is also unknown, but Lee said it would be covered by the project's contingency budget, which is up to 10 percent of the $39 million total project cost.

The new slab is being constructed by installing some 90 micropiles, adding geofoam for further structural support, installing rebar, and then pouring concrete. The "structural slab" differs from the old one, which literally sat on the ground, Lee said.

The building itself is substantially complete, and officials plan to begin moving in by October. It's the first major construction project since the Des Plaines campus opened in 1980.

Also Tuesday, Trustee Jody Wadhwa proposed the new building be named in Lee's honor. Lee, appointed president in 1995, will retire in June 2015 after a total of 30 years of employment at Oakton.

"I think it's the right thing to recognize her contribution and service she has rendered to this college these past many years," said Wadhwa, who noted that other buildings have been named for past Oakton leaders.

The board is expected to formally approve the naming of the building in Lee's honor at its next meeting in August.

The building is the marquee project in Oakton's $68.5 million five-year Facilities Master Plan, adopted by college trustees in December 2010. The facility will house Oakton's anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, earth science, medical laboratory technology, nursing, physics, and physical therapy assistant programs.

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