Swinerton In the News

Swinerton Builders Sacramento: August 25, 2014

Carpenter Skills on Display in Sacramento Area Projects

The new chapel at Jesuit High School in Carmichael is “a real work of art,” says Roberto Marquez, superintendent for general contractor Swinerton Builders.

Roberto Marquez, a long-time member of Local 46, remembers the day the steel arrived. “Three hundred and sixty pieces, and not one of them the same!”

It got even more complicated. The new chapel at Jesuit High School in Carmichael is relatively small. “But it’s the most complex, challenging and exciting job I’ve ever worked on,” says Marquez, superintendent for general contractor Swinerton Builders, “and I’ve been around for a while. … There’s not a straight wall in the place, except maybe in the restrooms. It’s a real work of art.”

It’s all about the gently curving walls that will carry worshipers into the main chapel, the high roofs, pocket windows, the varied pitches and sharp angles enhancing the worshippers’ experience.

“There are a lot of challenges,” says Concrete Services foreman Marc Messner, Local 46. “With all these curving walls, you’ve got hundreds of radiuses with so many different radius points, some of them out in the parking lot. And we keep losing the radius points, they get covered up by plumbing and electrical installations.

“We used Total Stations, but you have to verify with good old string and tape,” he adds. “Total Stations are great, but isn’t always 100 percent. The more you double-check everything, the better it goes.”

Messner notes things are moving along even with the challenges. “The most important thing is that we work as a team,” he says, “there’s no drama, there’s no me-first. It’s a beautiful job.”

The chapel is also a demonstration of the art of metal stud framing, with hundreds of studs supporting concentric double walls, each one with a different radius, and flat backing studs every two feet, aside from the usual structural studs.

“It’s all about carpenters doing layouts right, they have to be dead on,” Messner says. “It’s an architect’s fantasy, but we had to make it real.”

The outside panels are also unique. The building is covered with hundreds of 8’ and 10’ architectural concrete and fiber panels, each backed by layers of water- and fire-proofing, each of them held in place with stainless steel rivets.

“The trick is to hang them so that the spacing is an even 5/16” inch exactly,” says Nick Reich, Local 46, as he and his partner Zack Felking, also Local 46, maneuver one of the panels into place. “The ten-footers are a little tough,” he adds.

Along the way, Swinerton brought in rivet guns, “so that the guys didn’t develop arm issues,” Marquez says. “We have an impeccable safety record, we take every little cut and bruise seriously, back issues, you name it.”

The final challenge is time. Delayed from the beginning by permitting issues, the crew here—numbering as many as 35 workers at times—has done an enormous amount of work in a short time, and will do even more to prepare the $10 million chapel for the first mass in the middle of September, including the final touch, the installation of the finished wood panels.

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