Saving the Sycamores

Two sycamore trees near the entrance of The Corning Museum of GlassThere are two sycamore trees growing near the entrance ramp to the Admissions Lobby of the Museum. As part of the construction on the new North Wing, a sanitary sewer line has to be re-routed between the trees to be outside of the footprint of the new addition.  The logical route for the new line is in between these two trees.  Informed opinion said that a trench deep enough for the sewer line, and wide enough to safely accommodate a crew to install the pipe, could damage the sycamores.

However, we quickly identified a solution – use a borer to avoid damage and save the trees.  Edger Enterprises, Inc. of Elmira Heights, NY was the subcontractor for this project.  The first step was to dig two holes.  One is at each end of the bore. Next, trench boxes were installed to protect workers from cave-ins.

A laser is used to check that the track is level.

A laser is used to check that the track is level.

After that, a 40 foot long track was installed on leveled, tamped crushed stone. Hydraulics at the end of the boring rig push the entire auger, its plastic coating sleeve and rig forward into the dirt. In our soil, the auger moves forward quite quickly, about one foot per minute.

The track has square holes in the rail.  The boring machine has corresponding dogs which fit into the holes which are spaced about 18 inches apart.  The truck has sleeves with augers inside.  There are three 20 foot long sections and one 10 foot long section.

The track has square holes in the rail. The boring machine has corresponding dogs which fit into the holes which are spaced about 18 inches apart.

The truck has sleeves with augers inside. There are three 20 foot long sections and one 10 foot long section.

The truck has sleeves with augers inside. There are three 20 foot long sections and one 10 foot long section.

After all 70 feet of sleeves are installed and the bore is completed, the augers are withdrawn and dismantled one at a time.  The 24 inch sleeve remains in place for the 18 inch sewer line to be installed inside it. The light green pipe is the new sewer line.  If you look closely, you can make out the sleeve hidden in the dirt.  The brown pipe laid diagonally to it is the old sewer pipe. At the top of the picture, you can see the bottoms of the tree trunks, protected from harm.

The old pipe, made of ceramic or vitrified clay, had been damaged.

The old pipe, made of ceramic or vitrified clay, had been damaged.

The set up takes quite a bit longer than the boring, but the process is worth the time in order to preserve the two sycamore trees, which will become part of the new one-acre campus green. Designed by landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand Associates, the football field-sized outdoor space will feature a large central lawn area, with a terraced plaza and more large canopy trees in addition to the sycamores.

Landscape rendering by Reed Hilderbrand Associates of overview and plaza.

Landscape rendering by Reed Hilderbrand Associates of overview and plaza.

To design the green space, the Reed Hilderbrand team researched the history of the Museum campus, which includes buildings by the architectural firms Harrison & Abramowitz, Gunnar Birkerts, Smith-Miller + Hawkinson, and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.

For the North Wing Expansion, they are collaborating with the project architect Thomas Phifer and Partners. The plan will include tall canopy trees to provide shade, and showcase the architecture of the new North Wing contemporary gallery, which features a 150-foot-long window wall overlooking the campus green.

Reed Hilderbrand has worked with many museums including The Clark in Williamstown, MA, Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, TX, Phoenix Art Museum in Phoenix, AZ, and Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, NY. Their work has been recognized by numerous local and national awards. In 2005, they were selected as The Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices, and they have twice received the prestigious American Society of Landscape Architects Award of Excellence in 1997 and 2007.

Learn more at www.cmog.org/expansion.

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John Cowden works with special projects at The Corning Museum of Glass and supported the Hot Glass Show Innovation theater construction project in his retirement. Cowden was a supervisor and narrator at the Hot Glass Show from 1999 to 2011. Before joining the Museum, Cowden had more than 10 years of experience in the field of glassworking, primarily using cold working techniques, processes such as slumping, making molds, grinding, and polishing, where time is not a pressure.

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