A Concrete Fortress
The complexities in repurposing the Middough Building were many. Project financing included historic and new-market tax credits, which, of course, impacted design and construction. And, as true with many older buildings, old drawings did not always accurately portray what crews would uncover. As mentioned, except for the steel-framed top level, the Middough Building is essentially a concrete fortress.
“The building is filled with rebar, so it was challenging to find room to route the major services needed for the renovation,” explains Faller. “Also, each floor differed in its construction, with so many walls throughout and so many differ- ent kinds of programming for the space. All of that proved challenging from design and construction standpoints.”
Constructors employed technology to determine the best utility pathways. “We used sonar to see through the concrete and find the rebar,” says Bort, “so we could develop plans for pipe and line placement.”
Designers and contractors also employed building information management (BIM) software, which greatly aided in avoiding spatial conflicts.
Second-floor work entailed asbestos abatement of the existing waterproofing on the floor, which crews completed one-quarter of the floor at a time, according to Bort. The second-floor exterior plaster also contained asbestos, so floor enclosures were extended to the walls to provide seals for abatement work. With the second and fifth floors essentially wide open, interior- wall demolition was minimal.
As a complicating factor, Middough’s 300 employees continued to occupy the third and fourth floors throughout construction, so routing new services through those floors to upper and lower levels required work during the company’s off hours.
Making the Space Work
The Middough’s fifth floor proved ideal for location of the large rehearsal studios, as steel trusses spanned the space to provide expansive open areas. No more is there a need to choreograph ballets to account for the columns dotting previously used rehearsal space in the Idea Center, as was the case for the Cleveland Ballet, according to Einhouse.
To provide extra vertical space in the first-level CSU scene shop, crews cut two large openings in the 11-inch-thick second-level concrete
“Previously, CSU had to build sets on the stage,” says Bort. “Now, students can assemble a set in the scene-shop high bays, then disassemble it and take it down the street to the actual play stage. This gives students training in stage assembly and disassembly, an important task to learn.”
Crews also built over a ramp lead- ing to the second level from a garage entrance on East 13th to add second- level classroom space.
Originally, planners envisioned an enclosed bridge for transport of scenery to the Allen complex, but that was discarded during value engineering processes. To further improve cost-effectiveness, concrete floors in the Middough Building simply have been sealed, allowing for a durable surface without the added costs of floor coverings. This assists in giving the building an arts campus feel, according to Einhouse.
Crews lifted two air handlers through windows to install on the fifth level, with two more placed on the second, according to Bort. Electrical upgrades and new whole-building sprinkler systems necessitated after-hours access to occupied floors.
“We scheduled major power interruptions during nights,” says Bort. “We had to be mindful of Middough’s computer servers and their work needs.”
Interestingly, in keeping with historic- preservation requirements, the project had to maintain the existing hard ceilings on the second and fifth levels within 15 feet of exterior windows to allow the building to preserve the building’s traditional appearance from the street level. Crews also replicated some fifth-level decorative column plaster as well as some wood molding.
Exterior work was minimal, but later this year the west elevation will receive new windows and a new storefront as well as new exterior lighting, according to Bort.