Our Story in Concrete

Posted on April 23rd, 2014

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By: MiaSci

Concrete. The word itself may not initially excite much inspiration – unless you’re one of those who knows something about it. Then the word transforms into a series of interrelated things – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (“STEAM” in museum-speak). For the construction of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, the precise science, engineering, and art of concrete becomes even more critical, and more interesting, due to the sheer complexity of the building itself. Baker Concrete Construction is responsible for making it all happen, and Ken Hover, an independent concrete consultant and Professor of Engineering at Cornell University now also assigned to the project, sat down with us to tell us all about it. Dr. Hover began his career as a military engineer, repairing deteriorating structures, but soon was more interested to know just what had caused the deterioration in the first place. This motivation led to a long career working on a multitude of construction projects, ensuring that structures are built to the highest standards. In regards to the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science project, he started the conversation with two statements that were amazing and inspiring in and of themselves.

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is not just your everyday concrete building - it is destined for the covers of science and design publications.

The only commodity in the world used in greater capacity than concrete is water.

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The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science from the live feed camera, April 2014

What makes the structure of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science so special? Many building are made up of a series of rectangles, each story the same as the one below it. The Museum on the other hand, is made up of four separate buildings – each one is a different shape, each level is a different size, shape, height, or configuration from the one below it, and many parts of the structure are visible from every angle. From a concrete construction perspective, all of that means there is no repetition. Each story, column, beam, and floor needs to be individually considered in terms of engineering and aesthetics (remember, concrete is all about “STEAM”).

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The uniquely shaped molds that will become the concrete columns supporting the Museum’s Gulf Stream tank

A central feature of the Museum will be the 500,000 gallon Gulf Stream aquarium tank, which will be supported by six unique concrete columns. What goes into making a single concrete column? First, you make the concrete itself, mixing cement powder, water, sand, and stone. (This recipe has not changed since Julius Caesar’s chief architect wrote it down over 2,000 years ago, but for this project, there are lots of additional additives to this concrete which make our mix special.) Then you test the consistency by pouring some out onto a flat board. As the concrete spreads, you check that it spreads evenly, and swirl it around to make sure that there isn’t any excess water. You create a mold for the column using wooden forms and steel beams, and then, you do not pour the concrete in to the top of the form mold. Instead, you pump it in from the bottom of the form, letting the concrete push itself up as it fills (this method minimizes air bubbles). After curing and another round of quality control for structure and aesthetics, the column is ready to serve its purpose.

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Pouring a small amount of concrete to test consistency and quality

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The arm of the concrete truck, pumping concrete into the column form

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The concrete being pumped into the bottom of the form (by the white arm on the right, which connects the concrete truck and the column)

It takes a mindboggling amount of concrete to construct any building, and there is a “carbon footprint” associated with making cement powder. But the Museum is taking every possible measure to be “green,” even in the construction process. We are using a material called “blast furnace slag” to minimize the amount of cement needed for the structure. This byproduct in the production of iron and steel had historically been discarded as waste, but when it was found to be chemically similar to cement and just as strong, it began to be used in the construction of environmentally friendly building projects, like the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. This concrete technology is just one of the many reasons why the Museum is earning a Gold-Level LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification.

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Dr. Hover (left) with Ezra Garcia (Project Manager, of Hill International)

At the end of the conversation, Dr. Hover summed up the job of a concrete consultant and construction firm like this:

Our job is to bridge the initial dream, the architectural drawings, and the reality of a building for everyone to enjoy.

From the beautiful rendering of the finished Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science below, that seems like a big job.

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The initial dream and end state of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, bridged by concrete construction

Galaxy Gala and Big Bang 2014

Posted on April 1st, 2014

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By: MiaSci

Building a new museum facility that will become a cultural icon of a vibrant city is by nature a team effort of Museum staff and community support. The Museum’s annual Galaxy Gala and Big Bang event is the showpiece of this team effort, as proceeds from the event support the Museum’s new state-of-the-art facility currently under construction in downtown Miami’s Museum Park.

Over 700 of Miami’s business, civic, philanthropic, and young professional leaders recently gathered at the 2014 Galaxy Gala and Big Bang event. Founded by Museum Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, this 12th annual Galaxy Gala was the most out-of-this-world experience yet. The Bells were joined by Museum naming donors Patricia and Phillip Frost, Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas, and other Museum Board of Trustee members, in a spectacular winter wonderland designed by WowFactor. Hosted by WPLG Channel 10′s Laurie Jennings, the Gala festivities were led by Co-Chairs Nancy Batchelor and Nicole Lozano, Philantropic Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, and Host Chairs Alicia Cervera Lamadrid and Alberto Lamadrid. “With our new home in Museum Park now going vertical, this year’s Galaxy Gala was an opportunity for individual and corporate supporters to come together for a spectacular evening of entertainment, fine dining and dancing – all in support of what will be among the world’s most innovative and educational museums,” said Nancy Batchelor.

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The 2014 Galaxy Gala winter wonderland (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

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Museum Board of Trustees Co-Chairs, and Galaxy Gala Founders, Trish and Dan Bell (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

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Museum naming donors Patricia and Phillip Frost with Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas (right), (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

Gala attendees were treated to an evening of fine dining and dancing, as well as amazing media pieces showcasing the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility, and some of the technologies that will be highlighted within. By the end of the evening, we raised more than at any previous Gala. Here are some of the many spectacular highlights!

Joseph Falk, Vice-Chair of the Museum’s Board of Trustees, with help from an alien avatar who greeted attendees via augmented reality, talked about the importance of donating as a way to collectively build the best Museum and the best community possible. Using MobileCause, attendees were able to donate by text, and with each donation, the temperature on a virtual thermometer rose and rose, culminating in a stellar gift of $100,000 from Museum Board members Swanee and Paul DiMare. In a few short minutes, this spontaneous giving spree surpassed $175,000 in all. Larry Pimentel, Museum Board of Trustees member and President of Azamara Club Cruises, also generously auctioned two cruises earlier in the evening, contributing an additional  $50,000.

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Joseph Falk, Museum Board of Trustee Vice-Chair, accompanied by our alien avatar (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

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Museum Board of Trustees members Paul and Swanee DiMare (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

During the Gala, attendees didn’t just mingle with the elite of the Miami community. In addition to the alien avatar, there were whales, penguins, and polar bears that joined in the fun via a spectacular augmented reality display from AR Video Technologies, developed by Hungarian software development company Appshaker. This brought the Gala’s winter wonderland theme to stunning 3-dimensional life on a massive 19feet by 9feet LED display screen provided by Cin City Studios, with support from Museum construction firm Suffolk. Words and images can’t quite do this justice, so if you weren’t at the Gala, and would like a preview of some of the amazing technology that you’ll see in the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, check out this link to see what the augmented reality experience at the Gala was really like.

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The augmented reality experience allowed these guests to meet this polar bear (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

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Guests having fun reaching out to the polar bear in the room (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

Awards were given during the Gala by the Museum, presented by Museum Board of Trustee Co-Chairs Trish and Dan Bell, to acknowledge those who have exhibited exceptional leadership and commitment to the development and building of our new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. The Vanguard Award was presented to Paula and Robert Brockway of Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables and Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay, for their substantial contribution to empowering and educating the larger community by initiating change, transformation, and innovation. The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science award was given to Museum Board of Trustee member Mitchell Less to honor his outstanding dedication and support of the Museum, and the Visionary Award went to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, for providing leadership, initiative, and inspiration in originating and advancing the Museum’s mission and vision.

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From left to right: Dan and Trish Bell, Paula and Robert Brockway, Mitchell and Emily Less, Lourdes and Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

Purple was a dominant color for the ambiance as well as many of the beautiful ensembles at the Gala, which was to honor the Venus Orbit project. Led by Museum Board member Julia Rea Bianchi, Venus Orbit was established as an opportunity for 1,000 dynamic women to join forces and donate $1,000 each, $1,000,000 in total, to support the construction of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility. When the goal is reached, the Knight Foundation will donate a 50% match, making the grand total a stunning $1,500,000. Over 40 Venus Orbit members attended the Gala (representing 10% of all women in attendance), and even more fabulous women joined during the Gala.

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Venus Orbit women (left to right): Bunny Bastian (Venus Orbit Supernova level), Swanee DiMare (Venus Orbit Honorary Chair and Museum Board member), Paula Brockway (Mercedes-Benz of Coral Gables, Mercedes-Benz of Cutler Bay (Venus Orbit Corporate Sponsor)), Julia Rea Bianchi (Venus Orbit Chair), Trish Bell (Museum Board Co-Chair, Venus orbit member), (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

Even though the Gala took place at the JW Marriott Marquis, guests were still able to visit our yet-to-be-completed facility, thanks to an updated animated fly-through media piece from 3D2. Even if you have flown through this video before, take another flight, and look out for brand new updates, including a visualization of the River of Grass exhibit, marine animals swimming through the Gulf Stream tank, a sneak peek of an immersive media wall experience (look for the whale swimming by), and spectacular views of Museum Park.

The new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science facility will not only be a place to visit and learn, it will be a place to inspire the next generation. Robert Berkowitz, Museum Board of Trustee member and owner of Multivision Video & Film, generously produced a film that highlights people from around Miami who are leading their respective fields of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, and education, as well as young people who may fill those roles in the future. Each were asked about their inspirations and what the Museum represents to them, and the resulting video, shown at the Gala, is inspiring in and of itself.

Exceptional high school students from the Museum’s Upward Bound Math & Science program were also honored at the Gala. This program, funded by the US Department of Education, prepares high school students from underrepresented backgrounds, and who represent the first generation in their families to attend college, for postsecondary study and careers in science and technology. Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho met with the six Upward Bound students in attendance at the Gala, who had been chosen as finalists for a scholarship from JP Morgan Chase. Based on academic achievement, participation in the program, and a final essay, Alexander King was honored with the award, presented by JP Morgan Chase Managing Director Tony Baumer.

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From left to right: Tony Baumer (JP Morgan Chase), Alexander King (Upward Bound student and scholarship winner), and Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

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Upward Bound students and JP Morgan Chase award finalists: Leandra Gonzalez, Aminah Angrand, Claudia Gourdet, Miami-Dade Superintendent of Schools Alberto Carvalho, Mystic Gibson, Elizabeth Dossous (photo credit: Sonia Nunez)

Following the Gala was the Big Bang, hosted by the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science’s Young Patrons under the leadership of Museum’s Thamiah Tutt. This was a chance to continue the party and dance the night away, as the winter wonderland transformed, thanks to support from Hubble Sponsor Perry Ellis and Cocktail Sponsor Bacardi, into an upscale nightclub, complete with a DJ, hors d’oeuvres, and an open cocktail bar.

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At the Big Bang, from left to right: Marissa Leichter, Tori Anderson, Caressa Lanier, Estrellita Sibila, Thamiah Tutt (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

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Partying at the Big Bang (photo credit: Concord Advisory Group)

 

THANK YOU!

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Thanks to our exceptional Board of Trustees!
Board members present at the Gala: Trish Bell, Dan Bell, Joseph Falk, Mitchell Less, Alexander P. Adams, Bruce Bennett, Ted Caplow, Stephen Monroe, Sergio Akselrad, Robert S. Berkowitz, Julia Rea Bianchi, Aldo C. Busot, Luis Diaz, Paul DiMare, Swanee DiMare, George Foyo, Michael L. Gerrard, Jane Gilbert, Vanessa Grout, Boris Hirmas, Angelika Hunnefeld, Alicia Cervera Lamadrid, Joseph P. Mello, Gabriel Montoya, Larry Pimentel, David A. Schwedel, Gordon Silver, Walid G. Wahab
Board members not able to be present at the Gala: Victor M. Alvarez, Greg W. Barnes, Marko Dimitrijevic, Taffy Gould, Walter L. Revell, Anne O. “Sandy” Batchelor, Isadore Hecht Havenick, Henry J. Pfleger, Jr., Michael Spring, Paul D. Weiss, and Guillermo “Willy” Gomez (Honorary Board Member)

Thanks to all of our Gold sponsors of the Gala: The Astor Companies, The Claudia and Steven Perles Family Foundation, and  The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Major Event Underwriters included Bacardi, Neiman Marcus, JW Marriott Marquis,  and Southern Wine & Spirits. Official Media sponsors of the Galaxy Gala and Big Bang were Miami Magazine, Selecta, and WPBT2.

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It’s coming soon! This architectural model was created by Grimshaw Architects (some of the pieces were printed by a 3D printer), and presented at the Gala (photo credit: Alexandra Kuechenberg)

Boulders of Coral – 60 Tons!

Posted on March 14th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

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The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science recently received a donation fo quarried coral rock to be used in the new Museum’s live coral exhibit.  The large boulders weighing anywhere from 1-3 tons each will be stacked to create a natural coral rock base to which the live coral colonies that we are currently growing will be attached.  The benefits of using coral rock is that the geological composition of the rock is the same as a real coral reef.  Much of the rock contains fossilized coral and sea shells. We will begin constructing the base formation at the current Museum and utilize a stone mason to sculpt the rock face to create niches and holes for the fish and other animals which will inhabit the live coral exhibit.  The base formation will be disassembled and transported to the new Museum exhibit when the construction is complete.

The rock was donated by Tetra Tech, a company that is providing environmental engineering and consulting services for the Port of Miami Project.   They are working on creating the artificial reef that is part of the project.  Craig Kruempel, Senior Scientist/Project Manager and Jesse Davis, Coastal Engineer, of Tetra Tech worked with the Museum’s Senior Curator of Living Collections Skip Uricchio to determine the correct composition of the rock and the total amount needed to construct the exhibit base.  The total amount of rock donated was approximately 60 tons!  The Museum is very grateful to Tetra Tech and Craig and Jesse for their expertise  and assistance with this unique phase of the exhibit construction as well as the generous donation of the rock to make our Museum reef come alive.

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The Museum Wins Innovation in Sustainability Award – Even Before Opening Day

Posted on March 12th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science is not simply a museum, and it’s not simply a building. It is a shining example of how innovation and sustainable methods, materials, and approaches can be an integrated into all aspects of grand new project. From the development of the exhibits and programs to the smart and green functionality of the building itself, the Museum will highlight south Florida environments in indoor and outdoor exhibits such as a 600,000 gallon Gulfstream aquarium – all within a facility designed to set the standard of environmental stewardship in energy efficiency, water conservation, sustainable materials, and more.

The Museum is already being recognized for these efforts, even before the official opening day. The British Consulate-General, Florida and UK Trade and Investment has honored the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science with a Britweek Business Innovation Award for Innovation in Sustainability.

Kevin McGurgan, HM Consul-General, Florida invited Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas to accept the award at the GREAT Business Innovation Awards Gala dinner last week. The Gala also served as the launch for the 2nd annual BritWeek Miami, a weeklong event celebrating the economic and cultural relationship between Florida and the United Kingdom. Ms. Thomas joined Taima Jones, one of the organizers of BritWeek Miami, more than 150 other business, political, and civic leaders from across Florida, as well as British musicians and celebrity hosts, at this event which honors those individuals and organizations that have contributed to the $2.6 billion trading relationship between Florida and the UK.

The Patricia and Phillip Frost is honored to have received this Innovation in Sustainability Award, and will work to maintain these efforts through the completion of the building construction phase, making every aspect of our building a giant exhibit to enjoy when we open our doors!

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Museum President & CEO Gillian Thomas (in red shirt) and BritWeek organizers, on a tour of the Museum’s construction site

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Ms. Thomas (at right) with Taima Jones, co-organizer of BritWeek Miami

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Ms. Thomas (in red) accepting the Innovation Award for Sustainability on behalf of the Museum, along with the night’s other awardees

Drone Flyover!

Posted on February 11th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

The new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will showcase science and research with global implications, as well as cutting-edge technology that helps us understand our world and improve our lives. The building itself is even an exhibit of sorts, with green design features and smart technologies incorporated throughout, and right now, all of this is under development and under construction. We have kept you up to date on the progress, but now, we can show you what’s in store using one of those examples of cutting-edge technology that may eventually find its way into a Museum exhibit. Museum staff used a DJI Phantom, which is an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or “drone,” to soar high above the construction site (more than 150 feet up) and give us whole new views of what is to come. This drone has intelligent orientation control, remote control unit, high intensity LED lights, the ability to travel 22 miles/hour and reach more than 2,000 feet in the air, and even the capability to automatically return “home” on autopilot, in the event of a communication failure. Come along and fly with us – up, up, and away!

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The drone that flew over the Museum: a DJI Phantom

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Getting ready to set the drone free at the Museum construction site

 

See the drone in action, taking off right next to our new Museum!

 

 

Now get onboard the drone and soar over the Museum!

In the video below, you will take off and fly up alongside the spherical structure that will become the new planetarium. As you gain altitude, you can see the two rectangular buildings on either side of the planetarium. About 1 minute into your journey, you will find yourself above the plaza area, with its beautiful planters, looking west. You will see one of the rectangular parts of the building on the right (the planetarium is behind), and a curved wall that is the beginning of the building that will house the 500,000 gallon Gulf Stream aquarium tank. As you turn around and face the bay (at about 1:30minutes), you will see our neighbor, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, across the plaza. Your journey quickly takes you now to a view directly downward on the building that will house the aquarium features. You can see the square tube of the elevator shaft, and (at about 1:55minutes) the support structures for the tank reaching up in 6 beams forming a hexagon. At 2:50minutes, you are back at the planetarium sphere, and will see the public transportation track alongside US-395 that will drop visitors right at the Museum after it opens. Now you will circle around (at 3:10minutes), to see all of our future neighbors: the American Airlines Arena and the Miami Heat to the south, the beautiful bay and Port Miami to the east, and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to the north. Prepare for landing as you descend more than 150 feet to the ground. See you next time!

What’s Cool About Concrete?

Posted on January 20th, 2014

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By: MiaSci

The answer to the question in the title is: a whole lot more than you may think. Concrete is literally part of the structure and foundation of all the fun and fascinating experiences that will take place in and around our new, state-of-the-art  Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. But concrete itself is fascinating, and Hill International, Inc., Owner’s Representative for our new Museum project, shared some interesting tidbits with us to prove it.

Did you know that…

Concrete has been made since the days of the Greeks, Romans, and possibly even earlier? The Roman Pantheon, built in 126 AD still stands, and is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

Plain concrete is formed by mixing cement, fine aggregate (sand), coarse aggregate (crushed stone or gravel), and water.  When mixing these ingredients in specified proportions, a chemical reaction between the cement-water mix produces hardened concrete with properties similar to stone.

Similar to stone, concrete has a very high compressive strength (meaning it can withstand heavy loads), but its tensile strength (which refers to its ability to withstand being stretched or pulled) is barely 10% of its compressive capacity.  To remedy this, “reinforced concrete” was developed, which has embedded steel bars within the concrete in areas that would be subjected to tension.

How does that help reinforce the concrete?

It creates a material that combines the compressive strength of concrete, and the tensile strength of steel, and still allows it to be poured and molded into any shape or form needed for structural support. “Prestressing tendons” made of highly tensile steel cables can be added to the concrete for additional tensile strength.

What about the concrete at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science?

The reinforced concrete compressive strength exceeds 5,000 pounds per square inch.

The tensile strength of the embedded steel reinforcement bars exceeds 60,000 pounds per square inch.

A network of prestressing tendons are being installed in the Gulf Stream Tank, which can resist up to 270,000 pounds for square inch.

Here are some current photos of concrete at our construction site, now that we all have a better appreciation for how cool concrete really is.

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A concrete mixing truck pouring into a concrete pump, which will transport the concrete into the planetarium dome molds

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Hose from pump truck pouring concrete into the forms in the planetarium (steel reinforcement bars can be seen in place)

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Top view of the planetarium forming and concrete

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Concrete finishing operations