Construction photo index
The New South Pole Station
Above, as of October 2007, how it really turned out.
Below, the artist's conception from 10 years ago...
Below, an earlier version with three pods, the C pod was to be future, and it later disappeared from the plans, and the skiway got moved.
During the 1980s NSF asked ITT/ANS for their thoughts on the new station, although in reality most of the early planning was done by Metcalf & Eddy. What you see below is one of several concepts worked up by drafter Dan Bauer and myself in 1987. We had a couple of different ideas using more arches, and a couple, including this one, involving elevated structures. What was on the mind here was that ITT had a fair amount of experience with operating, jacking and moving the huge DYE-site radar structures located on the Greenland icecap. Another of our ideas included a single larger square "Texas Tower" structure located about where the elevated station is now. For some reason all of our concepts provided for reusing the arches, and none of them included the dome.
The full report is available on the NSF website.
The top image is an aerial photo of the elevated station taken on 26 October 2007 by w/o Emrys Hall (USAP photo library). Below that are a couple of NSF's conceptual drawings of the new station. The first drawing is by T. Vaughan; both artist's conceptions are from Ferraro Choi and Associates. This is a 2-story structure with the "leading edge" facing the prevailing wind. The steel structure is elevated 10' above the initial graded snow surface, supported by many 36" heavywall pipe piles. These are designed to allow the structure to be jacked up in the future. Unlike the original elevated CAF, the jacking system was included in the design; it was even tested at the fabricator's shop before the material was shipped. In the conceptual views the ceremonial Pole is shown in the lower left corner, near a line of Pole survey markers.
As with the older domed station, preliminary design studies included various scale model structures which were set up at Pole so the drift patterns could be monitored. However, the detailed design of the aerodynamic leading edge included some sophisticated wind tunnel studies so that the design could be optimized.
The elevated structure now finally includes the dining area, lounges, a gym, medical, lab and computer spaces, offices and meeting rooms, and an emergency power plant, as well as berthing rooms for 154 people (the expansion to 154 spaces was funded in FY 2003). The structure has a total floor area of about 65,000 SF; the PRIVATE rooms for w/o's are 9'-8"x 8' and the rooms for summer folks are 9'-8"x 6'. Some of the rooms have (less-than 100% soundproof) demountable partitions so that couples can share a 2-person room. Many of these rooms include WINDOWS which were tested in CRREL's cold chambers for suitability at Pole's harsh temperatures. Another important feature of the station is that the emergency section of the station is isolated by thick insulation so that other portions of the facility can be winterized during emergencies when energy supplies are limited. Unlike the ATCO modules of the domed station, this structure has been designed and built to provide lighting, heating/ventilation, and fire protection, all in full compliance with current US building and safety codes. The original plan was that this berthing capacity would eliminate the need for the labor-intensive summer camp which must be frequently excavated, dug out, and moved...but given the planned construction schedule for ICECUBE, the 10m telescope, as well as completion of the elevated station, summer camp may be with us for a few years yet. Of course when the Dome was built to house the HUGE crowd of 33 people (expanded to 40 when the Annex was added), everyone thought there would be no need for summer camp...yeah, right.
The power plant, supply areas, garage and fuel storage are in buried arches, reused from the original station--some of these are being jacked up a few feet to align with the new arches, but all of these will soon be buried again as they were before construction started. The buried portion of the station is connected to the elevated structure with a cylindrical stair tower with 94 steps, equivalent to the 4-story climb to the top of the old Skylab (gasp). The old dome and skylab structures are being removed as the new facilities are completed, and all of the old materials will be removed from the continent in accordance with the Madrid Protocol environmental guidelines.
The planning and design process took many years of studies, reviews, and research--NSF needed to do the best job it could to provide a facility that would meet the long-range requirements, be constructible given the harsh site conditions, and be "sellable" to Congress. All of the detailed work paid off--the project received full funding including the expanded berthing ($150+ million).
At left is a 2000-era overall site plan for the station and its environs. Here are larger views, more information about this drawing, and links to features and more details. And recently I've added some 2005-2008 area maps, site plans and layouts, starting here.
At right is a closeup view of the main part of the station showing the new structures (unlike the site plan, this view is inverted with grid south at the top). The garage/shop building was completed in December 1999, and most of the fuel arch work was done the previous summer season. The power plant interior work was completed during the 2000 winter, and the unit is went on line in January 2001 (see my power plant pages for a historical perspective on the power plant). The first part of the elevated structure to be erected was sections A1/A2 (the portions closest to the new power plant). This included 50 berthing rooms and the new galley, which were erected and enclosed during the 2000-'01 summer. Winter interior buildout continued during the 2001 winter. Completion and occupancy was originally scheduled for the 2001-02 summer (along with erection and enclosing of sections A3 and B2). A3 and B2 were erected on schedule, but completion and beneficial occupancy of A1/A2 was delayed because of flight cancellations as well as problems with differential settlement. The differential settlement, which exceeded that calculated by the foundation designers, affected the utility connections between the buried and elevated portions of the station, and it also affected the wall coverings in the new structure.
In 2002-2003, the first construction effort was to jack and level the A pod, so as to allow completion of the utility connections and the final interior buildout. Fortunately, a detailed analysis of the station settlement data pointed to construction issues, such as point overloading caused by the temporary snow ramps which provided access to the construction areas) rather than problems with the original foundation design; now the general consensus is that the station foundations will perform satisfactorily over the long term.
Meanwhile, the interior punchlist work on A1/A2 continued, and after the jacking, erection started on B3, the last "front" portion of the station. The plan was to complete and enclose B3, but some of the steel framing was damaged and had to be reordered...so work turned to beginning foundation work on B1.
The plan was to achieve conditional acceptance for occupancy before station closing, but a last-minute glitch with the fire alarm systems required a slight delay. This was literally a "last-minute" problem, as at the scheduled time for station closing, the fire system tech reps had to be called back from McMurdo (where they were awaiting their CHC flight) and the cargoids in McM had to dig out and ship replacement parts cannibalized from the B pod fire alarm system. Fortunately and due to lots of hard work, the problems were fixed and occupancy of A1/A2 was approved on 4 March 3003 (Pole time).
Work continued during the 2003 winter on section A3. During the 2003-04 summer this space was officially accepted and occupied--providing the new medical facility, library, computer work area (cube farm!), laundry, and store/post office. Meanwhile, the B1 (berthing and emergency facilities/power plant) and B3 (communications and admin area) wings were erected and enclosed; foundations were put up for the last two pods A4 and B4, and work continued in the B2 science spaces. B2 was accepted and occupied beginning January 2005, and the final 3 wings (B3, A4 and B4) were occupied during the 2005-06 summer.
Dimensional note, for the elevated station, each "finger" is about 100'x 38', and the two linear sections A2/A3 and B2/B3 are each about 185'x48'. The supplemental berthing approved in FY2003 produced the complete pod A4. (The graphic above/right was prepared from NSF materials by Joel Michalski during his 1999 winter at Pole).
At left is one of NSF's summary schedule diagrams (this one from 2003-04), indicating the phased construction of the buried and above-ground facilities. An early version of this diagram and the rest of the detailed schedules were presented by NSF program manager Frank Brier to the support contract bidders in September, 1998; this is that original detailed timeline.
In addition to the construction photos indexed at the top left of this page, more construction photos are on the timeline pages starting here, have a look...