SSC Grounds HEQ/LCON (Heavy Equipment/Landscape Construction) was given the task of renovating the walking surfaces at the Bonfire Memorial with the stipulation that it MUST be complete by the end of October, in preparation of the 20th anniversary of the Bonfire collapse ceremony November 18. The project originated from the Bonfire Enhancement Committee, a collaborative effort between Student Affairs and Facilities and Dining Administration. The goal was to improve accessibility and relieve some of the maintenance struggle the loose aggregate entailed. The end result is a user friendly surface that reduces maintenance and enhances the overall experience of Bonfire Memorial. The walking surface was a 4” layer of angular, gray/black, Basalt Rock aggregate called “Black Star” placed loose, with stainless steel edging to contain it in areas not bordered by the granite stone of the Memorial. The original design called for an outside border of larger aggregate, about 16” wide, bordered by stainless steel edging and turf. The objective was to stay with original design intent of the team at Overland Partners, but to modify the surface to improve mobility and ease maintenance. One of the most difficult maintenance challenges was keeping the large and small aggregates segregated. There were also issues of mowing and trimming edges where the turf was only separated by a thin stainless steel barrier. It became a safety issue with stones being launched by mowers and trimmers. The aggregate also migrated within the path areas and a washboard effect would develop, requiring the entire path system to be mechanically regraded on a regular basis. Another major issue was it was not an ADA approved surface, difficult if not impossible, to push a wheelchair or walker through. Obviously, this needed to be addressed to allow access for all users. The solution to all of these issues was to bind the aggregate together with a product called Klingstone. This product would preserve the look of the original design, keep the rock in place and create a “hard” surface for improved mobility and reduced maintenance. Klingstone is applied as a liquid, but hardens in a matter of hours to “glue” the aggregate together. It initially will have a glossy appearance, but with UV exposure, the surface gloss will wear off and the finish of the original stone will be exposed. The porosity of loose aggregate will be maintained because the void space between the rocks is not filled and the water will be able to move through the surface. With the solution agreed upon, the challenge became executing the construction on the schedule that was demanded. The project was approved in August with a completion date of October 31. Approximately 25,000 square feet of aggregate needed to be removed and replaced. It was unknown exactly what the condition of the subgrade would be, but it was expected that some repair would be necessary. The existing underground drainage system would need to be tested and repaired, if necessary. Because we found some seepage issues on the entry plaza granite wall, it was decided that a behind wall drain system would be needed to rectify that issue. TGC, a local B/CS landscape contractor, was awarded the contract to perform the ground work and drainage renovations. Electrical junction boxes and portals that control the lighting along History Walk were covered by the original aggregate. With the incorporation of Klingstone, another access method was going to be required because “raking” was no longer an option. A design team came up with a removable tray that would allow the aggregate ‘look’ to remain on the surface, but still allow access to the junction boxes. Over 300 CY of new, graded, aggregate was placed, raked, and rolled, in order to smooth the surface before the Klingstone was applied. TGC hauled and placed all of the material, and Howell Pathways was responsible for the final grade and Klingstone Application. LCON, with SSC Grounds, provided some of the man power to roll and finish the grade, along with Howell Pathways. One of the requirements, and major challenges with the Klingstone application, is that the rock MUST be clean and dry when product is applied. All rock was pre-washed and dried before it was placed. It was then raked and rolled, and allowed additional time to dry. Humid mornings, and any type of dew or precipitation required that the binder application be delayed. If any moisture or dirt is in the rock, it will “foam,” causing an undesirable yellowing and foaming effect. In spite of the weather and other challenges, the contractors were able to meet their October 31 deadline, and were off site on schedule. Once all of the granite monument protection measures were removed, SSC Grounds mobilized and re-vamped the surrounding landscape. New plantings were installed, existing shrubs and trees received needed pruning jobs, and a fresh layer of mulch was applied by the HORT Teams. Maintenance crews mowed, trimmed, and edged everything, and over seeded with winter rye grass. Everyone pitched in on cleanup and detail work, and the Bonfire Memorial was in tip-top shape for the 20th Anniversary ceremony on the morning of November 18th.
submitted by Mike Teal, PLA ‘96, SSC Grounds Manager, LCON/HEQ