In Miami, successfully assembling an “orange”


We’re building the iconic Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami. The planetarium is in the foreground.

Our team at Miami’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science project just assembled 32 concave orange peel-like pieces – weighing about 50,000 pounds per panel – to form a full dome planetarium. The operation required 24-hour-a-day/seven-day-a-week work over two-and-a-half weeks to precisely place and connect the segments.

Our team had been planning this unusual operation since we joined this project in May. The operation began with erecting a massive, 50-foot-tall center shoring tower and setting a precast dome cap, which was 100 percent welded off before any of the “orange-peel” segments could be rigged and lifted into place. The shoring tower was necessary as the segments couldn’t support themselves until all 32 of them were in position, welded and inspected.


To maneuver the pieces, we brought in a specialized 550-ton hydraulic crane with a superlift. 

Once the center pieces were in place, our team installed the orange-peel perimeter segments opposite one another in a counter-clockwise rotation to avoid lateral load on the dome cap. To maneuver the pieces, we brought in a specialized 550-ton hydraulic crane with a superlift. This sequence required erecting the panels during the day and welding the panels at night to be ready to erect new panels in morning and maintain schedule.


The team erected panels during the day and welded the panels at night so they could be ready to erect new panels in morning and maintain schedule.

Our team paid close attention to safety during this critical and not-so-traditional precast operation. The shoring tower was an engineered system that was inspected daily before work could commence, as it served double duty as a working platform and shoring tower. The planetarium was barricaded off at all times to only allow specially trained and authorized personnel to enter. The welders were working from both an OSHA-approved guard rail system located within the working platform system, along with strategically placed spider lifts. All personnel were certified riggers, flagmen and welders. This day and night operation had no safety incidents.

At the end of last year, our Frost Museum team successfully executed one of the world’s most unusual concrete pours: creating a martini glass-shaped 500,000-gallon seawater aquarium tank through a non-stop 25-hour, 1,200-cubic-yard placement.

Skanska USA

Skanska USA

Skanska USA is one of the largest, most financially sound construction and development companies in the U.S., serving a broad range of clients in the public and private sectors, including those in transportation, power, industrial, water/wastewater, healthcare, life science, education, sports & entertainment, data centers, government, aviation and commercial industries.

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