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Get to know the grandfather of all instruments, the Pipe Organ. We talked with Schoenstein & Company Organ Builders about the process of designing, constructing, and fine-tuning their instruments.
The Exploratorium’s new home has an ace up its sleeve for the next big earthquake—a single seismic joint, 300 feet long and two feet wide, will isolate the entire pier structure from the rest of San Francisco. Watch here as the bulkhead at Pier 15 is readied for the installation of the seismic joint. Beneath the 100-year-old piers that will soon house the new Exploratorium, highly specialized divers are working around the clock to repair and restore a part of the museum that most people will never see: the 1,200 concrete piles—sunk into the bay mud—that support the piers. The waters of San Francisco Bay are making a dramatic comeback as workers slowly remove a 1950s-era paved deck from between Piers 15 and 17 on the historic Embarcadero, at the site of the Exploratorium’s new home. In early November 2011, the east bridge, dedicated to the Fries family by San Francisco philanthropist Bill Fries, was put in place, connecting the terrace of the new Pier 15 Bay Observatory building to the adjacent side of Pier 17. When the museum opens in the spring of 2013, this bridge will offer prime views of the City and the Bay. Pouring concrete is an ongoing feature of construction at the Piers. This footage, captured in July 2011, shows the well-choreographed process involved, from pumping the concrete into rebar-latticed slabs via remote-controlled overhead boom, to vibrating the concrete to get rid of air pockets, to flattening the surface using 2x4s (“screed”) and rakes (“come-along tools”), to tamping in (“jitterbugging”) bits of sand and gravel, to the final smoothing and leveling of the finished surface. This pour created an extension to the southeast apron of Pier 15, adjacent to what will become the East Gallery. Take a look at the construction at Piers 15 and 17 from a different vantage point. This past August we recorded video of the Exploratorium's new home from a boat about 100 yards off the back of the piers. Framing of the Exploratorium's Observatory Building, the only completely new construction at at the piers, began in April 2011. Iron workers placed various sizes of steel beams in piles around the concrete base of the Observatory. Then, while a crane raised and held each beam aloft, the workers used metal spikes to line up the holes of the beams and inserted bolts, tightening them down to tie the structure together. Because the Observatory Building is less than two stories tall, the iron workers were allowed to shimmy across the beams without harnesses. Once this process was finished, the beams were plumbed and welded together. In January and February of 2011, the first of the large 72" in diameter piles were driven 160 feet in to the sea floor at Piers 15 and 17 in San Francisco, the new home of the Exploratorium. These new piles were installed between the two piers and along the south apron of Pier 15. In early March, the steel casings were filled with concrete. Construction at the Exploratorium's new home on the Embarcadero began in October 2010. Over a three day span in November 2010, the existing non-historic connector building on the east end of Piers 15 and 17 was demolished, revealing for the first time in 55 years a view out to the Bay. Join the Origins team as they travel to Antarctica. We sent Mary, Noel, Paul, and Julie to explore scientific wonders from McMurdo to the Pole. Learn all about the extreme science being conducted at the South Pole in a daily dispatch from Terra Australis Incognita!