July 9, 2005

Donie Bret-Harte and Mike Abels represented the IAB Toolik Management Team, Acting Station Manager Tyler Freeman attended. Donie Bret-Harte recorded these notes, in consultation with others who attended the meeting.

Mike Abels presented the final concept drawings for the proposed Science Support Building (SSB) at Toolik, in order to allow one more round of user comments. A number of significant changes have been made since March 2005, when it was presented at the Arctic LTER meeting for user comments. Mike also gave a brief history of the changes in design since the idea of the SSB was first proposed as an upgrade in 1996. The SSB is intended to meet the needs for year-round communications, office space, lab space, winter storage, and a warm space in which vehicles and snow machines can be staged or worked on in winter. In addition, the building is designed to allow placement of roof-mounted instruments such as radiometers and cameras. Mike explained that VPR has been tasked by NSF to design the building, so this concept drawing, once finalized, will be used as the basis for a design process that will generate a blueprint for the building. It is not yet clear when the building will actually be built, as that depends on funding..

Users had a number of questions about the building, and some suggestions. A major topic of discussion was whether the labs in the SSB should contain fume hoods. At present, fume hoods are not included in the concept drawing, because of concern about whether condensation and the height of the chimney for the fume hoods would interfere with the viability of roof-mounted instruments. Mike Abels reported that the fume hoods had to vent at least 30 feet above the roof, which would make the chimney very tall and could interfere with the view for atmospheric instruments. Users pointed out that the lab space would be much more flexible and useful in both summer and winter if at least some of the labs had fume hoods. Chris Crockett commented that if the SSB is intended to serve as the primary winter laboratory, fume hoods would be necessary. Mary Anne Evans pointed out that if the concern was that people not be exposed to fumes from the fume hoods while on the roof, the fume hoods could be turned off when roof access was required. Greg Goldsmith commented that it would be useful to poll users and prospective users as to their fume hood requirements. Mike agreed to look into the possibilities with regard to fume hoods..

Prior to the meeting, George Kling pointed out that it would make sense for the primary entrance into the communication/computer room to be at the end nearest the front door, rather than at the other end of the room, as shown in the concept drawing. Others agreed, and Mike commented that this change would be very easy. Scott Houghton commented that at least one of the garage doors needs to be tall, to accommodate the loader. Scott also commented that as maintenance manager, he would appreciate it if the building is easy to maintain and functional. He is not too keen on the offset in the building that the architect added to make it more visually interesting. Mike explained that the building is conceived as 2 boxes put together, and that it would not be any more expensive to have the offset than to have a straight side. Scott also commented that it would be nice to have operable windows for ventilation at a height that people could look out of while working in the garage/warehouse section of the building..

Chris Crockett asked whether the building will be insulated for heat and for sound, so that people working in the labs would not hear the rumble of machinery from the garage/warehouse. He also expressed concern that the ventilation for the lab side and the garage/warehouse side be kept separate, so that there is no air contamination in the lab side. The source of water for the bathroom was not apparent in the concept drawing. Scott and Mike explained that the water tank will be located above the mechanical room on the garage/warehouse side. This conserves space and allows for gravity feed of the water if necessary. Mary Anne commented that for such a large building, there don't seem to be many outside doors (only one per side). Scott responded that in a building intended for winter use, the number of doors should be kept to a minimum. Mary Anne asked whether the railings on the roof would trap snow. Mike commented that open railings were chosen to reduce drifting..

Mary Anne asked whether the SSB will replace the existing shipping/receiving tent. The shipping tent will stay. Scott commented that the garage/warehouse will be open for science use in summer, and will not be wasted space in any sense. The garage will allow vehicle maintenance that cannot currently be done at Toolik, including oil changes. In addition to storage, it will also provide a warm place to stage vehicles and snow machines in winter, which will be very useful..

Chris Crockett asked about the timetable for receiving comments in the design phase of the building. Mike responded that the design phase will take months, and there will be lots of opportunities for further user comments..

Adrian Green asked whether there are any plans for a Toolik library, and whether that should be located in the new building. Users agreed that a Toolik library would be useful, but there was concern about who would maintain it and buy the books. Mary Anne asked about where the herbarium will find a home once the GIS office moves to the new building. The current plan is for the herbarium to move into the old wash-up trailer, which will have to be moved to make room for the SSB. There was some discussion last year about moving the isotope-free lab into the wash-up trailer, but it was felt that it would be impossible to decontaminate it, because it was used for tracer work in a prior incarnation..

Moving on from discussion of the SSB drawings, Mary Anne commented that she really likes the boardwalk down to the boat dock. Chris Crockett agreed, and said that he hasn't fallen yet this year, and that even a garden cart can go down to the dock, although the turns are a bit tight with the cart. Scott offered to build a slightly narrower cart for use on the boat dock ramp..

Chris Crockett requested new mats outside the sauna, as the deck is slippery there. Mike responded that the mats are already being purchased, but as of the time of writing these notes, they had not arrived. The area near the entrance is where they are most needed. (NOTE: Mike checked with the Fairbanks staff and the mats requested are on backorder.) Peter Ray asked whether some cross-ventilation could be provided in the dressing room of the sauna. Scott agreed that an openable window would be desirable. Mike commented that there may be some ATCO windows in town that could be used. Peter commented that the mat in the wash-up trailer is a slight hazard because the corner curls up and is easy to trip over. Scott or Tyler will trim the mat..

Mike reported the web page requested at the last users forum that would link to project pages was up and running. Only a few projects have responded and Mike requested help in find appropriate TFS project web pages to post. He is also working on a frequently asked question page, and would like comments and suggestions. Users commented that the FAQ draft should be posted in the Towers, and lots of comments would probably ensue, as everyone has read the toilet paper policy and the "tower astrologer." Tyler agreed to post the draft in the Towers, and this was done after the meeting. Also with regard to the web page, Greg Goldsmith commented that the Toolik publication list should be updated..

After the meeting, George Kling apologized for not being able to attend, and commented that adding external awnings to labs 1-4, and to the wet and dry labs would be very useful. The area under the awning could serve as a mud room extension, for outside storage or activities such as acid-washing, and would greatly increase the usefulness of the existing metal decks. Scott and Chuck (VPR) have already looked at the labs and discussed the situation. Scott built a prototype for George on one end of lab 4, which is working reasonably well. It was felt that a metal frame would be better, though, and a tarp that could be removed or rolled up over the winter. George would like to request that VPR be tasked to construct the frame for the awnings, and that Alaska Tent and Tarp or a similar outfit could probably make the awnings themselves. On labs 2 and 4, the awnings should go over the doors that do not go into the mudrooms. On labs 1 and 3, one end has a large mudroom, but the other end has a very small entryway/mudroom, so an awning would be very helpful there. On the wet and dry labs, the awnings should go on the front where the acid-washing occurs, but Chris Crockett thought they should not completely enclose the deck. The users of the various labs should be consulted before the final design for each lab is completed..

Finally, Chris Luecke commented that he is very happy with the way that camp is running, which is better than he has ever seen it.

Persons who attended the forum or gave comments afterwards that were included in these notes: