The Rationale for Above-Surface Facilities

by William D. Brooks, Dir. of Arch.; Ferraro Choi Assocs., Ltd., Honolulu, HI,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 2000, Vol. 70, Issue 12, Pg. 38-41

Document Type: Feature article


The redevelopment of the U.S. Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station—currently in the beginning phases of construction—will include the largest and most ambitious example of an elevated station in Antarctica. Scheduled to be fully operational in 2005 and to have a winter population of 50, the new station will set the standard for many years to come. The design involves two separate, elevated, two-story buildings in the shape of a C connected by a two-story pedestrian link. The entire complex has been arranged in a linear configuration with the long axis perpendicular to the prevailing winter winds, and is elevated approximately 3 m above the snow surface. The windward face is chamfered like an airplane wing for improved aerodynamic performance. Each pod is designed to account for differential settlement and to facilitate periodic minor leveling. It can also be raised a full floor height twice during the life of the station. Day-to-day station operations (science, medical, administration, food service, berthing, communications) occur primarily on the second floor while support spaces (mechanical, electrical, emergency power generation) and the gymnasium are on the first floor. The entire elevated complex (exclusive of the remote science facilities) is connected to a below-surface main power plant, cargo facility, garage/shop, and fuel storage by means of a vertical circulation tower, which includes a staircase, a cargo lift, and all plumbing and utility risers. Above-surface elevated facilities total approximately 6,040 m², easily the largest station of its type in Antarctica.

Subject Headings: Power plants | Building design | Floors | Winter | Low-rise buildings | Electric power | Storage facilities | Freight terminals | Antarctica

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