LSST summit facility construction progress report: reacting to design refinements and field conditions
The civil work, site infrastructure and buildings for the summit facility of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) are among the first major elements that need to be designed, bid and constructed to support the subsequent integration of the dome, telescope, optics, camera and supporting systems. As the contracts for those other major subsystems now move forward under the management of the LSST Telescope and Site (T and S) team, there has been inevitable and beneficial evolution in their designs, which has resulted in significant modifications to the facility and infrastructure. The earliest design requirements for the LSST summit facility were first documented in 2005, its contracted full design was initiated in 2010, and construction began in January, 2015. During that entire development period, and extending now roughly halfway through construction, there continue to be necessary modifications to the facility design resulting from the refinement of interfaces to other major elements of the LSST project and now, during construction, due to unanticipated field conditions. Changes from evolving interfaces have principally involved the telescope mount, the dome and mirror handling/coating facilities which have included significant variations in mass, dimensions, heat loads and anchorage conditions. Modifications related to field conditions have included specifying and testing alternative methods of excavation and contending with the lack of competent rock substrate where it was predicted to be. While these and other necessary changes are somewhat specific to the LSST project and site, they also exemplify inherent challenges related to the typical timeline for the design and construction of astronomical observatory support facilities relative to the overall development of the project.