National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library

National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library
Skip Navigation LinksHome / About Us / Museum History / A Monumental Move / Move Details

Move Details

What did it take to move 1,500 tons?

There is a lot that goes into physically moving a building...a lot more to move a building of this size. Here are some facts about the move.
  • The 1995-2011 museum and library weighed 1,500 tons and was constructed of a wood frame with brick veneer. In comparison a fully loaded semi-trailer weighs 40 tons. The weight of the museum and library was equivalent to 37 fully loaded semi trailers.
  • This was the largest museum ever moved for hazard mitigation, the process of making buildings less vulnerable to flooding disasters.
The museum and library added on another 30,000 square feet once the original building was moved.


  • First, everything was measured. Then, locations of pressure points and weight loads were determined, then calculated to the pound how it needed to be structurally stabilized.
  • Biggest challenge in the NCSML project was the four or five offsets or step outs that are outside the building. It took 12 hours just to calculate dolly placement.
  • Most might think high-tech algorithms on computers calculate what is needed to move a building; crews used rulers, pencils, a calculator and notebook to make these calculations.
  • The final position after relocation is an elevation of three feet higher than the 2008 flood level. Therefore, to prepare for the move, 30,000 cubic yards of fill dirt had to be brought in to the site.
  • Rinderknecht Construction spent months preparing the ground and pouring the foundation. The foundation was not built into the ground, but is above ground to accommodate the parking garage beneath the museum and library.
  • If it were to rain, 1/8” steel and Kevlar mats would have been placed under the wheels to make a more stable platform for moving.
Moving Process
  1. Steel beams were hauled to the site and welded.
  2. The lower course of brick façade was removed to reveal the first layer of stone.
  3. Holes were cut through veneer to slide cross beams. Once the steel beams were in place, and the 2 X 12s (LVLs/laminated wood beams) were in place, they were then screwed into the studs inside. The studs in a building are actually the load bearing points. Unique equipment for this job: They had double acting jacks built within the main beams. The structure was elevated with a machine known as a unified jacking machine. The multiple channel machine featured a very strong main hydraulic ram which fed individual lines going to the jacks. The crew used a 24 jack machine.
  4. The building was jacked up six feet. The pounds of pressure to lift the NCSML building were 1500-2000 psi for interior crib. Exterior or the ends were the heaviest points, requiring 4,000 to 5,200 psi. The Jacks were each lifting an estimated 50 tons of weight.
  5. When everything was braced and secured, the crew of 14 set pressure to individual points to raise the building off the ground. The crew then repeated the process of elevating until they were high enough to roll in the collector beams and dollies under the building.
  6. At that point, it was just a matter of flipping a lever (joy stick) to move forward. The moving dollies had motors built inside and were jointed in the middle so they can turn. The building moved one-quarter mile per hour.
Elevation Process
  1. The crew brought the structure next to the foundation on the long end. Once the building was aligned with the prepared foundation, it was then elevated by the side of the foundation and the dollies rose it to 12 feet high.
  2. Every six feet, the crew placed 2″ X 12″ lateral and vertical bracing to tie the crib together so there was a platform to walk. A scaffold was built at this time too.
  3. The building was jacked up so it was above the parking garage and then the crew set the roll beams and rollers down.
Foundation Placement
The building was pushed sideways with hydraulic jacks. The crew set the building to within 1/8 inch of center on the foundation.