Birmingham, Ala. (April 15, 2016) – In 1962, 18-year-old Buddy Clark worked as an apprentice carpenter building a test stand for NASA’s Saturn V launch vehicle at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This project enabled NASA to test the Saturn V, the rocket used in the Apollo program that took U.S. astronauts to the moon. Now, at age 72, Clark is back at Marshall working on two stands designed to perform structural tests on the largest-ever cryogenic fuel tanks for the most powerful rocket in history, the NASA Space Launch System (SLS). These test stands will expand the U.S. space program and help propel NASA’s journey to Mars.
As one of Brasfield & Gorrie’s most experienced superintendents, Clark oversees the team responsible for building the new test stands, which are located about a quarter mile from his first project at NASA. “Back in 1962, I didn’t fully understand the significance of the work. Then, like now, the work was complex and important; however, coming full circle, I can honestly say it is a great honor to work on a job with this kind of historical significance,” said Clark.
Brasfield & Gorrie began construction on the test stands in 2014, using more than 7,200 cu yds of concrete and over 4500 tons of structural steel. The first tower, Test Stand 4693, is 215 ft tall. It will test the SLS liquid hydrogen tank, which is 185 ft tall. The second structure, Test Stand 4697, is 85 ft tall and is designed to test the liquid oxygen tank.
As senior superintendent, Clark has overall responsibility for managing field forces and construction schedules, as well as safety and quality control. As a member of the project team, he also coordinates and oversees meetings with contractors and suppliers.
“It takes hard work, dedication and facilitation to get the job done,” Clark said. “The words ’failure’ and ‘can’t’ are not in my vocabulary,” he said.
Since beginning his career in construction, Clark has amassed over 50 years of experience and worked on over $320 million in construction projects throughout the Southeast for Brasfield & Gorrie. His portfolio includes projects that span industrial, federal government, commercial, healthcare and retail market sectors.
Recently, the Mobile District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recognized Brasfield & Gorrie for its safety achievements on the NASA SLS Test Stands project, specifically acknowledging Clark’s supervision and implementation of safety policy and practices.
As Clark reflects on his career, he said that one of his greatest joys has been inspiring field teams to perform to the best of their ability each day. He has been successful in this effort. At a recent topping out event for the SLS project, several construction team members were seen thanking him for the opportunity to work on such a monumental project.
“I am blessed,” Clark said.
Clark has built an outstanding reputation for the timely completion of complex projects. These include some of Brasfield & Gorrie’s most notable projects, such as the Kirklin Clinic and parking deck at University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital (Birmingham, Alabama); Navistar International Manufacturing Facility (Huntsville, Alabama); Trussville Utilities Liquefied Natural Gas Test Facility for El Paso Energy (Trussville, Alabama); Southern Company’s Georgia Power Plant Hammond (Rome, Georgia); St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, Tennessee); and Mississippi Power’s Kemper County Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Power Plant (Dekalb, Mississippi).
A family man, Clark enjoys spending time with his wife, sons and grandchildren when not at work. He believes that his children’s children will appreciate the impact of his work to support the U.S. Space Program. With the SLS project completion scheduled for December 2016, and more than 50 years in the field, Clark isn’t quite ready to say his work is finished. “I think the good Lord has a plan. This may be my last one. I’m sure He’ll let me know when it’s time,” he said.
About Brasfield & Gorrie Founded in 1964, Brasfield & Gorrie is one of the nation's largest privately held construction firms, providing general contracting, design-build, and construction management services for a wide variety of markets. We are skilled in construction best practices, including virtual design and construction, integrated project delivery, and lean construction, but we are best known for our preconstruction and self-perform expertise and exceptional client service. Brasfield & Gorrie has 11 offices and approximately 2,600 employees. Our 2015 revenues were $2.3 billion. Engineering News-Record ranks Brasfield & Gorrie 27th among the nation's "Top 400 Contractors" for 2015.