2004 Building Team Awards

August 11, 2010

2004 Building Team Project of the Year Awards

 

PANEL OF JUDGES

Philip Tobey, FAIA, FACHA

Senior Vice President

Healthcare

SmithGroup

Detroit

Sue Stewart

Senior Vice President

Estimating

McCarthy Building Cos.

St. Louis

Jon Magnusson, P.E.

Chairmain/CEO

Magnusson Klemencic Associates

Seattle

John Marks

Chairman/CEO

Mark IV Realty Group Inc.

Chicago

Daniel Friedman

Professor and Director

University of Illinois at Chicago

School of Architecture

Gary Betts, AIA, CSI

Principal

Loebl Schlossman & Hackl

Chicago

MERIT AWARD

SOUL SANCTUARY

A Building Team re-creates the look and feel of the Memphis Sound

in a museum and music academy dedicated to keeping soul alive.

By Mindi Zissman, Products Editor

In 1963, sixteen-year-old Deanie Parker became the second employee at Stax Records, the famed Memphis, Tenn., record shop and recording studio, and centerpiece of the unique Memphis Sound, where the likes of Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Albert King, and the Staples Singers first recorded. What Sun Records was to rock ’n’ roll, Stax was to R&B.

Today, Parker is president and CEO of Soulsville, Inc., developer of the Stax Music Academy & Museum of American Soul Music, winner of a 2004 Building Team Merit Award. Her mission: to keep the flame of soul music burning in young hearts.

“It is an awesome feeling, to have been there from the beginning,” she says. “The building of the museum and academy was a long-time dream of mine. It’s a little bit eerie &m> a little spiritual, if you will.”

After sibling owners Jim Stewart and Estelle Axton (the name “Stax” comes from their last names) went bankrupt in 1976, the original building was torn down to the slab, and along with it went the neighborhood. Years later, Parker formed the nonprofit Soulsville, Inc., and went looking for an architect to create a physical entity that would bring back the glory years of soul and also have a positive impact on young people in the surrounding community.

Local architects Looney Ricks Kiss won the job after they “auditioned” for Parker and her board dressed as a soul group, singing and dancing their way through the bidding process.

“It was a riot, just hilarious,” Parker recalls. “There was no question in our minds who was going to get the job. To have them join with us in the spirit of the project made all the difference.”

Searchin’ for space

LRK began designing the campus in late 2001. Re-creating Studio A became the focus of the museum plan.

With little documentation of what the original building looked like, the architects had to rely on the few contemporary photographs that were available, as well as historical accounts and testimonials of musicians and local townspeople. LRK principal Frank Ricks says his designers were so hungry for details, they were counting bricks in old photographs.

The Building Team also had few musical artifacts to work with. Museum artifacts were being collected during the design process, forcing the team to manipulate their plans and displays often, even up to the final hours before opening.

“We were trying to design a museum around ideas, but without exactly knowing what we would end up with,” says Ricks. “We ultimately ended up taking down a small church from the delta and reassembling it inside the museum.”

They did luck out on one occasion, getting their hands on Isaac Hayes’s 1972 gold Cadillac Eldorado. (Shaft’s Eldo! How cool is that?)

With this piecemeal information base, LRK designers were able to re-create Studio A’s sloped theater floor, tiled and curtained walls, and sound and drum booths. They went with a circa-1968 look for the museum building’s outer shell. Next door, the Building Team (which included local architect of record Self Tucker Architects; structural engineer Burr & Cole; and GC Flintco Construction) erected a two-story academy and outdoor amphitheatre, where neighborhood children could be taught leadership and educational skills through music. The academy opened in July 2002, the museum a year later.

“We like to work on projects that have a genuineness or authenticity to them,” says Ricks, whose firm also designed the city’s National Civil Rights Museum (seeBD&C, October 2003). When the museum first opened, one of the original Stax musicians told Ricks, “This is it! I can’t believe it’s really back.”

But Ricks says the project had impact beyond the building’s lot line. “We saw the neighborhood revitalization happen as we were working on Stax,” said LRK’s Ricks “The entire board of Stax will tell you, this is not about getting a building erected and running a museum, but about revitalizing a neighborhood and helping at-risk teens. The whole purpose of the project was about community, neighborhood, and revitalization.”

Building Team Awards judge Sue Stewart, SVP of estimating at McCarthy Building Companies, St. Louis, agrees. “It’s a project that touches our emotions and our cultural sense.”

More than 40 years after she walked into the Stax record shop and studio, Deanie Parker can still feel the beat of Booker T and the MGs backing up the next big R&B sensation, whoever it may be.

“I get tons of e-mails, feedback over the phone, and people always say, ‘Wow! We had no idea that this would be as incredible as it is,’” she says. “Every time I walk though it, I still have an emotional experience myself.” BDC

 

Project Summary

Stax Music Academy & Museum of American Soul Music

Memphis, Tenn.

Building Team

Owner: Soulsville, Inc.

Architect/exhibit and interior design: Looney Ricks Kiss Architects

Architect of record: Self Tucker Architects

Structural engineer: Burr & Cole

Mechanical/plumbing/fire protection engineer: Shappley Design

General contractor: Flintco Construction

General information

Area: 44,000 gross sf

Construction time: April 2001 to April 2003

Construction cost: $10,568,320

Delivery method: Design/bid/build

Suppliers

Curtain wall/windows: EFCO

Doors: Eggers

Lighting: EMCO Lighting

Exterior cladding: Sioux City Brick

EIFS: Dryvit Systems

Ornamental metal: Una-Clad

Roofing/wall insulation: Johns Manville

Elevators/escalators: Schindler

Ceilings: Armstrong

Interior walls/partitions: G-P Gypsum

Carpet: Nexstep Tile

Plumbing fixtures: Elkay Manufacturing

Floor tile: Tarkett Inc.

Fire alarm, fire suppression: Simplex

Construction Costs

Pre-Construction/General Conditions$522,220

Sitework582,700

Concrete545,200

Steel543,500

Masonry416,000

Finishes798,000

Mechanical830,400

Thermal & Moisture Protection343,500

Electrical477,400

Doors & Glass340,000

Specialties113,600

Signage & Graphics140,000

Elevator39,600

Millwork150,000

Museum Buildout1,426,200

Exhibits Fabrication & Installation2,800,000

Audio/Visual500,000

TOTAL$10,568,320

Grand Award

MANY HAPPY RETURNS

An extensive community effort to create ‘the best public library

in the country’ is bringing back patrons in suburban Detroit.

By Matthew Phair, Contributing Editor

Records of the public library in Southfield, Mich., go back 160 years, and they tell an interesting tale. In 1845, the term “public” applied to a select few patrons, namely 10 directors, each representing a local school district. Of a total of roughly 300 books shelved in the librarian’s home, where the library was located, each director was allowed to borrow a few volumes at a time for three months. A few years later, other adults were given borrowing privileges &/m> one book for one month.

Fast forward to the 1990s. Now, this upscale community north of Detroit is being served by a 30-year-old, 44,000-sf structure that is crowded, inefficient, and dysfunctional as an educational resource center. It cannot accommodate new technology, with seating, study spaces, meeting rooms, and parking that are inadequate.

In Southfield voters approved an increase in property taxes to pay for the $36 million library, but construction was held up by Southfield Mayor Donald Fracassi, who went so far as to remove three of the five library board members during the design process and refused to appoint new members to expiring terms. In April 2001, after 29 years in office, Francassi lost his bid for reelection, and the project was greenlighted.
Despite the bumpy start, Chief Librarian Doug Zyskowski set everyone’s sights high with a vision of the library as “a gateway to everything we know or have dreamed of knowing.” The Building Team, led by architects Phillips Swager Associates, responded.Says Denelle C. Wrightson, PSA’s project manager, “What we were hearing from the library board, the city librarian, and the library staff was the desire to have a landmark building.”

Meeting diverse needs

The team took up the challenge and created what may be a facility unlike any in the country.

First, it is big, especially for a public library. In addition to 106,000 sf of floor space, it also features a large cafe, a 154-seat auditorium, and a 200-seat meeting room. It holds more than double the number of books of the library it replaced.
Eighteen-foot floor-to-floor heights required by the library have made the three-story building equivalent in height to a four-story building. Detroit FreePress architectural columnist John Gallagher said that this was deliberate, to make the building appear “more like an arena than a library.”

Competing for children’s attention against video games, TV, computers, Disney World, and movies, chief librarian Doug Zyskowski says the goal was “to create an environment where kids want to come. We want to get kids into the library, and then get them reading.” What a concept!

Inspiring visitors to discover and explore was a key theme put forth by the library board. PSA designers and the library staff worked with Creative Environs, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., in a design-build collaboration for the thematic exhibits. Made of durable and easily maintainable materials, these thematics include:

n Gizmo look-out point, offering new ways of seeing.

n A medieval-themed Storybook Castle and Dragon’s Den, bringing the magic of fairy tales and childhood stories to full scale.

n Reader’s Tree House, celebrating reading, nature, and found object “treasures.”

n Storytime Space Station, offering the sensation of a fantastic, interactive media voyage.

n Club Q&A, for teens and young adults, with a hip, club-like atmosphere.

“We tried to get this building as far as possible from the institutional nature of libraries of the 1960s,” says PSA’s Wrightson.

The library’s brick exterior faces the corner of the city’s municipal campus. Each elevation is treated with unique architectural features that vary interest, attract patrons, and bring a distinctive identity to the site. The exterior character is derived from the existing civic buildings and the adjacent corporate architecture.

Inside, the building is organized functionally on three floors. Staff services, computer labs, study rooms, restrooms, and fireplaces are stacked in the same spot on each floor.

Yet each floor conveys a different character, ambience, and progression, expressed in themes, lighting, furniture, and materials. Natural woods are used throughout. The youth area on the first level features bright colors, engaging shapes, and light maple wood. The second-floor adult fiction area is finished in light cherry with furnishings and materials to create a residential feel. The third floor, containing reference materials and a local history room, uses darker woods and more traditional furniture, finishes, and lighting. Pre-finished marlite wood panels, terrazzo flooring, and plaster ribbon wall outfit the stairwell, and 254 different kinds of light fixtures are in place.

Hearing from the community

Tom Marchesano, PE, of Marchesano & Associates, Plymouth, Mich., was engaged to act as owner’s representative and overall project manager. He worked with the library staff and board to develop the criteria for the selection of architect/engineer and construction manager through a qualifications-based selection process.

A key factor was the relevant public library experience of the individual team leaders at the designer, project manager, project architect, and engineers, as well as their team structure and previous experience working together. By focusing on individuals rather than firms, and by bringing architect, engineer, and construction manager on board at one time as equal team members with the owner’s rep, a strong team triangle was formed. “The lead team members were selected based on their individual, relevant experience and teamwork skills,” says Marchesano.

The Dallas office of Phillips Swager Associates, with extensive experience in public libraries, was picked as architects/engineers. PSA was teamed with George W. Auch, Pontiac, Mich., as construction manager and Grissim Metz Andriese Associates, Northville, Mich., as landscape architects.

From these efforts a library building authority was created, complete with an organizational chart, mission statement, and documented goals. The library also conducted focus groups among citizens.

Library officials then presented that information to PSA, who met with the focus group facilitators. Every library staff member, from the city librarian to maintenance and mailroom personnel, was interviewed.

Library administration and designers toured numerous library youth areas and children’s museums around the country to benchmark competitive models and best practices for involving children in interactive and educational experiences.

The culmination of all these efforts is the interactive World of Wondering, which offers children energetic and colorful variety of museum-quality thematic experiences, aimed at making reading and learning fun.

Tower of power

The building’s most distinctive architectural element is a three-story all-glass tower that provides an entrance from the southeast approach. This striking feature is a tapered, elliptical shape that serves as a grand entry to patrons. Conceived as a room within a room, the tower provides a versatile public space at the lower level. Within the tower, on the third level, is what appears to be a floating room, which is actually the executive conference room.

Built as a design-build package, the team of architect, engineer, construction manager (and specialty consultant Advanced Structures, Inc., Tenafly, N.J.) addressed the challenges of centering the executive conference room and fitting each individually cut pane of glass to the 14-degree taper of the tower.

They decided to use a cable truss system. The elliptical form and tapered shape of the glass tower required a unique sequence of construction and the custom fit of each panel of glass to its opening. Using a butt glazed system of Kawneer aluminum glazing, each piece of glass was field measured to fit the slope and taper of the tower, with rows of glass decreasing in size toward the top of the tower. This method saved $1 million in costs over a point-supported glass system.

The hovering effect of the “floating” conference room was achieved through a cable thrust system with horizontal aluminum receivers fixed to the cable to allow for stress of up to 8,000 pounds. Cables at different levels provide structural stability. The cable thrust system hangs from the roof structure, with cable trusses hung from support steel at the roof level.

Within the tower, the boardroom could not be completed nor finish work installed until the tower was totally enclosed and environmentally controlled. Special scaffolding was built to provide access and allow the wood panels to be installed.

The ribbon stairway also posed special construction demands. Auch worked with specialty contractor Couturier Iron, Comstock Park, Mich., and Ross Structural Steel, Detroit, to execute the stairway. The substructure framing for the ribbon wall used 2x2-foot steel in a truss-like system, rolled to shape where needed.

The library opened in June 2003, on time and on budget. In its first three months of operation, book circulation had increased 65%, library card registration was up 300%, and computer usage jumped by 150%.

According to Marchesano, the close coordination of the Building Team resulted in “a cohesive project, thorough documents, minimal coordination errors, and excellent bid pricing on a project of significant size and complexity.”

Adds PSA’s Wrightson, “The team achieved what we set out to create &m> one of the best public libraries in the country.”

 

CONSTRUCTION COSTS

Sitework, landscaping and water feature$2,842,500

Concrete1,446,800

Structural and other steel2,878,000

Masonry1,300,000

Carpentry1,000,000

Roofing490,000

Aluminum, glass and glazing1,290,000

Glass tower1,040,000

Hollow metal and hardware97,000

Drywall systems1,835,000

Acoustical435,000

Carpet and resilient498,000

Tile and terrazzo500,000

Painting and wallcoverings435,000

Window washing equipment94,000

Thematics720,000

Specialties300,000

Audio/video systems 227,000

Elevators250,000

Mechanical systems2,762,000

Electrical systems3,300,000

Other3,009,700

TOTAL$26,750,000

PROJECT SUMMARY

Southfield Public Library

Southfield, Michigan

Building Team

Owner:

City of Southfield

Architect/interior architect:

Phillips Swager Associates

Structural engineer:

Peter B. Larson

M/E/P engineer:

Phillips Swager Associates

General contractor/construction manager:

George W. Auch Co.

General information

Number of floors:

3

Gross square footage:

127,000 sf

Construction time:

April 2001 to June 2003

Construction cost:

$26,700,000

Delivery method/contract type:

CM at risk

Project suppliers

Structural system, decking:

Vulcraft

Structural steel:

Nucraft

Curtainwall, windows:

Kawneer

Exterior cladding:

Belden Brick

Doors:

Stanley, Kawneer

Roofing system, insulation:

Firestone

Windows:

Wilson Partitions and PPG

Ceilings:

USG

Lighting:

June, Lam, Legion, Lightolier, Lucilla

Elevators and escalators:

Otis

Energy management:

Johnson

ADDITIONAL BUILDING TEAM INFORMATION:

FYI from Matt Phair: Some “teamwork” information Matt uncovered but left out of the story. Possible pull quote material or additional information that could appear in the gutter of the story. Or it could be made into a sidebar.

- Of Southfield’s 50,000 registered voters, just 3,000 turned out, and 1,800 approved the increase for the ballot authorizing the increase in property taxes to pay for the $36M library. Because of millions of dollars in new taxes were passed lawfully by just 6% of the voting population, construction was delayed there’s a push in the city now to pass a law where big projects can’t be funded unless at least 10% of the registered voter population votes until it happens, it’s not part of the story.
until April, 2001, because Southfield Mayor Donald Fracassi, an opponent of the project, removed three of the five library board members during the design process. He further refused to appoint new members to expiring terms. Then after 29 years in office, Francassi lost his bid for re-election.

Grand award Institutional

rewriting the playbook

It took the determined effort of designers, contractors, and construction crews to get Chicago’s new Soldier Field ready in time for the opening kickoff.

By Renée Young, Contributing Editor

When the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers met last September 29 for the first game in the renovated Soldier Field, there was much more at stake than just football. In play was the reputation of Chicago’s venerable lakefront landmark and the Building Team who devised a new playbook for stadium design and construction.

“The project was about more than building the best stadium. It was about creating an environment that worked with this unique city,” said Carlos Zapata, who (with Ben Wood) served as project principal with Boston-based Wood + Zapata, one of two firms of the project’s architectural design team LW+Z.Wood + Zapata had primary responsibility for architectural design, while Chicago-based Lohan Caprile Goettsch Architects handled the master plan and North Burnham Park.

The $606 million project was aimed at creating a state-of-the-art stadium within the footprint of the existing field and to link Soldier Field to Lake Michigan and the adjacent museum complex &m> the Field Museum, Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium. All this had to be done in a mere 20 months to meet the Bears’ 2003 season opener.

Historic significance

Designed by Holabird and Roche and built in 1924 as public multipurpose sports venue, the originally named Municipal Grant Park Stadium was renamed to honor the military personnel who died in the Great War.Easily recognized by its 64 Doric columns, the stadium has hosted everything from boxing matches and stock-car races to concerts and religious festivals. When the Bears moved there from Wrigley Field in 1971, it was the oldest stadium in the NFL. “The new Soldier Field is the first new football venue in Chicago’s history,” says LCG associate principal Joseph Dolinar.

Clearly, a new stadium was needed. Sports fans and civic officials alike complained about the outdated facilities and the makeshift repairs that literally held the building up. The bathrooms and concession stands were an embarrassment. Due to adverse revenue-sharing rules and inadequate luxury suites, the Bears’ annual income from Soldier Field ranked 28th of the 31 teams in the National Football League. But it took 13 years of public and behind-the-scenes wrangling before the plan was approved in 1999, and another year or two to get the design in place and the project moving.

A game plan for communication

“We had an entire playing field of consultants to achieve the project’s objectives within that tight space and time frame,” said LCG principal Joseph Caprile. “One of the keys to getting this project done was having our goals and schedules laid out at the beginning so everyone knew what they were to accomplish.”

Drawings were fast tracked to meet the schedule. “We always had two tracks, one for design and construction, the other for approvals and signoffs,” says Caprile. “Those two schedules were invariably linked, and the entire team was tied into them. They were the lifeblood of the project.”

Web-based ProjectTalk software was used to manage more than 3,000 design drawings and documents at a given time. The team also employed a process called “team contracting,” which involved everyone reviewing architectural documents for completeness and constructability, and suggesting alternate products and methods as the design progressed.

“The construction team was on board early so that we had a buildable project on day one of construction,” said Mark Simonides, project executive with Turner Construction, one of the project’s three general contractors, along with Barton Malow Co. and Kenny Construction Co. This level of cooperation was essential for the contractors to be able to squeeze a state-of-the-art stadium within the confines of a historic structure that was 80 feet narrower most NFL stadiums.

Innovative end run

The team toured stadiums around the world to study best practices, but they didn’t just copy. “Soldier Field’s unique shape gave us the opportunity to go beyond typical stadium design,” said Anthony Montalto, Wood + Zapata studio director and project director. “We created a design specific to the site that provides a better experience for the fans.”

The narrow bottle-shaped bowl made it impossible to put suites on both sides of the field. The design team devised an asymmetrical solution with suites stacked on the eastern side of the stadium; The stacked suites feature a combination of low-iron, nonreflective glass in a design that eliminates vertical mullions, thus providing unobstructed views of the field while minimizing glare and reflection. The skyboxes have operable awnings that can be adjusted to draw in the roar from the crowds and the action on the field.

On the west side, cantilevered seating guarantees fans unobstructed views of the city and the lake and takes them much closer to the field than had been the case in the old stadium, whose low-pitched seating configuration pushed fans away from the playing field.

To construct this new bowl arrangement &m> the first of its kind in the U.S. &m> the team decided on a skeleton of structural steel and precast concrete. “Steel is a lot more conducive to constructing in Chicago weather and to the schedule we had in front of us,” said Simonides. “It’s faster, and we were able to have the materials in front of us with the upfront lead time we had secured for steel fabrication.”

The team used the 3-D modeling program Xsteel, by Tekla, to detail the structural steel frame. “If you can model it in 3-D, you can build it,” said Joseph Burns, managing principal, Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers, Chicago, the project’s structural engineer.

“The software helped us understand the interaction of the systems and the opportunities,” said Caprile. It did require a shift in workflow, however: The design team needed to commit to details much earlier in the process in order for the structural engineer to determine precise dimensions to create the model. When construction began, the steel was on site and ready to go, enabling steel erection to begin 12 days ahead of schedule.

Running down the clock

Even as the Bears were concluding their 2001-02 season with a 33-19 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs, demolition crews were at the ready. Nine months of site preparation, including the demolition of an adjacent six-story park district building, enabled demolition to begin within four hours of the Jan. 20, 2002, loss.

The opening challenge was to manage the unexpected abatement of hazardous soil below the stadium. The stadium sits on landfill from a 1920s freight tunnel excavation, creating a work surface that could not support multiple cranes at a time.Using concrete rubble from the demolition, the construction team created a pad that could take the weight on many cranes. “With more than a million dollars of construction put in place per day, we needed to be ready for the unexpected with decision makers on site,” says Simonides.

Building phases overlapped substantially, with simultaneous work on the east and west sides of the stadium. “We worked in a circular pattern around the stadium,” says Burns. “Different crews would complete their jobs in a section and move into the next. There was activity all around.” Given the short timeline, the Building Team didn’t have the luxury of postponing precast work until all the steelwork was complete, so the cranes that put up the steel by day installed the precast at night.

To keep on schedule, close communication with OSHA and union leaders was essential. A bar-coded ID system was used to monitor staffing and make sure that the right teams were on site to complete the job on time. “I could go to the Web site at any time and check to see which subcontractors were on site,” says Simonides. “It was a great tool &m> with one click and a phone call, you could have the right people on the job.”

Stadium in horto

The old stadium was surrounded by 66 acres of parking lots and pavement. Now, the 98-acre area surrounding the stadium contains 80 acres of parkland, a veterans’ sculpture and water wall, a children’s garden, a terraced park, a police memorial garden, a winter garden, and a sledding hill.

The team put much of the parking in two underground garages, a four-level one on the north side and a two-story garage just south of the stadium.The precast concrete north garage connects directly to the stadium and serves the Museum Campus on non-event days. Landscaping covers the garage, completely hiding vehicles and enhancing the parkland setting. Precast was chosen over poured-in-place concrete due to schedule demands. According to Dolinar, “Precast was also more cost effective and allowed for placement during even the coldest Chicago weather.”

Excavating the parking garages yielded 120,000 cubic yards of dirt and debris, which was used to create a sinuous landscape of greenbelt berms and pedestrian pathways. “It was environmentally the right thing to do,” says Peter Lindsay Schaudt, principal of his namesake landscape architecture firm in Chicago.

To continue these rolling, natural forms above the parking garage, Schaudt employed structural plastic foam covered with nine inches of soil. “Most observers see this as a continuation of the park and would never guess that it actually conceals parking,” he says. “This project is designed to fit well within its surroundings and respect the Burnham vision, but not hark back to the past.The city challenged us to create something for its residents and to push the envelope.”

The new stadium had its critics even before the opening kickoff. Blair Kamin, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune, called the bowl-on-column solution a “nightmare” and demanded that the stadium’s National Historic Register status be rescinded. Ordinary citizens and visitors used phrases like “UFO,” “toilet bowl,” and “Mistake by the Lake” to describe it. The editor of this magazine (who recused himself from judging this entry) called it “the $606 million calamity.”

Despite the critics, construction proceeded apace &m> in fact, ahead of pace &m> and the new Soldier Field is now a sea of 61,700 blue seats in several tiers, an enlarged concourse, two 86x23-foot video boards, 8,000 club seats, and 133 luxury suites. The new parkland is popular with city residents and visitors. The historic colonnades have been renovated (although, contrary to Chicago Park District assertions, they are not always to the public), and a 250-foot-long granite wall sculpture stands as a memorial to the men and women who served in the armed forces.

Once again, Chicago lived up to its reputation as the city that works. BDC

Sidebar

Dampening expectations

To mitigate excessive vibration of the stadium’s steel cantilevered seating bowl, tuned mass dampers were added on the west grandstand. The single-point device is attached to the top end of each steel raker, which supports the damping mass on springs. The mass of the damper and its stiffness are tuned to make the natural frequency of the damper match the resonance frequency of the raker to be damped.

“We’ve used tuned mass dampers in conference centers and pedestrian bridges, but this is the first stadium in the U.S. to employ this technique,” said Joseph Burns, managing principal, Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers. BDC

Sidebar Caption:

Tuned mass dampers attached to the steel cantilevered grandstand ensure fans hold onto their seats during games and concerts.

PROJECT SUMMARY

Soldier Field and North Burnham Park Redevelopment

Chicago, Ill.

Building Team

Owner:

Chicago Park District

Architect:

LW+Z (joint venture of Lohan Caprile Goettsch and Wood + Zapata)

Landscape architect:

Peter Lindsay Schaudt Landscape Architecture

Civil engineer:

V3Consultants

Structural engineer:

Thornton-Tomasetti Engineers

Mechanical engineer:

Ellerbe Becket, Environmental Systems Design

Restoration engineer:

Soodan & Associates

Construction manager:

T/BM/K (joint venture of Turner Construction, Barton Malow, and Kenny Construction)

General Information

Area:

Stadium, 1.6 million gross sf; landscaped garage, 1 million gross sf

Construction time:

January 2002 to September 2003

Delivery method:

Design/Build

Total construction cost:

$606 million

Project Suppliers

Curtain wall/windows/exterior glazing:

Permasteelisa Cladding Technologies

Exterior cladding/ornamental metal:

Crown-Core

Doors:

Industrial Door

Lighting:

GE Sports Lighting, Bega

Exterior architectural coating:

Ameron International

Roofing system, insulation:

Carlisle

Wall insulation:

thermafiber, Fiberex

Scoreboard:

daktronics

Sound System:

JBL

Elevators and escalators:

Fujitec America

Ceilings:

USG, Armstrong

Interior doors:

Curries, Cookson Rolling Doors

Interior door hardware:

LCN Closers Rixson, Sargent

Interior lighting:

Linear Lighting, Bega, Elliptipar, Lithonia Lighting, Kim Lighting, Sternberg, Sterner Lighting, McPhilben, Kurt Versen, Columbia, Peerless

Interior walls/partitions:

USG Sheet Rock, Gold Bond, Georgia Pacific, Dietrick Framing, Unimast

Carpet:

Bentley, Prince Street

Plumbing fixtures:

Kohler

Resilient flooring:

Armstrong

Floor tile:

Daltile, Laticrete

Furniture and casework:

Midwest Woodwork and Veneering

Structural system, decking:

Cor-Deck

Structural steel:

Hirshfeld Steel Co.

Wires, cables:

Siemens, Lucent, Superior/Exxes, General Cable

Lighting controls:

Lutron

Power, communications, energy management, life safety, alarm controls:

Siemens

HVAC:

Cleaver Brooks, Trane, Lochinvar

MERIT AWARD

Industrial revival

Ford brings back the assembly plant tour with a new ‘green’ visitor center

at its historic Rouge manufacturing complex in suburban Detroit.

By Gordon Wright, Executive Editor

For more than a half century, starting in 1924, millions of visitors a year toured Ford Motor Co.’s Rouge manufacturing facility in Dearborn, Mich., to marvel at the sights and sounds of one of the world’s largest automotive assembly complexes. Then, in 1980, Ford discontinued plant tours.

Now, the tours are back, and in grand style. Ford has debuted a 45,500-sf visitor center adjacent to its new 2.5-million-sf. truck plant. Visitors tour the facility (which was completed in June 2003, in conjunction with Ford’s 100th anniversary, but only officially opened last month) before proceeding to the plant, where assembly operations can be viewed from seven platforms.

The project’s complex nature and its incorporation of innovative features earned it a Merit Award in our Building Team of the Year competition.

The visitor center is one part of a $2 billion renovation of the Rouge complex, which will continue with infrastructure improvements over the next decade. It allows Ford to showcase the company’s history and its adoption of flexible and sustainable manufacturing operations, as well as the building’s sustainable design concepts.

The project’s Building Team included Southfield, Mich.-based architect/engineer HarleyEllis; BRC Imagination Arts, a Burbank, Calif.-based firm that creates special venue attractions; environmental designer William McDonough + Partners, Charlottesville, Va.; landscape design consultant WH Canon; storm water management Arcadis; and Detroit-based CM Walbridge Aldinger.

Visitors entering the building are initially drawn to a display of five of the most popular Ford models that have been produced at the Rouge: the 1929 Model A roadster; the 1932 V-8 Victoria; the 1949 Club Coupe; the 1956 Thunderbird; and the 1965 Mustang.

In one of the building’s two theaters, visitors see a 12-minute presentation about Henry Ford and the Rouge complex. They then proceed to a circular, 3,500-sf, seven-screen theater furnished with 75 stools that revolve 360 degrees for a multisensory presentation, “The Art of Manufacturing.”

As the screens depict a blast furnace making steel, 300-degree air is forced into the theater for five seconds by ducts that run along the inside perimeter of the space. To accompany the awesome force of a stamping press, vibrations are transmitted through the theater’s wooden floor, which was specified in part to optimize such transmission. Transducers &m> units resembling audio speakers that incorporate diaphragms &m> attached to the underside of the floor provide the vibrations. As the screens show the spray painting of a truck body, a fine mist is sprayed into the space to suggest a paint shop atmosphere.

The design process “wasn’t as neat and tidy as normal,” says HarleyEllis’s Jack Bullo, who man-aged its architectural aspects. He explains that the building design was based primarily on accommodating exhibit features developed by BRC, whose other assignments have been as varied as Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park in Florida, the NASA/Johnson Space Center in Texas, and Knott’s Berry Farm in California.

“The building had to be very sequential, very regimented in terms of how people moved through it,” Bullo says. The Building Team also had to reconcile the differing agendas of stakeholders, chief of which was whether the visitors center should emphasize education or entertainment.

The goal, says Charles Poat, engineering manager with Walbridge Aldinger, was to “properly compromise” these issues. For example, a cistern that is a component of the water conservation system was located just inside the building entrance, where it also functions as a showpiece.

An environmental pioneer

The visitor center has been awarded a Gold rating under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. Sustainable design features include a storm water collection system that collects rainwater from the roof and reuses it to flush toilets and provide irrigation. Solar collectors reduce energy use by 40% compared to a typical museum-type facility.The plant was not covered by the LEED designation, but its 10-acre turf roof (see BD&C, July 2003) slows the runoff of rain and the volume of rainwater that enters the sewer system. Fareed Rifat, principal-in-charge of HarleyEllis’s Automotive and Industrial Studio, notes that the landscaping has been done with native plants.

Sustainable design was fairly new for Building Team members, says Poat. During the four years they worked on the project, team members became involved with the U.S. Green Building Council and were instrumental in forming USGBC’s Detroit Chapter.

Choosing the right spot

Four locations were considered for the visitor center. One option was to reuse the Albert Kahn-designed former glass plant, but this was abandoned because the building’s expansive glass façade would not provide a conducive environment for visitor center displays. A major factor in favor of the location ultimately selected was its adjacency to the plant. An 80-ft.-high observation tower was incorporated into the visitor center design to provide a vantage point for viewing the whole complex, particularly the plant’s “living roof.” Interpretive displays inside the 55x65-foot tower provide information about the 10-acre sod roof and other environmental initiatives.

Visitors are bussed to the center from nearby Greenfield Village historical park. Plant tours are conducted by the same organization, known as The Henry Ford, that operates Greenfield Village.

William Clay Ford, Jr., who became Ford’s chairman and CEO in 2001, was one of the project’s prime movers. “My great-grandfather would think this is fantastic,” he says. As for himself, Ford says, “I would like the Rouge to be the most copied and studied industrial complex in the world.” BDC

PROJECT SUMMARY

Ford Rouge Visitor Center

Dearborn, Mich.

Building Team

Owner: Ford Motor Co.

Architect: HarleyEllis

Structural/mechanical engineer: HarleyEllis

Sustainable architect: William McDonough + Partners

Construction manager: Walbridge Aldinger

General Information

Area: 45,500 gross sf

Number of floors: 2, plus observation deck

Construction time: June 2002 to June 2003

Delivery method: Construction management

Project Suppliers

Elevators and escalators: Thyssen Krupp

Solar voltaic array: BP Solar

Exterior cladding: Centria

Windows: Kawneer

Roofing system: Carlisle

Entrance canopy: Super Sky

Ceilings: Armstrong

Door hardware: LCN, Schlage, Rockwood

Lighting: Lithonia

Plumbing fixtures: American Standard, Sloan, Olsonite

Gypsum wall systems: Lafarge, USG, Dietrich

Grand Award

BACKSTAGE PASS

Surrounded by buildings, with an alley as its only direct access, the theater

and TV center at Boston’s Emerson College is the ultimate urban infill.

By Larry Flynn, Senior Editor

Evenings along busy Tremont Street in Boston’s thriving Theater District, motorists and pedestrians passing by the backstage service entryway known as Allen’s Alley are treated &m> if at times only fleetingly &m> to one of the most entertaining shows being staged in the district, and it doesn’t cost a dime. At the end of the alley, a computer-choreographed collage of colored light floods the smoke vestibule in the 10-story glass stairwell of the new Tufte Performance and Production Center.

Not many performance facilities have their marquee tucked away in an alley. But the Tufte Center, completed last September to house Emerson College’s theater and television departments, is no typical performance facility. The spellbinding LED “color blast” lightshow, developed by locally based lighting designer Color Kinetics, is but one of many lively elements to this vibrant yet secluded building.

It took an imaginative mind and a leap of faith to envision that such a facility could one day occupy the exceedingly tight site that it does. Buried in the middle of a block in the heart of what not long ago was known as Boston’s Combat Zone), the 80,000-sf building is shoehorned into a 7,000-sf footprint, abutting buildings on three sides and separated from buildings on the fourth side by the 18-foot-wide, 250-foot-long Allen’s Alley, which is its only direct access.

But a new building is exactly what Rob Silverman, Emerson’s VP for administration and finance, had in mind the day in 1996 when he brought representatives from Boston-based Elkus/Manfredi Architects to the gritty site, which contained a few dumpsters and was being used as an illegal parking lot. The State Transportation Building abuts the site (which is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts) on the south and west sides. The opulent Cutler Majestic Theatre, built in 1903 and purchased by Emerson in late 1980s, was using the east side of the lot to park trailers, which it used for dressing rooms.

This “Mary Poppins world of rooftops and alleyways” made the project “the ultimate infill site,” according to Elkus/Manfredi principal Howard Elkus. There seemed to be “no other conceivable use for the site, because it had no address and no exterior exposure,” he says. “It was a most adverse environment for any traditional use.”

Dreaming big, Emerson’s Silverman got permission from the state legislature to build a performance facility on the site. “Somehow, Rob Silverman was able to visualize a building in this tiny tucked-away odd plot of land,” says David Rosen, the college’s director of public relations.

Where’s the front door?

But the site still had no access other than the service alley. Intrigued by the project, yet unsure of its constructability, the Elkus/Manfredi design team pursued a tunnel scenario involving another building owned by Emerson at the mouth of Allen’s Alley across from the Majestic. But the scenario seemed “unlikely,” says Silverman. It appeared that the site would only be suitable for the construction of a small building, which would provide dressing rooms and other support facilities for the Majestic.

The missing piece was added in late 1998 with Emerson’s purchase of the Walker Building, which abuts the Tufte site at the end of Allen’s Alley, where the colorfully lit stairwell now rises. Acquiring the Walker Building, which now houses the college’s broadcast journalism department, was “the key to making the project work,” says Silverman. “We were able to figure out a way to provide pedestrian access to the Tufte through the Walker Building, which has much more attractive access than would have been possible if we were restricted to Allen’s Alley.”

Ironically, the Walker Building’s main access is via Boylston Place, a restored brick-paved street extending from Boylston Street and the historic Boston Common. “When you arrive at the Tufte Center through the Boylston Place entrance, you do so without ever having seen the building,” says Elkus/Manfredi VP Robert Koup, AIA.

Setting the stage

To make the project happen, Emerson turned to mostly local companies, many of which were already working on the restoration of the Majestic Theatre next door. In addition to Elkus/Manfredi, locally based Lee Kennedy Co. was in enlisted as the project’s construction manager and general contractor, with LeMessurier Consultants as structural engineer and Cosentini Associates as the mechanical/electrical consultant. The only newcomer to the Building Team was New York-based theater consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander.

The exceedingly tight site demanded an intense and lengthy planning and preconstruction phase to work out complicated logistics and secure permitting, which involved both the city and the state, because the property was state land and abutted the State Transportation Building.

“The amount of planning and coordination was well above average,” says Silverman. “It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter building. There’s nothing off the shelf about Tufte. Nothing.”

Lee Kennedy was brought in early during the preconstruction phase to address pricing issues, conduct extensive surveys of the site and neighboring buildings, establish the building footprint, and confirm elevations. One of the many surprises they uncovered was that the old granite foundation of the Walker Building protruded farther than expected, which caused some revision of foundation schemes, says Chris Pennie, Lee Kennedy’s general superintendent. They also unearthed a hidden pedestrian tunnel, part of the old subway system, beneath Allen’s Alley. As a result, the alley had to be reconstructed because the tunnel was found to be undermining its stability.

Lee Kennedy’s input was “critical from the outset,” says Koup. The building’s lightweight honeycomb core metal panel exterior skin was selected as much for its cost and construction benefits as for its fresh, contemporary aesthetic, which serves as a neutral companion piece for the surrounding buildings. With no staging area available on or around the site, masonry was found to be cost prohibitive. (Masonry was used for the sides of the building that abut adjacent buildings, with staging conducted on the rooftops of the neighboring buildings.) Weighing only a pound per square foot, the metal panels could be erected using a swing-staging technique or by bringing them up through the building, says Pennie.

Ordinarily, construction of a 10-story building would not require a tower crane with a 230-foot boom radius, but the project’s tight fit made it necessary to erect such a tower crane to pick steel and conduct concrete bucket pours. To keep the alley open to serve the surrounding buildings, the crane had to be erected within the building footprint, in the space eventually occupied by the stairwell. Even setting up the tower crane proved a challenge. LeMessurier designed a thicker than usual concrete mat to support the crane. To erect the crane, two service cranes were required, but only one fit into the alley.

With no staging or lay-down area available, the delivery of materials and the work of trades had to be meticulously scheduled to avoid logjams. Materials were taken directly off delivery trucks and placed; trades were scheduled so that their work would not conflict with others. To compensate for the lack of lay-down area, some material, such as the exterior metal panels was laid down inside the building footprint, occupying precious floor space, until it was fed outside when needed. “That prevented us from building the inside until most of the skin was completed,” says Pennie.

The nearly column-free structural design of the building was driven by two factors: the requirement that the building’s ground-floor service dock accommodate the State Transportation Building and the Majestic Theatre, and the building’s program, which includes two performing arts theaters and two TV studios. With such a small footprint, the service dock occupies almost all of the building’s ground floor. “The only two interior columns on the entire project go all the way up through the building without ever having to be transferred, even though they pass through seven or eight completely different functional spaces,” says LeMessurier project engineer, Brian Eaton.

The tight site and soil conditions necessitated the creation of deep-drilled concrete shafts offset from the property line to support the building. Crews drilled through 100 feet of thick, muddy Boston blue clay before reaching the glacial till, says Eaton. A system of heavy concrete transfer beams in the ground dissipates the loads from the perimeter columns inward into the six-foot-diameter shafts. Next door, the Majestic, with its shallower brick footings, was underpinned to secure its foundation.

Ironically, being boxed in on three sides made it easier to devise a diagonal bracing system to resist hurricane force winds and meet seismic requirements, with the bracing installed on the outside walls on the building’s three enclosed sides. Although Boston is a marginal seismic zone, a 10-inch gap was required to separate the building from the adjacent buildings. The bracing had to be strong enough to prevent any sway that might move the building over the property line.

Waiting in the wings

The Tufte Center is the first new building Emerson College has constructed in its 124-year history. For the past 10 years, the well-respected performing arts and broadcast institution has been relocating its campus from historic brownstones in upscale Back Bay, to buildings that it began purchasing in the Theater District in the early 1990s, when prices were low.

Elkus/Manfredi’s Koup says three months were spent at the outset conducting feasibility studies and determining what elements could logically fit into the building program, given its small footprint, a height restriction of 155 feet, and a floor-area ratio of 10.

The building contains two performing arts theaters, two television studios, digital media laboratories, dressing rooms for the theaters, and dressing rooms and support facilities for the Majestic. (An art gallery was added later.) Flexible lighting, sound, set and costume design, and makeup studio facilities double as support spaces for performance and classroom activities. Silverman says the college is also seeking more space elsewhere in the Theater District.

To maximize the limited amount of daylight and views afforded by Allen’s Alley, the building was configured with the “black box” theater and television spaces located on the inner portion of the building against the walls that border the State Transportation Building. Faculty offices and functions that support the black box spaces, such as lobbies, which benefit from the daylight and views, were located on the outer portion of the building along the alley. The building’s two stairwells feature glass windows to give students “an opportunity to see out,” says Koup.

Elkus/Manfredi wanted to give the Tufte Center the same lively, creative environment found in the theater department’s previous brownstone facilities. “Every space in the building is considered a performance space,” says Koup. Wherever possible, double-height spaces were created to form “balcony overlooks,” which can be used for pre- or post-show performances, or to extend performances out from the theaters and into other parts of the building. Balconies are provided in the main entrance lobby and in the theater lobbies.

The “industrial chic” aesthetic of the theater spaces is carried through the building, with theater lighting hanging from rigging in dark open ceilings. Walls are white and sparsely decorated. Inspired by the color bar in a television test pattern, bold blue, red, and green spot color accents are illuminated over doorways, on walls and HVAC ducts, and elsewhere throughout the irregularly shaped building.

Two cantilevered curtain wall elements supported by 5x5-inch steel tubes give the exterior added character and provide better sightlines and views. Along the second-floor theater lobby, a downward sloping glass curtain wall cantilevers over the entrance to the service dock and Allen’s Alley, angling outward slightly more at the end facing the alley’s entrance. Instead of looking directly across the alley at the fire escape (a la “West Side Story”) and blank end wall of the Colonial Theater, the angle of the curtain wall gives theatergoers a better view of the stairwell light show at the end of the alley. Pulling the curtain wall out at that angle also provides onlookers from the street a view into the lobby.

Air rights had to be secured to allow the curtain wall on the top three floors of the Tufte Center to cantilever over the Walker Building where the two buildings connect. Referred to by the Building Team as the “tree house,” the three-story curtain wall encloses three seminar rooms and offers breathtaking views from Emerson’s new home in the Theater District north over Boston Common and the Charles River.

Just across the Common, Emerson’s former brownstone campus in the Back Bay is visible, a few blocks and more than a century in the distance. BDC

College realizes goal to link theater and television units

Since Emerson College first added a television broadcast program to its Department of Performing Arts at the dawning of the medium in the 1950s, faculty members dreamed about one day being able to create synergies between the disciplines, which were located in different buildings. Fifty years later, with the completion of the Tufte Performance and Production Center, the dream has become reality.

The Tufte Center houses two performance theaters and two television studios. The Semel Theater, the main performance theater, is a state-of-the-art steeply raked 210-seat three-quarter thrust stage space with a 650-sf vertically adjustable platforming system. The Greene Theater is a 130-seat end stage style theater, which also is steeply raked above the 1,000-sf stage. Television Studio A is a 41x44-foot broadcast studio whose technology and amenities are on par with the most advanced network studios in Boston. Studio B is a 28x40-sf teaching facility.

“Interfaces between the television studios and the theaters are provided so theater productions can be broadcast,” says Steven Friedlander, principal in charge for theater consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander, New York.

Television camera positions are located within the Semel and Greene theaters, with video, ISO communications, and camera tie-lines that run up to the television studio’s control and rack rooms located on the seventh floor. This allows video recording within the theater to be switched from either the television control room above or from a truck located at the loading dock. Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, will broadcast from the Semel Theater in July, during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. BDC

PROJECT SUMMARY:

Tufte Peformance and Production Center

Boston, Mass.

Building team

Owner/developer:

Emerson College

Architect:

Elkus/Manfredi Architects

Construction manager:

Lee Kennedy Co.

General contractor:

Lee Kennedy Co.

Structural engineer:

LeMessurier Consultants

Interior architect:

Elkus/Manfredi Architects

Mechanical/electrical engineer:

Cosentini Associates

Theater consultant:

Auerbach Pollock Friedlander

Acoustics consultant:

Kirkegaard Associates

General information

Area:

80,000 gsf

Number of floors:

10 above ground, 1 (below grade)

Construction time:

June 2001-September 2003

Construction cost:

$31.5 million

Delivery method:

Negotiated

Project suppliers

Curtainwall:

Vista Wall

Exterior cladding:

Una-Clad, York

Lighting:

Bartco, Alko, Bega, Electronic Theater Systems, Lighting Services Inc.

Exterior glazing:

J.E. Berkowitz

Ornamental metal:

Ryan Ironworks

Roofing system, insulation:

EPPM

Wall insulation:

USG

Elevators:

Thyssen Krupp

Ceilings:

Armstrong, Simplex, Air Performance

Interior walls/partitions:

GWB, USG

Carpet:

Shaw

Plumbing fixtures:

Kohler, Elkay, Haws, Zurn

Resilient flooring:

VCT-Armstrong, Rubber-PRF USA

Floor tile:

Daltile

Furniture and casework:

Custom

Theater seating:

Irwin Seating

Paint:

Benjamin Moore, Zolatone

Structural steel:

Ocean Steel Co.

Life safety, security systems:

MAC Systems

Fire alarms, fire suppression system:

Edwards Systems Technology

PROJECT COST SUMMARY

General requirements$6,959,300

Sitework3,234,400

Concrete605,800

Masonry320,900

Metals3,139,200

Wood/plastic329,100

Thermal/moisture1,173,200

Doors/windows1,089,900

Finishes3,215,800

Specialties155,200

Equipment1,090,400

Furnishings88,000

Elevators1,260,300

M/P/FP4,750,000

Electrical4,088,500

Total$31,500,000

 

CLADDING

BEAUTY THAT’S SKIN DEEP

Brick-faced precast concrete provides a cost-effective, time-saving alternative

to more traditional construction methods for an Atlanta office complex.

By Dave Barista, Associate Editor

When students stroll past the three-building Centergy complex adjacent to the Georgia Tech campus in midtown Atlanta, most don’t realize that the traditional red-brick cladding that adorns the three structures is an imitation. Just five-eighths of an inch thick, the bricks are merely the skin of six-inch-thick precast concrete panels that enclose the two office buildings and parking garage.

Brick-faced precast was specified over traditional brick construction for the $68 million project for its cost efficiencies, speed of construction, and simplified logistics, says Richard Peebles, a VP with Hardin Construction Co., CM/GC for the Centergy project. Designed by Atlanta-based architect Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates, the complex consists of a six-story, 218,000-sf, single-tenant office building, a 14-story, 500,000-sf speculative office tower, and an eight-story parking garage for 1,175 cars.

“With traditional brick, it probably would have taken four to five months to enclose the buildings,” says Peebles. Using brick-faced precast shaved more than a month off the exterior enclosure schedule, he says.

Precast also priced about $1 cheaper than brick construction ($26/sf vs. $27-28/sf) and eliminated the need for scaffolding, which can be “extremely expensive” for buildings the size of Centergy, says Peebles. “Plus, it makes for a much simpler envelope because you don’t have to worry about whether the flashing is installed correctly, or if the mortar’s falling into the cavity, or the waterproofing of the sheathing. There’s not as much that can go wrong.”

About 300 brick-faced precast concrete panels &m> some as long as 40 feet and weighing 15 tons &m> form the shell of the complex. They were shipped from Gate Precast Co.’s Ashland City, Tenn., fabrication plant to the job site, where a huge tower crane swung them into place and erectors welded them to connection plates embedded into the cast-in-place concrete structure.

Peebles is quick to add that cost estimates on other recent projects have come out in favor of traditional brick and concrete block construction. He says the price of brick-faced precast &m> which runs $1-2 more per sf than standard precast concrete &m> depends on three factors: the size of the pieces (the bigger, the better); the number of pieces (the fewer, the better); and the degree of articulation and detail in the brick skin (the simpler, the better). Peebles says cement costs have to be figured in, too. For instance, smaller projects that require a higher level of detail may lend themselves better to traditional brick construction.

Nor does precast brick offer as much design flexibility as conventional brick. With regular brick, he says, you can have rows that protrude and others that are recessed, which you can’t do with precast. Also, precast has joints, so the design team has to pay more attention to where the joints are located, says Peebles.

Uptick in demand

While it represents a small fraction of the overall brick and concrete block market, brick-faced precast concrete, first developed in the 1960s, has seen moderate growth over the last decade stemming from more competitive pricing and greater demand for fast construction methods.

Gate Precast has offered brick-clad precast for more than 20 years, but only recently has it sold the product on a regular basis. “In the past, we’d be lucky to get a project every four or five years,” says Dean Gwin, VP/marketing and sales for the Jacksonville, Fla.-based fabricator. “Now we keep at least one project in production at all times.”

Gwin says the biggest growth has come in the K-12 schools market, which demands fast construction and the traditional look of brick. To cater to this sector, Gate offers a load-bearing precast brick/block inlay system that acts as a complete wall system &m> including insulation and interior wall finishing.

“This one panel takes the place of block, brick, vapor barrier, metal studs, insulation, conduit, and sheetrock,” says Gwin. “It’s installed much like tilt-up concrete &m> braced, then the steel structure is built inside.”

The precast wall consists of a 2-inch-thick layer of extruded polystyrene and polyisocyanurate insulation sandwiched between 5-inch-thick concrete; these are tied together with nonconductive, chemically resistant fiber composite connectors. Typical panels sizes are 20 feet in height and 12 feet wide (supporting a two-story structure). They can be installed at the rate of about 2,500-3,500 sf a day, compared to 500-700 sf a day for typical brick and block systems, says Gwin.

         
 

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