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If only these walls could talk

February 11, 2011 |

Collman & Karsky does much of its work in coastal Florida, designing mission-critical facilities that are hurricane-hardened, meaning they’re resistant to high winds, flooding, and the impact of large airborne missile debris—flying chunks of wood and metal, even whole pieces of rooftop HVAC equipment. For one recent project, a renovation of the Sarasota Emergency Data Center, Collman & Karsky used Wellbilt’s Sure-Board Wall Panel, a modular, panelized wall system, to create a bunker able to withstand a Category 5 hurricane.

Karsky says the product was very clean and easy to install and required no cutting of floor slabs. “We were on an extremely tight time frame, and because it was modular, the walls could be set up quickly, allowing the other trades to come in and start working.” The modular system also cost “a little bit less” compared to concrete block or poured-in-place concrete, he says.

Hasan S. Arouri, PE, principal and senior structural project engineer for TLC Engineering for Architecture in Orlando, also attests to the benefits of the Wellbilt system: “The panels are tested and certified as hurricane-resistant, impact-resistant, and blast-resistant products, adequate and cost-effective to provide additional protection and strength for buildings located in high-velocity hurricane zones.”

TLC used them to harden the walls of the Florida Supreme Court Building in Tallahassee. Arouri says the technology provided a lightweight solution that strengthened the existing walls, enhancing their capacity to resist lateral hurricane wind pressures and providing blast-wall protection without the need for a lot of additional footings. The panels also allowed the building’s historic façade to be preserved.

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