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Tilt-Up Gets an A+ for Educational Facilities

By: Jenna Bellinksi, Constructive Communication

Today’s educational facilities often serve as more than a place to teach future generations. They also act as a community meeting center, an icon of the community or even a shelter from a natural disaster. As such, new facilities are being built in record numbers to replace older buildings that are: incapable of withstanding natural disasters; too small for growing enrollment numbers; and unable to protect occupants from threats such as fires and mold. Parents and community members want assurances that educational facilities have easily accessible emergency exits, as well as advanced fire safety within a building. While safety is the primary concern, it is also important that schools fit into the landscape and look of a community.

Because of the method’s durability, speed of construction, cost- effectiveness and architectural options available, site cast Tilt-Up construction has proven to be a dynamic solution for educational facilities. Three of this year’s TCA Achievement Award winners showcase the best of Tilt-Up for educational facilities.


American Constructors, LP of Austin, Texas, was challenged with providing a new elementary school for a fast growing suburb of Austin. Addressing the many concerns and goals of the Austin community, Rutledge Elementary School, a 100,478- square-foot educational facility was built using site cast Tilt-Up.

The school district desired a facility that would be energy efficient and highly resistant to mold, offer at least 50 years of durability, and express the style and stature of the existing structures in the district. Tilt-Up panels were used for the bearing interior corridor walls, which reduced the structural steel required for the building by 34 percent. The site for the school was changed before construction began, and the new site had an undrillable rock layer. The soils engineer and civil engineer worked together to develop an economical redesign of the foundation system. As one of the wettest winters on record, more than 20 work days were lost to rain, but the school’s opening date remained the same. To expedite the schedule, two separate crews fabricated the panels – one on the two-story classroom wing of the school and the other on the one-story multi-purpose/cafeteria/library wing.

Responding to the district’s need for energy efficiency and low maintenance costs, the project incorporated water source heat pumps on a mechanical mezzanine. The units are sized so each classroom has an independent air comfort supply. The exterior Tilt-Up panels also feature 2-inch-thick expanded polystyrene insulation integrally cast into the panels, which minimizes the potential for mold growth.

Increased fire resistance was an important aspect of the design and building process. To meet the concern, fire separation walls were created by placing Tilt-Up panels back to back with a small expansion space separating them.

The school’s architectural treatments were chosen to complement the community’s design. Brick was selected in two contrasting colors, and a local standard concrete mix with river rock and gray cement gave the effect of normal brick mortar. A medium sandblast finish on the exposed concrete brought out the rich natural tan color and sparkle of the aggregate. Each panel was unique and had to be thought out and detailed individually. Tilt-Up provided a much more durable finished wall surface. Deemed a tremendous success, the design and construction team were able to overcome the site change, foundation redesign and rain to have the building completed in time for the start of the school year.


Bay Meadows Elementary School, a 90,798-square-foot educational facility in Orlando, Fla., presented the design and construction team with the goals of providing a low- cost structure with visual appeal. TILT-CON Corporation of Altamonte Springs, Fla., met the challenge with flying colors.

Utilizing a unique method of panel construction to ensure the thin brick veneer would not break during pours or lifts, the placement of the formliner and brick veneer was one of the most challenging aspects of this project. This architectural prototype design saved the school district a substantial amount of money on the overall construction of the project. The brick veneer was placed in formliners for all the panels, which required close coordination between the detailers, rod busters, and placing and finishing crews to minimize the extent of broken and/or dislodged bricks. The construction team was required to walk flat-footed in the panels while setting the brick and reinforcing the steel so the brick would not crack beneath their weight.

Architectural treatments include a variety of different colored bricks with band pattern and accents, Endicott tile, and coppertone and rose blend colors. By utilizing thin brick, the design team achieved the look of a traditional brick schoolhouse. The color plays with a more creative use of pattern and is very unique. To create support and interest for the project, the design and construction team held an event that centered on the lifting of the panels in order to showcase the new school and how utilizing Tilt-Up helps the school save on construction costs without sacrificing quality.


Designed to match the architectural theme of other Villages schools, the Villages Charter High School Administration Building has a high level of finishes with three-story open thin brick Tilt-Up panels. These panels, designed for this 56,716- square-foot educational facility by The Haskell Company of Jacksonville, Fla., provide the focal point of the main administration/classroom building. Tilt-Up was selected for the project because the method allowed the design-builder to provide unique thin brick detailing without affecting the schedule, and it provided structural integrity at a lower cost.

Incorporating and coordinating the extensive amount of thin brick and the related details from panel to panel was one of the main challenges of this project. The thin brick is carried to the back side of the Tilt-Up panels to give the appearance of solid brick piers and arches. The traditional color scheme and architectural treatments include red brick with a red tile roof, beige wall surface, green shutters, white molding profiles, window frames and mullions. A two-story media center with two-story glazing overlooks the campus quad, and the three-story atrium at the school entrance carries the exterior architectural theme into the building interior. To add appeal to the facility, the Tilt-Up panels have inset precast elements with a scripted “V” that stands for The Villages. The use of thin brick and Tilt-Up allowed the school to have the architectural look and long-term durability the owners desired in a cost-effective manner.


Many school districts are realizing the necessity of new facilities to aid in the problems they face, whether they be unsafe buildings, unsuitable conditions or just aging facilities. The use of Tilt-Up is a perfect solution to a quick, cost-efficient, quality building. Many firms, as seen in this year’s TCA Achievement Award winners, have excelled in the use of Tilt-Up and create long-lasting, durable, high-quality buildings in a timely fashion.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.