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Record Breaking Tilt-Up

By: Wendy Ward

It’s no secret to those in the Tilt-Up industry that today’s projects are more complex and challenging than ever before. Not only are panels getting taller and wider, but they are also becoming more structurally sophisticated with longer spans, greater sizes, percentages of opening and even using more recycled material content. How can you gain recognition for these feats of design and construction? Simply, submit your project accomplishment to the TCA Top Ten lists.

Over recent years, several impressive projects have captured the top spots in each of the categories and new categories have been added to recognize the growth occurring in the Tilt-Up industry. Start by learning about some of these design and construction achievements and then consider the work you have already completed or are planning. These projects may very well find placements in one or more of these already impressive lists; or they may even define a new category that should be considered.

Widest Panel

The widest panel title holder currently belongs to Citadel Contractors for a 74-foot, 1⁄2-inch wide panel. The panel is one of 270 panels for the 200,000-square-foot High Point Town Center retail center located in Prattville, Ala. According to Jason Swagert, Vice President of Citadel Contractors, Tilt-Up was selected because it was more economical than conventional construction and the construction method enabled the team to meet a very aggressive schedule. Further, he noted that the wide panel was a necessity in order to accomplish the architectural feature challenges. “Tilt Up construction provides a variety of options that makes the construction process faster, cleaner and the end-product more durable to pests and weather,” said Swagert.

Heaviest Panel

Weighing in at a hefty 339,000 pounds, a panel for the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. holds the top spot in the heaviest panel category. As a Convention Center, it is important that this facility has open spaces and the use of the heavy panel made that possible.“The heavy panel was set to span the width of the glass wall south entrance of the building,” said Trentis Durden, president of Sunshine Specialties, Inc. – the Tilt-Up panel erection contractor.

As can be expected, the heavy panel presented several challenges during the lifting process. This project had to have a critical lift plan in place, because of the zero tolerance for movement and very high risk assessment during erection. “We had to set two 200-ton crawler cranes in a two-lane road,” said Durden. “It was 529 feet long from the center of the south end of the building in either direction. Because the road dropped more than 2 feet on each side, we had 100 tons of lime rock hauled in to build the 80 lineal feet of level surface and strengthen the road to ensure that it could hold the weight of the cranes and panels.” Because of the limited space, each time the crane moved to the next panel, the lime rock company would have to drive around the block to dump the rock in front of the crane to maintain the 80 lineal feet of lime rock surface in front of the crane.

“Sunshine Specialties was able to lift and set very heavy and somewhat unbalanced panels with the use of dual cranes,” said Mike Wolstenholme, National Tilt-Up Sales Manager for Meadow Burke Products.

The building consisted of 172 panels and the addition is 243,000 square feet. The heaviest panel is 59 feet, 111⁄4 inches by 21 feet and 35 inches thick for the first 101⁄2 foot width. The remaining 101⁄2 feet was 19 inches thick and cantilevered. The panel sits on two 30-inch round concrete columns. This project demonstrates that even with challenging applications, Tilt-Up is a cost-effective alternative to precast.

To tackle this challenging project, Sunshine Specialties and Goss Foundations – the general contractor for the project – worked together as a team to develop innovative strategies for this complex and unique job, which made the entire process more efficient. Goss Foundations formed and built the walls for the project.

Spandrel Panel

A 125-foot long spandrel panel for the NSA-8 Office and Hanger in Scottsdale, Ariz. sits at the top of the leader board in the spandrel panel category. “The large spandrel panel was necessary, because the hanger door required a header over the top for the roof connection,” said Steve Rafalski, project manager/estimator for Jones Concrete Construction, LLC of Phoenix, Ariz. “Further, the owner wanted to keep the appearance of the concrete Tilt-Up panels consistent with the rest of the hanger. The large spandrel panel was the best way to accomplish the proper connection and provide the desired look.”

Presenting several challenges, the large spandrel panel had to be engineered for top picks only because of the extensive rigging. Crews had to bring in a 70-foot major bar and then use two smaller 30-foot minor bars underneath it. On a typical panel, the 30-foot minor bar would be used as the major bar. Further, the crew faced obstacles with the crane. Located at an airport, several height restrictions were in place for the crane’s boom. Crews had maxed out the cable because of the restrictions, total length of the rigging, height that the panel had to be set at and the height of the panel. “We had only 2 feet to spare before the hook and block hit the shutdown sensor at the top of the crane, which left no margin of error,” said Rafalski.

Comprised of 43 panels (10 of which are spandrel panels), the hanger is 11,000 square feet and the two- story office is 6,000 square feet. This complex project demonstrates the importance of pre-planning and pre-pour checklists. “Pre-planning was crucial on this project to ensure that we had a usable erection sequence,” said Rafalski. “Input from the Tilt-Up hardware supplier, crane operator, project general contractor and structural engineer made for a much smoother job.”

Tallest Panel

The honor for the tallest panel belongs to the Lucky Street Parking Garage with a 96-foot-9-inch tall wall panel. Part of a 2,300-space, seven-story parking structure for the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Fla., the 6-foot wide stair tower panel was formed onsite and lifted into place by a 150-foot lattice boom crane.

According to Scott Collins, assistant chief engineer at Meadow Burke Products, the project required advanced engineering to overcome obstacles. “It required a thicker modification from 91⁄4 inches to 111⁄4 inches in order to overcome deflection,” said Collins. “We made the panel thick and tall with double mat reinforcing 6 inches on center.”

This unique project has drawn the attention of several industry experts and even resulted in Dave Kelly, former chief engineer at Meadow Burke, being recognized as a Top 25 Newsmaker of 2006 from Engineering News-Record (ENR) magazine. Kelly noted that the tall panel presented unique bracing challenges. “Normally, you need to brace at 60 percent of height,” said Kelly. “If we would have used pipe braces, we would have needed about 80-foot braces attached to ground 40 feet from the structure, which would have created additional challenges.”

To overcome this obstacle, TCA members Kelly and Tiltcrete LLC of Medley, Fla. – the Tilt-Up contractor for the project – attached the panel to the structure rather than to the ground. “We used two temporary points so the crane could be released and then we connected the panel with many permanent welds,” said Kelly.

Largest Building – Footprint

The Target Import Warehouse (T-3810) in Savannah, Ga. smashes the previous footprint record. The record holder is an outstanding 2,029,554 square feet.

According to Anthony Johnson, Project Manager of Ryan Companies US, Inc. of Minneapolis, Minn. – the general contractor for the project – Tilt-Up was used for this project the method’s cost-effectiveness and scheduling efficiencies when compared to a conventional prefabricated panel method.

“Ironically, one of the biggest challenges we faced on this project was that the footprint sometimes seemed too small,” said Johnson. “To keep all the various trades flowing properly and efficiently, intense coordination was required to ensure that the trades on the front-end were maintaining the pace needed to support the trades behind them. The fast-track schedule required a high volume of workers to be on site.”

Using more than 82,000 cubic yards of concrete, the project had 258 panels and was completed in 151⁄2 months. The large size of the building also presented challenges in material procurement. Materials such as Portland cement and aggregate far exceeded the local material suppliers’ and trucking companies’ capacity. Tilt-Up was the best solution for this project because it allowed us to be able to cover the sensitive soils quickly with the floor slab; thus, protecting the subgrade from the rain and weather variables.

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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.