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Project Profile: Granite Heights

By: Wendy Ward, Constructive Communication

Innovative Tilt-Up professionals have long known that the Tilt- Up method is a leading solution for challenging structures. One such project is a distribution/warehouse facility in Rockville, Md. Designed by TCA member Stephens Architectural Associates of Laurel, Md., the facility is located on an extremely complex hillside site that some believed was virtually unbuildable. However, Stephens Architectural Associates (SAA) proposed Tilt-Up as a solution and was able to turn the difficult site into a revenue generator for the owner, F.S Peoples Realty.

The semi-accessible hillside site presented a host of challenges. The original site plan included a single 110,000-square-foot building at an elevation of 403 feet. A seismic study based on that site plan indicated that approximately 40,000 yards of non-rip-able rock would need to be blasted and hauled away. However, the plan was altered to include two buildings that total 116,700 square feet, so the exact amount of blasted rock is unknown. Nearly 135 days were needed to blast the rock. A crusher was on the site for more than 12 months to deal with the blasted material. One of the challenges encountered during this process was that when rock is blasted under a relatively clean layer of overburdened soil, the overburden then becomes thoroughly mixed with rock. This led to the whole site needing to be run through the crusher. The cost for the blaster and rock crusher to be on the site for this amount of time totaled approximately $600,000. And, nearly $2 million was spent on the excavator, which included the cost of the export. According to Bobby Srour, owner of the buildings and the land, they were able to use much of the crushed material on the site for gabion, surge and granular backfill.

Srour explains that Tilt-Up was clearly the ideal method for this project. “Tilt-Up provided us with an economical solution,” said Srour. “We were able to get the best building for the dollar with this method.”

Overcoming the difficult site was also cited by Earl Seboda, Jr., Senior Project Manager for NARDI Construction, Inc. – the contractor for the project – as the most challenging part of the job. “There was an approximately 30-foot drop-off at Building B,” said Seboda. “From the outside edge of the panel to the drop, we have about 5 feet to work with.

Creating yet another obstacle, there was a Washington gas easement that backed up to the building. Since the easement was on the side of a hill, the south end of the building would have been designed as a retaining wall since the hill was about 15 feet a.f.f. at a 1.1 slope.

“To combat this, SAA and NARDI developed a solution to place shotcrete on the hill to stabilize it,” said Seboda. “This saved the owner more than $80,000.”

Tilt-Up was the only practical way to deliver the high ceiling clearance that today’s warehouse and distribution center owners are demanding. This would not have been possible with other methods because the site constraints would have made the set up of scaffolding for brick or block walls extremely difficult. Tilt-Up also increased safety on the jobsite since scaffolding did not have to be used, which would have placed workers in difficult and hazardous situations for expended time periods. A very precise facility, flat and smooth floor slabs and walls were critical to the success of this project and Tilt-Up was able to meet both of these needs. Large overhead door openings that measure 12 feet by 14 feet, above standard requirements, were easily created through the use of Tilt-Up.

“Tilt-Up was the only viable solution for this project because the building had to be constructed from the inside,” said Seboda. “Both Building A and Building B had very little spaces at the rear of the buildings due to the retaining wall at Building A and the hill at Building B. Tilt-Up eliminated the need for additional excavation and shoring, which saved the owner thousands of dollars. Additionally, because of the changes in elevations around Building A, extreme rigging measures were not required.”

Featuring several architectural treatments, the facility boasts a Tex Cote finish. Other architectural features include brick and foam coping to appeal to the facility. Further, windows are located on three sides of the facility.

Although this was Srour’s first Tilt-Up project, every building surrounding the Granite Heights project is Tilt-Up. Srour is extremely pleased with the results and believes that Tilt-Up has helped sell the building to prospective tenants. “Our goal for this project was to create an income producing asset out of a mountain that was non-producing piece of our portfolio,” said Srour. “Tilt-Up enabled us to this cost-effectively.”

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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.