Article tools: Share:

Citadel Enters Uncharted Territories with Charter School and Tilt-Up

By: Kimberly Corwin, A.H. Harris Construction Supplies

Glenn Doncaster, an avid sailor, knows that if you’re in uncharted waters, you are in a situation that is unfamiliar to you, that you have no experience of and don’t know what might happen. This was the case as Citadel Contractors recently took on the widest known panel in Tilt-Up history for the Voyager Academy Project in Durham, N.C.

The extraordinary width required by the designer’s window and demising wall layout meant that Citadel and Meadow Burke needed to go back to the engineering board and make sure this panel could be lifted. Dividing it into smaller panels was not an option architecturally and was not advantageous for the engineering of smaller panels.

Mike Wolstenholme of Meadow Burke said, “It was a very complicated detail with many important notations to ensure that the lift would go smoothly…it did!”

Project Manager Jason Swagert describes his feelings when watching this enormous panel being lifted as “anxious but confident!”

This 5 ½-inch thick, 82-foot – 10-inch long panel weighed in at 126,050 pounds. Citadel used a 44-foot spreader bar, 80-foot and 40-foot slings, and eight Meadow Burke double Super Lift III inserts to attach the Link Belt 348 (300-ton) crawler crane to the panel. The design called for a concrete modulus of rupture of 650 psi and an additional 1.5 tons of reinforcing steel. The design proved successful. With special procedures to wedge the panel free, the panel came up without incident and now sits atop the TCA’s Top-10 widest panel category as well as being situated effectively in the perimeter of the new Voyager Academy.

This single panel required nine Super 22 braces plus the addition of one strongback along the top of the middle window.

“There was never any doubt in my mind that our team could make this happen,” said Glenn Doncaster, Citadel Contractors President.

The project had a total of 59 panels ranging in height from 21 feet, 11 inches to 36 feet, 10 inches and averaging 40,000 pounds apiece.

From the first meeting with the designers, developers and school board to the completion of the school was a mere 10 months, in time to accept the incoming students in September 2011. This project finished 16 weeks ahead of a comparable masonry school, making Tilt-Up construction the ideal construction methodology for schools.

The mission of Voyager Academy is to provide students in grades four through eight an academically challenging environment in which motivated learners, working in a small, nurturing setting, may realize their potential through experiential and traditional educational opportunities. The school’s belief is that students, working with dedicated faculty and family, will excel in their academic goals and real world pursuits.

Embracing the Tilt-Up construction methodology goes hand in hand with this mission statement. Tilt-Up is sustainable, Tilt-Up is innovative – and as seen here – anything you can form, you can pour and you can now lift…even an 82-foot-plus wide panel.

“In my experience, one of the biggest challenges in the construction industry is that we are always trying to do more with less concrete and this panel does just that,” said Ernie Garcia of Meadow Burke. “The panel is a slim 4-¾-inch thick wall.”

Citadel Contractors and Tilt-Up have given this community not only a state-of-the-art educational facility but a building that can serve as a shelter for them during times of natural disaster or crisis.

The mass effect of the concrete allows the facility to economically maintain a steady temperature for human comfort that allows for maximum learning and greatly reduces the possibility of mold or mildew.

When you go into uncharted territories you never know what you might discover. It is through these discoveries that new records are set. This record-breaking panel is taking down the former Top 10 spot holder within the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, surpassing Sunset Community Center’s previous widest panel record by 1-foot, 2 ½-inches! See this list and the other Top-10 category lists at

Tilt-Up is going where no construction methodology has gone before….

Citadel Contractors

Citadel successfully uses its extensive background in Tilt-Up construction to service clients in the Southeast United States.  Citadel is an innovative leader in the Southeast providing quality construction, on-time scheduling, and cost effective construction methods.

Meadow Burke

For more than seven decades, Meadow Burke has served architects, engineers, and contractors with a superior line of concrete accessories. Meadow Burke is known for quality, reliability, product innovation, dependability, and superb customer service.

A.H. Harris & Sons, Inc.

A.H. Harris serves the heavy & highway, commercial, industrial and residential markets specializing in areas of concrete formwork and accessories, Tilt-Up accessories and rentals, concrete repair and restoration, geotextiles and erosion control. A.H. Harris has over 40 distribution centers located in the New England, Mid- and South-Atlantic Regions. Our mission is to provide “the highest quality products and professional services” to our customers.

Leave A Comment

Get Connected

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Connect with us on LinkedIn
Subscribe to us on YouTube


About us

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.