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Building for Mother Nature


By: Jim White | Bedrock Concrete Corp & Megan Miller | LJB Inc.

A business owner in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey, certainly considered Mother Nature for his new restaurant and liquor store and hoped he never had to find out if it was necessary.  Only a half mile from the Atlantic Ocean, he wanted a building that could withstand hurricane winds and the accompanying storm surge floodwaters. The building was not only in close proximity to the ocean, but was also the last parcel in the flood zone.

The original design for this building was a steel-framed block building. The owner has many of these buildings and was going to build this one the same as the others. But the steel-framed block building alone was not going to meet the client’s needs for this particular site. To meet local zoning requirements, the site was raised six feet to reduce the potential impacts of the floodplain. The architect also suggested tilt-up construction for the building shell to withstand Mother Nature without sacrificing structural integrity or architectural freedom.

Bedrock Concrete Corp. of Sayreville, NJ is a concrete building shell contractor with particular expertise in tilt-up construction. Bedrock constructed the new 11,800-square-foot building with tilt-up concrete insulated with THERMOMASS® creating a durable and energy efficient facility. The encapsulated concrete also provides a moisture barrier that is critical in this hurricane-prone area instead of batt insulation or expanded polystyrene that could absorb moisture from flood waters.

Structurally, modifications were made in the design to withstand Mother Nature. LJB Inc. of Dayton, OH made sure the structure was designed to meet the architect’s vision and the owner’s geographic requirements. Design modifications to accommodate the 113 MPH hurricane force winds include impact-resistant glazing, stronger joists, larger interior column footings, larger welds and embeds, tighter roof deck connections and heavier panel reinforcing. If traditional brace frames were used for the structure, large footings would have been required to resist uplift and lateral loads around the perimeter. But, the tilt-up concrete panels act as a ballast eliminating the need for the larger footings. In addition to the concrete tilt-up shear walls, the building utilizes rod bracing at the architectural roof elements for lateral stability.

This owner now has a durable tilt-up concrete restaurant and store that is energy efficient and aesthetically pleasing and saved the owner time and money compared to the steel-framed block alternative.

Unfortunately, only a few years later the new facility was tested in one of the worst storms in New Jersey history – and came out completely unscathed. There was zero damage to the building while houses less than a mile away were a total loss.


In anticipation for the storm now known as Superstorm Sandy, Bedrock Concrete prepared their active construction sites for the worst. The teams spent a whole day preparing for the storm at each location.  Bedrock leveraged the concrete floor slabs on several tilt-up buildings to store the building materials and keep them off the ground, clear of mud and debris. Steel joists and rebar and other lightweight material was secured under steel. For one project, a school gymnasium, all the panels were poured on the slab ready to be lifted. The panels were 50,000 pounds or more so Bedrock didn’t have to worry about securing them, but the steel on site was stored in the basement to keep it safe from any flying debris. Bedrock also had a school bus maintenance building under construction in Freehold, NJ. All the panels were poured and ready for lifting. The Friday before the storm, all the steel columns and joists were moved to the center of the slab under a tarp to protect it from debris.

On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy devastated the New Jersey coast. Two days later, most of New Jersey was still without power. With the advance planning and protection, nothing was lost or damaged from Superstorm Sandy. Bedrock prides itself on being a self-sustaining company and has a large fleet of its own equipment.

After two days of clean up, Bedrock set out to lift both buildings that were ready to be erected. The Freehold building was the first one to be lifted.  The owner was amazed that we were lifting his building two days after one of the most devastating storms in New Jersey’s history. Only a few days later, as if things weren’t bad enough, Central New Jersey was hit with a snow storm that produced 10 inches of heavy wet snow in the Freehold area, putting a temporary hold on the project.  But, the Bedrock team didn’t stop. They headed north to Morristown to lift Villa Walsh Academy’s gymnasium building. Through all the diverse weather that Mother Nature handed out, Bedrock was able to keep its work force working when most business were still shut down and without power.

Bedrock also assisted in relief efforts to surrounding neighbors.  They were called on to remove downed trees on people’s homes. Not only were they constructing, but also helping in reconstruction.

Since Superstorm Sandy, New Jersey coastal architects and engineers have thought long and hard about how to reconstruct what was damaged or destroyed.  FEMA and New Jersey officials are working to develop new guidelines on how and what types of building materials should be used in reconstruction.  One of the common denominators is some type of concrete structure.  Bedrock believes there will be more tilt-up demand from architects who are looking for a solid structure that will withstand hurricanes and ocean storm surge, yet still afford the finishes that most designers are looking for.


Mass and durability of concrete allows tilt-up buildings to resist Mother Nature’s wrath. Tilt-up not only keeps facilities intact and operational; it also protects merchandise and the occupants.  More important, by staying operational, owners of tilt-up buildings can assist with recovery efforts rather than focusing on repairs and replacement.

No matter where you are, prepare for severe weather with more than an emergency plan. Choose a durable and safe building shell like site cast tilt-up concrete; Bedrock did and look what happened.

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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.