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Engage, Support & Inspire

Español | Translation Sponsored by TCA

By: Lindsey Bloomquist
Images: Francisco Vera

The Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) is committed to engaging, supporting and inspiring students across the globe who are interested in the tilt-up building system. To fulfill this commitment, the TCA offers a wide variety of resources to aid student projects, connect them with industry leaders, and foster a deeper understanding of the benefits and capabilities of tilt-up design and construction.

Francisco Vera is in his fourth year at the Gerald D. Hines School of Architecture at the University of Houston, pursuing a five-year NAAB accredited bachelor degree in architecture. Vera recently looked to the TCA to explore the possibility of using the tilt-up system to design an Urban Winery for his latest school project.

“The Urban Winery is a new, 25,000-square-foot facility designed to support the activities of a winery, and it includes an exhibit/gallery space for temporary exhibits to promote Texas wines and general knowledge of wine,” said Vera. “The idea behind the organization of the program was to have the production areas visible and in a linear process to help customers understand and learn about the process, thus expanding the winery’s customer base. Because of budget limitations and cost effectiveness consideration, the concept behind the design was to let a cost-effective building system shape the form of the building by pushing the boundaries of the system at hand.”

Vera first learned about the tilt-up building system in a technology class during the spring semester. “It immediately caught my attention, and I took it upon myself to further research the system during that class,” said Vera. “When the Urban Winery came up in the fall semester, it was very early in the design process that I proposed the concrete tilt-wall system as the structure because of its many advantages,” said Vera.

When Vera first proposed tilt-up as the preferred building system for the project, Donna Kacmar, FAIA, professor and director of the Materials Research Collaborative at the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design, suggested that he read the book Tiltwallism, by Jeffrey Brown, FAIA. She encouraged him to connect with the TCA for additional resources to support his project.

“I thought the ideas and buildings in Tiltwallism would be inspirational to Francisco’s project,” said Kacmar. “I also suggested he contact the Tilt-Up Concrete Association for resources on technical issues to help develop realistic strategies,” said Kacmar. “This fourth year studio is titled ‘comprehensive’ and asks students to integrate structural, mechanical and assembly systems with their design ideas. That integration requires very specific knowledge, and we’re so thankful that the TCA was willing and able to share this knowledge with our students in order to advance their projects.”

In connecting with the TCA, Vera was able to obtain numerous resources to assist in the research and planning of the project. “I watched some construction videos to understand the process, read several articles about the economy of the tilt-wall system, and used the CAD detail library as a base to figure out tilt-wall joints on my project,” said Vera. “I also looked through TCA’s database of award-winning projects, which offered a tremendous amount of inspiration!”

After extensive research, the tilt-up system was chosen and explored. “I learned a great deal about the system and its economical advantages from TCA resources, and Tiltwallism got me really excited about the architectural potential of this system as well,” said Vera. “I noticed most tilt-wall buildings had a flat facade, or sometimes the non-flat part that marked the entrance, for example, was not made of tilt-walls. This led me to an exploration of facade manipulation to integrate the structure with organizational modules for program elements, and ways to bring in daylight. The result was a simple turning of structural bays to true north, creating openings for daylight and entrances, as well as a large organizational module for the interior layout of the process areas.”

With the help of TCA’s vast collection of resources, Vera was not only inspired, but also able to learn about the process of making, tilting and attaching tilt-up panels. He was able to explore the many advantages of the system as well. “There were quite a few advantages that presented themselves during my research,” said Vera. “Labor savings, low lead time, design flexibility for each custom panel, quick assembly, economical advantages, and integrated wall assembly (finish, structure and insulation). It was very obvious that tilt-up was the right choice for this project.”

Overall, Vera’s design was very well received, and he is inspired to dig even further into the design capabilities of the system. “I want to give the panels texture or patterns to give it a human scale, and I hope to further explore these possibilities in the near future,” said Vera. “As I learned by looking through the award-winning projects, the possibilities are endless!”

The TCA’s effort to raise awareness about the design and construction capabilities of tilt-up continues to expand into colleges and universities across the globe. “My perception changed from a simple, economical, and kind of boring structural system, to a system that doesn’t have to be boring and has a huge architectural potential and future!” said Vera.

With the support of TCA’s education partners, the TCA is able to offer free educational event registration to any student who wishes to explore the benefits of tilt-up construction and network with industry leaders. Educators are encouraged to connect students with the TCA for resources, inspiration and support on any tilt-up related project or assignment.

If you are a student or educator looking to collaborate with the TCA, or if you are interested in becoming an education partner, contact Mitch Bloomquist at, or 319-895-6911. Find out more about TCA’s upcoming events by visiting

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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.