By Sara Geer
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, NPCA held its second-annual Reader’s Choice Cover Contest for Precast Inc. magazine. Highlighted here is this year’s winner, Speed Fab-Crete, and the company’s city complex project. To view all of the 2014 entries, please visit precast.org/cc2014.
Few Texas courthouses exhibit the full range of architectural features associated with Mission Revival-style as well as the City of Jourdanton’s. As one of a small number of surviving examples in the state, city officials wanted to extend this rich style – stucco walls, low-pitched roofs with projecting wide eaves and clay roof tiles – into the construction design for a new city complex.
To accomplish the task, the city hired Callahan & Freeman Architects, based in Fort Worth, Texas, to plan and design the new facility. The architects juggled a number of tasks when designing the building – which houses the city council chambers, city courts and the Jourdanton Police Department – to satisfy the needs of the city while making the best use of the space.
Due to expansive soil conditions on site, the old city complex structure was built on a suspended slab system. With funding levels dictating a tight budget and the suspended slab system remaining the best option, precast concrete emerged as the construction material of choice.
With the optimal building material selected, all that remained was finding a precast concrete producer to manufacture the wall panels for the project. Having worked on more than 300 successful projects together, Callahan & Freeman Architects turned to Speed Fab-Crete of Kennedale, Texas.
“Speed Fab-Crete and Callahan & Freeman Architects are actually co-located in the same building,” said Randy Landers, director of business development for Speed Fab-Crete. “Through our close relationship and co-location, we had some knowledge of the project. This led to heightened interest in the project, resulting in our selection through a competitive sealed proposal process.”
The building’s exterior is primarily composed of structural precast wall panels. Landers said precast concrete lends itself perfectly to the local Mission Revival architecture as it can easily mirror stucco or adobe.
Carl Hall, co-owner, vice president and manager of plant manufacturing operations for Speed Fab-Crete, explained the majority of the wall panels were cast in a face-up orientation and given a textured sponge finish. Beginning in January 2013, the precaster poured about six pieces per day to meet the December project deadline. All pieces were manufactured using a mix design that included 1,800 lbs of 1 in. crushed limestone, 1,277 lbs of fine aggregate, 564 lbs of type III Portland cement, and Eucon Air 40 and SPC admixtures.
“All the architectural features such as reveals and water tables were then formed on the top face of the panels,” Hall said. “The frustum arch used to create the curved beveled bands above the barrel arch entries were the only items that required some very exact mold work.”
The sizes manufactured varied, but all panels were within the limitations of an A-frame trailer, including panels as large as 12 ft by 28 ft. Most panels were shipped, loaded on their side and later rotated into the correct position on the job site. The combination of precast and – in selected areas – applied stone masonry veneer resulted in an attractive solution requiring minimal maintenance.
In addition to functioning as the general contractor and manufacturing the precast walls, Speed Fab-Crete also fabricated and installed the structural steel roof system and assisted the city with additional services, including the installation of security systems, audio/visual systems and furnishings.
“We actively seek out projects where we can combine our precast concrete expertise with our structural steel fabrication capabilities,” Landers said. “This enables us to supply and erect/install all the major structural components in a project in a seamless process.”
By using so many items manufactured and installed by Speed Fab-Crete, the company controlled costs and kept the project on schedule. The City of Jourdanton moved into the facility and began operations in early 2014 and held a formal ribbon-cutting dedication to show their pride in the complex.
“The city is pleased with the building and the entire team is quite proud of the project,” Landers said. City Manager Daniel Nick wrote the company a reference letter, stating he’s confident “Speed Fab-Crete will provide the same level of service, communication, quality and value to future projects with these same outstanding results.”
Sara Geer is the managing editor of Precast Inc. magazine and is NPCA’s internal communication and web manager.