The National Precast Concrete Association’s Creative Use of Precast (CUP) Awards competition recognizes innovative applications of precast concrete in two categories: Above-ground and Underground. An independent panel of industry experts served as judges, and awards were presented during The Precast Show 2014 in Houston. For complete descriptions of this year’s winning projects, please visit precast.org/cup2014.
Project: The Alexander Apartment Complex
Location: Edgewater, N.J.
Tasked with replicating the architecture of New York City’s Park Avenue circa 1945 for The Alexander, a nine-story apartment building in Edgewater, N.J., Smith-Midland Corp. manufactured precast concrete wall cladding with historical details such as cornices, reveals and bull noses. Each of the manufactured panels is a buff color with an acid-etched finish.
Due to the lightweight design of the system used, many project costs were reduced, including those associated with the building foundation, structure, shipping and installation. Additionally, the project featured 1,024 LEED-friendly exterior panels, combining a proprietary precast concrete product with traditional architectural precast totaling nearly 100,000 sq ft. Thanks to the design of the panels, the building facade will remain virtually maintenance free for many years to come.
The proprietary 360 degree concrete-to-stud connection isolated the exterior precast concrete cladding from the structural stresses associated with wind loading, steel frame movement, expansion and contraction, and seismic shock. The result was a residential building both structurally sound and pleasing to the eye.
Universal Precast Concrete
Project: Bumper Cars Playground Display
Location: National Playground Expo, Houston, Texas
Bumper cars have been around for many decades entertaining children and adults alike and earning their place in Americana. Precast concrete bumper cars, however, are something new and different altogether.
Universal Precast Concrete was approached with the idea of designing precast bumper cars to be installed as very durable and heavy-duty additions to a playground concept. The customer wanted the cars to look real and also be able to withstand use from many children over the years.
Universal Precast’s designers worked on renderings and concepts that were approved by the client, which led to the next step of developing molds to pour the unique products. To successfully pour and strip the forms, elements were split into modules that were cast separately and then assembled at the plant. The cars were also given footings to provide additional stability once installed.
The last step was painting the cars to ensure they resembled real bumper cars. As a finishing touch, a steel post was added to simulate the electrical connection that is synonymous with the power source of real bumper cars.
The end product was exhibited at the National Playground Expo in Houston and, thanks to the durability of precast, stands the chance of creating a legacy that lasts as long as the project’s real-life inspiration.
THIRD PLACE (TIE)
Norwalk Concrete Industries (www.nciprecast.com)
Project: Eaton Corporate Headquarters Reflecting Pond Wall
Location: Beachwood, Ohio
When the project architect sought to design the site for the new Eaton Corporate Headquarters in Beachwood, Ohio, the goal was to combine the necessary function of a large retention pond with an eye toward aesthetics. Given the clean lines and contemporary architectural style of the building, the material selected for the walls of the pond had to have clean, uniform and clearly delineated lines.
Norwalk Concrete Industries worked with a big block wall producer to create an old-world texture and then created customized block sizes to meet the requirements for the project. Custom forms were fabricated and a total of 1,900 individual blocks were produced.
Construction of this segmental retaining wall required attention to detail when installing the base course to maintain level and achieve the proper circle diameter. Once the base course was installed, each of the nine remaining courses of block could be installed with relative ease.
The result is a fully functional, EPA-compliant storm detention pond that is a focal point for this new headquarters. The total length of the top course of the wall is 1,062 lineal ft, making the circular pond visible from space using your favorite satellite photo viewing software.
THIRD PLACE (TIE)
Shea Concrete Products
Project: Ocean Avenue Sea Wall
Location: Newport, R.I.
The City of Newport, R.I., sought design-build proposals to repair or replace a failing cast-in-place retaining wall along the famed Ocean Avenue. Critical wall criteria included sustainability, minimal construction footprint and aesthetics.
Fourteen designs were submitted, with all but one focusing on a cast-in-place solution or repair of the existing wall. The one exception was a precast concrete modular block wall (PMBW) submission. The city selected the PMBW solution – submitted by Shea Concrete Products – because it provided a completely new wall that offered additional benefits: The modular nature of the system allowed for easy installation between tides; a grid tied the entire system together; the joints between the blocks allowed for rapid escape of water from overtopping waves; and the road could remain open during construction.
Shea Concrete Products refers to the PMBW as “a hybrid gravity and positively connected MSE retaining wall.”
The delivered block comprised $62,000 of the $600,000 project. Shea Concrete Products provided 3,080 sq ft of blocks: 426 blocks in depths of 45 in. or 60 in. and heights of 16 in. or 32 in.
From demolition to completion, the construction (which was only feasible during low tide and cooperating wave conditions) took two months. The wall was completed just before tropical storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy arrived along the coast.
Project: Lake Wappapello Restroom Buildings
Location: Wappapello, Mo.
Project: Diablo Valley College
Location: Pleasant Hill, Calif.
Anchor Concrete Products
Project: Highway 407 East Expansion
Location: Whitby, Ontario
Precast concrete culverts alone are a fairly standard product. The specifications on this job, however, were anything but standard.
Anchor Concrete Products entered a competitive bid for phase one of a $1 billion supersized highway project in Whitby, Ontario, that included four large-scale culverts. The team needed to provide high-quality structures that would meet design needs, a challenging schedule and the installer’s need for a quick and efficient install – all while dealing with the large scale of the pieces.
The solution was an innovative, two-piece clamshell culvert that incorporated a cantilever joint allowing the contractor to place the pieces using only a crane. This eliminated the costs associated with pulling the pieces together. The added value of the cantilever joint helped secure the bid.
The completed first culvert is 251 ft, 4 in. long, consisting of 88 culvert pieces with an overall height of 11 ft, 8 in. and a 29 ft, 6 in. span. In total, 2,710 tons of concrete were delivered and installed in just four days and each 38.6 ton section was placed in less than seven minutes.
It is one of the largest precast culverts in the area and is an integral part of developing sustainable highway infrastructure and protection for natural wildlife. The culvert provides a natural stream bottom and a pathway for wildlife to cross under the road rather than above where danger to the animals and motorists would be imminent.
Terre Hill Concrete Products
Project: BWI Airport Glycol Reclamation/Recycling Project
Location: Baltimore, Md.
What role could precast concrete trench drains, manholes, vaults and leveling pads possibly play at Baltimore-Washington International Airport? This networked system of products was installed for the purposes of glycol reclamation resulting from the process of aircraft deicing.
Terre Hill Concrete Products manufactured 2,295 ft of trench drains for this $1.23 million project which were placed along the north and south sides of a multimillion dollar deicing pad. Additionally, a series of 24-in. pipe was installed to connect the trenches to 14 manholes measuring 5 ft in diameter and three glycol diversion vaults. Each of the 20-ft-long, 18-in.-wide drains were 60 in. deep, with 12-in. walls and a 9-in. floor. The three vaults, which measured 9 ft wide and 18 ft long with an inside diameter of 7 ft, 6 in. each weighed approximately 167,000 lbs.
Tight tolerances required that Terre Hill Concrete Products also manufacture 230 leveling pads to aid the contractor in setting the sections of trench. An average of 120 ft of trench was delivered to the site daily, allowing the project to be completed in three weeks. In the end, precast concrete was the ideal solution for the project thanks to its minimal disruption and speedy installation.
Bluffton Precast Concrete
Project: Hellbender Salamander Hut
Location: Rivers and Streams
The Eastern Hellbender salamander is found in swift-flowing rivers and streams in the eastern United States, but the population of this ancient amphibian has declined as much as 82% in recent years. Researchers suspect that disappearing habitat may have a lot to do with the decline of this species. And that’s where the precast solution comes into play.
Working closely with a biologist and a custom mold maker, Bluffton Precast Concrete developed the Eastern Hellbender salamander hut, a 150-lb precast concrete structure that can be installed in streams and riverbeds frequented by the Eastern Hellbender.
The project started when biologist Greg Lipps searched precast.org to find a local precast producer to a design a salamander hut. Lipps showed Bluffton Precast some photographs of a chicken wire and concrete structure that a colleague had developed, and Bluffton contacted its forms supplier. The team collaborated on a three-piece mold set that includes a removable lid and a knock-out in the bottom of the structure where the river bed can be exposed.
If the Hellbender hut is successful, it could prove valuable for research, and could help rebuild the population where it has become endangered across the country.
Project: Beach Prisms
Location: Ocean Gate, N.J.