Wieser Concrete Products manufactures precast kiosks and signage to honor an Illinois town’s war veterans.
By Sara Geer
photos by Scott Evers Photography
Editor’s Note: Starting in early June, NPCA held its annual Readers’ Choice Cover Contest seeking projects to be considered for the feature article in Precast Inc. Voting was open to all NPCA members. After a close competition, the most votes went to Wieser Concrete’s plant in Roxana, Ill. The feature article is followed by short descriptions of all other contest entries.
Outdoor walking and biking paths create a host of benefits for a community, including opportunities for exercise and healthy living. The city of Highland, Ill., is taking its newly built path one step further to provide an emotional, heartwarming journey.
A walk to remember
According to Highland City Manager Mark Latham, the path runs parallel to the city’s newest road, Veterans Honor Parkway, on the northeast side of the town. The path is part of Dennis H. Rinderer Park, where two new precast concrete signs stand tall, welcoming visitors. In addition to the signs, precast concrete kiosks add an important element as they honor four local veterans who paid the ultimate price in service to their country – two in Vietnam, one in Afghanistan and one while training in California. The fifth kiosk honors Dennis Rinderer, who assisted the city in purchasing all the property for the project. A special bronze plaque sits on top of each kiosk with a beautiful remembrance designed by the veteran’s families and architect Oates Associates.
Walking along the path, park visitors will not only fill their lungs with fresh air, but also their hearts as they read about the local war veterans who bravely fought to protect the United States. Veterans are also honored on banners attached to 37 light poles placed along the path. The city’s plan has been 25 years in the making. Without the help of precast concrete, a special Memorial Day dedication would not have happened.
The same general contractor who helped to extend the city’s new roadway was hired to organize the project. Keller Construction originally planned to construct the kiosks and park signage with cast-in-place concrete, but in order to meet the city’s quick deadline, precast was a better option. As a regular precast concrete supplier for Keller Construction, Wieser Concrete Products was contacted about the job.
“We use precast quite often in many different capacities,” said Tom Lavelle, project manager at Keller Construction. “On many projects, we utilize precast because it is cost effective while either helping to maintain or at times accelerating the construction schedule.”
A memorial takes shape
Drew Wieser, general manager at Wieser Concrete in Roxana, Ill., said normally he wouldn’t have taken on the project since it had an architectural design, but agreed since the contractor directly contacted them to help. Wieser said the project’s biggest hurdle was building a form that permitted a curved shape but was still affordable and efficient.
“We worked with Universal Precast to design a foam mold that allowed us to cast the kiosk’s in one piece rather than a base with attached walls,” said Wieser. “So, we poured it upside down and kept the finished side on the bottom. We just had to roll the piece over after we cast it.”
Wieser said the foam form worked well since it wasn’t meant to be permanent, but that it lasted for five good pours. It gave the product a smooth finish, allowing for easier installation of the stone veneer and bronze plaque. A 6,000-psi, self-consolidating concrete mix design was used to pour each piece and No. 4 rebar was set at 12 inches for extra reinforcement.
“Everything needed to be precise” Wieser said. “If we built more of a custom wood form, it would be more difficult to build and you’d have to rebuild it after each pour. Some projects you need a steel form that lasts a lifetime and other times you use a form once. The material used has a big effect on the finish and your efficiency.”
One piece was cast per day, taking the company a week to make all five kiosks. Although the project had been designed for cast-in-place concrete, no changes had to be made to the original project drawings since the form permitted the same design and rebar layout without adding construction joints, Wieser said.
“The form design made it just like pouring something flat,” he added. “The reinforcing was a little more difficult because we had to bend it to the correct radius.”
Once manufacturing was complete, Wieser Concrete delivered the pieces directly to the park and installed them. Lastly, a small foundation base was poured and a local stonemason attached the stone veneer to finish the project. The final product turned out exactly as the contractor and city intended and was within the original budget, he said.
“This type of product is not something we are accustomed to, but it all went to plan,” Wieser said. “Being able to step outside our standard product for a project that honors our fallen heroes makes it all the more worthwhile.”
History forever cast in precast concrete
Latham appreciated the quick turnaround on the project that precast concrete offered. He said the installation went smoothly since each piece was already mostly finished before being placed in the park. The city also was able to hold its special Memorial Day presentation to celebrate the project’s completion. He said the city plans to one day offer a brochure-led walk along the path, allowing park visitors to identify the war veterans pictured in the banners and read about each of the heroes. The precast concrete kiosks will only enhance the experience more, he said.
“You have to come and take a look at it yourself to get a good impression,” Latham said. “It allows a biker or walker to stop, sit and read a really nice bronze plaque about the honored veteran, which is really nice. It’ll be there forever and I know the families were ecstatic.”
Sara Geer is NPCA’s internal communication and web manager, and is managing editor of Precast Inc.
Other Contest Entries
(in alphabetical oder by company name)
Precaster: Arto Brick
Project: Moroccan Flair
Location: Indio, Calif.
A California homeowner’s Moroccan-style desert home comes to life thanks to blue Arabesque precast concrete wall tiles that flow from room to room. Arto Brick manufactured 4,000 concrete tiles in one month to complete the project. Because blue is not a common color in the company’s line of work, it made the project unique. Word of mouth led the owner to Arto Brick. The project was a collaboration between the owner’s dealer and project owner.
Precaster: C.R. Barger & Sons
Project: Great Smoky Mountain Precast
Location: Gatlinburg, Tenn.
A Stone Strong precast concrete wall by C.R. Barger & Sons is the star of the show on a 1.65-mile stretch of road in the Great Smoky Mountains.
The overall project will take a team of engineers, designers and contractors seven years to complete as it includes blasting, excavating and grading; concrete; and the construction of bridges and retaining walls.
Robert Saunders, engineer and designer, specified Stone Strong Systems’ precast wall solution. The 14 precast concrete walls will span 80,000 linear feet and rise up to 70 feet high. According to Barger & Sons, Saunders said the wall system was extremely versatile and fit well with the site’s steep terrain and varied wall height requirements. Additionally, Thomas Meador, assistant district manager at Lane Construction Corp. in Salisbury, N.C., noted installation of the precast walls was “fairly easy” since each block fit with the next like a puzzle.
To maintain the region’s beautiful, natural topography, laser scanning was used to produce a liner that replicates the existing stone of the area. Barger & Sons spent many months pouring 24 of the 28-square-foot blocks every day and is nearly finished with its part. The total project is slated to finish in 2017.
Precaster: Concrete Systems Inc.
Project: Precast Bridge Railing
Location: Quincy and Weymouth, Mass.
The reconstruction of the Fore River Bridge, which connects the Massachusetts cities of Weymouth and Quincy, has been 15 years in the making, but construction is finally underway. Precast concrete plays a unique role on this project, with precast railing both keeping travelers safe and adding to the aesthetics of the bridge.
The railing was originally bid as cast-in-place, which is typical for bridge railing in the state. Concrete Systems Inc. converted the job and poured the product using special forms. The forms allowed the rail to follow the grade on each end of the bridge and included adjustability to allow for openings to remain vertical to the changing grade. The precast solution saved the contractor time and money.
The bridge is part of Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s accelerated bridge program. The program aims to reduce the number of structurally deficient bridges across the state and prevent others from falling into that classification.
Precaster: Gainey’s Concrete Products
Project: Precast on the Mississippi River
Location: Harvey, La.
A custom precast concrete breasting dolphin, which assists in vessel berthing, now resides on the mighty Mississippi River.
The project took Gainey’s Concrete Products two days of setup prior to pouring of the three decks. From initial setup to mold removal, it took three days to complete each deck. One of the biggest challenges for the company was casting an 8-foot-by-2-inch thick steel plate. Nelson studs were placed 9 inches apart from each other throughout the plate and pipe was placed in a specific pattern. The pipe had to be cast flush with the top of the concrete and the pattern was rotated to a specific angle in reference to the deck. The steel plate was required to protrude inches from the bottom of the concrete with only studs cast into the concrete.
A subfloor was created out of plywood with a hole cut out to allow the steel plate to sit below the bottom of the mold. Caulk then ensured concrete did not leak below the subfloor.
The design changed multiple times throughout the project, causing the company to change drawings and rethink fabrication methods for each change. In the end, the project was accurately fabricated within the required timeline.
Precaster: Kistner Concrete Products
Project: Precast Arch Bridge
Location: Binghamton, N.Y.
In the heart of Binghamton, N.Y., a new precast concrete arch bridge comprised of 60-foot segments replaced a steel girder and cast-in-place system.
Each of the 52 arch sections weigh 31 tons and are 4 feet in width with a 14-foot rise. The units were manufactured by Kistner Concrete Products with an SCC mix design and steam cured. The project also included a three-piece fascia.
The precast concrete arch segments were set in three phases, with each phase beginning late morning and completed by early morning the following day. Kistner noted that due to the superior manufacturing conditions of precast, the segments will allow for a long lifespan and a lower long-term cost. Additionally, the precast segments required significantly less construction time than alternative materials and thus saved the owner time and money. In addition, the arch shape sheds water naturally to eliminate any potential ponding.
Precaster: Piedmont Precast
Project: From Rot to Resilience
Location: Roswell, Ga.
Precast concrete seawalls now add a unique aesthetic for Martin’s Landing, a planned community nestled alongside the Chattahoochee River, in Roswell, Ga.
All lakes, greenbelts and amenities in the community are managed and maintained by the Martin’s Landing Foundation, a non-profit corporation consisting of all Martin’s Landing property owners. When the foundation needed to replace the rotting wood retaining walls surrounding its 55-acre lake, it contacted Piedmont Precast to use the Redi-Rock gravity wall system.
This project features 14 gravity seawalls totaling 25,000 square feet. The gravity wall design was able to limit the excavation needed for installing the walls. The foundation decided to use the more cost-effective Cobblestone units below the lake level, while choosing the superior aesthetic of the Redi-Rock Ledgestone above the water.
Precaster: Smith-Midland Corp.
Project: Award-Winning Precast
Location: Annapolis, Md.
The Association of General Contractors awarded Smith-Midland Corp. first place for an architectural precast project at 410-420-430 National Business Park complex in Annapolis, Md.
NBP is a 375-acre, 2.3 million-square-foot development owned by the National Security Agency’s numerous high-tech and high-profile contractors. The company previously manufactured the architectural precast panels for the 140 and 220 NBP projects. The three office buildings are LEED Gold certified and consist of two 4-story, 120,000 square-foot buildings and one 5-story, 140,000 square-foot building, clad with more than 71,000 square feet of buff-colored, heavy-sandblast architectural precast panels.
Smith-Midland was chosen because of the cost and time savings, durability, flexibility and aesthetic options attributed to the use of its precast concrete panels. Delivery and installation for the two 4-story buildings began in August 2012 and were completed in spring 2013. Final completion of the full complex was in early fall 2014. NBP was the fifth precast concrete panel project Smith-Midland finished for the owner, Corporate Office Properties Trust. According to the precaster, COPT has been pleased with the results and continues to specify its precast for new building projects.
Precaster: Speed Fab-Crete
Project: Uplifting Wall Panels
Location: Irving, Texas
Davis Crane Services, a supplier of cranes and crane rentals, chose Speed Fab-Crete as design-builders for its new corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas.
The company manufactured structural precast concrete wall panels with a durable, attractive coating; metal accents; and applied stone veneer to give the building a sleek, modern appearance. “Eyebrow” canopies shield the windows from the harsh Texas sun and give a lively play of shadow to the building.
The patriarch of the Davis Crane family enjoys showing off the new building and Speed Fab-Crete often takes prospective clients for tours. A grand opening was held December 2014.
Project: Ingenious Precast Restroom
Location: La Jolla, Calif.
The installation of a restroom at Black Beach in La Jolla, Calif., illustrates the ingenuity only precast concrete can provide.
The project, commissioned by University of California San Diego Alumni and manufactured by StructureCast, at first proved to be challenging. The property suggested for the restroom is owned by the university, but is also coastal waterfront and the site of a Native American burial ground. No water or digging were allowed, so a vault could not be installed underneath the restroom.
With this in mind, StructureCast designed the restroom with vault seats inside. Water tanks were also installed inside each room to work with the stainless steel sinks, allowing hand washing. Solar panels operate the electric door locks and LED lighting.
StructureCast said the project’s architect was instrumental in obtaining Coastal Commission approvals and coordinating the color pallet to fit into the surrounding area.