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Tilt-Up Construction Climbs Three Stories High Over Job Site

Wed December 13, 2000 - Southeast Edition
Ron Page

A unique method of construction is being used to develop the exterior concrete walls of multi-level buildings now under way at Millpond Village, a commercial office and retail center located on what had been a 20-acre cow pasture just outside of the city of Raleigh in Cary, NC.

Konover Realty Trust of Cary, NC, owns the $18-million complex which will include 205,000 sq. ft. (19,045 sq m) of retail and office businesses. The general contractor on the project is R.M. Shoemaker of West Conshohocken, PA. More than 18 subcontractors are taking part in the construction, among them Citadel Contractors of Raleigh, which is handling the concrete work.

The picturesque site, which encompasses overall some 63 acres (25.5 ha), much of which will be left undisturbed, includes a two-acre pond which has been enlarged to five acres by the contractor. It will be the focal point of an outdoor plaza to be developed along its shoreline. A special water wheel and waterfall has been designed to provide further atmosphere for the name Millpond Village.

Project Superintendent Richard L. Cordrey of Shoemaker, said the complex includes a 130,000-sq.-ft. (12,077 sq m), three-story structure as well as three other buildings totalling 38,000 sq. ft. (3,530.3 sq m). “There will be seven restaurants, a dry cleaners, various retail stores, as well as a separate 50,000 square foot grocery,” Cordrey explained.

The weather has been the biggest problem faced during construction, Cordrey said, noting that a late winter storm dropped more than two feet of snow on the area causing a delay in site work. The project itself didn’t get under way until March. “We’ve had our share of bad weather which has slowed construction,” he said, pointing out that there has been 24 days of rain since the project got under way.

Cordrey noted, however, that construction has been accelerated by the unusual method being used to construct the concrete walls.

Jason Swagert, project manager for Citadel, which is handling the concrete work, said that the method being employed for the on-site construction of reinforced concrete walls is known as tilt-up construction. It’s being used on the three-story building.

“Tilt-up walls are normally used on single-story walls such as warehouses,” Swagert explained, “but we’re using them in three-story sizing. The load-bearing wall panels are cast horizontally on the building’s floor slab face down, then tilted up into vertical position and set into place with high-capacity mobile cranes. These are heavy items, some 80,000 pounds per three-story panel. The heaviest is 105,000 pounds which we’re constructing for the elevator shaft wall.”

Cordrey said the normal procedure in such construction calls for the steel framework to be erected prior to the concrete. “The entire process is designed for efficiency and speed of erection: long lead times are minimized, vertical forming and scaffolding are eliminated, structural steel may be significantly reduced and less trades are required,” he explained.

He explained that as a result, the construction cycle is minimized and the owner realizes significant cost savings. The work was done in accordance with the architect, he added, and estimates the method will speed up construction by some two months.

“It’s a fast-track job where a basic concept is devised with daily decisions as to changes on what transpired yesterday and what is expected to be done tomorrow,” said Cordrey.

About 180 workers are on the site, Cordrey said, 50 of which concerned with paving and grading and another 130 on the building construction.

A wide variety of equipment can be seen at the site. Cordrey said approximately 10 to 15 scissor lifts were used, five basket lifts, 60-ft. (18.2 m) snorkels and a series of Grove cranes, including a 100-ton (90 t) rubber tired unit and 50-ton (45 t) Grove roof top units.

He said the Grove roof units are being used to install small cover-up panels, or fake columns, which cover the panel joists.

A construction management company, R.M. Shoemaker Company builds and renovates all types of projects from corporate office buildings, retail, multi-family and senior housing to healthcare and criminal justice facilities.

A spokesman for the company said that plans are being made for the opening of offices in Raleigh in light of several projects being developed in the area.

Shoemaker recently accepted two awards for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the Reading Terminal Headhouse, located in Philadelphia, PA. It also received the 2000 Preservation Award from the Preservation Alliance of Greater Philadelphia. This award is bestowed on a building project for outstanding achievement in historical preservation and adaptive reuse.

Shoemaker Co. also received the 1999 Building Excellence Award-Special Judges Award from Commerce Bank and Philadelphia Business Journal. This award is presented to a project based on architectural uniqueness, construction quality, and economic success.

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