Waterproofing Parking Garage Beneath Chicago’s New Maggie Daley Park

Western Specialty Contractors – Chicago Concrete Restoration Branch, a member of Western Construction Group, recently completed a mammoth project to restore and waterproof a 750,000-square-foot concrete parking garage (equivalent to 12 football fields) located underneath the newly designated, 20-acre Maggie Daley Park in Downtown Chicago. Western served as the general contractor on the garage project.

Formerly known as North Grant Park/Daley Bicentennial Plaza, Maggie Daley Park is part of a larger network of adjacent parks including Millennium Park to the west and Grant Park to the south. It is bordered on the east by Lake Michigan and Lake Shore Drive. This entire park system was built on top of underground garages. Together these interconnected garages comprise the largest parking facility in the country. The vicinity of land that these parks occupy was previously an underutilized rail yard.

Named after Chicago's beloved former first lady, Maggie Daley, who died of breast cancer in 2011, the iconic Maggie Daley Park was designed to breathe life back into the downtown area. A portion of the park, including a 40-foot-tall rock climbing wall, play garden and ice-skating ribbon that can accommodate 700 skaters at one time, was opened to the public in December 2014. Additional work on the park is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2015.

The $60 million project was divided into three phases:

1. Removal of the existing park by James McHugh Construction Company

2. Waterproofing and concrete repair work to the concrete parking garage by Western Specialty Contractors.

3. Re-installation of the park and construction of its new features by Walsh Construction.

Challenges and Solutions to waterproofing and repairing concrete on the parking garage:

The concrete parking garage, originally waterproofed in the 1970's, had become compromised from years of wear and tear and ground water infiltration. Essentially a giant green roof, ensuring proper waterproofing of the large parking structure was key to maintaining the park's overall integrity and sustainability.

Should any leaks or drainage issues occur to the garage in the future, the new park and its amenities would have to be pulled up and the entire parking garage re-waterproofed – a timely, costly and disruptive measure that the waterproofing team did not want the city or its residents to have to endure. There was no room for error on the project.

The project was full of challenges along the way related to logistics, coordination with other contractors, a tight schedule, public relations, location of the project, and the sheer size of the job-site. In order to help with job-site logistics, security and contractor coordination, high definition cameras were installed high above the park to record the site 24/7. These cameras were used on a daily basis by the management team to coordinate daily activities, work locations, material staging locations, as well as job site safety and security.

Concrete Repair Scope of Work:

1. Structural repairs to the existing concrete roof slab

2. Full removal and re-installation of a new waterproofing system

3. Major drainage improvements.

The project began with Desman Associates, a Chicago-based engineering firm, to brainstorm solutions to resolve the parking garage's major drainage issues. While the parking garage sloped naturally from north to south, pooling water had become a problem in specific areas of the park, due to the lack of drains throughout the massive garage roof. This problem was solved by the installation of numerous new drains and a composite drainage mat system.

After the existing park (North Grant Park/ Daley Bicentennial Plaza) was completely demolished and removed from the site, work began on preparing the 750,000-square-foot surface for application of the new waterproofing system. The entire surface of the concrete roof was power washed and then shot-blasted to achieve the proper surface profile required by the waterproofing manufacturer, as seen below. Next, installation of the waterproofing system began.


The waterproofing system, manufactured by American Hydrotech, consisted of seven layers, which all serve an important function in the overall operation of the system.

First Step:

Applying the system consisted of spraying the concrete deck with primer. The first layer of the system consisted of melting rubberized asphalt bricks to a liquid state by heating the 40 lb. bricks to 400 degrees in a kettle.

Second Step:

The rubberized asphalt would then be poured out onto the concrete, while it was still hot and in its liquid state.

Third Step:

Workers then spread the rubberized asphalt out to evenly coat the area. In total, this project required over 1.3 million pounds of rubberized asphalt applied by multiple crews consisting of 40 workers per day. In order to fast-track production, all crews worked from opposite corners of the deck, then slowly worked their way to the middle.
Quality control measures taken to prevent material from being spread too heavy or too thin along the deck:

  • After the first layer of rubberized asphalt was spread out, workers rolled reinforcing felt fabric onto the layer of melted rubber, while still in its liquid state. Another layer of melted rubber would then be poured and spread out over the area.
  • The next step required workers to roll out sheets of heavy-duty, rubberized asphalt protection board, which was specially made to prevent tree roots from puncturing the waterproofing.

Western Specialty Contractors repairing concreteApplication of M6125 melted rubber membrane

The final layers of the system included a drainage mat, filter fabric and approximately 400,000 cubic feet of gravel overburden.

Overcoming  Challenges- The Work Schedule:

Western worked directly with the manufacturer to have special, extra large rolls of drainage mat made for the project. Standard rolls of drainage mat are 4’x75’ (300 SF) but American Hydrotech manufactured job-specific rolls that were 7’x150’ (1,050 SF). This helped to keep the project on schedule.
installing drainage mat on waterproofing system

Overcoming Challenges- Accessing Work Areas:

Now that the entire deck was covered by the waterproofing system, no trucks were able to drive on the system without causing damage. This fact made the task of installing the gravel overburden a huge challenge.

  • Utilizing the overhead cameras, a phasing plan was designed to accomplish the task. The plan allowed a few temporary access roads on top of the waterproofing (seen to the left int he photo below), which would then be leak-tested and repaired before overburden was installed on the access roads.
  • A large conveyor truck was used to shoot the gravel over the waterproofing system, without needing to drive over the system.

At the same time that waterproofing work was being completed on the topside of the garage roof, structural repairs were being performed on the underside of the roof slab. Coordination between crews on the topside and underside of the slab was a daily challenge for the management team. Use of cell phones was not an option due to the very limited reception inside the garage.

  • To overcome this obstacle, Western’s management team was headquartered inside the garage for the duration of the work. This allowed constant oversight of the work being performed.


Scope of work inside garage:

1. 3,000 square feet of overhead concrete replacement

2. The detachment of two pedestrian access tunnels from the garage.

Due to the excessive loads placed on the roof slab by the park above, the concrete slab was poured with additional reinforcing steel. This made removal of delaminated concrete more difficult. All 3,000 square feet of the concrete was removed using hand-held jackhammers. After removal, all exposed rebar was sandblasted and coated. When prep work was complete, concrete was re-applied using a dry mix, shotcrete method. Due to the messy nature of this method, Western took additional precautions to cover the floor, which prevented staining of the asphalt surface. As a nationwide corporation, Western Waterproofing used its resources to complete this work on a tight schedule by joint venturing with the St Louis Concrete Branch that had more experience with this application. At the completion of this work, over 1,000 cubic feet of concrete had been removed and replaced, requiring over 130,000 pounds of cement.
Simultaneous to the work being completed to both the topside and underside of the slab, Western was also busy on the south end of the garage performing structural repairs that would disconnect two underground pedestrian access tunnels from the garage. The design team had noticed that these two tunnels were moving at a different rate than the garage, therefore creating large cracks which were proving to be tripping hazards for pedestrians. The design team intended on solving this problem by separating the structures from each other and installing an expansion joint to fill the void and prevent leaking. This task required Western to essentially rebuild a large portion of the tunnel.
When the owner learned that Western was capable of performing much more than waterproofing and concrete restoration, Western was invited to perform additional repairs at another pedestrian access point on the north side of the garage.

Overcoming Challenges: Accessing Parking Garage:

This access point was the busiest and most commonly used entrance and exit for the garage, which in itself created large challenges for completion of the work. The scope of work included full removal and replacement of about 300 SF of a 14” thick supported slab. This slab served as a stair landing for the exterior pedestrian entrance. The owner required pedestrian access below the area of work at all times. In order to achieve this, Western had a large shoring system erected that allowed removal of the concrete to occur and also allow pedestrian traffic directly below.

The garage restoration work took a total of 33,554 hours to complete, with about 45 workers on the job per day. Western used its own resources to self-perform over 95% of the entire scope of work.

For additional information on this project, or if you'd like more information about Western's services and expertise, contact Chicago's Senior Branch Manager, Justin Berndt at JustinB@WesternSpecialtyContractors.com. We'd love to earn your business.

Western employee, Steve Genovese elected chapter President for Chicago’s ICRI board

I was recently elected be the 23rd President of the Illinois Chapter of the International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI).  Before becoming President, I have been active member in the Illinois ICRI Chapter since 2007.  Shortly after joining the organization, I wanted to get more involved and contribute to our chapter.  I joined the board of directors and volunteered to be a committee member. I have been a part of various committees over the years.  In addition to being the current Chapter President, I am also the Chairman of the Scholarship Committee.

The greatest value to any professional organization is the opportunity to meet others in your industry.  By being an active member in ICRI, I have been able to promote not only myself, but also Western at multiple networking events such as dinner meetings and social events.  I have also been able to expand my knowledge of our industry and stay up to date with the ICRI guidelines by attending educational seminars.

I invite you to visit our Chicago ICRI chapter page  to more about our organization and its resources.

If you are currently looking for a concrete repair contractor in the Chicago area,  Western Construction Group and our member companies offer 100 years of quality restoration experience and a network of knowledgeable experts in our industry.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any specialty contracting questions or building concerns.

We'd love to earn your business.


Steve Genovese


Department Manager- Western Specialty Contractors, a member company of Western Construction Group

Chapter President- Chicago ICRI


Announcements: Western is a finalist in the World of Concrete Crews that Rock competition

Western Specialty Contractors

The contract included two projects; the crew completed the work over 5 weekends in July and August 2014. The first project was the Ameriprise Client Service Center; this 1.2-million square foot, 15-story office building is located in downtown Minneapolis; the building includes 4 levels of underground parking. The work was completed in three weekends and included prepping the substrate and installing two coats of deck membrane. The prep was done on Thursday night; turning the ramp back over to the owner for business on Friday. The crew started the deck membrane application at 8 PM on Friday night, completing the work by midnight on Saturday; turning the ramp back over to the owner by 6 AM Monday morning. The crew installed 160,000 square feet of deck coating with no issues.

Staging this project was the big challenge; the crew had to open, mix and place almost 1,000 pails of material in a relatively confined space. The product had to be mixed with a drill and paddle for 3 minutes per pail, which equals 50 hours of mixing. Staging also included laying out a grid pattern on the entire deck to ensure the correct amount of material was used. Because the mil thickness varied depending on traffic exposure, the crew developed a color-coded squeegee system so everyone knew exactly what the mil thickness was being installed. The application included broadcasting sand and back rolling it into the wet coating; the crew placed 22,000 pounds of sand on this project. The entire process has to be completed in less than 20 minutes per pail; totaling over 330 man hours.

The second project was the Ameriprise Financial Services building; located just down the street from the Service Center. This 31-story building includes 4 levels of underground parking as well. The deck coating application was 100,000 square feet competed in 2 weekends. All of the same constraints existed on this project; again the work was executed flawlessly.

Give us your vote, and help us win here!


You can vote as many times as you want till midnight December 26th, 2014.

Thank you for your support!


Western Construction Group


Western’s Summer Field Trip to Freedom Place Jobsite

Western Construction Group’s home office had a Friday field trip this summer to visit a St. Louis branch project site.

The purpose of this field trip was not only to give employees a morale boost with this fun, end-of the-week excursion, but also give them a first-hand look at the masonry restoration services we provide to our clients.

Once everyone was outfitted with the proper safety gear, hard hats, proper foot wear and protective eye-goggles, we were off to the bus.

The “Freedom Place” project site near the Central West End in St. Louis was an abandoned building that is currently being renovated into a residential community for veterans.

Our Western Specialty Contractors' St. Louis Masonry division was called in to work for HBD Construction Inc. to help bring this building back to life.

Department Manager, Jason Holtman was the on-site tour guide, conducting the walk through, describing the details in the scopes of work, and answering our questions.

Holtman went into detail describing to us the many different restoration challenges the branch was tasked to complete. Some of the main tasks were:

1. Clean all exterior elevations: Using a special cleaning detergent, Western will clean all the brick, terra cotta and concrete removing dirt, debris and graffiti from the walls.

2. Tuckpointing/Brick Replacement: 100% of the exterior joint, brick and terra cotta needed tuckpointing, and 3,000 bricks will be replaced with new or salvaged bricks.

3. Apply Clear Water Repellant: After the bricks and terra cotta are cleaned and replaced, Western will apply a protective breathable water repellant to prevent premature masonry deterioration.

4. Wall Repairs: Western will rebuild and repair 24 damaged walls on multiple floors of the building.

5.  GFRC Installation:  Western replaced over 100 missing or damaged terra cotta pieces with replica GFRC. New baluster posts and caps, totaling over 40 pieces were also installed.

Everyone from the Home Office was very excited to have this in-depth look at the operations side of the coin. Each Home Office department provides our field operations with support resources to help them deliver the best service to our customers. This opportunity to have a better understanding of the field’s daily operations helps us to assist them more efficiently.

If you’d like to speak to a St. Louis Masonry Branch representative about a building project or estimate, please contact Regional Manager Bill Hohmeier at (314) 773-8813.

Western Completes Parking Garage Rehabilitation, Waterproofing/Masonry Work at American Federation of Government Employees Headquarters

12-story Building Remained Open to Public During Two-Year Project


Western Specialty Contractors recently completed masonry repairs, window glazing and re-caulking, tuck-pointing and complete brick replacement on the 12-story, national headquarters for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) building in Washington, DC. The project also included a complete restoration of the building’s lower level concrete parking garage, which is also shared by three other building tenants.

The project began in 2011 with a complete restoration of the building’s lower level parking garage. The garage, damaged from years of wear and tear, is shared with three other building tenants, including a commercial office building, legendary hotel and national headquarters for a teacher’s union. Due to the garage’s high traffic, work on the parking garage had to be conducted during night and weekend hours.

The scope of the garage work included:

1. Shallow, full and overhead repairs, making use of SikaQuick® 1000 rapid hardening repair mortar and SikaTop® 123 two-component, polymer-modified, non-sag mortar. Crews installed a series of expansion joints at each entrance and exit of the garage, and in one vertical corner.

2. The garage project also included installation of a highly reflective coating from Neoguard® Performance Coatings on the cinder block walls, along with a re-coating of all pipes, doors and fixtures to comply with OSHA standards.

“The most critical step of the garage rehabilitation was to prepare both floors of the garage with a vehicular traffic coating from Tremco® Commercial Sealants and Waterproofing,” said Brian Radigan, Branch Manager, Western Specialty Contractors. “This was conducted during a garage shut-down over the course of two weekends, with the floors being ready for traffic each Monday morning.”

3. The final steps of the parking garage project included the oversight of parking striping and the fit-out of each light fixture. The fixtures were installed and attached to motion sensors that turn the lights on and off based on movement sensed in the garage.

The AFGE building had also been dealing with a myriad of water penetration issues for several years and hired Western to re-caulk and wet glaze the windows. Upon further inspection of the building, it was discovered that there would be some masonry repairs necessary, including tuck-pointing and complete brick replacement. Western set up a process where the extra work was completed on a unit-price basis and progress reports and updates were given to the owner bi-weekly to address any issues or concerns.

Western worked diligently with the owner of the building, AFGE, to ensure that the building was kept open to the general public during the project. Located at 80 F Street NW, just five blocks from the Federal Capitol Building, the building’s front facade shares space with two neighboring offices, while the rear facade stands  in front of a neighboring hotel’s glass atrium. The safety of the general public and the neighboring properties was a top priority for Western’s crews throughout the project. The AFGE is an American labor union representing over 650,000 employees of the federal government.

“Our strict safety plan for the project helped us address the safety precautions that needed to be taken at each work location,” said Radigan. “We were not willing to compromise the safety of a single person in any way during the projects.”

If you’d like to contact our Washington DC branch for information or estimates for your future projects in the area, please email Branch Manager, Clay Geilmann.


Western Construction Group Uses Multi-Media Blasting Equipment to Restore Fire-Damaged Freezer

Customer required that no pressurized water be used and no dust created during clean up

Finding the best solution for your customer's needs can be extremely challenging at times. Sometimes finding the answer to a difficult project requires thinking outside of the box – a strategy that not only helps the customer solve their problem, but also solidifies your expertise with the customer and differentiates your business from the competition.

Recently, Western Construction Group's Little Rock, Arkansas branch was approached by a food processing plant in the region to restore a fire-damaged, 3,000-square-foot concrete freezer area at their facility. The freezer's precast walls and overhead double tees were scorched and spalled and exhibited areas of exposed, burned and rusted rebar.

The emergency restoration project came with many challenges as the customer was in the food processing industry and needed the large, fire-damaged freezer to be back in service as quickly as possible as it was vital to their operation. The customer also prohibited the use of any pressurized water or chemicals during the clean up, and any dust created during the project had to be completely controlled to prevent contaminating ongoing food processing in the facility.

The scope of the work included:

1. Cleaning the soot off the freezer's walls and ceiling

2. Making needed repairs to any concrete damaged by the fire

In the past, Western would have used heavy chemicals and a lot of pressure washing on such a job, which would have required extended time to clean up. The burned out area in this case was interior and the client could not allow water to enter any drains. Traditional sand blasting also created extreme dust and was very difficult to control, so crews would not have been able to use traditional sand blasting equipment in this case as food production was continuing in adjacent areas.

Since traditional concrete cleaning methods could not be used on this particular project, Western Construction Group's experts went out in search of new technology to meet the demands of the client. Western's experts determined that using micro-blasting equipment, plus an air scrubber, would provide the solution they were looking for.

The micro-blasting equipment proved to be extremely versatile and easy to use. Sold internationally and used on historical preservation projects throughout the world, to remove graffiti from a variety of urban surfaces, and to refurbish glass and other delicate surfaces, this unique equipment is ahead of its time technologically.

This micro-blasting technology can be used for a wide range of services from:

1. Limestone/sandstone cleaning

2. Metal cleaning and restoration

3. Micro-blasting equipment uses a combination of fine blasting materials and low pressure settings for soft stone and wood cleaning

4. More abrasive materials and high pressure settings are used for concrete cleaning and metal surface preparation.

Following a day of training on the equipment provided by the manufacturer, Western crews were able to mount the machine in the area under their work zones and move around freely with boom lifts to access all vertical and horizontal areas on the project. Use of the micro-blasting equipment also allowed Western crews to have control over the amount of pressure and consistency of the media material used, therefore minimizing flying dust. Western used a large, portable air scrubber in the center of the room to remove any escaping dust.

In addition to having to clean and prep concrete surfaces, crews were also able to use the multi-media blasting equipment to prep spalled areas and rusted rebar on the concrete ceiling and walls for necessary rebar protection and surface patching.

Western used two workers to operate the micro-blasting equipment and monitor the work progress within the space suite and two on the ground to monitor the air and sand feed. The project was successfully completed in just 22 days.

If you have a restoration project in the Little Rock area and would like more information about this branch's services, please contact Robert Young, Little Rock Branch Manager at 501-455-5311.