Municipal Parking Garage

Manual concrete chipping can be a dusty, noisy endeavor that subjects workers to risks of injury and illness. When extensive overhead hammering is required on a job, such was the case when Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL Branch restored the City of Springfield's Municipal parking garage recently, the strain on the body can be even greater.

Western was hired by the general contractor on the project, O'Shea Builders of Springfield, IL, to perform overhead patching on the bottom two levels of the concrete parking garage and overhead patching on the helical ramps at the garage's west and east ends. Started in April 2017, the City of Springfield, IL expected the project be completed by the middle of December.

Western began the project using electric chipping hammers to remove the unsound concrete from overhead. This technique proved to be a challenge with crew members holding the hammer above their heads for eight hours a day, five days a week. As a result, production slowed on the project and the decision was made to utilize a PAM machine manufactured by RNP Industries.

The PAM machine safely holds the 30-pound hammer to completely eliminate the ergonomic stress on the worker. The equipment not only helped with the strain on the workers and mitigation of soft tissue injuries, but production increased and the project schedule was able to be maintained.

“At Western, we feel that it is critical for companies to evaluate opportunities to reduce these risks, and in doing so, we have discovered the alternative to manual chipping,” said Western Safety Director Eric Olson. “This machine offers faster and effortless concrete chipping for overhead and vertical surfaces. There is no longer a need to stop and reposition, recover or stretch sore muscles since the workers are not performing the work directly. It also allows workers to stand nearly five feet away from the point of impact so they are able to avoid unexpected falling concrete.”

With the project back on track and the crew working safely, Western hit another snag on the project. With the parking garage located in Downtown Springfield and directly adjacent to the Municipal Building and a busy hotel, the parking garage was at full capacity for most of the time.

Working closely with the general contractor on the project, it was determined that the safest and most effective way to perform the necessary repairs was to close the garage during repair of the ramps.

The garage closure came with an additional acceleration in the schedule. The ramps had to be re-opened and available for use within one month. To meet this deadline, an additional PAM machine was utilized so that both ramps could be repaired at the same time. A total of 1,350 square feet of overhead repairs were performed on the ramps in less than 30 days and the garage was re-opened on time.

In total, Western crews made 810 square feet of beam/joist/column repairs, 380 square feet of full-depth repairs and 70 square feet of partial-depth repairs, coated the top level ramps, and made a total of 963 patches and 4,700 square feet of overhead repairs. The project took a total of 250 days to complete.

The engineer on the project was Hanson Engineering and the architect was FWAI, both of Springfield, IL.

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Little Rock Federal Building

Restoring historic buildings takes ingenuity and flexibility with materials, equipment and manpower. Western Specialty Contractors – Little Rock, AR Branch used all of the above when it restored and waterproofed the historic Federal Building in Little Rock, AR.

Built in 1962, the Federal Building occupies an entire city block at 700 West Capitol Avenue adjacent to the Richard Sheppard Arnold United States Post Office and Courthouse. The building is a large, seven-story, modern structure utilizing curtain-wall construction with narrow windows separated by limestone spandrels. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

Western was contracted by general contractor Brasfield & Gorrie to replace all of the building's exterior caulking, which included limestone to limestone joints, limestone to window frames, glass to window frames, and the sidewalk joints. The total amount of caulking to be replaced exceeded 165,000 lineal feet.

Crews from the Little Rock Branch teamed up with workers from Western's Atlanta, GA Branch to complete the extensive work and meet the project's seven-month schedule.

Western workers utilized four, 40-foot swing stages to access the building's 26 total drops. Since the owner was concerned with the unique roof conditions for rigging the swing stages, Western crews provided stage certification and weight calculations for each swing stage.

“Over 100 sheets of plywood were used for roof protection,” said Western Branch Manager Travis DeJohn. “We also used a crane to mobilize and de-mobilize the equipment to and from the roof.”

The scope of work also included replacing limestone at the exterior planters and restoring expansion joints in the underground, 100-foot-long, concrete tunnel that connects the Federal Building and another government facility.

Western's crews removed the tunnel's steel plate covers and existing filler and installed new polyurethane grout in the joints, as well as new steel cover plates.

The owner also requested that only two of the four building entrances be affected at a time during the restoration work.  Western worked closely with the general contractor to phase its work to meet the owner's requirement.

The project was completed on time and within budget. A total of 8,246 work hours were used to complete the project.

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Hector International Airport

Western Specialty Contractors Minneapolis, MN Branch recently restored the masonry facade of the former passenger terminal at Hector International Airport in Fargo, ND. The 6,500-square-foot building is currently being utilized for office space.

 

With the restoration work focused near the tarmac, Western crews had to take great care to ensure that all worksite debris was thoroughly contained during the two-month project. Located at 1801 23rd Ave. N, Fargo International Airport is home to four airlines with non-stop service to 10 cities.

 

“We used our standard grinder with shroud and vacuum set up to remove the old mortar,” said Minneapolis Branch Manager Mike Tripp. “But when any large debris fell from the brick facade, it had to be collected immediately and covered or disposed of due to the nearby pedestrians, aircraft and life flight helicopter taking off and landing at any given time. So, it was something that we had to be more cognizant of while working on the tarmac side.”

 

The scope of the project included 100% tuckpointing of the masonry structure using a Type “O” historic pointing mortar replacement. Western crews also replaced 50 damaged bricks and six architectural concrete cap stones.

 

Improving the building's water mitigation system was also a priority on the project. Western crews installed tubular weeps, or vents, above each window steel lintel to assist with water drainage. The weeps were drilled directly into the mortar and installed every foot for about 500 feet.

 

To complete the project, Western crews replaced all sealants with 4,000 lineal feet of silicone, then thoroughly cleaned and sealed the entire building.

 

The project was completed in November, 2015. The architect on the project was T.L. Stroh Architects of Fargo, ND.

 

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Abraham Lincoln Receiving Vault

Western Specialty Contractors – Springfield, IL Branch was recently honored with restoring the historic receiving vault that once held the bodies of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln and his son, Willie, following Lincoln's funeral service on May 4, 1865 in Springfield, Illinois. The bodies of Lincoln and his son, who died at age eleven in the White House, rested in the receiving vault until Dec. 21, 1865 when they were moved to another temporary vault.

 

The vault, which had served as a temporary tomb while burial plans were made or if a grave could not be dug due to frozen ground, is located at the base of a hill, north of President Lincoln's tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Due to its location at a low spot in the cemetery, the vault was subject to water penetration which resulted in major deterioration. The vault's restoration needed to be completed in time for a two-day ceremony on May 2-3, 2015 to re-enact and commemorate the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's funeral.

 

Western Specialty Contractors, partnered with project engineer Coombe-Bloxdorf, a Division of Fehr-Graham & Associates, began the five-month restoration project on Dec. 1, 2014.

 

The initial phase of the project involved channeling water away from the vault with the installation of drains. Once that task was completed, the general contractor began excavating the area around the vault in preparation for Western's scope of work which included waterproofing, repairs to the stone facade, and restoration of the vault's marble interior.

 

Constructed in the 1860's using outdated materials and technology, Western crews encountered more extensive deterioration to the vault than they had originally anticipated. During the excavation around the outside of the historic site, it was discovered that the walls making up the vault's exterior were in such poor condition (bricks were deteriorating, voids were present in the masonry wall, and stone infill had been used) that waterproofing could not be applied directly to the surface, and an alternate means of repair was necessary to prepare the vault for the waterproofing application.

 

Western crews used their extensive experience in historic restoration to find a solution to the challenge.

 

“Because this was a historic site, the customer did not want us using a lot of new means and methods to restore it,” said Springfield Project Manager Josh Woolard. “We had to come up with a scope of work that would repair the walls without compromising the integrity of the historic structure. We formulated a system using a low cement ratio mortar and brick infill in areas where the brick had deteriorated away from the wall. After infilling the voids in the walls, we applied a layer of the low cement ratio mortar to the entire wall surface to create a smooth surface with no protrusions that could penetrate through the bentonite sheet waterproofing.”

 

Another challenge to the project was finding a quality match for the stone replacements on the serpentine retaining walls that extended outward away from the vault entrance. Due to the age of the vault, the original stone material used was no longer available, and Western crews had to find a suitable, alternate material that would closely match the existing stones and meet the customer's needs. Many mock-ups of stone fabrication were required to find the perfect match.

 

“These walls contain two curves, one inward and one outward. Due to this fact, it was not only a matter of finding the correct length and depth of the stone, but also finding the radius of the curves in order to fabricate stone that would fit into the voids created by the removal of the stones,” said Woolard. “In order to find the radius in the stone, we had to remove the existing stone. By first creating a template on Styrofoam of the gaps created by the removal of the stones, we were able to use computer software to find the radius of the curves within the wall.”

 

Western also used other special methods to re-create the unique beaded joint evident in the original masonry construction.

 

“Unlike most joints in masonry construction, these joints were not concave or flat joints. Instead, they were beaded joints within the masonry. In order to achieve this effect, we used special tools and procedures which allowed the mortar to hold its shape while it was formed. This process provided a less workable material and was more time consuming for even small amounts of tuck pointing, but the end result is a structurally-sound, historical replication of how the vault was originally constructed,” said Woolard.

 

Western crews completed their restoration work by carefully cleaning the tile floor and marble walls and ceiling inside the vault chamber using Prosoco 942 cleaner with a low pressure rinse. Additionally, crews re-attached two marble doors on the loculi, or shelves set into the wall of the vault where a coffin or body is stored.

 

The restoration project was completed on May 1, 2015 in time for the commemoration and funeral reenactment ceremonies. Western took great care in respectfully preserving not only the look of the receiving vault, but also the method by which it was originally constructed. With the restoration process in place, the historic vault is now preserved for future generations to treasure and appreciate.

 

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Clayton Police Headquarters/Municipal Facility

Western Specialty Contractors – St. Louis, MO branches (formerly named Western Waterproofing Company), are earning praise for their role in the LEED Platinum restoration of the Clayton Police Headquarters and Municipal Facility in St. Louis County, Missouri. The project earned 80 out of a possible 110 points to qualify it for LEED Platinum certification through the United States Green Building Council. The project was a joint venture for Western’s St. Louis Masonry Branch and St. Louis Concrete Branch; St. Louis Masonry was contracted to restore the building’s exterior and St. Louis Concrete was contracted to restore the building’s attached, 168-space parking garage.

The Clayton Police Headquarters and Municipal Facility occupies 22,000 square feet of a historic, six-story structure in Downtown Clayton at 10 S. Brentwood Ave. The primary goal of the restoration project was to maintain the building's historic character while incorporating modern, sustainable technology and design.

Green features of the project included on-site energy generation using the largest, single-site solar array in the state of Missouri; high-efficiency HVAC, lighting and water systems; a refurbished and improved exterior envelope; and a commitment throughout the facility to indoor air quality and environmental controls for all building occupants.

The scope of work for Western's St. Louis Masonry branch (building's exterior) included:

  • Tuckpointing
  • Brick replacement
  • Caulking of settlement cracks
  • Removal of efflorescence and stains

The scope of work for Western’s St. Louis Concrete branch (attached, three-level parking garage) included:

  • Partial depth concrete slab repairs
  • Full-depth concrete slab repairs
  • Vertical concrete repairs
  • Overhead ceiling concrete repairs
  • Post-tensioning tendon repairs
  • Installation of a urethane traffic coating

Maintaining proper dust control during both projects was a major challenge for Western and extremely important to preserving the function of the solar panels, which are located on the roof of the parking garage.

“Our biggest hurdle on the project was keeping dust off the panels,” said Western St. Louis Masonry Branch Manager Jason Holtman. “We were told at the beginning of the project that dust would damage the solar panels and we were responsible for protecting them. Our solution was to use shop vacuums while cutting out the mortar. We also utilized a combination of swing stages, pipe scaffolding and aerial lifts to get the job done efficiently.”

The garage's restoration and maintenance was vital to providing a strong foundation for its rooftop deck where the solar panels are attached.

Work on the parking garage repairs began on the top-level parking deck with the identification of delaminated concrete by chain dragging. With engineer approval, Western crews began removing and repairing the damaged concrete. During the process, Western crews discovered that several post-tension tendons were broken or severely corroded. Western was authorized to shore the structure down to the slab-on-grade level before continuing with the restoration work.

Once the top-level garage repairs were made, Western went on to complete the required deck and overhead repairs as planned, just before the winter set in. Installation of the heavy duty urethane traffic coating membrane to protect the existing structure and the repaired concrete decks was applied the next spring when the weather allowed the work.

The project received its LEED Platinum certification in July, 2014.

Photo credits – The Lawrence Group and Energy Company, Brightergy, Clayton PD's solar partner

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Freedom Place

Originally constructed in 1928, sat an abandoned apartment building in St. Louis with boarded-up storefronts, broken out windows and a greater purpose. Through a complete facade restoration by Western Specialty Contractors, the building was transformed back to its original glory and opened in October as apartments for special needs and homeless veterans.

“We are so proud to have worked on this gratifying project, called Freedom Place. Not only were we able to bring a historic building back to its original appearance and support a neighborhood, but we also helped create a new home for our area's homeless veterans who deserve our help and respect,” said Western Specialty Contractor Regional Manager Bill Hohmeier.

The project's developer, The Vecino Group of Springfield, MO, invested $12.7 million to renovate the five-story building at 4011 Delmar Boulevard into 20 studio apartments, 24 one-bedroom units, 16 two-bedroom units and eight three-bedroom units. According to city officials, about 12 percent of the city's 1,300 homeless are veterans.

Western Specialty Contractor crews provided a full masonry restoration of the building which included:

  • Cleaning all of the brick, terra cotta and concrete on the exterior and applying a clear water repellant
  • Tuckpointing all of the building's exterior joints
  • Removing and replacing 3,000 unsound bricks with new or salvaged bricks
  • Rebuilding and repairing 24 damaged walls on multiple floors of the building.

Western crews also removed more than 140 existing terra cotta storefront pieces and replaced them with new Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) replicas, removed a significant amount of graffiti from the masonry exterior, and partnered with an MBE subcontractor to meet city WBE/MBE guidelines on the project.

Additional work provided by Western crews included preparing the top chimney bricks and installing a new mortar cap with a positive slope, rebuilding a CMU block wall, repairing the skim-coated wall area and applying a coating over 20 cornice units to cover spider cracks, among other work.

“The building looks remarkable; just like it did when it was constructed 86 years ago,” said Hohmeier. “The building has life again, inside and out.”

The general contractor on the Freedom Place project was HBD Construction, Inc. and the architect was Buxton Kubik Dodd Creative.

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