AEC Pros

Slabs for Colder Climates, Part 2: Installing Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations for Heated Buildings

Written by

Contractor-turned-homebuilder Fernando Pages Ruiz gives hands-on instruction for constructing frost-protected shallow foundations.

Because moisture in soil can create an "ice lens" – an area where ice crystals form and bulge, exerting vertical pressure – building footings have traditionally penetrated deeper than the maximum seasonal frost penetration in any given climate to prevent these vertical forces in frozen ground directly under the footings from lifting the foundation and damaging the structure. In many areas, frost depth exceeds 42", resulting in footings far deeper than those needed structurally.

Unilever Headquarters

Written by

A new facility for Unilever combines a contemporary, connected office environment with award-winning green building features.

When Unilever, a health and wellness company in Hamburg, Germany, determined that it needed a new headquarters, it wanted a structure that would provide adequate work space while fostering communication, socialization, and a sense of unity among its employees. Creating a juxtaposition of work and social space, Behnisch Architekten was able to bring the vision of unity to fruition while honoring Unilever’s commitment to sustainability and creating a better future.

The Uncertain Fate of Big Box Stores

Written by

The recent news that Best Buy would be closing 50 stores renewed concerns about how this kind of large, empty space could be reused and sparked discussion about the fate of big box retail in general.

What strikes fear in the hearts of those concerned by urban sprawl more than the ubiquitous big box store? Quite possibly, those same big boxes standing empty (case in point: the exhibit “Dark Stores” by photographer Brian Ulrich). "Dark Stores" is the final piece of Ulrich’s three-part series Copia, an extensive study of American consumerism that was shown recently at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and it portrays a haunting array of now-empty retail venues.

Cost Control and Productivity

Written by

In order for the construction industry to achieve real gains in productivity, new work habits and workflows must be adopted. Fortunately, new tools and technologies can help with this process.

Each day, the members of the team talk with one another to verify tasks for the day. Each week, the superintendent holds foreman’s meetings to gather and disseminate information to the field. Each month, the general contractor meets with the subcontractors and suppliers to verify approval and release of materials. A strong and productive project depends on this type of structure and diligent methodology.

The Pensmore Chateau

Written by

Despite technological advances in weather forecasting, natural disasters are often unpredictable. Even when we do know a geological or meteorological disturbance is on its way, very often little can be done to protect existing homes from destruction, so TF Forming Systems is building in that protection from the ground up.

TF Forming Systems owner Steven Huff is in the process of building a large residential structure that will be able to withstand the toughest natural disasters, all while reducing dependence on oil, gas, and coal. TF Forming Systems manufactures and distributes a variety of insulated concrete forms (ICF). The Pensmore Chateau, a 72,000 sq. ft. structure located in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, is said to be able to withstand F5 tornadoes, in addition to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, fire, and insect damage. The chateau is located between Springfield and Branson, Mo., near the town of Joplin, which was devastated by F4 and F5 tornadoes in 2011.

Minimalist Design of Cité de l'Océan et du Surf Museum Inspired by Sea and Sky

Written by

Steven Holl Architects' design for a museum near the oceanfront in France is dedicated to the sport of surfing but also calls attention to issues affecting marine ecology.

Since opening in June of 2011, the Cité de l'Océan et du Surf Museum is quickly becoming an iconic tourist destination in Biarritz, France, due to its highly conceptual yet minimalist architecture, its integration with the coastal landscape, and its high-tech exhibits celebrating the leisure, science, and ecology of the ocean.

Supervision for Subcontractors on the Job Site

Written by

Welcome to the On Site channel’s Construction Administration Column. This column covers the question of adequate supervision for subcontractors on the job site. Here David A. Todd, P.E., CPESC, gives his opinion.

Columnist David A. Todd, P.E., CPESC, has 37 years of experience in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry and has performed much construction administration during that time. He will answer questions from our readers or from his own practice and will provide answers based on his understanding of the construction process and administration of the construction contract. The focus will be on the customary duties of the owner, contractor, and design professional as typically described in the contract documents.

Milstein Hall: How Old Meets New

Written by

A new academic facility by OMA supports Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) while bridging several historic campus buildings.

As if designing space for an architecture school weren’t a complicated enough feat, try maneuvering around four historic buildings. OMA’s New York office designed an extension to Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning in Ithaca, New York, which officially opened last October. The modern yet reverent structure consolidates these previously separated programs and promotes interdisciplinary interaction within its open and flexible studios, critique spaces, plaza, and auditorium.

Slabs for Colder Climates, Part 1: The How and Why of Frost-Protected Shallow Foundations

Written by

As energy savings and the conservation of resources increasingly drive decision-making for homebuilders, frost-protected shallow footings offer a good method for constructing slab-on-grade foundations.

As a builder constructing townhouses, commercial buildings, and the occasional slab-on-grade (SOG) house in frigid Nebraska, I always thought it silly to dig footings half as deep as a full basement when the point of SOG construction was to spend less on foundations. A basement seemed the better value, to me, given that only token cost savings came with a slab ... until one year, while attending the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) International Builders' Show, I heard a lecture on a new (at least for me) approach to constructing slabs in northern climates that did not require footings to extend below the frost line. I immediately perked up and listened closely; it sounded like a good cost-saving measure.

STV Group Renovates Hoboken’s Historic Ferry Terminal

Written by

STV Group renovates a 1907 transportation hub in Hoboken, New Jersey, and puts ferry service back in place after an almost 45-year hiatus.

For a century, railroads dominated trade and travel in the United States. Train station architecture developed along with the rail industry itself, and in the early 1900s, every major city was building an ornate hub to call its own. Perhaps the most iconic – and one of the most short-lived – stations was New York City’s Pennsylvania Station. Built in 1910, much of the original Beaux Arts structure, which covered almost 7 acres, was demolished in 1963 to make way for Madison Square Garden and the rest of Penn Plaza. The demolition of the above-ground elements of NYC's Penn Station galvanized preservationists to save many historic stations.

Case Study: Water Quality Retrofit and Retaining Wall Remediation

Written by

The City of Takoma Park, Maryland, needed to replace a failing retaining wall that supports a roadway in a small residential development. The Linden Avenue site is directly adjacent to Sligo Creek, which is a tributary of Anacostia Creek, a river undergoing a significant restoration effort. T. E. Scott & Associates, Inc., designed a replacement for the failing retaining wall infrastructure, created a pocket park for the local residents, and provided water quality treatment for the unmanaged watershed. This combination of aesthetic and environmental improvements adds value to the project. We’ll look at some stormwater flow design calculations, a storm water flow splitter, an urban modular wetland unit, a step/plunge pool, and an interesting retaining wall design.

Celebrating Cultural Influences on Design: the Made in USA – German Architects in New York Exhibition

Written by

Architecture in New York City draws upon the talents of many international designers, and an exhibition at the German Consulate General held in March celebrated the unique contributions of German architects practicing in New York.

On March 1 – March 23, 2012, the German Consulate General in New York featured an exhibition called Made in USA – German Architects in New York. The exhibition featured the work of seven architects from Germany who are now based in New York. When it comes to design culture, there is a is a long history of exchange and interrelationship between the United States and Germany, and, as a curatorial statement for the exhibition states, “it is within this historic trajectory that this exhibition wants to invite a fresh look on contemporary practice in New York City.”

Page 10 of 48