Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance, Calif.

Already one of the largest malls in the nation, the Del Amo Fashion Center is receiving a $200 million expansion in the form of 540,000 square feet of retail space and a 1,950-stall parking structure. The Architectural & Site Concrete Div. of Bomel Construction won the $4.5 million job plus a decorative concrete contract.

While the scope of the project includes intricate median, perimeter, and retaining walls, and curb and gutter work, one tough segment focused on wave-patterned decorative concrete with various finishes at the mall’s five main entrances.

The project has been divided into 20 phases, with six areas already completed. Crews are now working on curbs and gutters and an undulating 227-foot-long median wall at the mall’s Hawthorne Boulevard entrance. Building the artistic wall, which ranges in height from 2 ½ to 5½ feet, is taking some careful craftsmanship.

“It’s a bit tricky because it’s finished with plaster, but we’re driving the overall look with our formwork,” says Bomel project manager Ivan Marin. It’s a low wall that mushrooms on top. It will take about three weeks to get the wall and wall cap poured.”

Del Amo Fashion Center’s new perimeter walls will be far from ordinary. “Some are illuminated,” Marin says. “There is a lot of architectural focus on the way these walls look. The tops actually follow the profile of the street, so if you were driving along Hawthorne Boulevard, the walls’ height is uniform with a car’s height.”

Two creative features inside the mall will test Bomel’s expertise. In the first-floor’s gathering areas, crews will be building unusual oval seat walls that cantilever on one side. A terraced seating area will be built on the landing of the grand staircase. “This was work turned down by another contractor on the job because of its complexity and challenges and given to Bomel due to its capabilities,” Marin says.

Bomel’s in-house engineers are doing all the layouts. “We can create our own shop drawings and give to our own field crew,” explains Marin. “These serpentine walls require very experienced detailers, and we have them. It’s one of the main reasons why Whiting-Turner asked us to handle this project. They told us they knew we can get this kind of work done.”

By the time the Del Amo project is finished in the fall, Bomel will have placed about 4,700 yards of concrete, with decorative concrete accounting for 900 yards, executed during a lightning-fast schedule.

“The schedule often demands moving our crews from one area to the other very rapidly. And we have to have multiple crews doing the same type of work in different areas at the same time. Flexibility and quick coordination are extremely critical skills on a job like this,” Marin adds.