Nonresidential construction keeps growing

According to Ken Simonson, chief economist for The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), “Nonresidential construction spending continued growing in July, despite the weak economy and housing slump.”

Although the industry focuses on the 2.1% drop in residential spending in July, total construction only fell 0.6%. “Year-to-date figures comparing the first seven months of 2008 and 2007 show how broad-based the nonresidential strength is,” Simonson states. “Total residential spending through July was 14% ahead of the year-ago total, and 15 of the 16 Census categories—all but religious structures—rose.”

Simonson notes the most booming area is in manufacturing construction, which jumped 46%. Power construction, including power plants, transmission lines, and wind farms, also saw a 33% growth, and should remain strong into 2009.

However, Simonson cautions that without government action, some projects may be delayed. “Wind turbine projects will halt soon if Congress doesn't renew the production tax credit,” he says. “Another category that needs immediate action from Congress is highway funding. The steep drop in gas tax receipts this year means federal highway trust fund payments to states may be delayed as early as next month. If that happens, contractors will be forced to lay off workers by November.”

AGC has additional information and reports on its Web site

An American flag was placed atop the last concrete bucket that topped out the 92nd floor of the Trump Tower Chicago.
Joe Nasvik An American flag was placed atop the last concrete bucket that topped out the 92nd floor of the Trump Tower Chicago.

McHugh Construction tops off Trump Tower

Concrete crews from James McHugh Construction Co., Chicago, topped off the 92nd floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago in August. The 1170-foot-tall building officially is the tallest reinforced concrete building in the Western hemisphere, and the tallest building erected in the United States since the Sears tower was completed in 1974. During September, workers began attaching the architectural spire that will give the building its official height of 1362 feet.

“This is quite a feat,” says Dave Alexander, McHugh's senior vice president. “We've learned a lot about building tall in the process.”

McHugh began work on the Trump Tower three years ago, and since then has poured 180,000 cubic yards of concrete—totalling 20,000 truckloads—and laid 25,000 tons of steel reinforcing bars. Despite the building's size, McHugh operated on a rapid schedule, placing a floor a week for the lower levels and a floor every three days for the upper floors.

Visit ConcreteConstruction. net for a Web-exclusive video of the topping out, as well as a slideshow of the tower's construction from start to finish.

For more information, visit

CFA elects Bromley

The Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) announced Dan Bromley of ABI Corp., Lee's Summit, Mo., as the association's new president. Bromley previously served and will continue to function as chair of the new Foundation Contractor Certification Program. He plans to extend the recognition of the certification program on a national level and ensure that benefits for members continue to increase.

CFA elected new members to its Board of Directors: Tom Brown, TJ Construction Unlimited Inc., Ely, Iowa; and Jerry Hoyer, Hoyer Poured Walls Inc., Marysville, Ohio. Jim Rowe, Fastrac Foundations, Pittsburgh, and Amanda Morris, Herbert Construction Co., Atlanta, were re-elected to three-year terms. Visit