It's no secret the construction industry has experienced a downturn this past year. One of the keys to surviving the changing economic environment is the ability to seek out new markets. Such an example was evident in the 2010 Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) Achievement Awards program involving the Sunlight Ranch Equestrian Barn entry. Although many may not associate site-cast tilt-up construction with barns, one savvy contractor saw an opportunity to dive into a new market.

Tilt-up construction was chosen for the Sunlight Ranch Equestrian Barn because it offered storm resistance, cost savings, and quick construction. In order to complement surrounding structures, a panelized look was created using reveals and the facility painted a traditional stable red.
TCA Tilt-up construction was chosen for the Sunlight Ranch Equestrian Barn because it offered storm resistance, cost savings, and quick construction. In order to complement surrounding structures, a panelized look was created using reveals and the facility painted a traditional stable red.

“Tilt-up is such a versatile construction method it can be used for almost any type of project,” says Jim Baty, technical director of TCA, Mt. Vernon, Iowa. “One positive of the challenging economy is we are seeing even more creative and inventive uses of tilt-up that will only serve to position our industry for even greater success when the market recovers.”

Known as the winter home to many in the equestrian community, south Florida has seen an increase in the growth of developments designed to meet the needs of this market. Although the climate makes it an obvious choice for equestrian enthusiasts, the area is prone to the damaging effects of tropical storms and hurricanes. Most equestrian stables are constructed from wooden materials and suffer damage during storms, which led developers in the region to search for a more durable solution.

During the construction of an exclusive equestrian community in Hobe Sound, Fla., the owner chose site-cast tilt-up construction to create a 12,350-square-foot, hurricane-resistant equestrian barn that could offer protection in the event of a storm. The Sunlight Ranch Equestrian Barn is an open-air structure that can be closed during a storm to offer protection to equine occupants—a tremendous benefit to horse owners.

Advantages of tilt-up

Although tilt-up construction has been used for more than a century on a variety of structures, the barn project was a first for the area. The owner selected tilt-up because of its reputation for providing durable structures that require little maintenance. In high wind events, especially hurricanes and tropical storms that inflict sustained high winds for long periods of time, it is critical to have strong, stable structures to resist such forces. Tilt-up has been a staple in the Florida market for decades because the construction method can meet the state's strict design codes regarding wind loads.

According to Gary Fischer, president of Woodland Construction, Jupiter, Fla., the tilt-up contractor for the project, the use of tilt-up provides both cost and time savings in addition to structural benefits. “Because tilt-up is cast onsite, the panel sizes can be larger, which reduces the number of pieces needed,” says Fischer. “This speeds up erection time, which in turn, provides a cost savings.”

Stable success

In addition to durability, the owner needed the facility completed quickly. The project had an aggressive construction schedule to ensure the owner could accommodate commitments to new occupants. The fast-track construction of site-cast tilt-up allowed the project to be completed ahead of schedule. To construct the interior stall partitions, Woodland Construction used tilt-up panels that were welded together to stabilize the structure and offer very low maintenance and durability.

It also was critical that the barn complemented existing structures on the campus, which included wood- and metal-panelized barns. The architectural flexibility of tilt-up achieve a panelized look in a cost-effective manner. The facility was painted red to create a traditional stable appearance.

Further, tilt-up construction offered a unique selling proposition to attract tenants, which is 100% occupied and leased.

To learn more about the TCA, contact Jim Baty at jbaty@tilt-up.org or 319-895-6911.

Ed Sauter is the executive director of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, Mt. Vernon, Iowa.