Florida’s legislators wanted Florida Polytechnic University to emphasize the applied rather than theoretical side of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) disciplines. The elliptical 555 Building reflects that mission. Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Festina Lente and built by Baker Concrete Construction of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the structure is filled with natural light thanks to 142 column portals spaced at 8 feet on center in a curve that frames the “endless” hallway and supports the second story. The first architectural concrete constructed were retaining walls with integral concrete seating caps. These defined the building’s perimeter from reflection ponds and together are a mile long. The portals’ shape required triangular bracing between two columns, using self-consolidating concrete to monolithically pour. After column construction, the second-level elevated beams and slabs were completed and followed by polished concrete ground-floor slabs. The two main entrances began with perimeter architectural concrete columns connecting to raker portals that support the roof and tie into an oval concrete skylight that illuminates the grand entry polished concrete stairs.
Nope, that’s not wood: It’s various lengths of concrete stamped with Bomanite’s Boardwalk and Ashlar Slate Bomacron patterns to mimic the touristy Old Town area’s rustic feel. Imagine doing two 8-inch pours (bridge deck) and two 4-inch pours (sidewalks) on a steel truss structure suspended over a creek.
Imagine having to work a patio, walkways, steps, pool deck, borders, and wall into a hilly backyard with limited access. The contractor did it by designing multiple tiers of hardscape that flow upward to a covered gathering space with fireplace. Twenty-five artisans worked for more than 10 days to perfect coursing on the steps, the detail on the risers, and long stair sets.
Almost 22,000 square feet of concrete diamond-polished to a 1,500 grit finish. Salt-and-pepper exposed aggregate; Bomanite’s Black Orchid, Pineapple, and Root Beer dyes; and 1,465 linear feet of scoring add interest and depth. Judges commented on the project’s magnitude and color delineation.
“King of Country Music” Roy Acuff dedicated his two-story music-publishing headquarters in 1967. The famous but elderly building was renovated when Legacy Instruction Media bought it in 2012. Multiple dye colors and a hand-drawn and -engraved pattern that matches an exterior wall mask a major crack in the main lobby. Floors were polished to 800 grit and burnished to 1,500 grit.
This three-color; 17,500-square-foot; classically textured pool deck is the centerpiece of the Gulf Coast’s newest hotel. Six crew members worked 12-hour days for five weeks installing section by section after other subcontractors moved on to the next area. Despite plan changes, weather delays, and unrealistic deadlines, the project finished in time for the grand opening.
A masterful job of overcoming limitations. When he was prohibited from removing the failed, exposed-aggregate deck or Bluestone coping, the contractor worked the coping color into an oversized quarry-block pattern. Alternate tiles were stained in different subtle tones. Finally, wood plank basement floor was matched for the area under the patio furniture. The area now complements the setting with a sophisticated finish.
A long-time retail client wanted true polished concrete instead of 2 mm cement overlay — on a very tight deadline that eliminated the use of traditional concrete. The contractor found and applied a French Grey rapid-cure thin-set with river pebble aggregate that complements the store’s glossy black-brick walls. When the substrate presented “more rolls than a Thanksgiving dinner,” the contractor saved $10,000 by creating a flat floor that ramped into the store.
Guess someone’s got to do the dirty work. For this island home, that meant transporting enough specialty supplies 4,000 miles to install 16,000 square feet of 5,000 psi cast-in-place interior and exterior concrete with four different blended colors, sand wash, and Monet finishes. The architect’s desire for few expansion joints called for extra cracking precautions; a year after completion, the slabs show only four hairline cracks in all of the slabs. The judges noted the challenging forming and sampling work that went into this amazing project.
Pour sequencing was critical to placing 1,800 square feet of walkways with Davis Colors’ Dark Gray EcoCast; 250 linear feet of light gray integrally colored cast-in-place EcoCast walls; and 1,000 square feet of light gray integrally colored benches and borders seeded with 3/8-inch black granite on a tight schedule and in a narrow courtyard. Judges loved the clean, crisp lines and called it subtle and aesthetically pleasing.
The originally designed 14-foot wall of stacked sandstone cost more than the City of Loveland wanted to pay and looked more like Mayan ruins than Colorado’s terrain. Instead, the contractor used the di Giacomo maquette method and rock castings to create structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing playground walls out of glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) rock panels. The crew also crafted a sandscape, cobble streambed, and log structures. Judges described the coloring as “astonishing.”
If you didn’t know any better, you’d think this was steel. Designed by Georgia Institute of Technology School of Architecture Assistant Professor Tristan Al-Haddad, the sculpture’s formwork was modeled in Rhino Software and made using a five-axis CNC router. Each individually numbered piece was built from three layers of ¼-inch bent marine-grade plywood. The plywood face was then sanded and filled with gypsum, sealed, and urethaned to create a smooth surface. Forta Ferra Macrofibers were used to ensure the angled section doesn’t crack or break off. Eight tons of rebar help shape the piece. Judges called it a stunning piece of art that possibly only 5% of concrete contractors could match.
When a private school in Irvine, Calif., added 7,000 square feet of outdoor space, the contractor provided cast-in-place radius amphitheater seating and lunch table, sub-slabs for flagstone and dry riverbed paving, decorative meandering walkways, two basketball courts, and sandblasted vertical surfaces. Judges liked the cleanness and crispness of each piece and how the pieces as a whole made a true environmental statement.
Leaping dolphins fashioned from 5,000 psi concrete embellished with beach glass, seashells, and aquarium sand point motorists through 12 traffic islands that imitate rock covered in barnacles and seaweed via a combination of acid staining, vertical concrete, masonry, and specialty concrete. Rain, traffic control, and a divided citizenry were a few of the challenges. The judges called it a true labor of love and marveled at the difficulty that went into this unusual project. The project’s beauty and functionality has won over many naysayers.
The owners of this new home, both vets, wanted a beautiful but durable floor that would withstand their many animals. The architect wanted an earthy floor with wood accents that mirror wood beams in the ceiling and a slight texture in the self-leveling overlay. Hyde strategically broadcast patterns of shake-on color into the overlay, then acid-stained and sealed the floor. The judges called the result a great representation of stained concrete.
A 300-year-old tree root mass stands between the guest house and main residence. The project’s island location ruled out pumping in ready-mix from a truck. After careful excavation and much thought, the contractor decided he could bag-mix the entire project. Working from the bottom to the top, one step (or landing) was cast each day. It took 200 bags, but the client and friends can easily move between the two buildings via a unique series of entry landings.