Some big names in entertainment are heading to Modesto, Calif., to appear at the Gallo Center for the Arts. The $47 million performing arts complex is a new destination for arts, education, and entertainment in central California.

The Gallo Center's neoclassic design complements downtown Modesto's turn-of-the-century architecture. A 22,500-square-foot decorative concrete plaza skirts the gently curving façade with towering arched windows. The plaza's exposed aggregate finish, warm color, and diagonal textured bands create a welcoming entrance.

Stepping into the spotlight

In June 2006, a small contractor based in Turlock, Calif., had his eye on the job. Julio Hallack, president and CEO of Concrete by Hallack, took a calculated risk to land the high-profile project. “I knew that, if given the job, it was going to be the most challenging and demanding project my company had ever undertaken,” he admits.

Because Concrete by Hallack had not yet worked on a project valued at more than $500,000, the contractor had to secure a performance bond. Hallack's professional reputation was not the only thing on the line; he used his personal property as collateral for the bond.

When he won the bid, Hallack met with the design team, his L.M. Scofield representative, Bob Torres, and Allied Concrete & Supply Co. to discuss the project details. The plaza's design specified 400 yards of a six-sack mix with integral color, about 25% white aggregate, and synthetic fiber.

The architect's samples contained exotic aggregates which were cost prohibitive, so Allied blended local aggregate with white rock from the San Francisco Bay area to meet cost and design requirements. The final mix also included L.M. Scofield's Chromix admixture for colored concrete and anti-crack fiberglass reinforcement from Continental Rich Fiber.

Colored, sandblasted concrete creates an elegant gathering space in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts, which opened in fall 2007.
Colored, sandblasted concrete creates an elegant gathering space in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts, which opened in fall 2007.

Dramatic results

To create the plaza's pattern of diagonal bands, Hallack's team alternated a light and medium sandblast finish, and made 45-degree saw cuts every 7 ½ feet on center. They used a range of saw blades, starting from ¼ in. wide. The saw cuts provided control joints and a conduit for water drainage, along with visual appeal.

Maintaining a consistent look within each strip was a challenge, since the sandblasting and saw cuts crossed through sections of concrete that were poured days, and even weeks, apart. The contractor had to perform the cuts and sandblasting at the exact same point in the concrete curing process with each new section.

The concrete contractor and producer worked closely throughout the project to ensure its success. Jim Ruddy, vice president of sales for Allied Concrete & Supply, sampled the concrete daily to ensure slump and color consistency. This was crucial, as most of the decorative concrete was poured during spring and summer, when the region's temperature fluctuated.

Hallack refers to careful planning and teamwork as the key to finishing the job ahead of schedule, turning a profit, and creating what he calls, “one of the most beautiful outdoor works of concrete art in central California.”

Techniques for placing and finishing the decorative concrete were developed with input from the entire project team, including the designers, contractor, producer, and materials suppliers.
Techniques for placing and finishing the decorative concrete were developed with input from the entire project team, including the designers, contractor, producer, and materials suppliers.

Three years after the project was completed, it is still in pristine condition thanks to ongoing maintenance. The contractor returns every three months to clean and make any necessary repairs.

“People don't think about maintaining their decorative concrete surfaces,” says Hallack. “But it's just as important as maintaining landscaping or a swimming pool.” He continues to educate customers about maintenance, especially now that long-term value is more important than ever.

PROJECT PARTICIPANTS:

OWNER
Stanislaus County, Calif.

ARCHITECT
Nestor + Gaffney Architecture, Santa Ana, Calif.

GENERAL CONTRACTOR
Clark & Sullivan Builders, Inc., Sacramento, Calif.

CONCRETE CONTRACTOR
Concrete by Hallack, Turlock, Calif.

MATERIALS SUPPLIERS
Allied Concrete & Supply Co., Modesto, Calif.; Continental Mfg. Rich Fibers, Dallas; HD Supply/White Cap Construction Supply, Stockton, Calif.; L.M. Scofield Co., Sacramento; Soff-Cut International, Corona, Calif.