High Rise at High Speed July 2007
Advancing Putzmeister equipment technology speeds up Astoria construction project
STURTEVANT, WI (July 30, 2007) – As Irvine dramatically transitions from a small suburb to a growing edge city within Southern California, the concrete placing equipment used in its construction phases is aggressively changing with it.
Evident of the area’s transformation is Central Park West (CPW), the first urban master-planned community in the Irvine Business District. Offering residents a home close to work as well as within walking distance to numerous entertainment and dining options, it combines the best of city living with the serenity of tree-lined streets and tranquil parks. Presently, the 43-acre village is witnessing the rapid construction of Astoria, the community’s only twin residential towers that will cater to a chic, organic and sophisticated lifestyle.
Featuring posh resort-type amenities within its urban-style environment, the twin tower luxury condominium project will offer 240 units that include one- and two-bedroom condos and two-story penthouses. Additionally, Astoria will encompass a 574-space parking garage with two below-grade and two above-grade parking levels.
Noted as one of the most high profile infill development efforts underway in Orange County, construction of the multi-million dollar project is benefiting from significant equipment advances in concrete placing technology. This is helping it progress with greater efficiency than high-rise jobs did in this evolving area just a few years ago.
Beat the Clock Project construction of the post-tension building is giving new meaning to speed, as contractors are working to finish 44 days ahead of schedule. In a “beat the clock” mode, the construction feat is under the direction of Largo Concrete of Campbell, California – noted for their 28 years of construction experience. They, in turn, are relying upon several sub-contractors to help meet the new deadline. In particular, one crucial sub-contractor is Fleming Concrete Pumping (Fleming) of Santa Ana, California, who must place a total of 55,000 cubic yards of concrete in record time.
Just Three Years Ago Three years ago, Fleming handled a similar concrete placing job for the 18-story Marquee towers at the city-within-a-city Park Place development – literally across the street from Astoria. Since that time, the typical concrete construction process has remained the same – first, pour a foundation using truck-mounted boom pumps, and then build the upper levels employing placing booms and towers. However, the equipment used to place the concrete has taken a major technological leap forward.
“We credit the development of new products and improved equipment features in handling the concrete placing process at an even faster pace than thought possible just a few years ago,” says Alan Fleming, co-owner of Fleming.
Far and Fast Starting at the bottom, the project’s 78,000-square foot foundation required three separate concrete pours, totaling 15,000 cubic yards. Due to extremely tight job site conditions, the mat was only accessible from three sides. Therefore, Fleming provided the three largest truck-mounted concrete boom pumps from their fleet — the Putzmeister BSF 63Z-meter with more than 200 feet of vertical reach and two BSF 58-meters, each with a 188-foot vertical reach.
The longer reaching booms, especially the 63Z-meter that debuted in the American market in 2005, have been a welcome addition to the pumping company’s fleet. Prior to these new product introductions, more labor-intensive measures were necessary to place concrete at 200 foot distances. These included pumping from one unit to another, dragging extra delivery line or doing a combination of both.
Adding to the convenience in pumping the eight-foot thick foundation, the trio of boom pumps also attained outstanding concrete outputs up to 230 cubic yards an hour. This was possible due to the equipment’s .20H pump cells, capable of pumping concrete at extremely high volumes up to 260 cubic yards an hour. As a result, the faster completion of the foundation was realized this past spring.
Going Up with Greater Efficiency “We’re being pushed to finish the towers about two months ahead of an already tight schedule,” says Eric Cabrera, Fleming’s field supervisor responsible for high-rise project coordination. “So, we’re on the job site almost every day of the week, pumping anywhere from one to four pours a day for the decks, walls and columns.”
To accomplish the ambitious goal, a distinctive combination of Putzmeister equipment is efficiently placing the concrete during the simultaneous construction of both residential towers. As a result, two detachable placing booms, a 36- and 38Z-meter, are jumping between three placing boom towers.
To further assist with concrete placement and avoid dragging hose, two 40-foot tall placing boom towers are strategically positioned for full concrete coverage of a large 86-foot wide by 278-foot long deck. Meanwhile, a third 60-foot tall placing boom tower is precisely located to fully accommodate a 105-foot wide by 150-foot long deck.
Precious Crane Time “Crane time is a major factor in completing this job on its revised and volatile schedule,” says Morgan Wallace, Largo’s project superintendent. “Therefore, we’re employing every time-saving technique or equipment feature available to keep crane usage to a minimum. Plus, we have contingency plans in place so we’re better prepared for whatever obstacle might affect the project’s fast track completion date.”
Consequently, precise coordination efforts, split shifts and every product feature available to reduce crane time are being utilized. For fewer crane picks, both the placing boom and pedestal are flown together when moved among the towers. This is possible because of lighter weights and no counterweight required for setup. Plus, the pedestal is easily lowered until the ears hit the lugs and it precisely aligns itself on the tower, resulting in a fast reconnection with minimal effort.
The tower’s unique design also reduces the need for crane time. The first innovative tower was delivered to Fleming’s fleet after its introduction at the ConExpo 2005 show. The company added two more pin towers shortly thereafter. The pin tower sections are connected and secured with four heavy-duty pins. This simplifies and speeds up the process of erecting and raising the tower, proving especially beneficial on the Astoria job with its inside climbing approach via crane.
“The latest tower design has fewer pieces to connect and no restrictions of where to locate the wedge point on its vertical support system,” says Alan Fleming. “It’s much easier and faster to raise the tower through the building compared to other versions on the market.”
Time-sensitive Sequence The concrete placement schedule caters to a rather unusual and highly time-sensitive sequence of events when beginning a new floor. Starting at four a.m., the first placing boom and tower combination places concrete for a deck until its full boom reach capabilities have been maximized. Then, the process transitions to the placing boom and tower next to it, which takes over placing concrete for the remaining deck area.
Concurrently, crews start forming walls and columns on the portion of the first deck that was just poured so these walls and columns can be placed with concrete later that same afternoon. The result is two concrete pours in the same location, same day.
“We’ve amazed the contractor with our high concrete outputs,” says Cabrera. “The equipment has achieved up to 150 cubic yards an hour, which is almost double the normal rate for a placing boom on a high-rise job.”
“Even while pumping at these speeds through a placing boom, there is no boom bounce and the flow of concrete is extremely smooth,” adds Cabrera.
Associated Ready Mix Concrete, Inc., of Los Angeles, California is responsible for dispatching a high strength 5,000-psi mix for the 10-inch thick decks, and an even stronger 8,000-psi mix for the walls and columns. The concrete is discharged into the hoppers of the truck-mounted pumps, which remain on the ground while their detachable booms place concrete on the floors above. Using their high performance .16H pump cells, each pump and hopper combination is deemed highly capable of pushing the concrete through the five-inch pipeline to the building’s highest point at 162 feet.
Speedy Clean Out Invention Every aspect of the job requires a fast pace, even clean out. To save time and avoid leaving unwanted concrete on the job site, Fleming devised their special version of a wash out system that pushes the concrete from the pipeline into the ready mix truck for disposal. Their creative invention includes an upside down “L” shaped pipe stand. It hovers above the concrete delivery pipeline, which has a 90-degree elbow. Connected to the pipe stand is a specially-created wench for raising and lowering the delivery line based on varying mixer truck heights.
The ready mix truck backs up, the device lowers the pipeline and concrete is blown via compressed air into the mixer. Once clean out is finished, the apparatus folds down out of the way. This makes room for two mixer trucks to simultaneously discharge concrete into the pump’s hopper when concrete pumping resumes.
“We developed the system because other alternatives are a hassle and take too much time, especially when you are dealing with high psi concrete that wants to setup inside the pipe,” says Alan Fleming. “The new design is really slick, as we can blow out the pipeline in less than five minutes.”
Where Credit is Due “On this fast paced project, the equipment’s features and performance were extremely important to meet the job’s demands,” says Collin Fleming, co-owner of Fleming. “However, equipment performance is dependent on highly capable operators and behind the scenes personnel working to make it happen. Our employees certainly deserve a great deal of credit for their dedicated efforts.”
“Thanks to an amazing team effort by everyone involved, along with the equipment’s outstanding capabilities, we’ve been able to stay on an extremely tight concrete pour schedule,” said Richard Mendiola, Largo’s concrete superintendent. “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”
Fast Fleming Pace Similar to the high-speed project, Fleming also maintains an aggressive growth rate during its past decade in business. Today, it is one of the fastest growing concrete pumping companies in America, with California-based locations in Santa Ana, Vista, Perris and Fontana along with Iowa-based branches in Independence and Marion. The company’s fleet contains more than 30 units, with Putzmeister the favored brand.
“Dollars to dollars, a Putzmeister makes better business sense to own and operate,” says Alan Fleming. “The equipment offers more rugged wear parts, less downtime and several important design features to help our customers get jobs done with greater efficiency, similar to what’s being experienced on the Astoria project.”
Like No Other The Astoria is being developed by Lennar Intergulf (Central Park) LLC, a joint venture of Lennar Corporation of Miami, Florida and Intergulf Investment Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The architect is Gruen Associates of Los Angeles, California.
Construction of Astoria started in October 2006, and completion of its $25 million concrete construction contract is anticipated in November 2007. When ready for occupancy in summer 2008, the residences will range in size from 1,100 to over 3,000 square feet with prices from the mid-$600,000s to $2.9 million. When fully developed, Astoria will be among a total of 1,380 residences, 90,000 square feet of leased office space, 20,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space and four parks within the mixed-use and pedestrian-focused Central Park West community.
At the corner of Jamboree and Michelson, the towers are in close proximity to two major shopping malls, a performing arts center, the Pacific Ocean coastline as well as several restaurants and nightlife establishments. It is only minutes from the John Wayne Airport and the 405 freeway.