4525 Main Street Tower Tour
If you’ve stopped by to visit us in Town Center lately, you have seen the construction going on for our new neighbors across the street. The 4525 Main Street Tower will be fourteen stories in total, with nine floors of office space, 288 apartments, retail on the ground floor and a 950-car parking garage.
As young architects, construction observation is an important part of our growth and professional development. Observing various types of construction helps us earn hours in the Intern Development Program, a program managed by NCARB that ensures that interns have a broad range of experience in all aspects of the profession before we are able to become licensed Architects. However, aside from fulfilling necessary requirements, this chance to observe holds a deeper value.
For those of you who have not had the opportunity to view a set of architectural drawings, you may not realize that the construction of a building is almost lyrical in the way that so many professions must come together fluidly to create a successful structure. Observing construction in real time allows you to see the process of how each piece of the building comes together, and develop a better understanding of the materiality of construction. Although I am used to seeing these pieces of a building on paper, seeing them in person being physically glued, fastened, nailed, screwed and bolted together adds a whole new layer of meaning.
Our tour started at the base of the building, where we rode the construction elevator up to the top floor. Once we got past the trepidation that we could be blown off the side of the building at any moment, we were able to enjoy the incredible views of the city.
From there we headed down to the tenth floor, where we took a moment to wave to our coworkers in our office across the street before hearing from Jonathan Walesczyk of Speight Marshall & Francis about the system used to support the concrete floors of the tower.
When poured, the concrete needs time to cure to strength, so that it can support its own weight and weight from floors above it. But if they waited for the concrete to be strong enough on its own, it would take the tower much longer to be built. So instead, when a floor is poured, the construction workers put in a grid of steel posts below the slab to help strengthen the floor to allow it to support the weight of the concrete above it. As each floor goes up, they take the steel posts off the lowest floor where they are being used and move them to the new floor. These posts are used for around four floors below each new level of the building. Another concrete fact of note is that the framework of the concrete can often be one of the most expensive parts of the project. Knowing this, the cost of this project was cut dramatically by using a modular system for the concrete framework. This allowed the wood framework for the concrete to be used, and then re-used on each floor of the building. The frames are used until the concrete has set, and then swung out of the building and up to the next floor via a crane so that the next level of concrete can be poured.
Once our tour brought us to the residential side of the project, one of the most curious aspects of the project was the pool for the apartments. If you’ve ever been one of the people to bring water to the build site during the Neptune Festival’s Sand Sculpting Competition, you know how much water weighs. Hint: IT WEIGHS A LOT. So when we saw the pool was being built with retail and parking just below it, we thought that had to have been a huge pain to deal with structurally. But much to our surprise, Jon explained to us that while everyone thinks water weighs more than most materials, it actually weighs less per gallon than concrete. So, the concrete removed to make space for the pool would have weighed more than the water that will be put in – making the pool possible.
Here at HBA, we’re very excited for the opening of this new tower. We are confident it will help the Town Center area grow and continue to be a wonderful place to work and live. We can’t wait to see what retail spaces will make Town Center their new home – here’s to hoping for a Starbucks! Thanks for an informative and exciting tour, Jon!
If you’re interested in seeing time lapse photos of the construction in progress, go here: http://oxblue.com/open/clarknexsen/towncentertower