“The beauty of it,” says st Lt. Eric J. Simmons, “is that the wall units can be reused in different ways for training.” In one place, for example, they added a tarp across the top to form a shelter.
The units have cast-in lift points on the top edge and can be moved and repositioned with a forklift. The current units are all positioned independently — in some cases on uneven terrain — but the panels also can be designed with connections for linking them edge-to-edge. In addition, their flat profile enables them to be placed at right angles with virtually no gap between them, unlike Jersey barrier-type units whose tapered design cannot abut seamlessly at any angle, except end-to-end.
Their rotatable feet extend 2.5 ft. from the wall edge when deployed, providing stability to resist wind-loads of up to 20 mph. For shipping and storage, the feet fit completely underneath the wall profile, so the units can be hori- zontally stacked flat or close-stacked vertically. The walls were fabricated at Ecolite’s Moreno Valley facility and shipped to the Idaho site 850 miles away, stacked seven panels high on flatbed trucks, 2 units per truck.
A Wall for All Seasons
In a construction context, the movable wall design has many possibilities. With a variety of available dimensions in addition to those used in Idaho, they can be engineered to be lifted from top or bottom and are adaptable to semi-permanent or permanent support systems.
For example, when used as a perimeter fence, they go up quickly and can adapt to new configurations as a proj- ect changes. Their screening ability makes them much more difficult to climb or penetrate than a chain-link fence, and they serve as a sound barrier to help minimize job-site noise.
The high-impact resistant walls can control both vehicular and pedestrian traffic and serve as hazard protection. In fact, a similar type of wall, with only half the concrete thickness, passed the Miami/Dade County (Fla.) Wind- blown Missile Impact Test, the most stringent hurricane-safety test in the country.
The material’s high fire resistance is useful when enclosing fueling areas or tank farms as well as welding areas, and it serves as both spark protection and a visual screen. Wall units also can serve as emergency fire breaks to control the spread of a conflagration. The design can be modified to include blast- and ballistic-resistant materi- als for high-security applications.
By placing the units in an enclosed configuration with linked corners, they become a bin for loose bulk material or they can be covered and temporarily joint-sealed to protect contents from wind and weather.
Because the walls are reusable, they represent a versatile investment.
Beyond temporary applications on the construction site, the walls offer architectural opportunities. The material can be finished with integral color, cast-in textures and architectural details such as reveals. They can form a re- configurable partition system for a multi-purpose event space and can act as screens for crowd management and pedestrian traffic channeling.
The various high-performance properties of the walls derive from the hybrid system used to make them. They are studcast panels, a composite of specially formulated lightweight Ecolite concrete mated to cold-formed steel stud framing. A robust, pre-engineered wall technology, studcast was invented as a sustainable, rapid-erection con- struction system (See September 2008 DATELINE).
Wall units can be generic or custom made for virtually the same cost. Studcast allows an almost seamless flow from design to construction, since the factory fabrication system is directly driven by the design documents, and even a boilerplate design, such as a 6’x0’ freestanding wall unit, is, in essence, custom fabricated.
Time and cost are highly predictable and controllable: casting is done indoors, unaffected by bad weather mini- mizing jobsite labor and time.
A design-build firm also can license the wall system technologies from Ecolite and become its own studcast pro- ducer, the logical extension of the design-build one-stop shop concept. In addition to supplying its own needs, an Ecolite licensee has an exclusive territory to fabricate and sell studcast walls to other builders, thereby getting a piece of the competition’s projects. Regardless of the method, the overall rapidity of erection shortens schedules, leading to faster delivery and better cash flow.
Aaron Chusid is project manager for Chusid Associates at www.chusid.com
D AT E L I N E
Reprinted with permission of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) Visit www.DBIA.org for more info