The rich heritage of the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, N.Y. the nation’s oldest military post as well as demand for a state-of-the-art
The rich heritage of the United States Military Academy (USMA) in West Point, N.Y. Û the nation’s oldest military post Û as well as demand for a state-of-the-art facility to support technical training of army officers dictated the design and construction of the USMA Library and Learning Center. Scheduled for occupancy in March 2008, the 148,000-sq.-ft., $59 million Jefferson Hall Library (JHL) marks the first new academic building to appear in the Academy’s central Cadet Academic Zone since 1972.
To accentuate the site’s storied past, intricate fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) formwork was used to create exterior concrete archways and columns for the expansion, which will occupy a space directly opposite the present library, built in 1964. The arch-and-column fa¡ade, serving as a centerpiece that highlights the facility’s main entranceway, was designed by STV Inc., New York, N.Y. The goal was to aesthetically project both the history and future of the Academy, according to STV Project Manager Price Jepsen. Thus, two vertical column arch forms spanning 25 feet from column to column are adorned with intricate cloverleaf-shaped cast impressions. In the final configuration, the columns structurally will bear some building loads, while the arches support their own weight.
With designs approved, General Contactor J. Kokolakis Contracting, Inc. (Rocky Point, N.Y.) enlisted Roger & Sons Concrete Inc. (LaGrangeville, N.Y.) to oversee formwork fabrication and assembly, installation of reinforcement, and concrete placement and finishing. Roger & Sons Vice President Manny Rodriques then engaged formwork subcontractor Gladstone, Mo.-based Ceco Concrete Construction to secure custom suppliers for the complex entranceway formwork system. Ceco Senior Project Manager Rick Rohrer’s contacts included Molded Fiber Glass Construction Products (MFG) of Independence, Kan., who could meet design criteria by manufacturing a complete range of standard and custom one-piece FRP forms.
Because these were special items involving several shapes and sizes, requiring separate molds and tooling for each piece, wood-based forms were not a realistic economic or durable option, Rohrer observes. MFG researched and prepared engineering shop drawings that successfully met the design and performance challenges.
Adds MFG Engineering Manager Eric Brace, From a design and engineering standpoint, what makes this project unique is that the arch forms are at a compound radius, or curve at two angles, so CNC [Computer Numerical Control] cutting is required to ensure correct dimensions and tolerances are achieved from column to column. Moreover, MFG’s custom 220 grit sand & buff composite forms leave no rebar seams or bug holes, producing a clean, smooth and shiny column finish to satisfy architectural requirements.
Having been awarded the contract in March 2006, MFG initiated Phase I (entranceway) of the two-phase JHL custom architectural formwork project, fabricating two columns and three arches comprising 16 pieces. After individual parts were assembled to ensure an accurate fit following their completion at MFG’s plant, forms were shipped individually to the West Point job site in July 2006.
Once formwork was erected on site, Roger & Sons Concrete began assembly of rebar reinforcement in preparation for a concrete pour of approximately 2,239 yd. for the exposed areas of the project’s six completed floors. The rebar assembly was a nonstandard installation because the design doesn’t follow a normal configuration, notes Roger & Sons Superintendent Jack Vecchiarelli. The geometry of the structure is computed on a sloping arch radius, so additional bars are needed throughout the installation to support horizontal and vertical arches. Furthermore, additional rebar was required to meet the military’s allowance for shock absorbance protection in the event of a terrorist attack. Approximately 1,937,000 lb. of fabricated standard Grade 420 black steel reinforcing bars will be used throughout the building’s six floors.
After initial test pours using a standard gray concrete produced honeycombing, i.e., patches around the beams and air bubbles, a self-compacting concrete (SCC) mix was selected. Given the unique configuration of the main entrance’s arch-and-column formwork system, Vecchiarelli affirms, SCC allowed more flowability in tight areas and sharp corners, thus minimizing placement time and producing a clean, sharp finish. SCC was placed across the archway, stair, column and beam areas, he adds.
Phase II formwork entails more exposed exterior columns and arches, similar in finish, for rotundas on each level, especially emphasizing the arch motif for a reading area. According to MFG’s Eric Brace, The complexity and aesthetic design of this particular structure provided an ideal application for the functional beauty of cast-in-place FRP concrete formwork. Because of the unique characteristics of fiberglass, it can be formed and molded for use in the creation of functional, yet aesthetically appealing, architectural designs. Û Report by Gerry Bender, general manager, MFG Construction Products, 620/331-7366, [email protected]