Tilt-Up School Construction

By Tom Hale | September 28, 2010

Tilt-Up construction is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States. According to Mount Vernon, IA-based Tilt-Up Concrete Association, at least 10,000 buildings enclosing more than 650 million square feet are constructed annually. The growth of Tilt-Up can been attributed in part to economics: Tilt-Up combines reasonable cost with low maintenance, durability, speed of construction, and minimal capital investment.

Since the mid-1940s, Tilt-Up has developed into the preferred method of construction for many types of buildings and structures. Even school systems across the country are looking at Tilt-Up as a way to cope with rising construction costs.

In Schulyer, NE, Schuyler Community Schools is using Tilt-Up to maximize its construction dollars as it builds a new elementary school. Construction Services Inc. (CSI) is providing construction management services for the new elementary school and the addition of eight new classrooms to the high school.

CSI began initial earthwork for the project in June 2008, and is anticipating completion in March 2009. Currently, the skeleton of the new elementary school is in place, and interior work is proceeding. Construction of the new school has involved erection of approximately 50 Tilt-Up concrete panels — a majority of them measuring 15 feet, 7 inches tall, according to CSI Superintendent Ryan Hamilton.

"The panels have all been cast and set in place," says CSI President Dan Biere. "We used a pre-engineered, structural steel building core with a standing seam metal roof for a portion of the elementary school and EPDM rubber roofing on some flat areas."

The project is being funded by a $6.9-million bond issue approved by voters in October 2007. CSI assisted and provided consulting services to the school district and community committee in a bond referendum campaign to make the project a reality. Schuyler Community Schools had not been successful in four previous attempts to get bond approval.

During the pre-construction phase, CSI worked closely with the Schuyler school district and the architect, Joseph R. Hewgley & Associates, North Platte, NE, in an effort to significantly reduce the cost of the project and make the project more appealing to taxpayers. "We took a look at different building envelopes and found that we could to this project economically and efficiently with on-site, Tilt-Up concrete panels," says Tom Fish, Ed. D, CSI vice president.

Tilt-Up concrete walls and a pre-engineered structure were incorporated into the design of the new, 57,293-square-foot elementary building to reach the school district's $95 per-square-foot budget and meet timeline requirements. "We were able to meet the budget, which is about $30 to $40 a square foot under the market cost for new elementary schools at this time," says Biere. "That is entirely due to the building systems we employed."

He adds, "We think this project is a unique model for school districts — especially school districts in rural Nebraska that really need new facilities, but might not have the funding. The new Schuyler school is something that is very functional and very durable, and proves that you can get a quality facility without having to spend $140 a square foot."

Project participants include Meco Henne Contracting, Omaha, NE — building shell contractor (responsible for all footings, structural steel, pre-manufactured metal building, and slab-on-grade); Tilt-Up Concrete, Lincoln, NE — complete design, fabrication and erection of Tilt-Up walls; North Central Buildings, Hartington, NE — erection of pre-engineered metal building supplied by Behlen Buildings; Brase Electrical, Omaha; Fred's HVAC Services, Omaha; Continental Fire Sprinkler, Omaha; Bierman Contracting, Columbus, NE — general carpentry and millwork installations; Doernemann Construction, Clarkson, NE — site work; Midwest Floor Coverings Inc., Lincoln, NE — flooring and sports floor; Mueller & Schoept, Columbus — metal framing and drywall; Platte Valley Precast, Columbus —site concrete; Pella Windows & Doors, Grand Island, NE — exterior windows; RT Masonry, Blair, NE; Thompson Construction, Arlington, NE — site utilities; Kucera Painting, Kearney, NE; and Guarnate Roofing, Norfolk, NE.

CSI is a wholly owned subsidiary of R&R Realty Group. In addition to educational construction projects, the company specializes in commercial, office, municipal, and multifamily projects. The company has offices in Des Moines and Omaha.