America’s Best Concrete Project Unveiled

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A development using a new forming system to create what looks more like a swimming pool than a house has been judged America’s best concreting project.

The Concrete Foundations Association (CFA) said the Wisconsin-based Hottmann Construction Company had been awarded the Overall Grand Project Award at the CFA’s 2014 Projects of the Year Awards for work on a foundation for a new home in Madison designed to resemble a garden wall and reflect the homeowners’ desire to pay homage to the rich heritage of its historical setting by representing the fact that a garden wall would likely have sat there a century ago.

Thanks largely to the building’s shape (the longest ‘straight’ wall is 15 feet at the garage doors), a traditional blocking system was not possible. To overcome this, the contractor transferred the plane into a robotics layout system to set the project out on the site.

Hottmann also used a new forming system consisting of three layers of ¼ inch Luan plywood as the forms, as this was thought to be the only way possible to complete the organic layered plywood curves – a considerable risk as the contractor needed to have confidence it would withstand the pressure of the concrete being poured into the forms and would not blow out.

A third challenge revolved around the location. The lot size meant the foundation had to be completed in stages so the excavator could use dirt from digging the next section of the house to backfill the area recently poured.

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Hottmann project manager Mike Thole said the forming system was an integral part of the project’s delivery, adding that the development presented a challenge beyond what the company had previously encountered with regard to curved walls.

“The forming system allowed us to create even flowing curves in the foundation as well as a plumb wall,” he said. “We have done several curved wall projects in the past, but most of them had 15 to 20 feet of curved walls at the most.”

The project also won awards in the single-family residence and 2,000 – 5,000 square foot categories.

Basement Contractors of Edmond (Oklahoma) bagged the commercial and multi-family project of the year award for an impressive foundation system for condominiums in an urban setting in Oklahoma City as well as the private single-family residence (over 5,000 feet) project award.

Georgia’s Herbert Construction won the private single-family residence (under 2,000 square feet) award for a foundation system that accommodated severe elevation change and complex forming heights.

In looking at the Hottmann project at the World of Concrete Display, a number of contractors said they had thought it was a foundation for a swimming pool.

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CFA managing director James Baty said the annual competition represents a recognition of challenges faced by contemporary cast-in-place concrete contractors.

“These projects represent the leading work across the breadth of cast-in-place concrete solutions produced by association members,” he said. “They demonstrate the technical challenges overcome by the professional craftsmen found throughout North America and continue to set a new standard for quality and technological achievement for the cast-in-place industry.”

The awards will be presented at the CFA’s Annual Convention held in Sandusky in Ohio.

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Andrew Heaton is an established writer in the building and construction industry. After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce degree, he worked for many years as a Certified Practising Accountant and business journalist. Having worked for Sourceable since early 2011, Andrew is a senior writer on bo...
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