Value Office is a term we’ve coined for the conversion of a typical conventionally constructed (that is steel or concrete framed perimeter column non-load-bearing wall construction) market office building to tilt wall technology. The original task, one of commodifying the building method through a building type, was an uphill struggle at first. We had to prove to commercial developers that utilization of a low-cost construction technology to build an investment grade office building could compete with the definition of Class A in the market place. The aesthetic flexibility of tilt wall combined with its ability to improve upon the characteristics of typical offices ultimately won a niche for Value Office in numerous national market regions. It improved upon the conventional product as it has no perimeter columns making it more efficient to plan, due to wall strength accepts any exterior cladding material and offers column free all glazed corners to name a few of its ultimately appealing attributes to developers. Most significantly and importantly when combined with the above advantages, it averages $7-$10 per square foot less expensive for the exact project built conventionally in most suburban markets. This is no subtlety; it represents a grass roots insurgency on the part of low-cost technology fueled by historic economic forces. It occurs in a space that many architects have occupied – developer work, investment grade commodity architecture – but as contractors and developers have been more open minded regarding adaptations like tilt wall into “high-end product” it inadvertently threatens to leave that area of architectural practice behind if ignored. Our effort has been to engage the economic metrics head on in order to control the possibility of an aesthetic potential in this building type that makes up so much of the everyday suburban landscape.
TECHNOLOGY – DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE ANTI-TERRORISM FORCE PROTECTION – BLAST RESISTANCE & PROGRESSIVE COLLAPSE RESISTANCE
In 2013, Powers Brown Architecture finished construction on one of the first buildings to meet the most current Department of Defense Unified Facilities Criteria for Anti-Terrorism Force Protection near Ft. Meade in Maryland. This is the technical criteria developed post 9/11 for Blast Resistance and Progressive Collapse Resistance. Typically meeting these stringent guidelines is prohibitively expensive, but using tilt wall construction, our team has demonstrated that it can be done for less than conventional building methods in most regions. This has proven to be the beginnings of a “market changer” in the greater Washington DC area. That tilt wall construction has a capacity to instigate and sustain investigation of transformative modalities marks its difference in potential from competing value-oriented building technologies. Balancing high design and technical innovation with form-driven construction is unique to tilt wall. The depth of this potential is evident in the recent exploration of tilt wall’s blast and progressive collapse adaptability comporting with Anti- Terrorism Force Protection criteria developed post 9/11. The following material illustrates a two-story, approximately 123,000 square foot Class A office building designed to meet the Department of Defense Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection requirements per UFC 4-010-01 Jan 2007 for blast resistance utilizing conventional construction standoff distances. The building has been hardened for blast to a medium level of protection response to the UFC 4-010-02 (Jan 2007) threats at the required standoffs.
The innovation here is the mainstreaming of what has traditionally been a prohibitively expensive way of making buildings safer. The cost modeling included here and done in market-based pricing, illustrates the potential for tilt wall to absorb the cost premium to meet theses government standards at nearly ten dollars per square foot less than conventional methods. Translated to the suburban Washington, DC “third-party government provider” market means that developers can now entertain providing these levels of protection on a speculative basis – a real market changer.
TILT WALL EXPERIENCE
Powers Brown Architecture offers unprecedented expertise in the design and construction of tilt wall buildings. Powers Brown Architecture is well-known for a variety of building and project types, but its work in tilt wall design has garnered international recognition including the publication of a monograph featuring its innovative exploration of the construction technique and recognition by the Tilt-Up Concrete Association as the recipient of the 2008 Irving Gill Distinguished Architect Award. Since 1999, the firm has averaged more than 1.5 million sf of tilt wall design per year; which includes nearly 7,000,000 sf in value office alone since 2005. These facilities include research labs, offices, manufacturing / industrial and retail buildings. This tilt wall expertise has proven to be beneficial to both private and public sector clients by typically reducing the overall construction schedule by six to eight weeks, ultimately saving clients the contractor’s associated fee and general condition costs relative to a longer schedule. Powers Brown has a proven track record of saving an average of $7-$10 per square foot of base building cost on projects utilizing tilt wall as an alternative to conventional construction.
A Treatise on the Architectural Potential of Tilt Wall Construction
Jeffrey Blaine Brown
TILTWALLISM is designed to be an introductory resource to architects and an inspiration to contractors, developers and structural consultants who have encountered the technology of Tilt Wall construction. The vast amount of trade and technical information available on the subject is interpreted in a formal treatment for the first time on a subject at the forefront of the architectural role in an era of lowered construction costs.
Brown provides a full synthetic treatment of Tilt Wall construction by laying out the design opportunities in engaging in the architectural exploration of a low technology / low cost form of construction. He explains its history, methodology, and relationship to current architectural approaches to meaning. Brown writes in a balanced style targeted at both architects and academics that will also be accessible to non-architects and allied professionals. The title is richly illustrated in an effort to be useful to many ancillary professions such as contractors, developers, and real estate brokers who are driving this increasingly prevalent approach to “investment” architecture.
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