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Chilliwack Cultural Centre project sets tilt-up concrete record

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by Peter Kenter

The $22-million Chilliwack Cultural Centre project recently set a Canadian construction record for tilt-up concrete, as massive panels 82 feet (25 metres) in height were erected in January.
Chilliwack Cultural Centre project sets tilt-up concrete record

The $22-million Chilliwack Cultural Centre project recently set a Canadian construction record for tilt-up concrete, as massive panels 82 feet (25 metres) in height were erected in January.

The panels each weigh an average of 100,000 lbs. (45 tonnes) and represent the tallest ever erected in Canada. The fast-track project, set to open later this year, incorporates a 500-seat performance theatre, a 150-seat recital hall and an art gallery.

The design-build project team consists of designer Kasian Architecture Interior Design and Planning Ltd. and contractor Bird Construction Company.

The building was constructed of about 100 tilt-up panels. The 20 tallest panels formed the walls of the Cultural Centre’s flytower, the part of the building designated to house set backdrops as they’re raised and lowered above the stage.

Kasian designed the project specifying tilt-up concrete panels.

“We incorporated them to expedite the construction schedule and economize on construction cost,” said Ajaz Hasan, project manager at the firm’s Vancouver office.

Clint Hames, who was mayor of Chilliwack in 2008 when the contract was awarded, said that Bird Construction and Kasian Architecture were chosen for their extensive experience in design-build and fixed-price projects.

Bird Construction had also demonstrated considerable expertise in tilt-up construction techniques.

The contract was awarded in June of that year, with construction initiated the following month on city-owned land adjacent to the city’s existing sports and recreation facilities and Prospera Centre.

The first 12 tilt-up panels were erected on Jan. 27 and Jan. 28 of this year, in a well-advertised event.

Citizens and media were advised of the proceedings.

The massive panels were cast on site using concrete casting beds.

Once cured, they were hoisted into place using a series of fixed and mobile cranes, then stabilized using a temporary steel support system.

“The panels, which form the walls of the building, were welded to the steel structure — the beams and trusses — of the roof, which spans the walls,” said Hasan.

The adjacent panels were joined together using weld plates at intervals.

Hasan said the biggest challenges on the project included the size of the cranes, high-speed winds, control of traffic nearby during lifting of the panels, and public safety.

“We always had a crowd for the tilt-up,” said Eric Dyck, project manager with the City of Chilliwack. “This is a very prominent structure in Chilliwack, and the community is certainly looking forward to the use of the building.”

For Hasan, however, the greatest performance the Cultural Centre will ever host was the successful completion of the tilt-up portion of the project’s construction.

“Seeing them go up felt wonderful,” he said.

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