2016 Associated Masonry Contractors of Houston Golden Trowel Excellence Award – Government/Institutional

The multi-phase University Health System Hospital Tower project increased the size of the existing hospital by providing an expanded Emergency Department, 35 new surgical suites, 420 new private patient rooms, a 3,300 space parking garage, a new central plant and renovations of the two existing towers. The interior scope included sandstone, limestone and CMU. The exterior scope encompassed sandstone, cast stone and brick.

Over 73,000 square feet of Red Pecos sandstone were installed on both the interior and the exterior of the project. The typical piece size was 11 5/8” tall x 23 5/8” wide and consisted of both smooth and rock faced units. A total of 39,000 linear feet of reveals were required to create shadow lines throughout the sandstone façade that accentuated panels and bandings. Multiple specific pieces were fabricated with reveals into the top and/or sides of the 11 5/8” x 23 5/8” sandstone pieces. These pieces were then individually marked so they could be installed where specified to maintain the required reveals on the project. The reveals also continued through the rock face units but because of the different finished face, the smooth reveals could not be fabricated to the top and/or sides of the units. Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) resolved this issue by providing 1,665 linear feet of smooth sandstone reveal pieces measuring 5/8” tall x 2 5/8” wide x the length of the top or side of the stone and tightly epoxying them onto the rock face units. This allowed the rock faced units to appear to have the reveals fabricated within the pieces and allowed the sandstone façade to maintain a straight continuous reveal throughout both the smooth and rock faced units.

The new limestone on the project needed to match the existing Ole Yella Texas limestone (previously known as Sisterdale) used throughout the campus. A total 80 tons of 4” chopped faced Ole Yella Texas limestone, 437 cubic feet of smooth face Ole Yella Texas limestone coping pieces (466 pieces) and 3,700 square feet of interior 1 ½” thick x 11 7/8” x 23 7/8” cleft faced Ole Yella Texas limestone were installed on the project.

Over 37,000 interior CMU were installed at the existing north parking garage and basement/first floor of the tower. A new exterior CMU wall was required at the south elevation of the north parking garage that was only 13 feet from the new tower project. Although tight, scaffolding was built throughout the exterior elevation between the garage and the tower. The new material was distributed through the different floors of the garage and out to the erected scaffolding.

The cast stone on the project was provided in a gray color and a red color (to closely match the Red Pecos sandstone). Over 816 cubic feet of red and gray colored cast stone coping (870 pieces) were used on the project. In addition, over 17,000 square feet of 3 5/8” thick x 11 5/8” tall x 23 5/8” wide gray colored “ledge” cast stone (8,600 pieces) were provided on the project. The “ledge” cast stone had multiple horizontal pattern impressions on each piece. In order to maintain a random “plank” look, six different casting molds were used with slightly different horizontal patterns. This prevented the cast stone from looking too uniform as seen when the same casting mold was used for all of the pieces. The six different casting molds were also modified so that there was no specific top or bottom end to the piece and the horizontal pattern impressions still lined up to the next piece. This allowed the bricklayer to simply pick up the unit and install it, without having to flip it over or worry if the piece was installed upside down.

There was a total of 170,000 3 5/8” x 3 5/8” x 11 5/8” Utility field brick and 86,000 3 5/8” x 3 5/8” x 11 5/8” Utility accent brick used up to the 11th floor of the project. A Utility brick is significantly larger in size than a typical modular brick that is 3 5/8” x 2 ¼” x 7 5/8”, however, CMS installed them in an efficient and effective manner. In addition, there were twelve continuous rowlock accent bands and six continuous recessed soldier accent bands running through all four elevations with some aligning with the window sun shades. A brick pattern consisting of recessing every other field brick ½” throughout the entire length of the 4th floor and at specific windows was also required on the project. Special care was needed to ensure the individual bricklayer started and kept this pattern correct so that it aligned perfectly with the work being performed by the other bricklayers down the wall.

CMS worked diligently on this 12 story project and provided tubular welded frame scaffolding up to the 11th floor (161’ high). Due to its overall size and height, this was one of the largest scaffolding projects provided by CMS. In addition to the mass quantity of scaffolding required, three of the project’s elevations were adjacent to and abutted the functioning hospital. Several meetings were required to properly plan and coordinate the erection and dismantling of the scaffolding at these locations. In addition, all proper procedures such as debris netting and the moving of scaffolding boards while the scaffolding was in place were fully coordinated with all parties.

The University Health System Hospital Tower project was a huge success and a large portion of this was due to the multiple coordination meetings held by both the general contractor and the subcontractors. The ability to meet with each other and modify the plan as needed was critical to maintain a continuous work flow with limited work stoppage. In turn, this allowed the project to be completed timely and to fit the needs of the growing community.

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