Prairie View A&M University’s new 90,000 square foot Agriculture and Business Multipurpose Building is located in the heart of the campus. The building houses the College of Agriculture and Human Services and the College of Business. The new facility provides technology enhanced classrooms, agricultural teaching laboratories, meeting rooms, and a student lounge.
Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) supplied and installed: 1,110 pieces of 3” thick honed Texas Lueders limestone ranging from 1’-7 5/8” to 2’-5 5/8” wide by 3’-11 5/8” tall; 240 pieces of mitered honed Lueders limestone window surrounds; 3,600 sf of 3” thick honed Chinese Basalt measuring 2’ tall by 5’ wide; 2,500 sf of 1-1/2” thick honed Chinese Basalt measuring 2’ tall by 5’ wide; 5,400 8” x 8” x 16” regular light weight CMU; 23,100 ACME ELP 274 Mission Pink modular brick; 26,500 ACME DVP 110 Onyx modular Velour brick; 38,325 ACME TUP3 Garnet modular Velour brick and 129,150 ACME TUP/DVP 888 modular Velour brick blend (consisting of 45% Garnet, 45% Tuscany and 10% Onyx). In all, CMS installed over 217,000 modular brick and over 8,000 square feet of natural stone.
There were many challenges on this project. The most visible is the range of material utilized in the façade and, in particular, the multiple color brick. There are four colors of brick; three that are used alone in horizontal bands and one that is included in a three brick blend with two of the other brick. The bands (inclusive of bands of blended brick) are located at specific elevations on the building. Some of the bands are extremely close together and could easily be misplaced. CMS produced shop drawings showing the exact positioning of each brick band and provided each mason with drawings for that day’s work, thus ensuring the proper positioning of the bands. The basalt and limestone pieces were massive, some weighing approximately 400 pounds. Many of the base pieces required field modification to accommodate fluctuating site conditions. The limestone around the narrow windows had to be mitered on all sides to create the clean look of an opening merely ‘appearing’ in the wall. These windows were not evenly placed to accentuate this look. The windows in the brick façade do not align with one another vertically so jack lines for columns could not be utilized for multiple floors. The courtyard had an ancient oak which was to remain. Great care was utilized to perform our work while not disturbing the tree. Another challenge was the requirement to erect scaffolding over the utility yard. This required an engineered solution incorporating beams to span the equipment on which the scaffolding was erected. Unusual scaffolding was also utilized on the clock tower. This is a tall and narrow structure that begins with brick on all sides, only to have it disappear on two sides at a certain elevation but gain returns. Finally, cleaning basalt, limestone and four colors of brick without cross contaminating or staining one or more of the components is extremely difficult. Specific cleaning techniques were developed and utilized to minimize these risks and great care was used during the installation to keep the components clean.
The end result is a stunning structure, in keeping with the existing building elements at the university while incorporating the first bell tower on campus and serving as a gathering point for the students.