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2021 Associated Masonry Contractors Houston Golden Trowel Excellence Award

Project: Novel River Oaks

>>> Novel River Oaks is a mixed-use complex located in the River Oaks area of downtown Houston. As with many projects of this type, something old was torn down in a popular, and crowded, area to build something new thus creating jobsite space constraints. Camarata Masonry Systems, Ltd. (CMS) has become accustomed to creating solutions such as, scaffold engineering including debris netting to protect pedestrians and vehicles and offsite material storage and/or just in time deliveries for this type of challenge.

CMS knew that protecting the pedestrians, existing mature trees and automobile traffic would be paramount, so we had our scaffolding engineered to have a debris netting installed on the back face of the scaffold to prevent mortar splatters, brick, and other objects such as tools from falling into the path of pedestrians and cars. Scaffold engineering was important for our employee’s safety too as gusts of winds and improperly secured scaffolding could cause the debris netting to act as a virtual sail thus causing the scaffold to fall and potentially injure anyone on and around the scaffolding.

The tight jobsite presented some typical challenges. Throughout the project we had over 80 employees and the lack of parking space was an obstacle that we overcame by purchasing vans to safely shuttle employees to and from the project site. The jobsite laydown space was very limited and on time deliveries were critical, only material that was going to be used within the current week was scheduled to be released. The south side Retail Courtyard area, located on the busy Westheimer Road, was the primary access to the site for all trades. In order to minimize disruption to the access area and efficiently install the veneer from level 2-8 on this side, tube and clamp scaffolding installed on top of metal beams was used. The first level work was completed after the masonry operations were finished on the upper levels.

One aspect of the design that created a different type of challenge was the installation of the cast stone wall cladding pieces. These pieces varied in size and each piece was engineered to be mechanically anchored so that it could be self-supported. With the many different piece sizes, the stud spacing did not accommodate the anchor locations, therefore a 6” x 1-1/4” x 10’-0” long 14 ga. TD track was installed horizontally at each bed joint. The design called for a 4” band of cast stone above every two stacked pieces, however this created a problem for inserting two 6” TD tracks horizontally in a 4” space. To overcome this, CMS consulted with the cast stone supplier and the final resolution was to create a 3/8” x ½” false joint that would mimic the 4” band.

With numerous different masonry materials and other finish products being installed, daily meetings with the general contractor and other trades to discuss who was going to be working in each designated area were critical. CMS assigned two full time foremen and two full time onsite safety representatives to oversee the daily masonry operations, quality, production, and safety concerns. To help meet the contract finish date, CMS erected scaffolding around the perimeter of the building early so that the window and waterproofing subcontractors could complete their work before the brick and cast stone were installed. The project was built in phases starting with the CMU in the parking garage, then moving to the brick work inside the courtyard area and ending with the exterior veneer installation.

River Oaks is one of the most exclusive and revered locations to live in Houston and the finished complex offers high-end living that upholds the neighborhood’s traditions while still honoring its legacy.


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