Taking Precast to School

Precast School
Photo courtesy of C.R. Barger & Sons.

Specifiers turn to precast concrete for a wide variety of projects at educational institutions.

Mason Nichols

From the moment we enter the world, life is filled with endless possibilities. As we gain control of our basic senses, we realize we can see, hear and feel new things. In turn, our environments become infinitely complex. And just when we think we have a grasp on all there is to know about life, everything is turned upside down when our parents send us to school for the first time.

A solid education serves as the foundation for a successful career and helps us unlock our full potential. Precast concrete functions in much the same way, enabling architects, engineers and project owners alike to accomplish nearly anything. As the projects below demonstrate, precast solutions save money and reduce on-site construction time at schools, providing the durable backbone educational institutions need to consistently provide students with the training necessary for their lives ahead.

Top-notch wall for Midway
Last summer, a retaining wall at Midway Middle School in central Tennessee began to fail, resulting in portions of the wall spilling onto the adjacent roadway. School administrators knew they had to act fast to correct the problem.

"We had less than 30 days to install the structure, which needed to be in place and functioning before the new 2014-15 school year," said Kevin Alley, operations manager for contracting firm Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., of Sevierville, Tenn. "That timeline gave us no room for error."

Precast School Brad Feinknopf
Photo courtesy of Brad Feinknopf
With a compressed schedule and the need for a new retaining wall that would function for the long term, administrators chose precast concrete. According to Eric Barger, vice president of C.R. Barger & Sons in Lenoir City, Tenn., precast provided a variety of advantages.

"We've found the Stone Strong block to be very competitive compared to a pour-in-place product," he said. "The choice of material provided an economical solution to meet the budget for the project and the school, allowing the school to once again use the road for bus traffic."

Barger & Sons manufactured 170 precast concrete blocks of varying sizes for the job. The new wall, which covers a total area of 2,140 ft2, was erected in under a week thanks to the precaster's close proximity to the construction site. This allowed the entire project to be efficiently completed within the short timeframe.

In addition to the new wall's extended service life, each block's chiseled granite pattern provides the aesthetic touch school administrators sought in their solution. Barger said the result was a happy customer.

"We've heard nothing but great comments from the school," he said. "We expect the school to have safe access to the back of their building for years to come."

NBMCW June 2016

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