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Tilt-up + precast construction create ‘Music’ at USF

Thanks in part to an unconventional construction strategy, euphonious notes are flowing throughout the halls of the new University of South Florida School of Music facility.

Architecture firms, Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company of Tampa, Fla., and Performance Architecture, New Orleans, designed the building with the music educator and performer in mind. However, it was no easy feat. The firms, in collaboration with Skanska USA contractors and BAI acoustical consultants, among others, needed to stretch a $37.6 million construction budget to build a three-story, multi-purpose facility. The 113,535- sq.-ft.-building needed to house the choral, orchestra and jazz halls; classrooms; student practice rooms; and faculty studios. The facility also needed to house a 500-seat concert hall and a 100-seat student recital hall. With such challenging economic drivers, the designers of the School of Music chose to use tilt-up construction, a process usually reserved for warehouses, industrial and storage facilities.

Tilt-up was ideal since it combines reasonable cost, low maintenance, minimal capital investment, and durability. As money was saved using this method, more costly precast concrete veneer components were able to be incorporated into the project. The final product incorporated architectural precast using one color pigment composition plus dynamite orange granite with a randomly fractured rib finish and a medium abrasive blast. The precast was provided by STABIL Concrete Products’ St. Petersburg plant.

The randomly fractured rib finish was creatively used to address the rough surfaces of the tilt-up pieces. The ribbed form liners created textured walls, and when painted red, distracted the eye from the rough surfaces. This was not the first time a project at USF used a randomly fractured rib finish. According to Barton Lee, Interim Dean, College of the Arts, “In the early design process, we visited the [USF] College of Business to look at their exterior walls, which have a similar ribbing treatment with exposed aggregate.”

Moreover, concrete was effectively used for the complex soundproofing of the various spaces in the facility. Since concrete is highly dense, sound transmission was reduced, keeping competitive sounds from clashing. Rehearsal rooms, recital halls and offices were also arranged within separate boxes to keep sound from traveling through walls, floors and ceilings.