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Feb
2014
20

Solid Foundation: New World Record Set for Continuous Concrete Pour

(via the Associated Press)

(via the Associated Press)


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The presence of a Guinness World Record adjudicator made it official: the foundation of Los Angeles’ Wilshire Grand broke the world record for the largest continuous concrete pour.  By pouring 21,200 cubic yards of concrete, the project surpassed the previous record holder, the Venetian in Las Vegas, which poured 21,000 cubic yards in 1999.  The 73-story high rise will be the largest building west of the Mississippi upon completion in 2016.  

The pour began Saturday morning and lasted 18.5 hours as 208 trucks made more than 2,100 trips for 82 million pounds of concrete. The $1 billion project is being developed by Korean Air.  

Preparation for the massive undertaking has been underway for months. Crews prepared the site by digging an 18-foot deep pit and lining it with 7 million pounds of reinforcing steel.  

In the hours before the concrete began to flow the construction site enjoyed a performance by the USC Marching band as well as speeches from local politicians and Korean Air executives.  

After the final truck left and the record was declared, the most important part of the process began: Ensuring the concrete dries correctly.  This process was detailed by the Los Angeles Times:

The most critical part of the pour will take place after the last truck leaves and the concrete starts to harden, a process that will take about two weeks. During this time, the concrete will heat up as it begins to set.

The heat dissipates in most concrete pours, but because of the size and depth of this foundation, the temperatures will only increase, which can compromise the integrity of the concrete. To avoid this problem, Turner will cool the concrete by pumping 45-degree water through nearly 100,000 feet of polyethylene hoses strung throughout the pit.

Twenty-four sensors throughout the foundation will record the temperatures on a hourly basis, and, assuming that Los Angeles isn’t hit by a sudden heat wave, the concrete should hover comfortably between 120 and 160 degrees.

Fail-safe procedures are in place as well. Alternative routes have been mapped in case of freeway tie-ups. Additional chillers for the cooling water are on stand-by if one of the machines breaks down. More piping is available if the radiator system springs a leak.

“There are so many variables in projects like these,” said Gerard Nieblas, president of the engineering firm Brandow & Johnston, which designed the structure. “You try to minimize them as much as possible. We’re lucky if we get 99% of them, but with the foundation, we want to hit 100%.”

The Wilshire Grand is slated to open in 2017.  When finished, the building will house five levels of underground parking, convention space, office suites, and over 900 hotel rooms.  

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