New Main Campus building?

A new “tilt-up” concrete building is being proposed for construction on the UTSA main campus.

The process behind its construction involves raising precast concrete panels and connecting them using a steel frame.

All necessary cutouts for fixtures, doors and windows are boxed-out before pouring so that once dry, each panel is ready to be tilted up and built-out once attached to the steel frame.

As long as relatively simple engineering requirements are taken into account, there is no limit to the complexity “tilt-up” allows, even though it is commonly applied in commercial structures using a simple box-like design.

The permeation of “tilt-up” in the environment has resulted in an annual awards show held by the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) to honor buildings which exemplify “state-of-the-art achievement with their unique and inventive use of the tilt-up method”. According to the magazine, Concrete International, in 2009, five out of 44 buildings were honored with an “Excellence in Achievement” award.

Developed in the early twentieth century, “tilt-up” has evolved into an easily replicable, cost-effective and somewhat sustainable building method. There is no way to construct a building in an entirely “sustainable” way using contemporary building techniques, because waste and energy is always expended when resources are used.

However, tilt-up can be a sustainable building technique if the concrete used for pouring is from a local source and panels are poured on site instead of trucked in gradually. Incorporating eventual reuse and recycling of the panels into the initial building plan can result in a smaller carbon footprint over time if that aspect of the plan is adhered to down the road.

Harvey Juarez who will assist in overseeing the project, said that UTSA’s panels will be poured on site instead of trucked in.

Robert Espinoza, assistant director of capital projects, said that the new building will be an expansion of a portable wood-framed building currently being used by the university. Espinoza explained that the new “multi-function building” will be 75,000 square feet in size, two-stories and L-shaped with a covered open space providing connection to two separate parts of the building. Espinoza noted that energy star appliances will be incorporated into the building’s systems and that a separate cooling system using chilled water will be used as opposed to a typical one-dimensional HVAC system.