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Missouri S&T Professor Aims To Improve Self-Consolidating Concrete

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A Missouri University of Science and Technology researcher is studying how to make concrete that can be placed without a lot of human intervention, and that can be poured in hard-to-reach places where people can’t easily manipulate it.

Dr. Dimitri Feys, assistant professor of civil, architectural and environmental engineering at Missouri S&T, is working with self-consolidating concrete to produce beams that can be used to construct bridges, parking garages or other construction. Self-consolidating concrete is a type that flows easily in concrete forms or molds.

“The main use of this concrete is in Japan and Europe — 100 percent of the pre-cast industry in Denmark uses this type — and it slowly is making its way in the U.S. market,” he says.

But there are challenges, Feys says, and chief among them is figuring out a way to keep the concrete homogenous throughout the produced structural element. That’s important because the aggregate — the gravel or rocks used in the mixture — need to be uniformly distributed to ensure even strength throughout the product. If the gravel sinks to the bottom as the concrete flows through the form — known as dynamic segregation — it negatively affects the finished product’s quality in strength and durability.

Feys works with Coreslab Structures in Marshall, Missouri, which has made 30-foot beams and 60-foot beams for the project. In the latest test on Feb. 16, they poured a 60-foot beam. “It went good, but not perfect,” Feys says. “It seems like the 60-foot flow distance is a step too far.”

The distance problem needs to be explained as a function of time, he says.

“Fresh concrete properties change with time and as a function of how fast it flows,” Feys says. “If it flows fast, it remains fluid or can even become more fluid. If it stops, or flows slowly, it stiffens. That stiffening is a function of mix design and temperature. Since we are using a rapid-hardening cement and self-consolidating concrete, this concrete is more sensitive to stiffening.”

Feys can manipulate the concrete’s rheology, or flow, by changing its ratio of cement, aggregate, sand and water. And he can further change its properties by adding super-plasticizers, primarily polycarboxylate, which are essential for the concrete to flow easily. The challenge is to incorporate the proper amount of super-plasticizer for flowability while keeping the aggregate well dispersed.

He uses core samples to test the beams for gravel distribution, strength and an adequate distribution of air bubbles, essential for freeze-thaw durability. Feys and Dr. Julie Ann Hartell, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at Oklahoma State University, used ultrasound testing techniques on the produced beams to evaluate homogeneity.

“Inferior properties in specific zones of precast beams can lead to reduced durability, leading to a premature need for repair or replacement, which in the end will cost taxpayers more money,” Feys says.

The ultimate goal is to make self-consolidating concrete a common product used in the U.S., he says.

Research team members from Missouri S&T are Jason Cox, senior research specialist; John Bullock, engineering technician I; Aida Margarita Ley Hernandez of Ciliacan, Mexico, a graduate student in civil engineering; and Sara Vanhooser of O’Fallon, Missouri, a senior in civil engineering.

The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation through the Research on Concrete Applications for Sustainable Transportation (RE-CAST) consortium, in which Missouri S&T partners with Rutgers University, Southern University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Miami.

KCU Receives Nearly $40 Million from Joplin Community to Build New Medical School in Rural Missouri

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The Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) is closing in on $40 million in donations toward the planned development of a second College of Osteopathic Medicine in Joplin, Missouri. The Joplin Regional Medical School Alliance (JRMSA), a not-for-profit foundation formed through an alliance of medical and community leaders, has raised $29.6 million toward its $30 million pledge to KCU for the project. An in-kind donation of land and former hospital building from Mercy Hospital Joplin is valued at $9.5 million.

KCU-Joplin, the first new medical school in Missouri in nearly 50 years, represents the realization of a shared vision for the region, and has been made possible through collaboration among KCU, Mercy Hospital Joplin, Freeman Health System, the City of Joplin and philanthropic leadership from the surrounding community. Freeman Health System has pledged a multi-million dollar gift, as well as a commitment to provide medical student training for KCU.

“The expansion of KCU to an additional location marks a significant moment for our University and an opportunity to help address the rural health care needs of Missouri and the region,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and chief executive officer, KCU. “As the second-leading producer of physicians for Missouri andKansas, and with nearly 40 percent of our graduates practicing medicine in rural areas, this was a logical decision for us. We are honored that the Joplin community has chosen our University as a partner and provided such impressive philanthropic support.”

The KCU campus will be located on the site of Mercy’s former hospital, which was constructed in 2012 to serve as a temporary facility following the destruction of St. John’s Hospital during the devastating Joplin tornado in 2011. The facility represents a nearly $10 million donation.

“I’m proud of the regional leadership in our community that has helped us achieve this milestone,” said Larry McIntire, DO, president of the JRMSA. “We owe a debt of gratitude to Rudy Farber, chairman of Community Bank & Trust, who leads this impressive fundraising initiative, and we are excited to welcome KCU into our community to provide the best educational opportunities for our home-grown physicians.”

KCU is the 12th-largest medical school in the U.S. and a national leader in the education and training of osteopathic physicians.

Renovations Complete at Two Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation Facilities

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Construction-management firm, IMPACT Strategies, today announced it has completed two major renovation projects for Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation (SIHF). Last year IMPACT began both projects, including a $2.4 million expansion and renovation at SIHF’s Centreville Health Center in Centreville, Illinois, and a $600,000 renovation of SIHF’s new Charleston Health Center location in Charleston, Illinois.

SIHF Centreville HC The multi-phased project at the Centreville Health Center involved renovating approximately 24,000 square feet of SIHF’s current facility at 6000 Bond Avenue. The project consisted of six phases of renovations to five departments, including pediatrics, pediatric behavioral health, adult medicine, obstetrics and dental, and the addition of an outpatient pharmacy. The facility remained operational while the project was ongoing.

Work on the Charleston center began in September and was completed at the end of January. The project involved renovating an existing retail space into a well-finished medical center.  The facility will serve both medical and dental needs for Charleston and the surrounding area.

Bates & Associates Architects was the design firm on both projects.

SIHF Charleston ClinicSouthern Illinois Healthcare Foundation President & CEO Larry McCulley, said, “IMPACT Strategies continues to prove themselves as a highly reliable and trusted partner. Their unwavering focus on quality workmanship and a ‘can do’ attitude for both projects enabled us to complete them on time and on budget.

IMPACT Strategies has completed three projects for Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation in recent years. More information about IMPACT Strategies is available athttp://www.buildwithimpact.com.

IMPACT Strategies, Inc. specializes in Retail, Commercial, Medical, Senior Housing and Education construction and offers comprehensive construction services including design-build, general contracting, construction management and pre-construction management.

Concrete With Self-Healing Powers

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At the Annual Meeting of the AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in Washington, D.C., Prof. Christian Grosse from the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Prof. Mo Li from the University of California (Irvine), and Prof. Erik Schlangen of Delft University of Technology talked about smart materials for sustainable infrastructure.

Grosse talked about a European Union research project on creating concrete that automatically repairs small cracks. Permanent loading and variations in temperature can cause small cracks to form in concrete. Grosse, chair of non-destructive testing (NDT) at TUM, said the cracks do not usually pose any direct threat to the stability of structures, “However, water and salts can penetrate the concrete (through such cracks) and damage the affected components.”
Traditional repairs to infrastructure are expensive and can result in long traffic jams. In the EU research project HealCON, an international team of researchers is working toward the development of concrete that can repair itself. The scientists are examining three different self-healing mechanisms.

Bacteria as mini construction workers

Certain bacteria produce calcium carbonate as a metabolic product. The scientists soak balls of clay with the spores of these bacteria and mix the balls into concrete. Once water penetrates the concrete, the microorganisms become active and release calcium carbonate, one of the main components of concrete. “The bacteria can close cracks of up to a few millimeters in width in a matter of a few days,” says Grosse.

Hydrogels as gap fillers

Hydrogels are polymers that absorb moisture. They are used in diapers, among other things. Materials containing hydrogels can expand up to 100 times their original size. Cracks that form in concrete can be healed by a hydrogel that expands when it comes into contact with moisture, thus preventing the water from penetrating further without expanding the cracks.

Greater strength thanks to epoxy resin

Epoxy resins or polyurethane can be encapsulated and mixed into the concrete. When the concrete cracks, the capsules break open and the polymer is released. It forms a hard mass that seals the crack. It also has a positive side-effect: It increases structural stability.
Looking into concrete

Grosse and his colleagues specialize in testing how well these healing agents work in individual cases using non-destructive testing methods, such as acoustic emission technology.

When concrete cracks under pressure, it generates acoustic waves, which are measured using sensors. Using the measurement data, scientists can establish the precise location of the cracks. Following the healing process, the researchers carry out the experiment again. If the healing process was not successful, there are few new acoustic waves, as the cracks are still there. If the cracks have been filled, new ones arise – but in different places. “The localization of the crack sounds clearly indicates whether a remedy works or not,” explains Grosse.

Testing structural components using ultrasound

While acoustic emission analysis is suitable for laboratory applications, a different technology must be used for real-world on-site testing of large concrete components. “In this case, we use continuous ultrasound pulses,” Grosse said.

Scientists measure the time required for ultrasound pulses to propagate through the concrete. Cracks prevent the transmission of the signal, which as a result needs more time to traverse the material. If the cracks have been filled, the pulses go through the material faster again. The strength of the signal also declines noticeably in the case of damaged material.

Promising results in creating self-healing concrete have been obtained from experiments carried out under laboratory conditions. The next stage will involve the use of the self-healing material in building actual components for bridges or tunnels. If the technologies succeed in real world application, they will have to be adapted for use in standard concrete production and construction methods.

Nonresidential Construction Market Momentum to Continue

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Construction spending greatly exceeded expectations in the nonresidential market in 2015, and this year should see healthy growth levels as well, agree all of the members of the American Institute of Architects Consensus Forecast Panel. There continues to be significant demand for hotels, office space, manufacturing facilities and amusement and recreation spaces.

The American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) semi­annual Consensus Construction Forecast, a survey of the nation’s leading construction forecasters, is projecting that spending will increase just more than eight percent in 2016, with next year’s projection being an additional 6.7% gain. Leading the way will be double-digit growth in hotels, office space, industrial facilities, and amusement & recreational facilities.

“While rising interest rates could pose a challenge to the U.S. economy, lower energy prices, improved employment figures and an enacted federal budget for 2016 are all factoring into a very favorable outlook for the construction industry,” said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker. “And after several years of challenging economic circumstances the institutional project sector is finally on very solid footing.”

Market Segment Consensus Growth Forecasts          2016     2017

  • Overall nonresidential building                                         8.3%      6.7%
  • Commercial / industrial                                                      9.9%      7.5%
  • Hotels                                                                                    14.8%     7.8%
  • Office space                                                                          12.8%      8.8%
  • Industrial facilities                                                              11.9%      5.3%
  • Retail                                                                                       7.5%      5.6%
  • Institutional                                                                          6.7%      6.7%
  • Amusement / recreation                                                  11.2%       7.7%
  • Healthcare facilities                                                           6.6%       6.9%
  • Education                                                                             6.5%       6.6%
  • Religious                                                                               2.6%       4.0%
  • Public safety                                                                        1.8%       4.2%

The Consensus Construction Forecast Panel consists of economists from Dodge Data & Analytics, Wells Fargo Securities, IHS­Global Insight, Moody’s economy.com, CMD Group, Associated Builders & Contractors and FMI.

To see each of the individual forecasts, follow the link: http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/2016/charts/jan2016/ccf_012916.html

The AIA Elevates 149 Members and Eight International Architects to the College of Fellows

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The 2016 Jury of Fellows from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) elevated 149 AIA members to its prestigious College of Fellows. Among them was Philip Durham of St. Louis. The title of “Fellow” is an honor awarded to members who have made significant contributions to architecture and society on a national level. The 2016 Fellows will be honored at an investiture ceremony at the AIA Convention in Philadelphia in May.

Out of a total AIA membership of nearly 88,000, fewer than 3,200 are distinguished with the honor of fellowship and honorary fellowship. Durham received the honor for promoting the esthetic, scientific, and practical efficiency of architecture.

The 2016 Jury of Fellows consisted of:

Diane Georgopulos, FAIA, Chair, Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency; Steve Crane, FAIA, VCBO; Marleen Kay Davis, FAIA, University of Tennessee; Mary Katherine (Mary Kay) Lanzillotta, FAIA, Hartman Cox Architects; David Messersmith, FAIA, University of Texas; Karen V. Nichols, FAIA, Michael Graves & Associates, and Donald T. Yoshino, FAIA, Yoshino Architecture, PA.

Integrated Facility Services Completes $8 Million HVAC, Piping and Building Automation systems Project at Spartan Light Metal

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Integrated Facility Services (IFS) in Columbia, formerly Air Masters, has completed an HVAC, process piping, and building automation systems project for the $8 million office and plant expansion at Spartan Light Metals in Mexico, Missouri.

The 68,000-square-foot expansion included a complete renovation of the existing plant offices, a new office addition and a new manufacturing area. IFS installed HVAC in all areas as well as building automation systems. They also installed process piping in a utility tunnel within the new manufacturing area, for future process equipment.

Spartan, a family-owned automotive parts supplier, currently employs 300 workers at the plant in Mexico, MO, and expects to add another 88 jobs as a result of the expansion.

Air Masters Corporation in Columbia rebranded on January 1 as Integrated Facility Services (IFS), their corporate holding company name. The rebranding is part of a corporate initiative to better align the company name with IFS’ integrated range of facility services including HVAC, plumbing, fire protection, building automation and building security systems.

Integrated Facility Services (IFS) is a full-service mechanical contracting and service firm providing HVAC design and installation, plumbing, commercial refrigeration, fire protection, energy conservation and building automation services.

Microgrid Energy Awarded Certificate of Merit in the St. Louis Green Business Challenge

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St. Louis-based Microgrid Energy was recognized and awarded with a Certificate of Merit by the St. Louis Green Business Challenge (GBC). The award recognizes sustainable business practices and is the GBC’s highest level of recognition. This is the second year in a row that Microgrid has been honored with the award, and the company celebrated the highest point gain in the small tenant category of the GBC Class of 2015.

As a joint program of the St. Louis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Missouri Botanical Garden, the GBC supports integration of sustainability measures into the everyday operational practices common to every business. Over sixty companies, nonprofits, and governmental agencies participated in the GBC, identifying and adapting strategies to improve financial performance and engage employees in voluntary measures to reduce their environmental impact. Over 150 companies, representing 130,000 employees, have participated in the program since its inception in 2010.

“The Green Business Challenge continues to push Microgrid Energy’s green efforts to higher levels, and plays an important role in our Triple Bottom Line approach to doing business – having a positive impact on People, Planet and Prosperity,” said Microgrid Energy Director of Triple Bottom Line, Chad Schubert.

“Our Triple Bottom Line approach is a key component to our company culture, and we believe it’s one of the secrets to our success. Our employees embrace this approach fully and the enthusiasm and dedication of our Green Team is what enabled us to win this award two years in a row. It’s been a pleasure to participate in the Challenge and work with such a great team,” said VP of Business Development at Microgrid Energy, Steve O’Rourke.

The following are some of the accomplishments and innovations implemented by Microgrid in the past year:

  • Co-sponsored Maplewood’s EPA Green Power Community Challenge – the most successful in Missouri to date
  • Successfully completed B Corporation recertification, and was national “Best for the Environment” honoree
  • Completed installation of occupancy sensors throughout the office, and worked with landlord to install insulation in uninsulated wall cavities
  • Worked with office supply company to consolidate office supply purchases and deliver supplies in reusable totes
  • Held company-wide electronics drive
  • Hosted a waste-free company event
  • Established a program to enable online monitoring of print usage
  • Employees volunteered to provide mentorship to local schools in the USGBC’s Green Schools Quest program
  • Partnered with First Watch Cafe to host Bike to Work Day rest stop
  • Provide volunteer assistance to several of our nonprofit clients to clean their solar arrays and provide other support.

Microgrid Energy is a leading renewable energy and energy efficiency installer with a national reach, based in St. Louis, MO, offering turnkey services for commercial, institutional, and government clients.

State Rep. Wants Unions to Report Anyone They Try to Recruit

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Missouri State Representative Courtney Curtis (District 73), who says he stands “98 percent behind unions,” has filed a bill to make it harder for unions to organize and to invalidate any existing project labor agreement for a future stadium.

The bill, H.B. 2170, would require unions to report to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations the name, telephone number or email address, and age of every individual that they try to recruit during the year.

The bill also would bar any executive action creating a project labor agreement “on any stadium project, the public funding of which is not submitted to a public vote.” Instead, the proposed legislation would require the local legislative approval by a board of aldermen, city council, or similar elected board of a project labor agreement. Such agreements could not require that employees covered by the agreement pay any kind of dues or fees to the unions representing them, but must require the performance of at least 20 percent of all work by apprentices.

Curtis said in a press statement that H.B. 2170 was the subject of the argument between him and Rep. Michael Butler (District 79) in late January that escalated into a physical confrontation.

Last year, Curtis filed a “right-to-work” bill in the legislature. He insists that unions continue to deny minorities equal access to construction jobs, a claim that unions deny, and that his bills would make unions stronger.

H.B. 2179 available for review here

Treanor Architects And H+L Architecture Merged

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Treanor Architects (Treanor), a national design firm headquartered in Lawrence, KS, with an office in St. Louis, and H+L Architecture (H+L), a  planning and design firm headquartered in Denver, have entered into an agreement to merge their firms effective as of January 1, 2016.

H+L and Treanor will temporarily maintain their existing names, but will work together during the coming months to develop a new branding identity that will encapsulate the culture and history that unite these distinguished architecture firms.

“This is an exciting time for H+L and Treanor. This merger is not simply of like size firms, but of common philosophies, common values and complementary talent. Our current practice areas are very well balanced and we will be able to add more depth of expertise for our clients,” said Dan Rowe, President of Treanor Architects. “We will benefit from the depth of knowledge and expertise within the Healthcare Studio and look forward to the growth in our other combined practice areas.”

“We are extremely excited to be merging with such an exceptional team of architects and designers,” said Scott Kuehn, President of H+L Architecture. “Combining teams with portfolios as deep as our two firms is an amazing opportunity to continue to add to our depth of knowledge in all of the markets we are currently serving and continue creating spaces that inspire.  This is truly a win-win for H+L, Treanor and our clients. ”

The merger between Treanor and H+L will not only strengthen service offerings by the firm, but will also allow them to examine all aspects of customer service to ensure that they continue to offer top-tier customer service to all clients.

Announcements regarding milestones of the merger will be made public as necessary.

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