Large-Scale Project, Little Room for Error

June 3, 2016
Buffalo, N.Y., medical school installs storm water detention system on the site of its new campus

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., is envisioned as a “medical school for the 21st century.” Upon completion in 2017, it will be a $375 million, 628,000-sq-ft facility. From its light-filled seven-story atrium to its aesthetically pleasing façade, the building is an engineering marvel. The impressive design work also extends underground, where general contractor LPCiminelli installed an extensive storm water detention system.

The Problem

From initial planning stages, site space appeared limited, so designers turned to a known solution. The storm water system needed to be placed between a lagging wall holding up the street and a foundation wall; this left less than 2 ft of clearance on either side.

In addition to the difficulties brought on by limited space, the project also required high tolerances, a tight schedule and vigilant quality control. To complicate matters, just as production was ramping up, an unexpected site condition caused a change to the size of the structures needed.

The Solution

Kistner Concrete Products of Lockport, N.Y., submitted a precast concrete bid that fit the complex requirements. The company proposed Kon-Structure, a post-tensioned, 50,000-gal storm water detention system that could handle the large-volume capacity needed and be installed quickly in a tight space.

“We were able to accommodate a vertical height change for the balance of the structure prior to final product installation,” said Mike Kistner, vice president of Kistner Concrete. “Precast’s flexibility allowed us to make the necessary adjustments without issue.”

The Kistner Concrete team manufactured 19 vertical culvert tank sections to fit the space: ten sections measuring 5 ft wide by 7 ft tall and nine sections measuring 5 ft wide by 9 ft tall. Precision designing and manufacturing were necessary since the sections needed to fit neatly into the 20-ft-deep excavation. The sections were also designed to meet H-20 structural loading specifications and storm water retention regulations.

The Results

Subcontractor Pinto Construction Services’ experience with precast concrete products, coupled with the material’s flexibility, were key to the project’s success.

“The project went extremely well, and we were able to surpass installation expectations,” said Jim Lyke, project engineer for Pinto Construction. “We were wondering how many obstacles we would have to work around and thought we might place two to three pieces per day. We ended up placing five to six.”

With good planning and teamwork between Kistner and LPCiminelli, the entire storm water system was installed in just a few days.