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Awards | TCA Tilt-Up Achievement

The New Children's Museum

2009 TCA Tilt-Up Achievement Award - Municipal Division

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Despite its name, San Diego’s Children’s Museum has always been more of a freewheeling exploration space than a formal museum. So when it came time to design a new space, museum leaders wanted a building with the feel of an artist’s loft, where creative energy could flow. To achieve this vision, the architect for the project came up with a design solution that presents a modern take on the no-nonsense warehouses of another era.

Working with a tight budget, the Children’s Museum hired the general contractor early in the design process to provide pre-construction services including cost control and value engineering. Tilt-Up was selected over cast-in-place concrete, which would have been more hazardous, time-consuming and costly. The use of Tilt-Up saved the project an estimated $140,000 and shaved a full six weeks off the construction schedule.

Four main Tilt-Up walls stand side-by-side in rows (one is slanted outward to give the impression of a building bursting at the seams with fun) and are connected by walls of fully transparent glass. The structure is topped with slanted roof panels separated by sloped clerestory windows, imbuing the museum with light and providing wide-open views of the neighborhood.Exposed “temporary braces” hold the Tilt-Up panels in place illustrating and teaching concepts of gravity and structure. These permanently exposed braces also provided cost-saving value for the project. The height of the Tilt-Up walls (52 feet) means they can accommodate gigantic canvases and three-dimensional art pieces can dangle from high ceilings.

Winner of a number of awards (including two from the American Institute of Architects and two from the Associated Builders and Contractors), the combination of creative architecture and durable, sustainable materials gives the museum exactly what they wanted: a “non-precious” building where young artists are free to spill a little paint.

Project Specifics

Project Wall Area
16,800 sq ft
(1,561 sq m)
Project Floor Area
47,856 sq ft
(4,446 sq m)
Project Footprint
55,450 sq ft
(5,151 sq m)
Tallest Panel
52 ft 0 in
(15.85 m)
Widest Panel
20 ft 0 in
(6.10 m)
Largest Panel
1,040 sq ft
(96.6 sq m)
Heaviest Panel
160,000 lbs
(72,575 kg)

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About the TCA

Founded in 1986, the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) strives to improve the quality and acceptance of site-cast Tilt-Up construction, a method in which concrete wall panels are cast on-site and tilted into place. Tilt-Up construction is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, combining the advantages of reasonable cost with low maintenance, durability, speed of construction and minimal capital investment. At least 10,000 buildings, enclosing more than 650 million square feet, are constructed each year using this construction method.

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