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Awards | TCA Tilt-Up Achievement

Ave Maria University Oratory

2008 TCA Tilt-Up Achievement Award - Spiritual Division

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To create an oratory building on the campus of Ave Maria University that would not only provide an anchor between the college and the town, but also lend an Italian architectural air, the university looked to the versatility and durability of Tilt-Up concrete. Building on extensive experience overseeing the construction of many other structures on campus, Woodland Construction was hired to build the oratory.

The complicated structure, which features cast recesses and integral returns, required two years of planning, including preliminary panel designs and constructability studies, prior to construction. Each panel was designed with a 5-foot-radius return wall, and all of the panels had to be welded to a steel frame that soared more than 100 feet above the finished floor.

While the large, heavy panels were an asset in that they solved a structural uplift challenge, both forming the layered panels (which were poured in three mobilizations to achieve a three-dimensional effect) and lifting them into place (which was done with a 300-ton crane, and required embeds consisting of 1-inch steel tubes attached to 8 feet of rebar) proved to be a challenge for the contractor. Once the panels were placed, an imported Italian stone block finish was applied to the exterior to match the Italian aesthetic of the surrounding buildings.

The completed oratory seats 1,110 people and is the centerpiece of both Ave Maria University and the surrounding town.

Project Specifics

Project Wall Area
11,714 sq ft
(1,088 sq m)
Project Floor Area
24,000 sq ft
(2,230 sq m)
Project Footprint
24,000 sq ft
(2,230 sq m)
Tallest Panel
42 ft 3 in
(12.88 m)
Widest Panel
34 ft 6 in
(10.53 m)
Largest Panel
462 sq ft
(42.9 sq m)
Heaviest Panel
110,956 lbs
(50,329 kg)

Participating TCA Members

Woodland Tilt-UpSustaining Member iconSustaining Member icon
Tilt-Up contractor
Nox-Crete Products GroupSustaining Member icon
Bond breaker

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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