Award of Merit: Special Projects Category
Structural Reinforcement of Florencia Resort Complex Condominiums
Perdido Key, Florida
Submitted by Building Engineering Consultants, Inc.
Klein & Hoffman, Inc.
Milton Womack, Inc.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
The Florencia Resort Complex features luxury high-rise condominiums located in Perdido Key, FL. The residential tower consists of a 10-story poured-in-place concrete-framed structure with reinforced concrete masonry unit (CMU) infill walls covered with a patented stucco finish system. Shortly after completion, a condition survey reported significant errors and omissions related to the structural reinforced cells designed to occur within the CMU infill walls.
Structural engineers designing in zones of high winds and hurricanes typically use reinforced grouted cells within the CMU infill walls to meet the wind load requirements of local building codes and the masonry design requirements of ACI 530, “Building Code Requirements and Specifications for Masonry Structures and Related Commentaries.” Unlike poured-in-place concrete beams and columns that can be observed after the forms are removed, the grouted cells of the CMU walls cannot be observed or even verified to have been properly located or constructed.
With the recent introduction of very sophisticated infrared thermography equipment initially developed for military use, it is now possible to locate and document the reinforced grouted cells and evaluate the findings. The thermographic images of each elevation can also be used as plan guides in the restoration work to establish new grouted cells where cells were omitted and to add cells where the load path had been interrupted or where cells were only partially grouted.
It is important to note that the problems at Florencia were typical of seven high-rise buildings surveyed following Hurricane Ivan. Even more disturbing, the seven buildings represented all seven investigations conducted by one engineering firm using state-of-the-art infrared imaging equipment. The other six projects, like Florencia, also required major restoration to reestablish structural integrity.