BAC Journal > Structural and Non-Structural Masonry Workout for a New Fieldhouse

Structural and Non-Structural Masonry Workout for a New Fieldhouse

2022 Issue 3

Students and faculty at the University of Wisconsin La Crosse are enjoying a brand-new Fieldhouse and Soccer Support Facility, thanks to the teamwork of BAC ADC Wisconsin members, signatory contractor Market & Johnson, and the International Masonry Institute (IMI).

Fieldhouse and Soccer Support Facility
The exterior of the new Fieldhouse and Soccer Support Facility at the University of Wisconsin.

The $49 million, 144,000 gross-square-foot facility is a win for union masonry, with a $4 million package featuring brick and cast stone veneer, prefabricated masonry lintels, and lightweight concrete masonry units (CMUs).

IMI Director of Industry Development and Technical Services Pat Conway supported key members of the project team in optimizing the masonry that, in turn, created more work hours for BAC members.

Masonry Lintels Offer Advantages Over Steel 

The project’s masonry lintels are one great example of the optimization. “Over the years, we’ve learned from IMI that contractors prefer masonry lintels from a constructability perspective,” said project architect Kyle Schauf with HSR Associates. “Masonry lintels allow us to develop architectural details that minimize thermal transfer at window heads. They’re a great alternative to a structural steel beam bottom plate spanning from the inside of the building to the edge of the veneer.”

Not only that, but masonry is locally available and less expensive than structural steel lintels, which often have long lead times and are delivered from overseas. That can have a major impact on project sequencing and schedules.

Masonry lintels also move at the same rate as the surrounding masonry walls, eliminating potential cracking due to differential movement that occurs with steel lintels. “They offer a pure solution to spanning openings without introducing dissimilar materials,” said project engineer Chad Allen with Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises (OTIE).

Alternative Engineered Method Eliminates Need for Control Joints

The project team further minimized cracking and controlled masonry movement by using the alternative engineered method, which addresses control joints for CMU walls. The contractor, structural engineer, and IMI collaborated to eliminate control joints on a 200-foot-long, 60-foot-tall CMU wall that served as a transition between two building geometries. Doing so helped solve both structural and constructability challenges. 

With the installation of mid-wall bond beams at 48 inches on-center and the extension of masonry lintels the entire length of the wall, the structural engineer had enough horizontal steel in the wall to restrain masonry movement, meaning control joints were not necessary.

“For this particular wall, using the engineered method simplified everything,” said Allen. “It was easier than figuring out where to locate vertical joints and how to communicate them on a plan to make sure they were installed correctly.”

The crew with Market & Johnson used self-consolidating grout to ensure proper grout flow, especially with the added grout and rebar in the wall. It turns out, this sped up CMU installation while reducing complicated temporary wall bracing. 

Lightweight CMU Keeps the Crew Happy

Lightweight CMU proved to be another creative solution for the fieldhouse. Market & Johnson worked with the structural engineer to convert the project’s 144,000 CMU to a lightweight 16-inch CMU. Often, normal weight materials get specified by default. The engineer did a compliance check and found that the unit’s compressive strength, combined with Type S mortar, met compressive strength requirements for the masonry assembly.

“We prefer installing lightweight CMU,” said Kevin Fabry, Masonry Project Manager for Market & Johnson. “Ultimately, it’s good for our masonry crew’s longevity and reduces chances for injuries and fatigue. Using a lightweight 16-inch CMU, one mason lifts approximately 1,000 pounds less per day.”

According to Fabry, though lightweight CMU costs a little more per unit, they’ve measured a 10 percent increase in installation and positive feedback from their crew. 

The team scored big on this project, showing how masonry offers an economical, durable, and beautiful building solution. It is a fitting start for a facility that’s sure to see many victories for the college’s athletic teams.