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On a windy spring day, nearly 40 AEC professionals from San Antonio and Austin convened at the site of a new Austin Regional Clinic building under construction in Cedar Park, Texas, where Bautex Systems presented an AIA-approved course to observe building envelope construction using an insulated concrete block wall system to meet 2015 building and energy codes. Working for Austin Regional Clinic, architect Neel Morton of office of Architecture (ooA) designed the 20,000 sf building with Bautex Block for its building envelope for a more energy efficient and quieter, comfortable building that exceeds 2015 energy codes.
Representing a range of firms doing commercial, government, education and residential projects, the group of architects, project managers, engineers, and contractors walked the foundation and examined how installers created windows, doors, pilasters, lintels and other elements. Bautex’s Chris Leonard reviewed the construction sequence for the Bautex Wall System and walked participants through two sides of the building in different phases: one wall filled with concrete and the other being stacked and braced and prepared for a pour.
Questions covered topics including 2015 IECC building code, applying air/moisture barriers, windstorm testing, noise reduction and fire ratings. Participants also discussed specific applications that may benefit from walls with a 4-hour fire rating, such as townhomes and retail developments with fast food kitchens. One attendee noted that a movie theatre with Bautex Block could improve building performance and reduce the sound bleed between theatres.
Senior Project Manager Diane Covert of Architecture Plus appreciated seeing the ARC project under construction because she specified Bautex Block for a new building envelope on a renovation of an existing building, also in Austin. “My project is in the beginning layout stage and seeing this project under construction verified many of the processes that our contractor is taking. For instance the layout, the position of the rebar, the rebar ties, the rebar configuration in columns and the method of pouring the entire wall in one pour,” she says.
Understanding the sequencing and method for pouring concrete was also helpful to architects using or considering Bautex Block for their projects. For example, Leonard explained that the concrete is poured in lifts, allowing the concrete to set between layers. Seeing the doors and window lintels braced was also helpful, Covert says, referring to plywood forms on either side of the block temporarily installed before pouring.
“I think the block will be very helpful in future construction methods because of the labor savings in ease of cutting and laying the block,” she says. “Bautex Block has an R-value, a fire retardant value, a storm safety value and a sound deadening value which will be advantageous for code purposes.”
Rod Walls is director of new construction for a public school system, and he was both surprised and impressed by the construction in progress. “I was surprised by the difference in weight relative to mass of the construction units, when comparing to traditional CMU,” he says. “I was impressed by the perceived energy efficiency properties as well as the enhancement that they could possibly lend to shortening the schedule of a new school construction project.”
Others admire the design of the Bautex Block system and look forward to its applications. “As a longtime admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright’s textile block system, I was truly thrilled to discover Bautex Systems,” says architect Andy Simpson, principal of Archimedia in Selma, Texas. “The utter simplicity of the system and the inherent strength of the concept is a winning combination.”
Austin Regional Clinic plans to celebrate the grand opening of its new Cedar Park location in late fall 2016.