When the city of Fort Payne, Alabama embarked on major initiative to bolster its educational facilities, a $19.8 million elementary school was built with grey concrete masonry produced by Kirkpatrick Concrete's high-speed block production plant in nearby Guntersville.
Ricky Mead, General Manager of Kirkpatrick's Northern Division, says the use of concrete masonry will provide many benefits to the community's new school including improved storm and wind resistance.
“Schools here in Alabama seem to be incorporating safe rooms into their construction more often these days,” Mead says. “Fort Payne Middle School includes one and we supplied a 12-inch unit to fit meet specifications for a special 2500 psi block.”
Mead says units specified for the safe room required a mix design that increased cement content and varied the amount and type of aggregate ordinarily used. A subtle shade of color was added to differentiate the specialized units from the company's standard lightweight block. “Quality control ran several tests with different batches to find just the right mix design for that application,” he says.
The majority of the concrete masonry units in the school are Guntersville Block's standard high-quality lightweight units, produced with a premium aggregate known as expanded clay. Made about 180 miles away in Livingston, Alabama, the lightweight aggregate is produced by heating specially mined clay to some 2000-degrees. When added to the mix design, the resulting material brings the weight of each block down without any reduction in strength or quality.
“We don't make what’s called a regular weight block and haven't for years,” notes Mead.
To reinforce the walls, Kirkpatrick also supplied a 3000 psi block grout fill from the company's nearby Fort Payne ready mix operation. “That stiffens the walls quite a bit,” says Mead. “It gives them wind resistance. With us being in tornado alley it's something you have to take seriously.”
The school, designed by Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood, replaced an older facility and incorporated the latest technology and is built for Fort Payne's future. The finished project featured 47 classrooms and sits on 21-acres.
Mead says the primary contractor for this project was an experienced construction firm. “Baggette Construction is out of Decatur, Alabama, and they build a lot of commercial in this area and they do a good bit of school work. It's been a pleasure to work with them, they've been well organized and they're good company to deal with.” he says.
“Kirkpatrick always works to do the very best we can to service a job and make it work for everybody,” says Mead. “Anytime you can help a community with a project like this, something that's going to affect their children for years to come, it's a project that we take pride in serving.”