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The Impossible Build

May 20, 2020 comm ARCH

 Landmark Miami tower showcases innovative design & constructionOne Thousand Museum, a 62-story condominium tower in downtown Miami, is the first and only residential tower in the U.S. designed by world-renowned, Pritzker Prize-winning -architect Zaha Hadid, who died before the project was completed. The 703-foot-tall structure features 88,689 feet of undulating exoskeleton columns that makes the project both an instant landmark and an engineering breakthrough. Referred to as an “impossible build,” the high-rise is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, consisting of 5,000 light-weight glass-fiber reinforced concrete panels, permitting 40 feet between columns to create a sense of openness throughout the residences. According to Brad Meltzer, President of Plaza Construction, “One Thousand Museum is arguably one of the world’s most challenging builds. The tower features a one-of-a-kind undulating exoskeleton comprised of 5,000 pieces of lightweight glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). “The use of GFRC—manufactured in and imported from Dubai—as a permanent formwork system is a first in high-rise construction.” One Thousand Museum was designed to be highly resistant to Miami’s demanding wind loads, including hurricanes, while also introducing a new aesthetic to the city’s skyline. According to Zaha Hadid Architects, “The structure reads top to bottom as one continuous liquid frame. The emphasis is on expressing the dynamism of the structure in an integrated whole that avoids the frequent typology of a tower resting on a base.” 

Innovative System

The serpentine exoskeleton design not only twists and curves as it climbs up the building, but a closer look clearly reveals that the detailing of the structural column profiles constantly changes. On any given elevation, the forms required to pour the exoskeleton change with each floor lift. After a lengthy study of constantly modifying conventional column forms for each lift it became apparent that the cost and time required would be prohibitive. The team contacted a firm in Dubai that had been successful with pre-molded GFRC panel “forms” to pour intricate pattern walls leaving the “form” panels in place as the finished pattern product. However, this “permanent formwork” system had never been utilized to form major structural support columns for a high-rise tower. Working in concert with the structural engineering firm in Dubai, the local Structural Engineer of Record for the project, and a third structural engineering firm to provide independent peer reviews, the team was able to design the exoskeleton columns to meet all the engineering requirements while maintaining the aesthetic proportions of Hadid’s design. The permanent formwork finished columns eliminated the additional cost and time of swing stage stucco and paint operations that would follow a regular CIP exoskeleton structure and achieved the complex geometry and detail that Zaha Hadid had rendered. 

Construction Challenges

With a strong design concept, the team committed to a glass-fiber reinforced concrete (CFRC) formwork system, to form the entire exoskeleton. Because the shape of the members is always changing, contractors needed nearly 5,000 custom pieces of GFRC to create the curves. Adding to the challenge, all the CFRC formwork was shipped to Miami from Arabian Profiles, the supplier in Dubai. Though the approach cost more up front and created logistical issues, it ultimately saved more than six months in the schedule and improved the overall product. Shipping custom pieces across the Atlantic opened significant risk for the project, so the team scheduled deliveries to arrive months before the pieces were needed for installation. Each section of formwork arrived as two pieces of GFRC – one for each side of the exoskeleton element. The manufacturer recommended putting two pieces together with nylon straps and ratcheting them down. Once the rebar was inspected, the concrete was poured to form the deck. The real trick is the rebar and the congestion created as the exoskeleton comes together and diverges apart with all the angular projections, making sure that the rebar is in the correct location is tricky. Some of the sections below level 15 could be 6 ft wide by 35 ft long. It’s not practical to pour something like that with GFRC forms, so GFRC cladding was done instead. One edge of the building’s podium lies just 6 inches from a neighboring building leaving little room for movement in the foundations. One pile was driven to more than 170 ft. the deepest pile ever driven in Miami-Dade County at the time. Crews cast the roughly 9,500 cu yd of concrete for the mat in one continuous placement. The work took 26 hours and required nearly 1,000 concrete trucks. The main challenge for the construction team on 1000 Museum was the intricate logistics of the permanent formwork for the structure being fabricated and shipped from Dubai for the structural columns. Each level of column forms was unique to that level and could not be used for any other location on the building. To ensure quality control of fabrication, the Team placed a full time representative in the Dubai casting facility to monitor the quality of the castings before packing. This individual was responsible for making sure the sequence of production matched the levels being constructed in Miami and in addition oversaw the packaging of the containers for the port. As the containers were received from the port of Miami, they were off loaded at a storage facility, unpacked and inspected, and confirmed the erection plan labels for their final location in the structure. This was scheduled so that any shipping damage that may occur would be discovered and reordered in time to meet the installation schedule. Panels were then loaded and trucked to the site in a sequence just in time to be picked up from the trucks and crated to their final position. This reduced the risk of damage if stored on the construction site, allowed enough time for proper quality inspection, and reduced multiple rigging and pick times. The Dubai fabricator also had their own personnel on site in Miami to inventory, verify condition and assist in supervision the erection process. The deck cycle time of construction was longer than conventional construction, but the elimination of the finish trades normally required on an exoskeleton structure was eliminated. 

Premium Luxury

The completed 1000 Museum creates a six-star lifestyle with 83 luxury condos consisting of duplex townhouses, full-floor residences, and half- floor residences within an exceptionally elegant private residential tower. One Thousand Museum offers an international elixir of premium craftsmanship, including model residences influenced by Italy, France and Brazil. Lush landscaping is by Switzerland’s Enzo Enea; interior illumination products by Apure (customized by German designer Uli Petzold); kitchens by Italian firm Italkfraft or custom manufactured by Italy’s Gatto Cucine; closets by Italy’s Poliform; and Lualdi doors also from Italy. These residences span between 4,600 square feet to 10,000 square feet, from $5.7 million. Furnished full-floor residences range from $21 million to $24 million. Furnished half floors range from $6.25 million to $7.75 million. The building is surrounded by water, sky, sun and fun and frames the metropolis. Over 30,000 square feet of beautifully designed venues for swimming, sunning, socializing, fitness, and pampering cater to fewer than 100 residences, offering the luxury of abundant space. At the very top of the tower, an Aquatic Center and Sky Lounge will provide residents with an indoor pool and private event space with stunning views to the beach and the city. The roof of the tower has also been designed to accommodate Miami's first private helipad on a residential tower. Hadid's Miami tower is in Downtown Miami, adjacent to Museum Park and its two new museums, the Perez Art Museum and the recently completed Frost Science Museum. Article courtesy of Plaza Construction Photo credit: Alëna Graff

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