At 17 stories, the Crittenden Court Apartments is the tallest reinforced loadbearing masonry building in Cleveland, probably in the entire central United States. The article profiles this project, which used $650,000 worth of precast plank and $2,400,000 worth of masonry: 300,000 brick, 500,000 block, 8,000 bags of mortar, and 5,000 bags of grout cement. The building's architect was Richard L. Bowen and Associates Inc., Cleveland, and its masonry contractor was L.M.R. Construction, Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Though the Crittenden went up in only 17 weeks, it took years of planning and included an innovative brick curtain wall system. From front to back of the building, nine parallel reinforced loadbearing concrete masonry walls support precast floor planks and carry all live loads to the foundation. Attached to every floor slab and bearing directly on the footing, reinforced brick curtain walls enclose the entire building. Shelf angles were not used to support the brick, and exterior scaffolding was not used to lay it. Differential movement determined the structural design of the Crittenden. Above 10 stories, the differential movement of brick and block walls becomes excessive. Due to creep and shrinkage, the Crittenden's block walls were expected to shorten up to 3/8 inch. Due to temperature changes, the brick walls were expected to move up and down 3/4 inch. Due to moisture absorption, they were expected to move another « inch. Over the height of the building, the total movement could reach 1 « inches, estimated structural engineer Steve Ebersole of Hach & Ebersole Consulting Engineers, Twinsburg, Ohio.
Ebersole designed the exterior brick so that it can move independently of the precast planks and block walls. Designed as curtain walls, the brick were reinforced vertically with one No. 4 rebar every 40 inches. Reinforced cores of the brick were grouted solid by hand in 4-foot lifts. Tied back to loadbearing concrete masonry walls, the front and back curtain walls were made of 4-inch brick. Running parallel with the precast planks, the side curtain walls were made of 6-inch brick, completely unconnected to the metal studs and drywall behind them. Though designed to move up and down freely, laterally the brick walls had to be fixed rigidly to transfer wind and seismic loads to the floors. To accomplish this, the curtain walls were anchored at every floor to the floor planks with special anchors that allowed movement vertically but not horizontally.