Category: Municipal
Location: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Size: 127,000 sq. ft.
Masonry Used: The exterior wall system is comprised of a cast concrete back-up with a limestone veneer consisting of over 10,000 pieces ranging in thickness from 4” to 8” resulting in a total weight of limestone material of 5.3 million pounds.
Submitted by: General Services Administration

Project Description

Design Goals:

The Federal Building incorporates a wide array of program elements in a manner which expresses the specific cultural legacy and aspirations of the region along with modern applications of building design and engineering. The architect was able to accomplish this through carefully considered planning accompanied by a studied expression of historical architectural vocabulary. The result is a building that is able to expand upon its role and truly become a shared cultural resource for the citizens of Tuscaloosa. The Federal Building speaks to the region's past and future and is a public landmark which represents both the timely and enduring qualities of a significant public institution.

Primary details, features, and advantages of masonry:

The building's exterior is accentuated with a central pediment hexastyle portico in the Doric order. The entablature is supported by stone architrave and load bearing fluted columns. The side wings have similar pediment facades constructed from Doric order and accentuated with ante pilasters. All wall elements are load bearing and clad in Indiana Limestone with ¼ inch joints. The limestone veneer ranges from 4 inches to 8 inches in thickness placed over a cast in place concrete wall. The cavity wall design incorporated a vapor permeable air barrier, foil-faced insulation board, and integrated thru-wall flashing resulting in an efficient yet durable wall system.

The vast array of stone profiles range in weight from 400 pounds to over 4500 pounds using over 30 different anchoring systems engineered specifically for this project. Fluted load bearing columns supported the entablature and stone architrave consisting of ten individual segments weighing 12,000 pounds each.

Natural limestone selected by color and grain from the quarry is a material historically selected for use on public projects with a high degree of architectural detailing that also places a value on natural materials, design flexibility, performance, and durability. Limestone has natural characteristics which are enhanced in the ongoing aging process of the building.

Unique or special circumstances:

One of the challenges associated with using limestone was finding a quarry to supply the 10,300 individual pieces needed while accommodating the size and finish requirements necessary to comply with design criteria. Production and installation standards were further modified to accommodate federally mandated metric measurements in lieu of typical imperial parameters, which resulted in a 2 millimeter tolerance for each stone piece. Working on several elevations concurrently to accommodate the aggressive eight month schedule required keeping over a thousand stone pieces in inventory on a logistically challenged site. Recognizing the intricate details and coordination associated with the project, Jollay Masonry constructed a full size offsite mock up well in advance of site mobilization. The mock up provided valuable insight into the complexities of installation, rigging, hoisting, and anchoring the limestone façade.

The team concept embraced early in the project by designers, fabricators, suppliers and contractors encouraged creativity and flexibility on a complex project and resulted in a facility of which we can all be proud and one which may be used by future generations.

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Project Participants

Architect: Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Inc.
General Contractor: BE & K Building Group
Masonry Contractor: Jollay Masonry, Inc.
Limestone Supplier: Evans Limestone