BY DON PROCTER - After 18 years in the business of concrete forming, civil engineer Dennis Schincariol still comes across the occasional job that throws a new curveball his way.
A case in point is the Windsor Aquatic Centre’s concrete dive tower — a complex design that left him to abandon all conventional thinking on formwork methodology.
The 50-foot-tall dive tower is comprised of cast-in-place concrete stairs to five concrete diving platforms. Meeting the design requirements which follow the strict specifications of FINA — the international governing body of swimming, diving, water polo, synchronized swimming and open water swimming — was not straightforward.
“From the get-go everybody saw the diving tower as the centerpiece of the building. The owners wanted it to be very eye-catching — to almost look like it was carved out of stone,” says Schincariol, owner of Windsor, Ont.-based FCI Concrete Forming, awarded the contract.
“The stairs and the concrete platforms had to be completed simultaneously because the stairs act as anchors for the platforms tied into the three concrete support walls. It made the formwork rather challenging.”
Adding complexity to the job was the working conditions: much of the platform’s assembly had to be done from a mobile crane working from outside the building because there was no space to accommodate it inside while the 50-metre Olympic-size swimming pool and a warm-up pool were under construction, he says.
“Because the aquatic centre’s structural steel was already erected, the crane had to fish materials through the building’s columns and diagonal bracing,” Schincariol points out, adding that FCI’s crew had to carefully build its falsework structure without damaging expensive Italian-made prefabricated panels installed around the pool.
Also, concrete placement was done with a concrete pump outside of the building.
>Early on, the contractor worked closely with consultant Barry Bryan Associates (BBA) on shop drawings.
“That relationship played a vital role in procuring shop drawings from PERI Formwork Systems, since it helped me determine the height of the wall panels and the support structures under the platforms themselves,” he says.
At every step of the job, Schincariol kept his staff and crew in the know on design and sequencing to ensure the work was done properly and on time. At peak construction, six carpenters and four laborers from FCI worked on the tower. It took about six weeks from the start to the final strip (when the final falsework was removed after concrete pour).
“It was a fairly aggressive schedule because of the sequencing. We had to build it in increments upwards and have it finished prior to winter so the building could be closed and heated.”
FCI’s contract also involved the centre’s footings and foundations, including formwork for a 30,000 square foot suspended concrete slab. In addition to the pool and diving facilities, FCI did the formwork for a family leisure park that features a large water slide.
Schincariol started up FCI Concrete Forming in 2012. His experience included time as a project manager for Verdi Alliance on the West Block expansion at Casino Windsor and at Maple Leaf Square in Toronto.
While concrete cast-in-place dive towers have been built elsewhere, Schincariol believes it is unique to southwestern Ontario. And for that reason, many of the carpenters out of Local 494 wanted to be on the project.
“Typically we do footings, foundations, walls, beams and slabs, so doing something this different and challenging was a job a lot of our carpenters wanted to be a part of,” says Matthew Kwasnicki, representative/organizer, Local 494.
“Every one of our carpenters who was part of the crew is very proud of the job because the tower and pool is a landmark for Windsor.”
The aquatic centre was completed last fall by a joint venture by EllisDon Corporation and Windsor’s DeAngelis Construction Inc.