Warehouse owners have two building demands: fast-track construction and fire protection for their inventories. One owner recently asked Nitterhouse Concrete Products for those two construction attributes in addition to a unique office-area window design for 420,000-square-foot and 355,000-square-foot distribution centers. Insulated precast concrete wall panels from Nitterhouse Concrete Products helped provide nearly 1 million square feet of warehouse space with a three-hour fire rating in Chambersburg, Pa.
The 12-foot-by-32-foot-by-8-inch precast sandwich panels include 2 inches of a 2-pcf-density polystyrene rigid foam insulation between the 3-inch-thick outer concrete wythes. Panels make up the building's outer walls as well as interior walls that divide the facilities down the middle. The interior walls were designed so a catastrophic fire would melt high-strength glass-reinforced acetal copolymer connectors attached to the steel frame, which laterally support the interior firewall. This would cause the framing on one side of the wall to collapse on the fire side, while the firewall would remain standing and protect the remaining inventory on the other side.
Nitterhouse cast wide-flange steel compression members integrally with the upper and lower panels to support both the gravity load of the panel above the window and the shear and moment from lateral wind loading for both the upper and lower panels (see diagram) and save costs.
Construction of the 420,000-square-foot facility, which has 60 truck dock doors and 15 rail dock doors, took less than a year. The 355,000-square-foot facility, which has more than 60 truck dock doors, took only nine months.
Keywords: Nitterhouse, sandwich, wall, fire, warehouse