Changes in store for the Coney Island Boardwalk

8 02 2010

The 2.7-mile Coney Island Boardwalk has been the topic of songs and movies, and a favorite tourist location known for its amusement parks and rides.

Coney Island

Coney Island (credit: Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, big changes are in store for this American iconic symbol, officially known as Riegelmann Boardwalk, which has become a hot topic in news and the blogosphere.

Since its grand opening in 1923, the boardwalk has undergone frequent repairs and numerous reconstructions. Issues range from loose or dilapidated boards in need of replacement to popped-up nails and gaping holes, as reported by the New York Daily News.

Bypassing the numerous repairs, New York City Parks and Recreation has opted to use concrete to strengthen and stabilize the boardwalk.

Work has already begun, demolishing damaged portions of the wooden boardwalk, which will be replaced with colored and textured pre-cast concrete slabs.

The texture on the concrete will mimic actual wood timbers, providing aesthetic appeal and preserving the historical significance of the walk.

The $13.7 million project, two-year construction contract was awarded to T.B. Penick & Sons, Inc., and through APC Precast, Scott System is on the job, using their urethane form liner molds to create wood-textured concrete planks.


“Structurally Deficient” Bridges: Concrete vs. Steel

23 12 2009

In the United States alone, more than 20 percent of bridges are either “structurally deficient” (SD) or “functionally obsolete” (FO), according to a study conducted by Better Roads magazine.

While the Stimulus Plan continues to fund badly needed road repairs, based on statistics, there are still quite a few bridges that could benefit. Below are the top five ranked states with the highest numbers of “structurally deficient” or “functionally obsolete” bridges:

State # of Bridges # of SD/FO Bridges SD/FO %
1. Texas 50,316 9,564 19 percent
2. Pennsylvania 23,562 9,130 39 percent
3. Missouri 24,096 7,103 29 percent
4. Ohio 30,617 6,993 23 percent
5. Oklahoma 23,646 6,904 29 percent

Source: Better Roads magazine

The Benefits of Concrete Compared to Steel Bridges

While the main source of bridge failure is a result of structural and design deficiencies, we can also look at the statistics behind the materials used, focusing on concrete and steel.  To present this point, we can examine the National Bridge Inventory data for structures built since 1950, which shows that 17 percent of steel bridges in the United States are considered “structurally deficient,” while reinforced concrete and pre-stressed concrete, the percentage are only 7 percent and four percent, respectively (Source: National Concrete Bridge Council). Here’s why more than 70 percent of the bridges built today are made of concrete:

The properties of concrete, including permeability, ductility, freeze-thaw resistance, durability, abrasion resistance, reactivity and strength cater to the building of stable bridges.

The Rainbow Arch Bridge, shown in the above picture, was built in 1922. Despite years of age, the design structure and the concrete endured the test of time, and the bridge now stands as a historic monument.

The plaque identifies the Rainbow Bridge as a historic monument.


In terms of safety, concrete performs well despite natural and man-made disasters, including seismic activity. Because of its mass, concrete can better withstand heavy winds in excess of 200 miles per hour along with flying debris.  (Source: Buildings magazine)


Even with the spike in cost of construction materials, the cost of concrete has remained relatively steady, whereas structural steel has increased by nearly 50 percent over mill prices since November 2003. (Source: Buildings magazine)


Concrete can actually be transformed into art through texture, staining and even embedding thin brick.

RTD FasTracks Western Corridor Connects Local Communities

8 12 2009

Regional Transportation District (RTD) buses feature the FasTracks Western cooridor project.

The multi-billion dollar RTD FasTracks project is plowing through Colorado creating jobs, boosting the economy and creating sustainable transportation options for commuters.

With a light rail route running south from its hub at Union Station in downtown Denver to Littleton already built, the project is now heading west to the Jefferson County Government Center in Golden, Colo.

Behind the Scenes

MSE panels featuring concrete textures piece together to form a retaining wall.

Currently the 12.1 mile Western Corridor is in the construction process, and upon completion will offer 122 miles of new train service, 18 miles of bus rapid transit service and will bring to life Denver’s Historic Union Station.

The Western Corridor retaining wall is built with MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) paneled walls featuring hand-sculpted art and concrete textures.

In fact, the grass tuft graphic was hand-sculpted by Scott System’s own Sead Telalovic. Originally, Sead created the art using a clay medium, which was then transposed with heavy rubber urethane to create a form liner that would serve as the concrete mold.

The aesthetics of the project will be enjoyed by many commuters, especially with the Denver metropolitan region estimated to reach a whopping 3.39 million in 2025. If the 2008 numbers are any indication (RTD carried more than 102 million riders, and the rail system carried more than 60,000 riders every weekday), the future looks very busy.

Architect credit: Perry Palmer, David Evans and Associates, Inc.

Natural Modernism

25 11 2009
Palmer Ridge High School landscape

Palmer Ridge High School landscape

Palmer Ridge High School Glass Walkway

Palmer Ridge High School Glass Walkway










Palmer Ridge High School

Palmer Ridge High School



Located on 69 acres of forested area, Palmer Ridge High School in Monument, Colo. integrates the natural terrain of its surroundings into architectural design.

Exposed rough sawn textured concrete created with Scott System form liners beautify planter boxes and interior and exterior walls, creating a natural accent while producing a sense of modernism.

The site features area landscaping and rooftop gardens with native foliage to add splendor and serve as a learning tool for students.

Natural light filters through a glass bridge walkway that connects three academic wings and supports the traffic flow of 1,200 students and staff. At 219,000 sq. ft., Palmer Ridge High

School is touted as the largest geothermal project in Colorado.

Cost: $45.4M, Architect: H+L Architecture
Contractor: Saunders Construction

Concrete: the Perfect Canvas

10 11 2009

A concrete lizard adorns a sound wall in Scottsdale, AZ.

To many, concrete means grey, flat walls. Nevertheless, across the U.S. and even in different parts of the world, concrete has become the perfect medium for texture and aesthetic beauty.

From 60-foot lizards scaling sound walls of the Pima Freeway in Scottsdale, AZ, to buffalos roaming the plains on T-REX sound walls in Denver, CO, concrete can transform the ordinary into the exquisite.

Here’s how it works…

The process begins when a city or architect decides that an aesthetically interesting barrier is needed, whether it’s for a sound wall, school, office, bridge, shopping district, etc. The design team then creates concept drawings, which are approved by the surrounding neighborhood and building team. From here, the drawings evolve into sculptured creations using a variety of mediums, such as clay, polyurethane or wax. When the original art is finished, a cast is made using synthetic liquid rubber, and from this cast, form liners are produced in the reverse image of the original.

The form liner panel is then placed on this inside of a concrete forming system before the concrete has been poured and acts as a mold for the concrete. Once the concrete has set, the forming system is removed and the form liner is stripped away from the hardened concrete surface. The resulting concrete surface is permanently textured with the pattern of the form liner.

By using form liners, you can recreate the mountains, the meadow grasses and wildlife in concrete, thus preserving the look of nature and creating a beautiful landscape. For more information on form liners, visit