A Home Run With Thin Brick
Collegiate sports are highly competitive, and to attract fans and top recruits, facilities have to be kept up to date and offer the highest levels of amenities. The University of Tennessee launched a multi-phased renovation program of their baseball stadium in 2006. Phase II of the renovation of Lindsey Nelson Stadium included new brick façade to create the look and feel of a major league stadium.
When built in 1992, the original stadium was precast concrete, painted green. The renovation design called for creating a new look that was in keeping with the overall campus atmosphere, attract the nation’s top recruits, be timely to avoid any delays in the baseball schedule, and be well-received by the fans for years to come. The decision was made to brick the existing façade.
The architects for the project, Lindsay & Maples, Architects Inc. investigated using full brick, but due to structural load evaluations, elected to use thin brick. Weight and added dead load was a major consideration. In order to prevent performing an expensive and time-consuming structural analysis, added weight had to be minimized. By selecting thin brick veneer, added weight was kept below 10 psf. The use of thin, adhered veneer over full-bed masonry also eliminated any egress isle space issues because the 1/2-inch thickness of thin brick had minimal effect on space.
After careful consideration, thin brick from General Shale Brick was selected. Several parties were involved in the decision, including the architect Rick Lindsay of Lindsay and Maples in Knoxville, Tenn.; university administration; and even the baseball coaching staff.
“By using the thin brick, we were able to overcome weight and structure issues and still honor the owner’s desire to have the look of brick,” says Rick Lindsay, project architect.
To assure that the renovated stadium was part of the integrated design of the campus, university officials selected the same style brick used on many of the university’s structures: Campus Blend. The brick was cut thin to 1/2-inch by General Shale Brick and shipped to site for installation. Garrett Masonry, Knoxville, Tenn., completed the installation in time for the beginning of the season.
“I appreciated all the teamwork from the owners, architect, and material suppliers,” says Steve Garrett, Garrett Masonry. “The product went up well, and I was proud that I was able to contribute to the enhancements of the university’s facilities.”
Several thin brick installation methods were considered, but it was ultimately decided that a direct adhered veneer system would be used in accordance with the ACI 530.1/ASCE 6/TMS 602 Building Code Requirements for Masonry Structures section 6.3.2. Additionally, a Laticrete thin set system using tile installation guidelines in ANSI A108 (American National Standard for Installation of Ceramic Tile) and the TCNA (Tile Council of North America) Handbook for Ceramic Tile Installation was selected.
Jason Cathey, P.E., from Rouse Construction Co., was the project engineer for the renovation. “The renovation to the University of Tennessee Lindsay Nelson Baseball Stadium was our first experience with the Laticrete products,” Cathey says. “Not only did they provide good technical phone support and product literature, they also provided on-site training and installation observations to ensure proper application. Rouse Construction Co. built the original stadium in 1992, and with using quality building products, we are confident that the owner will continue to be satisfied with their facility for years to come.”
A direct adhered method was chosen to provide the most durable installation, since bonding directly to the existing precast concrete substrate eliminates mechanical fasteners or lath that could be susceptible to corrosion or failure. A Laticrete Hydro Ban membrane was also installed, which gave the entire system a 25-year warranty from Laticrete. Since this was, primarily, a vertical installation Laticrete 255 thin set was specified due to its high initial “grab” bond and no-sag properties. To prepare the existing painted precast concrete surface for installation, the specification called for sandblasting.
To complete the project in time for the upcoming spring schedule, it was necessary to perform the installation during the winter months; thus, it was important to strictly observe cold weather installation guidelines. The project specification called for Cold Weather Requirements in accordance with ACI 530.1/ASCE 6/TMS 602. Garrett Masonry did an excellent job of monitoring temperatures, tenting the structure and using supplemental heating when required.
The masonry crew from Garret Masonry was conscientious and had the work area tented, dry, and heated with a salamander unit to keep the area (and substrate) between 63 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit. A thermometer was located inside the tented area and monitored as the work progressed. A waterproof membrane was applied to the substrate and a skim coat of 255 thinset adhesive was applied to the surface. Measuring buckets present at the mixing station, the 255 and mixing water were kept inside the conditioned work area. Installers removed dust from the back of the brick with a sponge and water before installation. Also, the installers made a practice of “keying in” the mortar with a mason’s trowel before the mortar was notched; the bricks were being “backbuttered” as well. Spacers were used in succession and were removed after the mortar was set up enough to hold the bricks in place and placed in the subsequent courses. The masonry crew seemed pleased with the tenacity of the mortar, and demonstrated how well the early bond strengths were by trying to pull one of the bricks off that were installed the prior day off, it did not move.
In conclusion, the use of adhered thin veneer allowed the University of Tennessee to obtain the desired aesthetic look they wanted, overcome issues with weight, minimize impact on egress spacing, and complete the “new” stadium in time for opening of the baseball season.
Originally published in Masonry magazine.
About the Author
Gregg Hodgson is a Miller Beach, Ind.-based freelance writer who covers a variety of business topics.