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August 27, 2015

Smith-Midland makes wall for National Zoo in D.C.

Smith-Midland precast and hand-stained this 850-by-30-foot wall.
Smith-Midland Corp. of Fauquier has manufactured an 850-foot-long by 30-foot-tall simulated stone retaining wall for the Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C.

Recently installed, the wall replaced old structures along an extensive drop-off along the entrance road above Parking Lot C.

General contractors Hensel Phelps and Athena Construction Group worked with Smith-Midland to manufacture the precast concrete panels. M&J Welding completed the wall erection.

The original design called for the wall to get cast in place. But, Hensel Phelps proposed a design-build project involving the use of a “shotcrete” wall and placement of precast concrete panels as a facing.

Smith-Midland formed the panels and hand-stained them to mimic the look and color variations of a natural stone wall, matching one on the nearby Rock Creek Parkway. The Midland-based company prepared a mock-up of a wall section and delivered it to the zoo prior to job initiation to serve as a visual aid for what was to be accomplished.

“This wall has all the color variations of a natural wall and is a permanent penetrating stain that will last indefinitely,” Smith-Midland President Ashley Smith said. “We are proud of this project that exemplifies Smith-Midland’s ability to innovate, improve, and initiate products that are current and pleasing to the eye.

“We worked out the logistics with multiple contractors on this project and delivered a quality product for our customer.”

Panels were erected using a crane and connected to the shotcrete wall with stainless steel plates and anchors. Seven panels were set per shift, which equaled one panel per hour.

The construction took place quickly, with most of the wall completed within a few weeks.

Hensel Phelps’ site manager, Kim Slusher, expressed feelings that the benefit of constructing a wall this way, compared to what was originally designed as a cast in place wall was profound,

“You have a better looking wall this way,” said Kim Slusher, the general contractor’s site manager. “The joints all lined up well and the shoulder joints are set consistently. Speed of construction was good. The owner is pretty happy.”

Founded in 1960, Smith-Midland Corp. develops, manufactures and sells an array of precast concrete products for the construction, transportation and utilities industries. It employs about 130 people at manufacturing facilities on Route 28 near Midland and in Reidsville, N.C.
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