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An Unusual Site to Behold on Bourbon Street


The Putzmeister boom pump handled a portion of the first two floors until it could reach no more. This was because access wasn't possible from all sides around the hotel.

Cajun Concrete Services used a 36-Meter Putzmeister boom pump and added a Series II detachable boom to the unit to get the speed and flexibility needed for the Astor Crowne Plaza.

An Unusual Site to Behold on Bourbon Street

When over 8.4 million visitors flock to New Orleans this year, they will probably see all the typical scenery at the French Quarter. However, they will also view an unusual site on the corner of Bourbon and Canal Streets. The peculiar display is a placing boom constructing a new 16-story hotel. Although this is not uncommon in most cities, the site of a placing boom is indeed rare in New Orleans, as it is believed to be one of only a handful ever utilized in the area.

As past World of Concrete visitors know, Bourbon Street truly exemplifies the meaning of tight quarters. Naturally, one would assume the use of a placing boom as the most logical method for constructing a new $45 million high rise hotel amidst the congestion "nightmare". However, it just isn't the typical construction method utilized in the Crescent City.

Cranes, set up on the two extreme edges of the 100-foot wide x 350-foot long job site handled the concrete for the footings and foundations. A 36-Meter Putzmeister boom pump handled a portion of the first two floors until it could reach no more. This was because access wasn't possible from all sides around the hotel as existing buildings butt up on two sides of the construction. Plus, setup wasn't feasible on the highly congested Bourbon, Canal and Iberville Street sides due to the hotel being built to the sidewalk and a historical landmark building next door with which to contend.

A crane and bucket first placed concrete on small mezzanine pours; however, this method would be impractical on large pours for this fast track project. As commonly practiced in Louisiana, a hard-line and spider combination was seriously considered. Yet once Gibbs Construction, the general contractor, calculated that it would only yield a 40-yard per hour rate at best, this idea was abandoned.

Anticipated need for placing boom
That's when Gibbs took the less traditional and more aggressive route of speeding up the process by using a placing boom and tower combination provided by Cajun Concrete Services, the local pumping company. Ironically, Cajun had anticipated the need for a placing boom on this job before it even started. With a 36-Meter Putzmeister boom pump already on order at the Wisconsin factory, they added the flexibility of the Series II detachable boom option to their unit and were ready for the urgent request.

It proved a wise decision that landed Cajun the concrete placing job and also solved the contractor's needs. Kenny Knecht Jr., general manager of Cajun, said, "If this job didn't pan out, we planned to go out and find the work for our new detach boom, as we really saw a need for it in the city. However, now using the unit on this particular site, it's good word-of-mouth advertising about its versatility, as well as its time and labor-saving features."

As planned, the placing boom was much faster at 80 cubic yards an hour, far exceeding the required rate of output and more easily meeting the tight schedule demands of the new hotel. Plus, it required six to eight fewer personnel compared to more traditional methods.

To access all concrete areas found on this encompassing job, two Putzmeister 50-foot towers were erected so the 36-meter placing boom could fly between the towers for full coverage. During tower erection and for logistical reasons, Cajun's 52Z-Meter Putzmeister pump squeezed into a tight area to handle a deck pour to keep things moving along. However, on April 18, the first of 13 remaining floors was poured using the new detachable placing boom. This was quickly the favored approach. With the boom detached, the truck-mounted unit with a .16H pump cell remained on the ground pumping at a smooth, yet quick pace.

"Speed is what sold us"
"Speed is what sold us on using the placing boom and tower concept, as we could easily do a floor a week compared with other methods," noted Danny Femal, senior superintendent for Gibbs. "Each pour is about 240 yards to do half of one floor. Basically, we setup and start pouring at two in the morning to avoid street congestion. Three hours later, the unit is clean, the placing boom is reattached to the truck, and both are gone from the site by sunrise. Only the finishing crew remains hard at work. By 3:30 in the afternoon, we're doing columns. Three days later, the cycle repeats itself to finish the other half of the floor."

Kenny Knecht of Cajun commented that "We're glad we got the detach boom. Its versatility lets us use it as a boom pump or placing boom for added ways to generate revenue and help solve our customers' needs. Plus, its Series II detach version has a simple two-pin connection that makes connection from tower to boom extremely fast and easy. That's important when you're in hurry."

"In a hurry" is an understatement. Although the placing boom could do its part quickly, there were other time-consuming obstacles to overcome. For instance, every time the boom pump arrived on-site, it was necessary to first crane lift the pedestrian walkway out of the way before the pump could position itself on-site.

Then, the crane would fly the detachable boom to the tower and have to replace the walkway. Pumping would then commence. Three hours later, the crane would reattach the boom to truck and again lift the walkway to allow the pump to leave the site, before reinserting the walkway yet again.

Yet when the job is partially completed in January, over 15,000 cubic yards of concrete will have been placed to construct the new Astor Crowne Plaza. This 512-room addition along with several more hotels in the works will raise the inventory level beyond 33,000 rooms in New Orleans. As a result, one would think it would be easy to get a hotel room during this year's World of Concrete... Well, better think again.

 JOB SPECS
Owner: Bourbon Canal Hotel LLC - New Orleans
Hotel Operator: Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel - New Orleans
Architect: William and Associates - New Orleans
General contractor: Gibbs Construction, LLC - New Orleans
Pumping contractor: Cajun Concrete Services, Inc., - Jefferson, La.
Ready-mix supplier: LaFarge - New Orleans
Equipment: Putzmeister 36-Meter truck-mounted boom pump with Series II detachable placing boom, two Putzmeister 50-ft placing boom towers, a 36-Meter and a 52Z-Meter boom pump