The University of Wisconsin – La Crosse’s new $49 million, 144,000 square-foot Student Fieldhouse & Soccer Support Facility is a big win on campus. Masonry was the obvious choice for interior infill walls within the structural steel frame and key loadbearing walls. But what was not so apparent was how the mason contractor and design team would work together to develop creative uses of prefabricated masonry lintels and a seldom-used alternative engineered method to bring the project to life.
The alternative engineered method helped control masonry movement and eliminate cracking on the building. The contractor, structural engineer, and IMI collaborated to eliminate control joints on a 200-foot long, 60-foot-tall CMU wall that served as a transition between 2 building geometries. Doing so helped solve both structural and constructability challenges.
The project team also converted traditional CMU to 16-inch CMU. A compliance check performed by the engineer found that the unit’s compressive strength, combined with Type S mortar, met compressive strength requirements for the masonry assembly.
The use of masonry for interior walls and backup walls for a masonry exterior veneer proved to be an excellent choice for durability, speed, and cost benefits. Masonry offered the designers a robust solution and allowed the contractor to complete the project during a challenging construction climate with material delivery and price issues for non-masonry products.
Finally, prefabricated masonry lintels gave the project designers the chance to develop architectural details that minimize thermal transfer at window heads, without introducing dissimilar materials that can cause cracking.