The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute has announced the winner of the 2019 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award. The annual award recognizes PCI-certified plants for excellence in manufacturing and craftsmanship of architectural precast concrete and glass fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) structures and individual components.

Judges selected Gate Precast Company in Ashland City, Tennessee, for its work on the Nordstrom store at 1790 Broadway in New York City. The project required retrofitting of the first two floors to replace a 1950s-era aluminum and glass storefront. The new façade had to match the original white marble of the upper floors and blend aesthetically and seamlessly with the rest of the building.

Matt Graf, executive vice president of sales at International Concrete Products, who served on the judging panel, noted the project’s many different flat and radiused forms. “Each one of these forms required high-end detailing to match the existing building’s marble façade,” Graf said. “Great attention to detail was needed with the forming, precast concrete handling, shipping, and replicating the marble veining in the concrete mix. The craftsmanship replicated that of the original 100-year-old building.”

Added Chris Cruze, project manager at Gate Precast Company’s Ashland City plant, “Although this was a relatively small project, it required more time in coordination, R&D, mold-building, and planning than most large projects. Every aspect of the project was a challenge. Our invaluable team of modelers, engineers, and craftsmen eagerly embraced all of these challenges with passion and zeal. The result of their efforts was extraordinary.”

Building the molds took several weeks to complete, while it took two days to set them up. Molds consisted of multiple height steps and radii. The form buildup was built to the highest level of detail the carpenters could achieve, stacking several layers of wood of various shapes and sizes to within about one-eighth of an inch. Various mold-finishing techniques obtained the finished product’s desired details and crispness.

The award is named after retired PCI Director of Architectural Systems Sidney Freedman, who was a leading voice in precast concrete architectural design for more than 43 years with the organization. This year’s award was presented at the 2019 PCI Committee Days and Technical Conference, Featuring the National Bridge Conference, in Rosemont, Illinois, on September 27.