HOUSTON – (By Ralph Bivins, Realty News Report) – Facing the possibility of major construction delays on a 220,000 SF industrial building in Hines’ Grand National Business Park in northwest Houston, general contractor Arch-Con Corp. went to a Plan B.
No Steel. No Girders. No Problem.
The problem was a nationwide shortage of steel building materials.
The solution was finding a new way to construct warehouses.
And now – as the nation is in the midst of what may be the greatest warehouse construction boom ever – industrial builders from around the country want to find out about the new construction methodology.
Houston-based Arch-Con says calls, letters, emails and inquiries are pouring in. The building supply shortage is real and demand for new warehouses is high in the e-commerce era.
Suddenly imitators are everywhere.
Who knew that this build-to-suit warehouse for Elliott Electric Supply – the eighth and final industrial building in Hines’ 110-acre Grand National Business Park on the Sam Houston Parkway near Gessner Road – would attract such interest? With no disrespect to Elliott Electric Supply, a suburban warehouse is not the flashiest project to be developed by Hines, which developed The Galleria, and a 75-story Houston office tower known as the tallest building in Texas, and hundreds of notable commercial and residential projects around the world.
But this Houston warehouse, slated for completion by the end of 2021, is where construction history was made.
The Birth of Innovation
Arch-Con and Hines brought a key, collaborative team together including founding principal Don Greive with Pinnacle Structural Engineers and steel fabricator Matt Postel of the Postel Companies to solve a critical problem: How can we build an industrial building when steel joists and joist girders are simply not available when we need them?
Factories that produce steel roofing framing material were operating at full capacity. Steel construction components were just like the Clorox wipes and toilet paper shortages that plagued households in the pandemic – difficult to find.
“We like to collaborate with the best in the business to find solutions whether short-term or long-term,” says Chris Heath, who runs the construction division at Arch-Con. “And this team didn’t just accept a challenge, they pioneered an industry-wide solution.”
So the old-school steel joists and joist girders that were used for roof support were ditched. Instead, wide-flange steel beams were used for framing. And steel beams were in greater supply.
With the new framing method, the tilt-wall concrete building, designed by Powers Brown Architecture, was cheaper to build, too, Arch-Con said.
Houston – The Epicenter of Construction Innovation
Houston is no stranger to innovation in construction. Remember, Houston is the location of The Astrodome – the first covered stadium, where the first baseball game was played on April 9, 1965. The Dome required 600-foot spans with no columns and an air conditioner that could produce 300-foot “throws” of chilled air – both significant challenges 60 years ago.
People who have written-off Houston, don’t know the city. They look at the city’s faults and challenges and think they know Houston’s future. But attitudes are hard to see. You can’t fake innovation for long – the city has a track record of innovation.
Houston’s “can-do spirit” is not just Chamber of Commerce hype. It’s real. You can even find the Houston can-do spirit at what appeared to be a routine warehouse project.
Aug 9, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021
Photo: Courtesy Arch-Con Corp.
For more about Texas real estate, check out the book Houston 2020: America’s Boom Town – An Extreme Close Up by Ralph Bivins. Available on Amazon http://tiny.cc/4a2g6y
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File: Building Construction History Arch-Con, Hines and Co.
File: Building Construction History Arch-Con, Hines Pinnacle Structural Engineers. Matt Postel of the Postel Companies. Powers Brown.