An Industry Leader in Tilt-Up Construction

Citadel Contractors, Inc.
Written by Leon Bracey

Tilt-up is a construction technique that is cost effective and, quite simply, gets buildings constructed faster. Since 1997, Citadel Contractors has grown into an industry leader in tilt-up construction projects throughout the Southeastern United States.
Based in Apex, North Carolina outside Raleigh, Citadel has a vast array of awards and certifications that demonstrate why the company is an expert in tilt-up construction. Company Vice President Jason Swagert spoke to Business in Focus about what has made the company so successful.

“We sell on our record of quality and performance, so there are no surprises on the future costs,” he explains. “As a result, most of our customers are repeat customers.”

Citadel’s portfolio boasts a number of successful projects for a wide range of structures including healthcare facilities, retail centers, offices, schools, religious buildings, movie theaters, and more. Tilt-up construction as a whole has increased in popularity due to its cost benefits, speed of construction, durability, and reduced maintenance requirements, and Citadel has grown along with the industry.

The advantages of tilt-up are many: the concrete walls that tilt-up constructed buildings employ are naturally fire resistant, which can lower insurance premiums and improve safety; tilt-up also allows for an array of design options to suit just about any aesthetic or layout. Additionally, Tilt-up is a great choice for sustainability due to the use of easily-recycled materials, fast construction, superior energy efficiency, and easily-facilitated LEED certifications.

The tilt-up method does require a great deal of organization and collaboration on a building site, coordinating such elements as site evaluation, engineering, footings and floor slabs, forming of the panels, steel placement, embeds and inserts, concrete placement, panel erection and panel finishing. Citadel’s formidable team of architects, engineers, project managers and tradesmen on staff demonstrates the company’s ability to tackle any project, no matter the size. “Some companies just build panels; we build the complete shell. It’s all Citadel employees and equipment, we do not subcontract any of our work,” says Swagert.

Citadel also delivers design-build services for its clients. The company’s design-build system makes Citadel the single point of contact for projects, facilitating quick communication and providing peace of mind for clients. Each building is designed with the developer’s style, requirements, schedule, and budget in mind.

Citadel’s mission is “to excel in the delivery of construction services through quality workmanship and design that exceeds client requirements, delivering projects on time and within budget by a team sharing the same vision.” By adhering to this mission, Citadel has been noted for its achievements in Tilt-up Construction and Design-Build, earning recognition and accolades. Citadel has been a long term TCA member; Citadel’s president is in fact a past TCA president. When TCA offered company certification, Citadel was one of the first in line to receive this certification. The company is also an American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) Certified Steel Erector. Citadel has also received approximately 20 International TCA Awards over the years; the team also received safety awards from the TCA in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012.

The firm is also a proud member of the American Concrete Institute, American Society of Concrete Contractors, American Institute of Steel Construction, Steel Erectors Association of America, American Subcontractors Association of The Carolinas, and the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC).

Citadel has worked extensively with a number of industries and has introduced the tilt-up construction method to a variety of sectors. Perhaps most notably was the team’s work with the Mount Pleasant Towne Centre near Charleston, South Carolina – the first retail center constructed using tilt-up construction methods. Totaling 425,000 square feet with 60 storefronts, the Mount Pleasant Towne Centre was designed to replicate the look of an established traditional town center with multiple storefronts instead of the uniform look most often associated with strip malls. The design was made to fit local ordinances to reflect the heritage and architecture of Mount Pleasant, SC. Citadel won a TCA Award in 2000 for the project.

In Stafford, VA near Washington, DC, Citadel constructed a 141,000-square-foot four-story office building known as Quantico Building G, to serve as the defense contractors and ancillary activities of the nearby Quantico Marine Base. The original design was based on a just-completed sister building. Tilt-up construction was chosen for its cost savings (of about $600,000), schedule (saving four to six months) and design deliverables. The heaviest tilt-up panel measured 63 feet, 9 inches; the widest was 36 feet, 7.5 inches, and the heaviest panel weighed 171,450 pounds. The building features large bay spacing, large window openings and minimum columns, all of which provide for easier interior layouts and create an open, secure office space.

Tomoka Christian Church in Ormond Beach, Florida was a project completed in 2013. Here, tilt-up was seen as the obvious choice to provide an economical, safe, secure, durable, and inviting house of worship. Taking nearly six years in the making, the facility used tilt-up construction methods for its architectural features, including its entrances, radius panels, and sanctuary elevations. Tilt-up resolved the challenges of the long-span and high-wind load requirements (critical in hurricane-prone Florida) and provided the most economical solution.

In suburban Morrisville, NC near Raleigh, movie company Stone Theatres used tilt-up to develop Park West 14, a 14-screen movie theater at retail development Park West Village. Tilt-up design and construction were used here for sound dampening between theaters as well as to create an expansive plaza for box offices and two towers lit with kinetic lighting. The towers were created using five tilt-up panels, including a panel for the roof and overhangs, which eliminated expensive stud and sheathing work from aerial platforms. Each tower included a “Flag Panel” and spandrel panel which required midair transfer and extensive engineering, exhibiting the versatility of tilt-up construction. The project’s façade includes colored concrete, thin brick, and reveal patterns. This project was completed, start to finish, in only eight months.

In the healthcare sector, Citadel has erected numerous buildings using tilt-up construction methods. In this arena, durability and low maintenance requirements are key, as well as factors such as indoor air quality and security. Tilt-up construction from Citadel delivers on these key factors, and the company has constructed a number of healthcare facilities.

Rex Wakefield Wellness in Raleigh is a two-story fitness and healthcare center that provides the fast growing North Raleigh area with an accessible and enduring healthcare and fitness facility. This project utilized all the inherent benefits of tilt-up such as cost savings and fast-track delivery during construction, sound control, durability, fire resistance, and lower operating costs upon completion. The design-build team for Rex Wakefield Wellness helped save the developer time and money by using tilt-up and provided a building model and fixed pricing. The fitness and healthcare center were built with architectural thin brick and stone designs with colored joints.

Citadel has also utilized tilt-up construction for affordable housing projects. Shelmore Village in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina was not only cost-efficient, but also fulfilled the wishes of the client to re-create the charm of Historic Charleston by replicating the late 17th and 18th century architecture that is well-known in the region. The project architect was able to show that tilt-up would help resolve the existing design and construction concerns from the client, such as the durability to withstand hurricane winds, salt water, and seismic activity. Tilt-up also provided the opportunity to vary the roof line across each building as well as the exterior finishes including brick, stucco, clapboard or concrete; this afforded each unit its own unique identity. Casting slabs were used on this project due to the site constraints in relation to the number of panels and overall wall area. The finished design elements include multi-level porches with decorative columns and wrought iron rails, shuttered windows, open and inviting storefronts, entrance canopies and separate live/work entrances for the owner’s convenience. The project won the 2009 TCA Tilt-Up Achievement Award in the Housing Division.

In its nearly two-decade history, Citadel has demonstrated how tilt-up construction can benefit clients who need projects built as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety. As more projects come into the pipeline for the company, Mr. Swagert feels that by adhering to its mission and keeping quality top of mind, the company will continue to expand and evolve. As he says, “We’re all about performance, maintaining our schedule, cost savings and having a safe workplace for our employees.”



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