Building a Landmark in Texas Hill Country
Project Team Specifies Cold-Formed Steel Framing to Construct New City Hall in Texas Hill Country.
After nearly 70 years operating out of a historic elementary school that dates back to 1910, the City of Boerne, Texas, will soon move into its first-ever City Hall. Designed by Randall Scott Architects, the three-story, 45,300-square-foot building will house up to 70 city employees in 10 departments and serve as a one-stop service center for Boerne residents.
The $22 million facility represents a major milestone for the rapidly growing community located 45 miles northwest of San Antonio. The new city hall will expand a district locals refer to as “The Hill Country Mile” — a stretch of locally-owned boutiques and restaurants that plays host to multiple festivals and events each year — enabling the community to welcome ever-larger crowds as the city’s profile as a tourist destination grows.
To ensure the Boerne City Hall was contextually designed within this unique area, Randall Scott, AIA, founding principal and CEO, and Preston Scott, principal of Randall Scott Architects, spent three days immersing themselves in Boerne’s Texas Hill Country architectural fabric.
“We looked at the significant pieces of architecture in the city, studied and analyzed them, then reflected those elements in the design of the city hall building,” Randall says. “Contextualism is at the heart of our design philosophy. One couldn’t take the Boerne City Hall and place it anywhere else — it only makes sense on that specific site in Boerne, Texas, based on the architectural vernacular of that city.”
The region’s heavy Germanic influences can be seen in the city hall’s rough-hewn stone exterior — standing seam metal roofs and arched stone colonnades. Like the buildings that inspired its design, Boerne City Hall was designed to serve the city for centuries.
“In Europe, buildings that are 300 to 500-years-old are prized by their citizens. They cherish them, refurbish and repurpose them,” Scott says. “Our hope with this building is that it will become a beloved iconic multi-century building.”
To help achieve this goal, the architect consulted closely with general contractor Lee Lewis Construction and installer Millard Drywall & Acoustical Construction to specify a number of steel framing solutions for the building’s interior and exterior framing. In total, the project team installed roughly 250,000 pounds of ClarkDietrich cold-formed steel on the project.
“ClarkDietrich has a ton of solutions. Everything from bridging connections to drift connections and deflection connections, they have a solution for it all,” says Mason Sierra, estimator for Millard Drywall & Acoustical Construction.
Because they are easy to install and provide streamlined solutions to many design challenges, the steel framing products helped the project team keep the build on schedule and on budget. Beau Heitmiller, project manager for Lee Lewis Construction, says the use of cold-formed steel on a project of this magnitude made it easier to coordinate with other trades, such as the electrician, mechanical contractor and plumber, giving them access to the building earlier than if the walls were constructed of another material.
Bringing the Vision to Life
There were a number of ways cold-formed steel contributed to the project team’s vision of a multi-century building as well. For interior, non-load bearing applications, the team specified the ProSTUD Drywall Framing System with Smart Edge Technology, which combines high-strength steel with additional stiffening enhancements for highly resilient interior framing.
For head-of-wall vertical deflection, Millard Drywall & Acoustical Construction used MaxTrak Slotted Deflection Track. The system allows the top of the wall stud to float within the track legs, enabling vertical live load movement of the primary structure without transferring axial loads to the wall studs. Not only does it enhance overall wall strength with no additional components, the one-piece system is easy to install and can be used in a variety of head-of-wall firestop applications.
The RedHeader Pro Rough Opening System also helped accelerate the project schedule by eliminating the need to construct box headers on site.
“The typical construction practice requires us to build a full-blown box beam using tracks and studs. With Red Header Pro, all we have to do is take a few measurements, put some clips at the door jams and then install one piece. It has increased our labor savings tremendously,” says Jonathan Lamb, project manager for Millard Drywall & Acoustical Construction.
The team also leveraged the manufacturer’s Clip Express Service for fast and economical connection solutions. For areas where cabinets, baseboards and other wood components will be connected to steel framing, the crew was able to save time by using Danback Flexible Wood Backing System, which eliminated cutting, notching, ripping and routing in these types of applications. It also provides the connection shear and pullout strength to support heavy loading conditions.
“Boerne City Hall is going to be a prized symbol of the City for centuries. Unless someone purposely demolishes it, the building will be a lasting icon for the City,” Scott says. “With the amount of stone on the building, the type of construction utilized and the structural steel framing throughout the building, it would take a catastrophic event to do significant harm to that building.”
ClarkDietrich’s testing, technical support and digital resources also played a major role in making sure the project team had the right products for each application. Lamb says he uses the company’s iTools platform daily to research factors such as limiting heights and stud spans allowed for each gauge of steel.
A Future Historic Landmark
“When my name and reputation is on the line, I want to make sure that we are working with the best products on the market,” Lamb says. “With this job being the size that it is, we wanted to make sure that we had the best out there for our guys to work with.”
The city hall project is on schedule to be completed by the end of 2019 and will no doubt raise the profile of this community of just over 16,000. It will be a landmark the city can be proud of for a very long time.
“A project of this size is always going to have its challenges,” Sierra says. “But at the end, I’m pretty sure everyone’s going to be really proud to have been a part of a building we hope is going to be standing for the next 100 years or more.” W&C