Five different truck-mounted Putzmeister boom pumps tackled unique setup obstacles to pour 500 cubic yards of concrete for the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa reconstruction
The project requires blending old with new to preserve its historic significance; and therefore, it requires many specialty concrete placing tasks.
Pouring concrete during reconstruction of an historical mill that is bordered on three sides by a river, an edge of a gorge and difficult terrain.
Premier Concrete Pumping
Located an hour from Toronto, the Elora Mill Hotel & Spa is undergoing a major reconstruction that is not your typical run-of-the-mill job — literally. The 19th century grist mill has been a part of the Elora, Ontario community for more than 175 years, first as an operational mill; and a century later, it was turned into a country inn. Today, the site is being completely revamped into a luxurious hotel and spa with the help of Putzmeister truck- and trailer-mounted pumps to place concrete within the mill's precarious location.
Towering above the thundering falls of the Grand River and Elora Gorge, the Elora Mill & Spa offers amazing views, but its natural surroundings challenge the setup of concrete pumps. To meet the feat head on, Premier Concrete Pumping of Orangeville, Ontario, is utilizing concrete placing equipment with the latest technology to efficiently set up and pump concrete in restoring the site to its historic old world charm.
In December 2010, the property was acquired by Ancaster, Ontario-based Pearle Hospitality, who orchestrated an extensive revitalization plan. Their intent was to maintain the character-defining heritage of the structures, five in total, while adapting them for new and sustainable uses.
In spring 2017, Premier started pumping concrete for the new spa — a three-story building overlooking the river, complete with a glass solarium on each level. Blending into its historic landscape, the building will offer a state-of-the-art fitness facility, change rooms, relaxation areas and an impressive outdoor infinity pool and hot tub on a viewing deck.
The concrete footing, foundation and walls for each floor of the spa's 7,500-square-foot structure were pumped using five different truck-mounted boom pump models. In seven trips to the jobsite, 500 cubic yards of concrete was pumped in total. Each boom pump tackled unique setup obstacles, as the spa's rectangular building was built with one side next to the river, one side at the edge of the gorge, and one side next to difficult terrain — leaving only one side accessible.
However, owner Eric Duiker was not concerned about sending different boom pump operators to set up and pump concrete on the difficult site. He said, "All our operators are ACPA certified and highly experienced; some have been with us as long as our company has been around."
Although larger boom pumps with longer reaches were utilized as the building rose, special circumstances called for special model features.
When it was necessary to reach under an existing floor to pump a slab on grade for the spa's basement, the five-section 31Z-meter truck-mounted boom pump with its unfolding height of 18 feet 9 inches was required. Duiker said, "The Putzmeister 31Z had the low unfolding height, plus five instead of four boom sections that allowed us to maneuver the boom through a doorway and under low heights to access the entire area. It was perfect for the job."
The 40Z-meter also had a special assignment in a tough-to-access area. The boom pump had to reach up and carefully extend over the corner of the 35-foot-tall building to pump an outdoor patio.
Although the Putzmeister pumps had no problem pumping the 3,625-psi small stone concrete mixes during spa construction, no records were set for speed. That's because only one ready mix truck at a time could discharge concrete into a pump, as each pump had to setup on a narrow path that led to a dead end.
Room service please
Next came the reconstruction of the existing inn, which will result in 30 large, lavish guest rooms — averaging 500 square feet each at the new hotel. These suites will be perched above the gorge for stunning views of the water. As major consideration was given to preserving as much history as possible, the old brick facade of the hotel remains while the inside was fully gutted. Meanwhile a significant new addition to the hotel will increase the size of each floor by approximately 2,000 square feet. To handle such an intricate project, various trailer and truck-mounted concrete pump sizes are needed to accomplish numerous specialty concrete placing tasks in restoring structures, compared to starting over and building new.
Early on, the Thom-Katt TK 50 trailer-mounted pump was relied upon to pump a lean mix for filling voids in the old inn's basement. Approximately 90 feet of four-inch delivery line had to travel down a stairwell to access the area. Duiker notes, "The contractor would have used gravel, but there was no way to get 60 yards down the stairs as well as get it compacted, so they elected to pump a low strength fill to level the floors before pouring the slab on grade."
The trailer pump then showed up a second time to smoothly pump the slab on grade in the same basement with a standard floor mix. This provided a finished product on top of the low strength fill.
Another popular choice to place concrete for the hotel to date has been the 40Z, with its long 128-foot 3-inch vertical reach and Multi-Z boom versatility. One of its first tasks was reaching the top of the building, where a solid concrete cap was pumped of which to attach new roof trusses.
The building design and reconstruction of Elora Mill are putting green initiatives at the forefront. Energy efficient technologies include heat recovery ventilation systems, high efficiency appliances and LED lighting throughout. Plans also include a hydro turbine that will harness the current of the Grand River to create one mega-watt of electricity — enough to power the entire development upon completion. Further assisting with the energy efficiency process, insulated concrete forms (ICF) are being used.
The block forms are stacked, reinforced and then filled with concrete, creating solid monolithic concrete walls. The insulated forms help reduce heating and cooling costs in addition to providing a much needed noise barrier to block out the extremely loud sounds of the rushing river rapids for guests relaxing at the spa or spending the night at the hotel. The forms are being supplied from Fastform Insulated Concrete Forms of Orangeville, who is affiliated with Premier and the Duiker family.
"In Southern Ontario, insulated concrete forms are a common approach for multi-story construction. It's not as prevalent in the states, but it's coming," said Duiker. "With building codes changing, ICF construction is gaining popularity all over. It offers high energy efficiency and great strength, especially for states with severe weather such as hurricanes."
This unique project would have been extremely labor intensive if not for the longer reaches and innovative technology of today's boom pumps. Duiker notes, "I don't know how else this project would have been done. With ICF, you basically need to pump everything because it has to be precise."
By the grand opening in spring 2018, a total of five buildings will have been restored or created along with a glass enclosed walkway over the river, which will provide the most optimal views down the gorge.
At an estimated 1,970 cubic yards, the total concrete yardage to complete the mill's development is not exorbitant, but the project is big for the community. The mill's mixed-use development not only incorporates a hotel and spa, but it also features grand facilities ideal for weddings and events, along with a restaurant and outdoor activities. Therefore, it should also help rejuvenate neighboring downtown Elora into a bustling tourist destination for every season.
"Elora is one of the nicest spots to visit in Ontario, as the river never freezes," concludes Duiker. "The project itself is what is so incredible, and we're proud to be a part of its history."