High pours, walls joining at different angles, and an architectural concrete surface with wood-grain pattern and no seams – a unique challenge

Project: Cincinnati Shakespeare Company (The Otto M. Budig Theater), Cincinnati, OH

Owner: Cincinnati Shakespeare Co.

Contractor: Messer Construction Co., Cincinnati, OH

MEVA Systems: Imperial wall formwork, MevaLite wall formwork, Shear wall brackets

MEVA engineering and support: Sales: Robert Herndon, Engineering: Jason Foster



A Brand-New Theater for the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company

The new theater is called The Otto M. Budig Theater and located in Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine district. When completed, it will become the last section of the planned “Classical Arts Corridor” in Cincinnati, which also includes a Music Hall, School for Creative and Performing Arts, and a park.

The 40,000-square-foot theater will expand the current seating capacity from 150 to 233 seats and means that no audience member is more than 20 feet from the stage. With its exterior modeled after the National Theater in London and its interior imitating Shakespeare’s own Globe Theater, the The Otto M. Budig Theater is far from commonplace; this also is true for the concrete surface challenges that had to be met on this site.

40’ high walls and 16’ pours 

The theater ceiling will be tall enough to allow for multi-level seats and scenery. To allow for balcony seating and large stage sets to be erected and disassembled on-site, the plans required 40’ tall walls. Imperial wall panels, with a first-in-class pour rating of 2,025 psf allowed for 16’ pours to be done quickly and efficiently. The large Imperial panels, sized 12’x8’, reduced the number of required height extensions, saving labor and time. This also reduced the number of seams, which was an extremely important feature for both the architects and the contractor because of the architectural concrete requirements.

“The Imperial panels stay truer than other formwork”, says Jamey Arrasmith, a superintendent on the project when citing the robust Imperial frame as an advantage. In addition, Messer saw Imperial as the right choice for saving labor and time on the jobsite: “MEVA [Imperial panels] goes together quickly and so easily that you can teach anybody how to put them together.”

Wanted: A concrete surface with no visible pour breaks and seams 

In addition, the theater also required architectural concrete walls on the inside with a wood-like appearance in keeping with the aesthetic of the original Shakespeare’s Globe Theater.To achieve this look, form liners were used. These specifications required careful attention in the detailing of the formwork to assure that seams between panels and from pour breaks were hidden and that the form liners lined up perfectly so that there were no breaks in the wood-grain pattern. Details such as electrical outlets also needed to be incorporated. MEVA was able to accommodate these requirements through a combination of superior formwork and service.

Tekla/BIM software facilitates planning and saves time and effort As an added service to assist the contractor with the location of electrical outlets and other placements in compliance with the architectural demands of the concrete, MEVA engineers completed the formwork design in BIM and gave the model to the contractor. This allowed Messer to easily incorporate other elements of the building construction into the design, saving them time and effort.

“If I had to do it again, I would still use MEVA”

says Jamey Arrasmith from Messer. “The drawings are nice, and the support has been good.” Work was started in spring 2016 and the theater nears completion on time while actors are preparing for the grand opening on September 7, 2017.

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