The Denver International Airport South Terminal Expansion project includes a new train terminal for the light rail to come and go from the airport and a new on-location hotel for the airport. With this expansion, a new plaza acts as the gateway for transit passengers as well as hotel guests. The 25,000 square foot plaza engages the space and livens the front of the airport. The designers designed the space not only to circulate high volumes of people, but also be a location for events and special exhibitions. Unique concrete benches within the plaza created some challenging construction problem solving. Due to the unique design, the design team, general contractor and Colorado Hardscapes debated the constructability of the benches through pre-cast methods versus cast-in-place. Design elements such as a significant reverse batter, bullnosed edges and polished tops made the process challenging. To make it even more complex, some of the benches had a slight radius while others had heavy-duty electrical boxes and wiring integrated in the structure for special events. For on-grade construction, these would be challenging, but these benches sat on an elevated deck with large glass canopies spanning around them, creating one more challenge of getting ready-mix concrete to the benches. Despite these challenges, Colorado Hardscapes agreed with the general contractor to cast and finish the benches in place.
Part of the agreement came from producing a mock-up section of the bench to ensure the crew could indeed cast these benches in place, and to receive approval of the bench finishes prior to any on-site construction. The mockup incorporated the specialty features of the batter, the electrical box, bullnose and polishing. Once Colorado Hardscapes identified the means and methods of construction and the design team approved the mock-up, the on-site construction proved successful. Colorado Hardscapes had custom-made Styrofoam forms made to create the significant reverse batter and the bullnose edge. They created large blockouts for the electrical boxes and used pumps and buggies to get the concrete to each bench. The true art-form came in the polishing process. Colorado Hardscapes worked with a local supplier to find special polishing equipment in order to polish the bullnose, edges and tops of each bench. With the high standards, attention to detail and persistence of the crew, the benches became a remarkable reality.