GH Phipps’ Concrete Division Building Three-Story Concrete Spiral Staircase

3D modeling of the concrete staircase, courtesy of GH Phipps.

GH Phipps‘ Concrete Division is currently building a three-story spiral staircase that will be a prominent feature of the Madera Cyber Innovation Center at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

The $56 million facility, which is now one-third complete, will be used for cadet education and cybersecurity and artificial intelligence research. When finished in the fall of 2024, the three-story facility will provide nearly 49,000 square feet of auditoriums, classrooms and other space to the Department of Computer and Cyber Sciences and will serve more than 1,400 cadets who attend department courses annually. The architect for the project is Gensler.

The Madera Cyber Innovation Center started off with a demo component where the wall of the existing underground garage would be shared with the new building. Tying in the new building foundation to the existing structure was part of the initial process to start constructing the new building. The Madera Cyber Innovation Center itself is built of drilled piers (caissons), concrete grade beams, a vapor barrier slab-on-grade concrete system where the rebar is isolated at every 7ft sawcut joint, two retaining walls (one covered in granite decorative stone) and three stories of slab on metal deck floors. With the addition of the spiral staircase after the project started, the project grew to $4.55 million in concrete structure (up from the original contract amount of $2.83 million before the spiral staircase addition).

The concrete spiral staircase consists of 55 tons of grade 80 reinforcing steel, 170 cubic yards of concrete, a 3-story scaffolding system to support the stair during construction, custom-cut foam material to form the actual shape of the stair, embed plates for the curved handrails, custom curved glass panels on the outside vertical face of the spiral stair and terrazzo topped stair treads to create a shimmering effect from light reflecting on the shiny aggregates within. The stair will also be coated in white plaster to really showcase the stair structure. The entire staircase will take around three months to complete.

“It’s always exciting to be part of a project that contributes to the advancement and security of the country, as it builds a sense of pride and accomplishment with all trades involved,” said Mike Eads, concrete operations manager for GH Phipps. “I’m very proud of our GH Phipps Concrete Services team for their safe practices, professionalism, concrete expertise, technical savvy, and execution of such an important project.

He added: “In addition, the fun and exciting part of the project is building something new that’s rarely been done before.  For that reason, the concrete nerd in me is very excited to take on a three-story concrete spiral staircase with all of the radius shapes and curved geometry. This will be a next-level feat on the project that is rarely duplicated and a part of the project that we can proudly boast about as concrete professionals to our friends and families and simply say, I helped build that.”

Officials named the center after Paul Madera, a 1978 Academy graduate.

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