Thrasher Commercial Group Case Study: Wilson Czech Opera House
Friday, September 3rd, 2021 by Harrison Hallowell
In 1901 in Wilson, KS, proud local men utilized rock from a quarry five miles outside their town to construct the Turner Hall. The town hall came equipped with a full kitchen, dining hall, gymnasium, stage, and balcony to benefit the community and early members of the Sokol movement. Later, in June of 1986, it would become the Wilson Czech Opera House, home to wholesome entertainment like dances, weddings, banquets, school events, theatre, and much more. Devastatingly, after a century of serving the community, the Opera House was brought to ruins by a spreading fire in November of 2009. Fast forward a decade to 2019, a passionate decision was made to restore and revitalize the Wilson Czech Opera House. However, the structure will be converted into an open-air venue used for education, arts, and entertainment for the betterment of the community and tourism.
Bordering the Opera House, the American Legion (AL) building shares a large wall that separates the two establishments. The engineers and architect design team determined that this wall wouldn’t be able to withstand the lateral load from the native soil and traditional backfill material. Ultimately, this would lead to water leakage in the AL building’s basement and severe foundation issues creating an unsafe environment for the community.
To resolve the issue of the traditional fill soil’s weight, Thrasher Commercial created an 8-foot standoff from the bottom wall for the native soil and then a one-to-one grade tapering away from the wall that terminated at 6-and one-half feet above the existing basement grade. The Thrasher Commercial team then filled this space with two low-density cellular concrete (LDCC) lifts, each weighing 25 pounds per cubic foot of material used. LDCC is a lightweight fill alternative that dramatically reduces the lateral forces the shared wall would have experienced. Not only is LDCC more cost-effective, but it’s also self-leveling, insulating, and replaces the stone aggregate in standard concrete with air bubbles to give it its extreme lightweight advantage without sacrificing strength and durability. In this application, the LDCC was used for a structural lightweight fill. Thrasher Commercial also uses this innovative product for other purposes such as pipe abandonment, annular filling, void filling, and slope stabilization.
This project was significant for Thrasher Commercial because it was about restoring a piece of the community’s history and bringing forth a new sense of vitality with the transformation to an open-air venue. In addition, the Wilson Czech Opera House organization was beyond pleased with Thrasher’s efforts and the delivery of a superior product on time and within budget. Like the rest of the community, the Thrasher Commercial team is anxious to see the Opera House finished and serving its purpose of shaping the future of Wilson, Kansas.
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