Rafael Diez
Director of Prefabricated Buildings and Integration
Grupo ITISA
Gabriel Santana
Gabriel Santana
Director of Business Development
Grupo ITISA
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View from the Top

Precast Construction for Adaptability

Tue, 11/01/2016 - 14:21

Q: What challenges has Grupo ITISA encountered in assembling the Autopista Urbana Sur?

RD: The construction of the Autopista Urbana Sur, which will connect the second level of the Periferico beltway to the Mexico-Cuernavaca highway, has presented logistical challenges. Carrying out the construction of such an immense project in a city that never sleeps is strenuous. A project of this magnitude requires the collaboration of authorities, citizens and workers. The plan we created had to ensure that each piece for the second level arrived safely and on time. This project is located on Mexico’s largest roads so we had to work nights to avoid ensnaring traffic or creating hazardous situations for commuters. This meant we had an average of six hours a day, five days a week, to fully assemble the second floor. We could only work from 10pm to 6am each day and during this time we had to use one to two hours in the evening to position the trucks for assembly and then stop building for one or two hours in the morning to clear the way for commuters. Working under these conditions requires congruous processes to finish on time. The second level is expected to open around September 2016.

GS: A similar project we are working on is the 1.2km stretch that will connect the second floor of San Fernando with the second floor of El Caminero in Mexico City. This was a joint project with the federal and state government, which required efficient communication. Working with different governments on various projects has made Grupo ITISA a more flexible company that can adapt to various roles, such as acting as subcontractors for consortia. The secret is learning how to be a team player.

Q: Which sector is most inclined to use precast materials?

RD: The commercial real estate sector is creating opportunities for the use of precast. Building commercial malls with this requires more than 8,000 pieces to construct 150,000m2, which is like assembling a project with LEGO pieces. Grupo ITISA has to create, transport and assemble in the time allotted, which involves coordination and although it is not as immense as installing a concrete column for a second floor, it requires teamwork and an even greater logistics plan. The advantage of constructing commercial real estate using precast is that while the developers are excavating the site, their mall is being constructed in a plant that is miles away. When they begin construction, more than 60 percent of their mall is ready for assembly. Our product quality is ISO certified. Our engineering departments are always innovating and integrating the newest materials and concretesonthemarket.

Q: What materials and processes are best when constructing mixed-use real estate projects?

GS: Commercial real estate has complex infrastructure because there are various levels with different weight requirements. The weight of a Home Depot is different than any other type of store. Only a pre-stressed concrete structure can hold variable weights but it must be cast on the spot, which is a disadvantage. Steel has excellent characteristics but if it has considerable weight to support, it becomes a lot more expensive to construct.

Urban projects are renewing cities by disassembling old buildings and regenerating them as new city centers. A great example of this is FUNO and PARKS’ project on the old training fields of Guadalajara’s soccer team. They decided to construct a unique mixed-use project that includes offices, a tower, malls, a hotel and parking. The country is demanding the construction of mixed-use projects and those demand the use of precast. Not only is it easier to use but it is one of the few materials that resisted the 1985 earthquake.