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Protection Screens

Making high-rise construction safer and easier

By Michael Schaeffer

O n every project, building contractors have the same

concerns—keeping the schedule, dealing with the
elements, protecting workers—and when the structure is
where edge falsework and column-forming operations
are performed.
In this safe, comfortable working environment,
a skyscraper in a busy, congested city, these concerns the workers on the Legacy project were able to move
take on even more importance. For the builders of the about freely without fear of falling, while being shielded
Legacy at Millennium Park, a luxury condominium from Chicago’s high winds. The Xclimb 60 Protection
residence in Chicago, IL, the harsh weather and Screen’s modular panel system easily adapted to the
close proximity to other structures made the project building’s challenging design and allowed work to
particularly challenging. proceed on schedule.
When completed later this year, the 72-story tower The following photos illustrate how this protection
will feature 355 apartments, along with parking, retail system was used on the project.
facilities, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Among the building’s unique features is its glass-wall Selected for reader interest by the editors.
architecture providing floor-to-ceiling windows in the —Doka USA, Ltd.
residences and a design that curves in plan and tapers CIRCLE 51
with elevation.

Enclosing the Work Environment

To help ease these construction challenges, Walsh
Construction, contractor for the Legacy, wanted to create
a closed working environment on the tower that would
protect workers from Chicago’s wind and ensure worker Michael Schaeffer, National Sales Manager
safety while maximizing production levels. Because of the and Head of Product Management for Doka
building’s special design features, any system used would USA, Ltd., has been in the industry for more
require reconfiguration as construction progressed up than 15 years. A formwork professional, his
the building. career also includes engineering, sales,
Walsh Construction chose to use Xclimb 60 Protection operations, and regional management.
Screens from Doka USA, Ltd. The system provides Today, his main responsibilities include
protection for the working floor and up to three floors companywide sales management, product
below. The room-high enclosure provides complete development, new product rollout/training,
protection around the accident-prone edges of the slabs and marketing support for Doka USA, Ltd.

42 June 2009 / Concrete international

The versatile Xclimb 60 system can be configured as a climbing
wall formwork system or the protection screen system shown in
this illustration. Also shown is the integral loading platform
feature. Formwork or other materials can be placed on the
platform that sticks out from the face of the protection screen
so the crane has access to lift the materials to the current
working level

Due to the Legacy’s close proximity to other buildings and train

tracks, extreme precautions were taken to safely transport
material from trucks at the ground level. Because there was no
room on the ground to position equipment or deliver material, a
staging level was set up on the 15th floor. From this level, the
Xclimb panels were easily positioned

For the Legacy project, the protection screen panels were

preassembled at a Doka facility to save time and reduce labor
costs. The facing material can be changed to suit local conditions
for the amount of protection from the elements. During warmer As individual panels of the protection screen were swung into
construction seasons, a screen material can be used to allow air position, they were joined together using steel brackets and
flow. In this application, solid metal siding was used to provide removable drift pins. Connecting two panels together to form a
relief from the cold temperatures and high winds prevalent protection shield unit in this manner created a very robust,
during construction of this Chicago high-rise sturdy system

Concrete international / June 2009 43

Once positioned, the protection screens provide a safe working environment for
forming the next slab level, placing reinforcement, and placing and finishing the slab.
Workers can move around freely, without the distraction of being able to see over the
edge of a floor several hundred feet off the ground. After the slab is cast, the screens
can be lifted to the next level using the crane or a hydraulic ram system can be used to
free up crane time

After the slab gains strength, removable anchors are embedded in the
concrete about 19 in. (480 mm) in from the edge of the slab to provide a
connection for floor-mounted supports. These supports transfer both
vertical and horizontal forces from the protection screen into the floor slabs
and also guide the screen unit as it’s raised from one floor to the next.
Because the supports are located on three slab levels, the screens are
always supported from at least two levels, even during lifting

44 June 2009 / Concrete international

The floor-mounted supports also form an integral part of the
manually repositionable hydraulic cylinder lifting mechanism
that clamps onto the vertical screen support. The mechanism at
the top of the cylinder clamps onto and engages the hooked lug
on the blue screen support. After lifting, the cylinder is lowered
slightly so the pin on the floor-mounted support engages a
hooked lug. With the floor-mounted support holding the screen,
the upper mechanism can be repositioned to a lower hook,
and the process is repeated in 1 ft (300 mm) increments until
the screen unit has been raised to the next level. The one
hydraulic unit and four hydraulic cylinders needed to raise two
protection-screen units are moved to the next lifting position
after the lift is complete

The screen sections on the left side of this

photo are in the process of being raised to
the next level. The sections on the right
have already been raised. The hydraulic
cylinders that lift the screens act from the
level below the one that is visible.
Because the system can be raised while
the formwork is still supporting the upper
slab, crews were able to construct floors
on a 3-day cycle

Concrete international / June 2009 45