When major weather is about to hit your area, what is the first thing you do? Turn on the news to be prepared and informed, of course. You’re safe and sound in your home as the storm rages outside your door, but have you ever thought about the safety of the reporters and meteorologists delivering the news to you? Will they be able to safely continue their broadcast from inside the studio to inform you and other viewers on severe weather updates? Thanks to UNINTECH structural engineer Brad Aldridge, PE, and precast project manager Yun “Joy” Cai, along with the incredible expertise of Coreslab Structures (OKLA), Civil Engineering Consultants, REES Architects, and Manhattan Construction, the staff of the KFOR News station in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, will be able to take on all the storms and tornados Mother Nature has to throw at them as they deliver important news updates to their viewers.   

The KFOR News studio has been broadcasting news to the residents of Oklahoma City for over 80 years. Since the building’s construction in 1940, it has undergone many renovations and additions, but none of them compared to the complete replacement of the studio’s structure for this project. With the weather in the area increasing in severity, the studio’s owners, Tribune Broadcasting Oklahoma, knew they needed to build a structure that could handle even the worst of storms.

The primary focus of the studio’s design was protection. No matter what kind of weather is raging outside the studio, Tribune Broadcasting Oklahoma wanted the structure to be able to withstand the elements and protect their employees as they remained on air. The project managers had to confront a tight budget and schedule restrictions while also making sure that their work would not disrupt any live broadcasts going on in the studio. 

The project team provided the specific architecture features that were requested and solved the structural challenges presented, such as the long-span-roof double-tee beams. These double-tee beams were requested to withstand up to 50 lb./ft2 debris load, a downward wind pressure of 88 lb./ft2, and an uplift of 155 lb./ft2

Most projects that UNINTECH works on do not require a design to be centered around tornadoes, or any other natural disasters for that matter. “Most of the other aspects of this project were unusual from a typical structural precast project,” explained Brad. 

This building was constructed using precast concrete, the only method that would satisfy all the project’s specific requirements. The term “precast” simply means that the concrete used in a project is cast off-site. Casting away from the project location means that concrete can be mixed and set in a controlled environment. However, once it’s finished setting, the heavy material must be transported back to the site to be put together.

“Using precast concrete versus pouring concrete on the jobsite is better for the environment,” Joy said. She explained that precast is manufacture-made; therefore, it reduces pollution and makes for a more efficient jobsite. “There is more room for grass when you build up.” 

There was a grand total of 799 precast concrete elements that went into building the garage. Precast made it possible to efficiently finish all concrete erection in 44 days.

Precast is also fun! Brad enjoys working with precast and compares it to working on a puzzle or Legos. He said, “Precast concrete is similar in construction where you are taking a lot of different pieces and putting them together to create something new. I get satisfaction in seeing everything come together and fit to form a completed structure.”

UNINTECH is honored to have been a part of this project that was the recipient of the 2020 PCI Design Award for best High-Tech and Laboratory Building. We take pride in every project that we are privileged to work on with so many incredible engineering and design firms, and we are more than happy to know the work we did on this KFOR project is potentially saving these newscasters and crews’ lives.