Jul/Aug 2021

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$5.99 July-August 2021 Serving Contracting Firms and the Arizona Community. . . Then & Now

Arizona’s Timeless Magazine

CalPortland Celebrates Its 130th Anniversary Uncovering the Valley’s “Concrete” Convertible An Ode to the Humble Mid-Century Concrete Block Concrete: King of the Valley’s Roads Modernist Concrete Fountain Renews Tucson’s Plaza John Long Sets Superlite Block World Record Cook, West & West: A Ready-Mix Driving Family

Arizona's Cementitious Heritage

The Stack:

Phoenix’s Freeways Rise to the Challenge Ener-G-Block Finds KE&G Construction Salt River Materials FNF Construction Builds “Gateway DCS Contracting Provides A Home in Arizona “Bridges” Fort Huachuca Group “Harvests” Fly Ash Freeway” in Southeast Valley Access to Rancho Mercado


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Reuter Fabrication provides custom metal fabrication services. We have sixty years’ experience in the metal fabrication industry. Let our qualified personal bid and build your special job. This state of the art facility is equipped to fabricate numerous projects, i.e. conveyors, silos, metal forming, shearing, chassis, platforms, walkways, access ladders & machining.

Weekend at Bernie’s

Breaking Away

Cool Hand Luke Wizard of Oz

Goonies & Dirty Dancing

Favorite Summer time movie?

Editor Douglas Towne douglas@arizcc.com

American Graffiti

For Information Contact: Brent Reuter (623) 695-1204 • brentr@rec-reuter.com www.reuterequipment.com

Publisher Billy Horner billy@arizcc.com

Contributors Heather M. David Michelle Dodds Ross Kimbarovsky Jennifer M. Levstik Luke M. Snell Doug Sydnor

Little Miss Sunshine Point Break

Production Manager Laura Horner laura@arizcc.com

Publisher’s Representative Barry Warner On Any Sunday barry@arizcc.com In Memoriam Charles “Chuck” Runbeck 1928 - 2020


SINCE 1924






Advertising 602-931-0069 arizcc.com/advertise Subscriptions: Online at arizcc.com Serving Contracting Firms and the Arizona Community… Then & Now

Arizona Contractor & Community (ACC) magazine is published bi-monthly (Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec). ACC is a professional publication designed for the contracting industry, engineers, architects, equipment rentals, suppliers, and others interested in Arizona and its history. Content including text, photographs or illustrations may not be reproduced without the written permission from the publisher. The publisher does not assume responsibility for unsolicited submissions. ACC reserves the right to reject any editorial and advertising material and reserves the right to edit all submitted content material. Arizona Contractor & Community Copyright © 2021 All rights reserved.

July August 2021

Dispatch: 602-278-7777 Main Office: 602-278-4444 arizcc.com

rizona Materials

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From The Editor - Uncovering the Valley’s “Concrete” Convertible - Douglas Towne Construction Around Arizona: Projects • People • Practices Back When - Subdivision Sculpture Douglas Towne


CalPortland Celebrates 130 Years - Paid Advertorial



The Stack: Phoenix’s Freeways Rise to the Challenge Douglas Towne

Mid-Century Modern Blockheads: An Ode to the Humble Concrete Block - Heather M. David


Concrete: King of the Valley’s Roads - Michelle Dodds

Concrete Fountain Renews Tucson’s Historic Plaza Jennifer M. Levstik


Old School Equipment: The Mixermobile and Scoopmobile



Contributors - Heather M. David & Jennifer M. Levstik






Building on the Past - 1958: A “Heavy” Order of Superlite Blocks Architect’s Perspective - Concrete Innovations in Arizona Doug Sydnor, FAIA

Digging Through the Archives - Cook, West & West: A Truck Driving Family - William Horner


Bid Results


Advertising Index

“The Stack” under construction, which would link Interstate 10, Interstate 17, and U.S. Highway 60 west of Downtown Phoenix, late 1980s. Article on page 56 Ten

Image courtesy of Jim Tambash

Front Cover -

July August 2021




There Is Nothing We Can’t Do. There Is No Place We Won’t Go. Contact us anytime!












Arizona Contractor & Community



Heather M. David

Jennifer M. Levstik, M.A.



Article on page 64

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eather M. David is a California-based cultural historian and freelance writer. She is the author of the books Mid-Century by the Bay, Motel California, and numerous articles on American popular culture and historic preservation. Born in San Francisco, and raised in the North Bay, Heather’s love for mid-century modern architecture, art, and signage began at a young age. Some of her earliest childhood drawings centered on roadside landscapes with motels, drive-ins, and but of course, a Union 76 gas station with its notable orange ball sign! Heather’s primary focus is Northern California Modernism, with a particular interest in roadside architecture, but her work often extends into other geographic regions. She believes that preservation begins with education. Toward that end, she has volunteered countless hours researching the human stories behind buildings, signs, and public art. All of her research is up on flickr.com, tagged, and easily searchable. Aside from her books and articles, Heather is one of the San Jose Signs Project founders and has been front and center in several local preservation initiatives. Preservation “wins” include the Century 21 dome’s landmarking and the restoration of the Stephen’s Meat Products dancing pig sign, both in San Jose. She was also instrumental in the “Bob is Back” campaign to return San Francisco’s Tiki Bob to his original smiling state.

Article on page 72

ennifer Levstik serves as an architectural historian and Assistant Director of Cultural Resources with Logan Simpson, an environmental consulting, urban planning, and landscape design firm based in Arizona. Jennifer has more than 21 years of experience in Cultural Resource Management and Historic Preservation. She has worked throughout Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, California, Utah, Oregon, and Idaho and has broad experience as an architectural historian, archaeological field director, and is the former Lead Planner for the City of Tucson Historic Preservation Office. She serves as an adjunct instructor with the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture and is a board member of the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Jennifer has authored hundreds of technical reports, national register nominations, academic and public history articles, as well as online publications for the Society of Architectural Historians. Jennifer has managed projects on behalf of the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, federal military installations, and local government agencies. When not researching all things historical, Jennifer enjoys hiking with her dog, riding her two horses, and competing in equestrian events. She thanks Langston Guettinger of Logan Simpson and Cannon Daughtrey of Pima County for their research that enabled her article. July August 2021

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Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Left: Acquanetta next to a new Lincoln Continental from Jack Ross Lincoln-Mercury outside of Goldwaters, 1963. Above: Cartoon depicting the story about the concrete-filled car. Right: Acquanetta Ross.

From the editor:

Uncovering the Valley’s “Concrete” Convertible Douglas Towne


n this “cementitious” issue of Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, we’re focused on the heavy, whitish-gray material composed of aggregate and cement that is used in many types of construction. Besides its use as a building material, concrete also figures prominently in a wild story from the 1980s. It’s a purported tale

Images courtesy of Lane Ross

Below: Jungle Woman movie poster, 1944. Bottom right: Jack & Acquanetta Ross.

that involves a neglected wife destroying one of her husband’s most prized and valuable possessions in a shocking manner. The story involves two memorable Arizona personalities: Jack Ross and his former wife, Acquanetta. Jack, who died in 2013 at the age of 85, was a businessman who twice ran for governor, finishing second in the Democratic primary in 1970 and 1974. Ross attended the University of Southern California, intending to become

a doctor, but his plans were waylaid when a friend purchased a gas station near the campus. That’s when he discovered his flair for selling cars, and he never looked back. By the mid-1950s, he opened the Jack Ross Lincoln-Mercury dealership in Mesa, which later moved to Scottsdale. Ross was a well-known name in the Valley, and a large measure of his success was due to his second wife, Acquanetta. Acquanetta, who died in 2004 at the age of 83, had a colorful back story. Nicknamed the “Venezuelan Volcano” by Universal Studios, she appeared in a series of B-movies starting in the early 1940s, which included a starring role in the 1946 film, Tarzan and the Leopard Woman. The couple each had a made-for-TV


July August 2021

Have an idea for a construction or history article? contact us: Billy Horner, Publisher: Billy@arizcc.com personality and became known to Valley residents for their coy, late-night commercials for Jack’s luxury car dealership. “We don’t really sell cars. I sell ourselves; Acquanetta and Jack Ross,” she told The Arizona Republic in 1969. “That’s why I have that TV personality.” The dealership offered autographed photos of the actress and car trunks filled with groceries as promotions. Jack and Acquanetta had four sons, Lance, Tom, Jack Jr., and Rex, before they divorced in the early 1980s. Afterward, Jack remarried for a third time while Acquanetta focused on her work with various charities. But during the couple’s divorce, the yarn involving concrete was set in motion. Acquanetta, who suspected Jack of philandering, supposedly had a ready-mix truck fill the interior of his Lincoln Continental convertible with concrete. I couldn’t locate documentation of this event and suspected it was a tall tale. I reached out to the couple’s eldest son, Lance Ross, president of Ross Property Advisors in Scottsdale, to confirm this. Lance is aware of the story and has seen the related cartoon. “The truth is that she did threaten something aligned with the fable during their divorce, and it got picked up by one of the media outlets,” he responded in an email. “I suspect it was just my mother saying, ‘We obviously are not communicating, and perhaps this will get your attention.’” “She was an actress and could be theatrical, but she was not mean-spirited in any way,” he added. And so, one of Arizona’s legendary tales turns out to be a fiction. I must give Acquanetta props, however, for its construction. Her dramatic threat not only got Jack’s attention, but it’s something the Valley still talks about four decades later.


Douglas Towne, Editor: Douglas@arizcc.com

Visit us online at: www.arizcc.com

Arizona Contractor & Community



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July August 2021

Image courtesy of DCS




DCS Provides Access to Rancho Mercado


uring the pandemic, many people developed new skills to challenge themselves and accomplish new goals. This trend was also true of DCS Contracting, Inc. The company was awarded a $3.8 million Rancho Mercado 147th Avenue South projarizcc.com

ect in the northwest Valley that began in October 2020 and is expected to be complete in 12 months. As part of the construction, DCS added a new talent to its resume. “This is the first project DCS has completed that includes a cast-in-place span bridge with drill caissons and pre-cast concrete girders,” Wes Standifird, project engineer, says.

Above: Bragg Crane hoisting bridge span into position, 2021.

Standifird explains that the project’s scope includes a half street development of 147th Avenue from Happy Valley Road to McMicken Way. “Once complete, this roadway will allow access to the Rancho Mercado Master Community from north to south, a route that currently does not Arizona Contractor & Community


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Images courtesy of DCS

exist,” he says. “This will allow residents more options when traveling through the rapidly growing northwest Valley.” Major components of this project include an American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) bridge spanning the Maricopa Water District’s Beardsley Canal, installation of a triple barrel box culvert, and more than 530-feet of a 42-inch and 36-inch jack and bore. It also includes over 20,250 cubic yards of mass grading, 3,066 linear feet of 21-inch sewer line, 3,081 linear feet of 16-inch waterline, and the removal and replacement of canal lining inside the MWD Beardsley Canal.

Standifird states that the most challenging aspect of the project was contending with the existing overhead APS power lines. “These lines ran directly under the proposed bridge spanning the Beardsley Canal,” he says. “This meant coordinating with APS for several power outages to enable the installation of the bridge drill shafts as well as the pre-cast concrete girders.” The most unusual aspect of the project was the depth of the 21-inch sewer line. “The line’s average depth is 21.35-feet, so establishing a safe excavation and shoring plan for this scope was critical,” Standifird says.

DCS thanks the many subcontractors used on the project: CS Companies for box culvert and bridge, Earthworks Environmental for SWPPP, EPS Group, Inc. for survey, Horizontal Boring LLC for jack and bore, Ninyo & Moore for quality control, Preach Masonry for manholes, RAC Construction Co Inc. for catch basin structures, Spear Construction for adjustments, and Sunline Contracting for guardrail and striping. Top left: DCS Contracting using a Fleming concrete pump supplied by a CalPortland ready mix truck, 2021. Top right: DCS Contracting surveyor, 2021. Below: Aerial image of bridge construction, 2021.

Employee Spotlight: Wes Standifird, Project Engineer Experience: 8 years with DCS Contracting, Inc. Favorite job task: Team building and collaborating with others to find the best solution for whatever may arise on the job site. Toughest job task: Maintaining a high level of detail while keeping up with the fast-paced industry. Most memorable day at work: The opening of Riggs Road as part of the Crismon Road to Meridian Road Improvement Project for the Town of Queen Creek. As a Queen Creek native, it was an honor to work on a project so meaningful to the community. Favorite off-job task: While away from work, I like to spend time with my wife and two kids and spend time doing outdoor activities. arizcc.com

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July August 2021


Images courtesy of KE&G Construction

KE&G Construction Bridges “Beautiful View” at Fort Huachuca


ilitary families at Fort Huachuca, a U.S. Army installation outside Sierra Vista in southeastern Arizona that was established in 1877, sometimes got their tires wet at a low-water crossing at Huachuca Creek. Access to their neighborhood, called Bonnie Blink, a Gaelic term for “beautiful view,” could be a challenge during monsoon storms, other high precipitation events, or during freezing temperatures. Instead of calling in the cavalry, the Army turned to KE&G Construction, Inc., a heavy/civil construction company with offices in Tucson and Sierra Vista. The 49-year-old company handled the $800,000 project in three months. “The public was

amazed at seeing the complete construction of a new bridge in such a short amount of time,” Justin Wilson, project manager, says. The bridge officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 21. Wilson explains that KE&G removed the concrete ford through the stream bed and replaced it with a bridge over the stream bed that can handle all the water produced by a 100-year flood event. “This will allow a second access to the housing area that is fully accessible during a large storm event,” he says. There were no subcontractors on the job, as KE&G self-performed the entire project. “Contech did supply the prefabricated steel girder bridge spanning the 55-foot gap,” John Drake, general superintendent, says. The bridge was assembled at KE&G and shipped to the site and assembled. The

company also paved on both sides of the bridge for all-weather access. According to Drake, the toughest aspect of the project was forming and installing the large abutments to support the bridge. “This was challenging because we could not get any large equipment to assist except for the narrow area in between the two abutments,” he says. The weather sometimes made progress difficult. Drake says that the area received almost 10 inches of snow during one week. But the project, nestled against the scenic Huachuca Mountains, which reach a height of 9,466 feet at Miller Peak, also had its fringe benefits. “We had a large group of wild turkeys, javelina, and deer that would visit the project daily,” he says.

Employee Spotlight: Ciriaco Martinez, Concrete Superintendent Experience: 8 years with KE&G. Favorite job task: Building stuff that requires out-of-the-box thinking. Toughest job task: Fabricating elaborate forms that can contain the heavy pressure of concrete. Most memorable day at work: I just enjoy coming to work every day. Favorite off-job task: Hanging out with my family.


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he water that flows in the Grand Canal Lateral is a much-needed resource in the West Valley. But this agua needed to follow a new channel to accommodate infrastructure improvements and increase public safety at Parkside Village, a mixeduse, master-planned community. The development is being built by Taylor Morrison Homes, and includes more than 700 homes and five parks at 99th Avenue and Indian School Road in Avondale. The $2.6 million construction project, called Parkside Village-Grand Canal Lateral 23.0 Facilities Relocation, was awarded to Petra Contracting. “The existing canal that runs along the west side of 99th Avenue needed to be relocated underground to provide access to the community, increase safety, and for road widening,” Keith Riefkohl, president of Petra Contracting, says. His construction

company didn’t use any subcontractors, as they self-performed 100 percent of the project. “We did partner with some great vendors: Forterra Pipe and Precast supplied the rubber-gasket reinforced concrete pipe (RGRCP), Diamondback Materials supplied slurry for the pipe up to the springline, concrete for structures, and shotcrete for canal lining tie in,” Riefkohl says. The most challenging part of the project was the 90-day window to get the job completed, which included many details that had to be finished before the annual canal dry-up started in January. “We had 2,600 linear feet of 90-inch pipe, a headwall on 90-inch pipe, a manhole on 90-inch pipe, and sleeving installed under the 90-inch pipe for future water lines and dry utilities to be installed before SRP could dry up the canal,” Riefkohl says. “We started installing the pipe on December 14th and averaged 25 pipes (or 200 LF) per day. SRP was amazing to work with.”


Images courtesy of Petra Contracting

Petra Contracting Makes Water Go Underground in Avondale

Petra completed most of the tasks before the canal was drained on January 18th. “We then had three weeks to have work completed and ready for the canal to be filled and irrigation delivered to farmers,” Riefkohl says. Petra also demolished the existing SRP structures, finished installing pipes, and made the necessary tie-ins. These consisted of installing a sizeable 5-sided manhole that connected the 90-inch pipe to a 12 x 5-foot concrete box culvert and a new shotcrete canal that secured a new headwall to the existing canal. Riefkohl states that it was a great honor to be selected to serve Taylor Morrison and SRP on this project. “We have been blessed to be part of the Taylor Morrison team for almost 25 years, and we think they are the best of the best,” he says. “We are also privileged to have a great group of employees that are dedicated, hardworking, focused, and strive to keep each other safe.”

Employee Spotlight: Eric Keene, President of Pipe Operations Experience: 14 years with Petra Contracting. Favorite job task: Building long-lasting relationships with our clients. Toughest job task: Having permits, materials, and staffing coincide with our schedule. Most memorable day at work: Watching the canal fill after all the projects’ challenges and short dry-up times. Favorite off-job task: Spending time outdoors with my family and friends. arizcc.com

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Images courtesy of Tucson Asphalt

Tucson Asphalt “Blazes” Through Horizon Hills Project


ucson Asphalt employees are wellversed when it comes to safety on the job. This training boded well when an emergency occurred near their job site near Ina and Thornydale roads in Tucson. “During the project, two employees noticed heavy smoke coming from one of the nearby homes,” Ramon Gaanderse, vice president of operations, says. “Robert Bedoy and Roman Madrigal quickly drove to the house and used their fire extinguisher from their vehicle, water jugs, and sand to help put out the blaze. Tucson Asphalt recognized their efforts with gift cards to Home Depot.” The company was working at the Horizon Hills subdivision, a $1.6 million, three-week paving project funded by Pima


County to improve the streets in the neighborhood. Tucson Asphalt added ten speedbumps during the project. The most challenging aspects of the project were the cul de sacs, which were numerous and not easy to complete. “After finding our ‘stride,’ they became easier to do,” Gaanderse says. “Not each one is created equal, so we had to strategize each time.” He says other complicated parts of the project were having to match new ramps that had to be at 2 percent or less. “Lastly, with the amount of trucking needed, scheduling was crucial to the project’s success and timeline.” Subcontractors on the Horizon Hills subdivision project included Arizona Trucking, ConformaTech, Desert Barricades, Desert Trucking, Harvey Trucking, Saguaro Trucking, Sierra Mining, and Southwest Barricades.

Neighborhood residents showed their appreciation for Tucson Asphalt’s work on their projects in a concrete way. “As Tucson began experiencing the summer heat, residents brought our team water and pizza,” Gaanderse says. “They understood our tight schedule and numerous time commitments.”

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Next Stage of “Gateway Freeway” Starts in the Southeast Valley


extension on the north side of the freeway corridor also is under construction. Since the ultimate build-out of SR 24 is not anticipated until Phase V of the Maricopa Association of Governments’ Regional Transportation Plan, ADOT and the Federal Highway Administration have planned for an interim facility that will help serve the region’s transportation needs until additional funding is made available. The interim facility will preserve the access control plan for this corridor outlined in the 2011 Design Concept Report and be built at or above grade throughout. Project elements include two paved lanes in each direction separated by a graded median, with at-grade intersections at the following locations: Williams Field Road, Signal Butte Road, Meridian Road, Ironwood Drive, bridges over Ellsworth and Mountain roads, a drainage channel along

the north side of the freeway, and signage, traffic signals, lighting, and pavement marking, as necessary. The first one-mile-long stretch of SR 24 between Loop 202 (Santan Freeway) and Ellsworth Road opened to traffic in May 2014.

Images courtesy of ADOT

project to add five miles of travel lanes to the Phoenix area’s newest freeway is advancing in the southeast Valley, with some of State Route 24’s concrete pavement already in place. The Arizona Department of Transportation’s $77 million Gateway Freeway project, which started last November, will add a divided road between Ellsworth Road and Ironwood Drive when it is completed. “We are looking forward to providing drivers in the region, including southeast Mesa and Queen Creek, with this new extension of the Gateway Freeway by fall of 2022,” Doug Nintzel, ADOT spokesman for the Metro Phoenix region, says. “The entire project team, including prime contractor FNF Construction (headquartered in Tempe), is doing a good job with phasing the work to deliver five miles of an all-new interim four-lane highway that will help ease growing traffic demands in this area.” A stretch of SR 24 is now paved between Meridian Road and Ironwood Drive, near the boundary between Maricopa and Pinal counties. The paving is part of an initial phase to build the future intersection between SR 24 and Ironwood Drive. Current restrictions along Ironwood Drive are scheduled to wrap up by early this summer. The project is currently focused on earthwork and drainage improvements. A fleet of large trucks and other equipment is being used to haul dirt to build embankments for bridges that will carry SR 24 over Ellsworth Road in an area close to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. A drainage channel that will run parallel to the SR 24


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or nearly 50 years, Salt River Materials Group (SRMG) has concentrated its efforts on providing the most reliable supply of high-quality fly ash products to the Arizona and Southwest U.S. concrete markets. With innovative ideas and focused investments, SRMG developed a legacy of solutions that achieved a dependable supply of fly ash: • Production of IP (Portland Pozzolan) Cement at Clarkdale, Arizona cement plant, incorporating fly ash since 1973, • Beneficiation facilities at four power plants to convert unusable ash into sellable fly ash products, • A comprehensive network of rail and truck terminals in seven states for fly ash distribution, and • Blending facilities at two Arizona terminals to increase the supply of fly ash products, with blends of Class F and Class C fly ashes and Class N natural pozzolans.

At a time when coal‐burning power plant units are being retired, reducing fly ash availability, SRMG is focused on innovation. With another stable source of quality, ASTM C618 Class F fly ash, added to its extensive supply network, SRMG’s initiative to harvest fly ash from landfill storage at the Coronado Generating Station allows SRMG to maintain its reputation as a trusted, dependable, and major fly ash marketer of choice in the Southwestern U.S. SRMG is the commercial trade name for marketing activities of Phoenix Cement Company and Salt River Sand and Rock. SRMG, headquartered at the Salt River Pima‐Maricopa Indian Community’s Chaparral Business Park near Scottsdale, Arizona, is the only Native American‐owned producer of Portland cement in the U.S. and is also a major manufacturer and marketer of sand and gravel and recycled coal combustion products (fly ash) and pozzolans throughout Arizona and the southwestern U.S.

Images courtesy of SRMG

Most recently, Salt River Project (SRP), owner of the Coronado Generating Station, and SRMG expanded their Coronado fly ash marketing agreement to allow for the removal or ‘harvesting’ of fly ash from the onsite landfill. The harvesting project involves SRMG’s investment of additional capital dollars in beneficiation equipment to process the previously landfilled fly ash. According to Dale Diulus, Senior Vice-President, Poz-

zolan, “the substantial investment made to reclaim fly ash from the Coronado ash landfill has resulted in a steady, long term supply of quality ASTM C618 Class F fly ash for the Arizona construction market.” Positive effects from this initiative are a permanent and significant reduction in the size of the existing landfill and the creation of new jobs for residents that will continue to benefit the local communities. Decades of experience classifying, beneficiating, and blending fly ash and other pozzolanic materials were leveraged in the latest innovative project employed by SRMG. Diulus further stated, “SRMG is excited to be the pioneer in the Western U.S. for this environmentally friendly solution to address the construction market needs for many years to come.” “SRP is glad to support this effort and we continually look for ways to recycle waste and avoid filling landfills across our facilities as part of our overarching sustainability initiatives,” Craig Larson, director of SRP’s Coronado Generating Station, says. SRMG’s Coronado Harvesting Project adds 300,000 tons per year to the SRMG fly ash supply and closes the gap on seasonal shortages in the marketplace. After years of planning and construction of the new facility, harvested fly ash is now available to the market and is logistically transported throughout SRMG’s rail and terminal sites. Coronado is located 7 miles from the central-eastern Arizona city of St. Johns and is only 75 miles from SRMG’s Cholla Facility in Joseph City. Coronado is also served by the BNSF Railway, complementing SRMG’s extensive network of distribution terminals.




Arizona Contractor & Community


Images courtesy of Mike Luebbers

Cast-In-Place Concrete Block Finds A Home in Arizona Douglas Towne


hen I first saw the product, what came to mind is that the public has a right to this amazing building material,” Carl Hendrickson says. The venture capitalist wasn’t shy about taking on the Pacific Northwest’s most beloved building material with his Ener-G-Block insulating concrete forms (ICFs) company. “The Ener-G-Block and building system was developed to compete against wood-constructed homes in that region,” he says. “My criteria was the speed of construction. An Ener-G wall along with the certified Ener-G building components would be the most economical home to own and give the greatest quality of life to the people living within.” His outlook is supported in a recent study comparing energy bills for heating and cooling. “Original Ener-G Homes built 20 years ago have saved the owners tens of thousands of dollars in heating and cooling cost over similarly sized homes built to the standards of the day,” Hendrickson says. “These savings are added to the quality afforded by the Certified Ener-G homes.” Ener-G-Block Co., which has won awards from the Home Builders Association, American Concrete Institute, the Office of the Governor, and the Department of Energy, has its roots in a new building material the company crafted in the early 1980s. ICFs create cast-in-place concrete walls sandwiched between two insulation material layers, which are robust arizcc.com

and energy-efficient. Typical applications for this construction method are low-rise buildings used for residential, commercial, and industrial purposes. Traditional finishes are applied to interior and exterior faces, so the buildings look similar to typical construction, although the walls are usually thicker. ICFs date back to World War II when the Swiss used blocks of treated wood fibers held together by cement. In the 1940s and 1950s, chemical companies developed plastic foams, which by the 1960s allowed a Canadian inventor to create a foam block that resembles today’s ICFs. Europeans were developing similar products around the same time.

Above: Ener-G-Block construction. Below: House in Red Mountain Ranch constructed from Ener-G-Block.

American companies got involved in the technology, manufacturing blocks and panels starting in the 1980s. By the mid1990s, the Insulating Concrete Form Association was created to help domestic building code acceptance of the technology. ICFA also worked with the Portland Cement Association to build awareness of this type of construction. There were some obstacles. Costs could be more significant than frame construction because people didn’t understand the system. Builders had to work closely

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Above: Schematic of Ener-G-Block construction. Right: Ener-G-Block construction. Below: Arizona basement built from Ener-GBlock.

Images courtesy of Mike Luebbers

with inspectors to get code approval. Materials were proprietary, yet there were growing numbers of ICF manufacturers. As a result, competition increased, and costs moderated. The new companies developed innovations and, over time, ICF manufacturers consolidated, leading to fewer but larger companies. Because ICFs offered strength and energy efficiency, but at a higher cost, the first target market was custom home clients who were willing and able to pay extra for the premium quality. As ICFs gained an excellent reputation and innovations reduced manufacturing and installation costs, builders began using the forms for mid-price-range homes. Some builders now create entire developments using ICFs. Hendrickson took over Ener-G-Block in 1982 when the company original company owners were struggling. By the following year, he had formed a board of directors. Ener-G-Block built several houses in Washington over the next six years until Hendrickson moved the company to Phoenix in 1988.


At that point, Ener-G-Block expanded its marketing range. “When Ener-G-Corp went private, there was a period where I wasn’t sure that we could use the name, so we changed the name to KEEVA,” Hendrickson says. “Under that name, approximately 300 homes have been built across North America.” In 1998, Hendrickson formed a partnership with Mike Luebbers, a successful businessman in the housing industry. “Mike saw the values that the Ener-G-Block brought to the building industry,” Hendrickson says. “After an inventory of the other ICFs available, he saw the advantages it had over others and became a part of the company.” Luebbers, who has a degree in construction, states that most ICFs are two pieces of Styrofoam that have to be assembled with plastic ties. Then the cav-

ity is filled with concrete and rebar, which requires temporary shoring. “What sets Ener-G-Block apart from other ICFs is the efficiency in which the design distributes concrete inside the blocks,” he says. “Each block is a single piece, like a Lego segment with smaller cavities inside that are filled with concrete and rebar that forms a grid. Because each block is a single piece, shoring is not required.” Foam Fabricators manufactures the building material in their plant in Compton, California. The Ener-G-Block system uses 66 percent less concrete and 20 percent less rebar than a solid wall ICF system and is still 10-times stronger than a 2x6-inch stud wall. The benefits of insulation, sound reduction, and airtight walls are all built-in. With lumber prices at an all-time high, Ener-G-Block is an excellent solution to also build roofs and floors, saving weeks or months of waiting on a truss package. “We now have formed a partnership and are going full blast in the development of a new market for the Ener-G-Block, with the first project being a 3,000-square-foot home with a 2,000-square-foot shop in Apache Junction. Other homes have been built locally at Red Mountain Ranch, Pinnacle Peak, Chandler, and a church in North Scottsdale. In our crazy world, the sound abatement offered by this construction material can be priceless. “Our homes are so sound resistant that the commercial ride-on mowers could pass by less than 30 feet away and could not be heard from inside the homes,” Hendrickson says. This feature means taking a mid-afternoon catnip is all that much easier. Arizona Contractor & Community

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July August 2021

Luke M. Snell, P.E.


hen I was a young engineer, one of my first jobs was to provide quality control for a lightweight concrete project. Knowing very little about this type of material, I was on a steep learning curve. What is lightweight concrete, how does it differ from regular concrete, and what is needed to produce a quality lightweight concrete? What is structural lightweight concrete?

Is lightweight concrete expensive?

This question is complicated. For ready-mix companies that often produce lightweight concrete, the cost is $20 - $40 more per cubic yard than standard concrete. However, by using lightweight concrete, the structure itself is lighter. The engineers might be able to use a less complicated foundation system, reduce the amount of steel reinforcement and have smaller columns. These changes can result in overall cost savings, plus the owner has more usable space since the columns would be smaller. The cost of lightweight concrete is more expensive for batch plants. Most batch plants, contractors, and testing companies in urban areas are experienced with lightweight concrete since it is commonly used in high-rise construction. In contrast, on a rural project, an engineer was faced with a problematic soil condition requiring a complex foundation system. He could solve the problem using lightweight concrete and creating a cheaper foundation. However, the only nearby plant had never batched lightweight concrete and was not interested in learning. Thus, they bid the lightweight concrete three times the cost of standard weight concrete. This factor forced the structural engineer to redesign the building and foundations using standard weight concrete. Structural lightweight concrete can be a cost-effective solution only if everyone is experienced working with it or willing to learn.

There are many definitions, including the American Concrete Institute’s that defines structural lightweight concrete as having an air-dried density of not more than 115 pcf (pounds per cubic foot) and having a 28-day strength of at least 2,500 psi. Some specifications use the definition that the unit weight as measured in the field must be below a specified density (typically a value between 90-120 pcf). All concrete must exceed 2,500 psi to be considered for structural use. I needed to achieve a field unit weight below 120 pcf How do you test lightweight concrete on and a strength of 4,000 psi on my project. the job site?

The testing of lightweight concrete is the same, with two exceptions. The air test must be done with a volumetric air meter because the aggregates are porous. This test is much harder to perform and takes more time than the traditional pressure meter. Most technicians don’t run this test on regular concrete projects, only on lightweight concrete projects, and are less experienced in conducting this assessment. Lightweight concrete must also have the unit weight measured to ensure the concrete’s required weight is being achieved. The Specification for Structural Concrete (ACI 301) states, “…unless otherwise specified, do not use concrete for which the fresh density varies by more 4 pcf from the required fresh density.” This

Standard concrete weighs between 140-150 pcf. The use of lightweight concrete reduces the weight by 20-40 percent. A building must be designed to hold its own weight (dead load) plus the expected loads (live loads). Since the engineers have less of a total load to design for (the dead load from the concrete will be much less), they reduce the foundations’ size or use a less expensive foundation system, smaller columns, and less reinforcement. Most lightweight aggregates are clay, slate, or shale that have been expanded by heating in a rotary kiln. During this process, the material’s internal gasses are released, creating voids or air pockets in the aggregates. This process is similar to how I make popcorn, where water becomes steam and causes the corn kernel to expand rapidly. Most lightweight aggregates will have about 10-30 percent voids, and often the aggregates would float in water. These voids will make the aggregates weaker; thus, a more complex mixture design is needed to achieve the required strength. How is lightweight structural concrete batched? There are two critical differences in batching lightweight concrete. The first is the aggregates must be saturated before or arizcc.com

Image courtesy of Arcosa Lightweight

What are lightweight aggregates?

Bottom left: Lightweight aggregate for concrete. Below: Air test using a volumetric air meter.

Image courtesy of CRMA

Why use structural lightweight concrete?


requirement is because if the unit weight is high, the concrete’s weight would be higher than the engineer expected and could be a safety issue. If the concrete is below the specified weight, the concrete may not achieve the required strength.

during batching. If the voids are not filled with water, the slump will decrease in the mixing and while pumping the concrete. This situation can cause placement problems and pump line blockages. The batch plant used rotating lawn sprinklers in several locations on my project’s aggregate piles. This hydration was done continuously for at least five days before the aggregates were used. The second difference is the amount of lightweight aggregates in the mixture has to be determined by volume. Since the batch plant weighs all of the mix materials, the aggregates’ unit weight must be decided regularly. This calculation will allow them to adjust the mixture so that a constant volume of lightweight aggregates is added to each batch. On my project, the batch plant had great difficulty getting consistent concrete because of their inexperience in working with lightweight concrete. I had to put a technician in the batch plant to run the aggregates’ unit weight to make the appropriate adjustments to the mixture.

Less is More: Structural Lightweight Concrete

Arizona Contractor & Community



602-759-5559 | NEWWESTOIL.COM thirty six

July August 2021

Ross Kimbarovsky


onsumers increasingly want products that are easy to use and smart. They’re embracing nostalgic designs for comfort. And they want to know that the products they buy are made in a sustainable and eco-friendly way. Whether you’re a new product entrepreneur writing a business plan for your first product, or an experienced business owner planning your 25th product line, you should understand these five product design trends for 2021. #1. Artificial Intelligence We’ll continue to see more advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to make the technology and devices we use even better. We saw this in late 2020 with Apple’s new line of iPhones. Even though many of the announced features don’t yet have robust commercial applications, Apple leads the way with compelling AI functionality in its products that open the door to incredible new ways to use phones and other devices. For example, AI in the iPhone 12 helps the phone take better photos, especially at night. With AI growing smarter every day, expect it to be used heavily in smart tech in 2021. #2. Voice Assistants

Images courtesy of Author

Consumers demand more convenience, and nothing is more convenient than using your voice to control devices. Last year, we saw the big three’s continued evolution: Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. The smart devices from those companies, coupled with their integrated voice assistants, are being used for everyday activities, simple tasks, and shopping. Do you want to buy the items on your shopping list and have them delivered


by Amazon? Ask Alexa. Do you want to text your friends your ETA? Ask Siri. Do you want to translate what the waiter is saying while visiting China? Ask Google. By 2022, voice sales are projected to reach $40 billion in just the U.S. We expect companies to incorporate voice assistants into their other products, including refrigerators, cars, microwaves, and ovens.


Five Product Design Trends for 2021

#3. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle With last year’s unexpected pandemic, manufacturers and consumers have grown to appreciate the importance of keeping themselves and the environment healthy. This trend means reducing waste, reusing materials, and creating a robust recycling system. Consumers are increasingly demanding acceptable sustainability practices from the brands they buy. A recent survey found that about 70 percent of consumers would spend more to buy from eco-friendly companies than their wasteful counterparts. Sustainability practices will skyrocket in 2021 as Amazon and Apple pledge to bring their net carbon emissions to zero in the coming years. Much of this trend involves companies investing in biodegradable and recyclable materials for their products and packaging. #4. Minimalism and Simplicity Consumers don’t want to be overwhelmed, so simple designs and minimalism are hot. Minimalism is popular beyond product design and includes logo design, packaging design, and web design trends. Take Quip’s toothbrush design. The design is simple, sleek, minimal, and useful. There’s nothing over the top or complicating the overall purpose of the product. Quip makes what you need and nothing else.

In contrast, Quip’s competitors offer many lines of electric toothbrushes with increasingly complicated features. But too many options confuse consumers and create what in marketing psychology is called a paradox of choice. When consumers become frustrated with an overwhelming number of choices, they look for better options. This factor is one reason why Apple products, with their limited number of options, dominate many markets. It’s much easier to decide which of four phones you like from Apple than to decide which of thousands of Android devices to purchase. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but most companies would benefit from not creating complex products. #5. Old School and New School Collide

Many businesses are starting to combine old and new school product designs. For example, clothing companies are bringing back old-school graphic design. Tech companies like Apple are getting in on the action, too, with the Airpods Max, which combines retro design with new hi-tech features. This combination, called “newstalgic,” helps evoke positive emotions in consumers, especially for older consumers, because it connects their childhood to adulthood, all under the roof of one product. This trend is not surprising. We saw a similar spike in nostalgic products after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. During those periods, we just saw a revival of old products. This time is different, and the products won’t just be repeats. Instead, they will have a form factor like the products we loved when we were younger with new and improved features that we love now. In 2021, product designers must push user experience to the front of the line while keeping consistent with their brand identity and brand. Consider these design trends when creating new products in 2021. Arizona Contractor & Community


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July August 2021

Back When

Subdivision Sculpture DOUGLAS TOWNE

onvincing your significant other to relocate can be a challenge, as developer Emmette V. Graham learned. In 1962, he was having the Tonto Hills subdivision built seven miles north of Carefree. His wife, however, had reservations about moving to this then remote location. As a housewarming gift and to call attention to his nascent community, Graham went big. Think 39-feet high and 14.5-tons big. Graham commissioned a kachina statue representing the Hopi Tribe’s Corn Maiden Dancer. At the feet of the world’s largest kachina, are symbolic representations of corn, beans, watermelon, and squash. “Knowing I would have to do something to match Carefree’s big sun dial, I hit on the Kachina doll idea,” Graham told The Arizona Republic in 1962. A Valley trio was responsible for the kachina’s construction: artist Phillip Sanderson, engineer Carl Ludlow, and architect Benny Gonzalez. The statue consists of nine cast-cement sections; the bottom three segments are solid concrete, and the top six portions are hollow, with 6-inch walls. The builders poured the cement sections and then assembled and painted them on site. The project took four months to complete. Graham was quite the renaissance man. He coined the phrase the “Valley of the Sun,” worked in counter-espionage during World War II, partnered with Howard Hughes in Las Vegas, and co-founded Paradise Valley Country Club. But there’s no word on whether he impressed his wife with the oversized concrete kachina.

& Comm Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor




Images Arizona courtesy Contractor of Arizona&Contractor Community & Community


CELEBRATING 130 YEARS company is CalPortland. CalPortland has facilities spread over six states and two Canadian Provinces. There are over 3,000 people responsible for the efficient operation of those facilities. Over the past 130 years, thousands of employees have worked in the offices and quarries, the mills and batch plants, the asphalt and aggregate sites, the laboratories, transfer terminals, and warehouses. Remarkably, a large number of these employees spent 30 years or more with companies in the CalPortland family. An even larger number can trace family associations with the company well beyond the three decades mark. Fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, and grandparents have worked for the company, at times extending the family tradition into the third generation. This tradition can be traced back to the company’s origins.

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& Community

CELEBRATING 130 years in September, CalPortland is one of the oldest corporations on the West Coast. It is a corporation that has experienced a significant change in the past quarter of a century. For a hundred years, it was two companies working in related businesses, but quite different companies. California Portland Cement Company (CPCC) produced cement. Glacier Northwest distributed concrete and aggregates. CPCC operated in Southern California and Arizona. Glacier Northwest was focused on the Pacific Northwest. Both companies can trace their origins back to a small group of visionaries over a century ago, but within the last 25 years, these two companies came together to form a much different and more integrated company. That

Above: Colton Cements ad placed in an Arizona magazine, 1946. Below: Original Colton cement plant. FORTY

CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021


In 1891 California Portland Cement Company (CPCC) was incorporated. At that time, there were only 16 plants manufacturing Portland cement in the U.S. These plants provided fewer than 500,000 barrels of cement per plant. The production of domestic cement in the same year reached over 7.7 million barrels. CPCC produced its first cement from the Colton, California plant in 1894. When the plant produced its first cement from the limestone deposit at Mt. Slover that year, the company was the largest manufacturing industry in the area. The company’s production remained strong up until the 1930s. The Great Depression hit, and it was difficult for the entire country. Many companies failed during the decade, and it had been hard times for the cement plant, but it continued to operate. Work programs sponsored by the government helped provide a need for cement. Large building projects such as the Hoover Dam, which included 1.5 million barrels of Colton Cement, were a part of these work programs. Some of the more significant projects in the Los Angeles area helped keep production going. Plant employees visiting Los Angeles could look with pride at the City Hall and the Memorial Coliseum. They were among a wide variety of buildings that relied upon Colton Cement. In later years they would be able to drive on freeways with roads and bridges constructed from their cement and compare the structures of the 1920s and 1930s with those of a later period such as the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles and the San Diego Convention Center, which had also been constructed with Colton Cement.


However, cement production became much more difficult after December 7, 1941, when the United States became an active participant in World War II. Perhaps the most notable reminder of both that conflict and the feeling of American patriotism was the United States flag which flew 24 hours a day high atop Mt. Slover at the Colton plant. The company first raised the flag in 1917 after Thomas Fleming, one of the company’s directors, had received special permission from Congress to fly it both day and night. In 1941 it had been joined by the California state flag and moved to another

Above: CalPortland quarry, Colton, CA. Below: Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, CA. Bottom left: Hoover Dam Visitors Center. Bottom right: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

location on the mountain. At the time the first 30 foot by 20-foot flag was raised, Mt. Slover was one of only three places in the country granted the right to fly the flag at night. It required, of course, that the flag be illuminated after dark. In 1941, none could know that it would be just a matter of months before the illumination of the flag would jeopardize the security of a nation at war, and the 24-hour tradition would have



Top left: Mt. Slover before limestone quarrying., Colton, CA. Above: Colton flag retirement atop Mt. Slover. Top right: Flag atop Mt. Slover. Below: CalPortland employees visiting future site of cement plant, Rillito, AZ. Bottom right: Arizona Portland Cement bag.

to be suspended. It would be reinstated after the war and remain in place until Slover Mountain had diminished to such a degree that it was no longer feasible to fly the flag.


By 1941 the 50th anniversary of ideal, but it proved to be a period of very the corporation, production had finally safe performance for the company. With the transition to matched the peak year of 1928. With the United ARIZONA PORTLAND a peacetime economy, California Portland could begin States’ entry into World CEMENT WAS A to put into place some of War II in December 1941, WHOLLY-OWNED the planning which had the economic emphasis SUBSIDIARY OF been on the shelf for years. changed again. Emphasis CALIFORNIA The first project was expanwas placed on production PORTLAND. to meet the nation’s warsion into the Arizona martime needs, but the manpower needs of ket. The company took additional surveys the war took their of the Arizona market potential in 1947. toll on the labor These were sufficiently favorable to conforce at the Colton vince the majority of the Board of Directors plant. Manage- it was time for the first completely new ment had to find plant construction since the completion of ways to produce Mill C at the Colton plant over 30 years earmore cement lier. Not all the directors favored the project with fewer men. in a neighboring state, but the President of At times this sim- California Portland, E.E. Duque, was adaply meant the mant. By April 1948, the Board approved same men worked the plant specifications, and an estimated more shifts. This $3 million expenditure was authorized. plan was far from Construction began at the Rillito, Arizona site late in the spring of 1948 and was completed by October of the following year. December 1949 saw the initial shipment of Arizona Portland Cement. Arizona Portland was a wholly-owned subsidiary of California Portland. Its market area was essentially Arizona, and the company maintained a sales office in Phoenix. Sales were so good that the Board authorized an additional $3 million for an expansion program which CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021

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began in March 1951 and raised production capacity to 1,500,000 barrels a year. For many years the Rillito cement plant was the only California Portland Cement facility outside the state. Arizona had been considered part of California Portland Cement’s marketing area since 1895, and Colton Cement had an agreement to provide an Arizona company with its product. The need for a cement plant in the state had been recognized early in the twentieth century, but the resources to build one were not available until the late 1940s. The plant has operated continuously since that time and boasts an outstanding safety record. The Rillito plant employees worked an incredible five years without a single lost-time accident. CalPortland is a company of companies, created through mergers, acquisitions, asset purchases, and ownership changes throughout the western United States. Through all these changes, one thing has remained the same-the dedication of the men and women who have worked for all these entities. Some have taken part in executive and managerial decisions, which have shaped the course of CALPORTLAND.COM

the company. Others have been involved in Above: CalPortland plant in Rillito, AZ, 1955. implementing those decisions at all levels. Below: CalPortland employee. The majority have been those who showed up every day for work, helping CalPort- same employees are the heart and soul of land set records for production, energy the company as the journey into its second efficiency, and safety, and have been vital century continues. in building the CalPortland of today. These


Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community



CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021


been a certified Energy Star facility for nine consecutive years. Looking back at its beginnings, we can better understand how vision and hard work kept Rillito a growing and thriving division of CalPortland Cement Company. Fred Kennett came to work at the Colton plant in 1948. He didn’t stay long. Fred was an engineer and a draftsman. One of his first jobs was designing the mill building for the new plant in Arizona. He would spend a good portion of his more than three-decade career with California Portland Cement, watching the Rillito plant grow and develop. While the company’s name was California Portland Cement, Arizona had been considered part of the marketing area from the beginning. The agreements signed with George Duryee for the use of his patents for the cement-making process had defined a

THE RILLITO cement plant, located just north of Tucson, can provide approximately 1.6 million short tons of cement annually to the Arizona construction market. Since its beginnings in 1948, when California Portland Cement Company saw an increased need for expansion after World War II, Rillito has evolved into the modernized cement production facility it is today. It has undergone upgrades and expansions explicitly to meet the needs of the growth in the region. Most recently, the upper stage cyclones and rainbow duct on the preheater tower were completely redesigned and replaced. The plant also installed new high-efficiency belting for a 3.5-mile-long quarry belt conveyor (a total of 7 miles of belting!). The company completed a new Crossbar Cooler for the kiln in 2016. In the 1990s, a complete overhaul of the cooler was completed, but by 2014, the cooler needed another overhaul. There were other 21st century changes as well. A new vertical raw mill was installed in 2000, along with changing out the original rubber clinker belt and replacing it with a steel conveyor. The Kiln ID fan wheel was upgraded in 2000, with the motor receiving an upgrade in 2005. The first attempt at a gas conditioning (water cooling) tower was made in 2003 and later modified with a much larger downcomer duct in 2011. Most recently, the Rillito plant has proudly Left: Road connecting CalPortland Rillito cement plant to the Twin Peaks limestone deposit, 1967. Top: Rillito plant. Right: Rillito plant limestone conveyor belts, 1986. CALPORTLAND.COM

market area that included the territory of Arizona. In 1895 the company had entered into a contract with the Agua Fria Construction Company of Phoenix. California Portland Cement would provide all the cement needed by the construction company, and only Colton cement would be used in the construction projects, both current and future. In addition, Agua Fria would be the agent for Colton cement in selling to the building trades in Arizona. Interest continued after the turn of the century. The cement market, however, must have been quite competitive. In 1905, the University of Arizona Engineering Department published Bulletin No. 1, which reported on the testing of seven domestic types of cement and four foreign brands. Colton was one of two domestics from California. The others were from Ari-

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Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community


Above: Associated General Contractors (AGC) members tour the Rillito plant, 1951. Top right: CalPortland employees admire the Safety Trophy Monument, 1957. Below: Rillito plant during a monsoon.

zona, Colorado, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The foreign brands were from Germany, England, and Belgium. While not listing test results for each brand, the bulle- tin concluded that domestic cement, in general, evidenced a “decided superiority.” Despite this fact, the bulletin made it clear that there was a seeming preference for the foreign product, even at a significantly higher price. A German brand was used “almost exclusively” in the Tucson market and the Phoenix area. Whatever efforts Agua Fria Construction had made in selling Colton cement ten years earlier, they had not garnered and maintained a significant market share. Although the university tested a cement supposedly made in Arizona, the Engineering Department concluded that there was a need for a cement factory to be operated successfully in Arizona so the market could have a locally sourced product. Though hardly able to develop a new plant in the early 1900s, California Portland Cement


had reached the same conclusion. Exploration for appropriate sites and feasibility studies for a plant in Arizona occurred during the 1920s and 1930s. Difficult economic times prevented any new venture during the Depression years, and the company was consumed the first half of the 1940s with the war effort. It was not until the post-war boom that the company was ready to move into Arizona with a complete plant. In April 1948, the Board of Directors approved an expenditure of approximately $3 million for the new plant. Studies of cement manufacturing and marketing in Arizona had been conducted in 1947. They were sufficiently encouraging to justify drawing up construction contracts. The Donald L. Warren Engineering Company began work on the Rillito, Arizona facility in the spring of 1948. Fred Kennett soon found himself, along with some others from the Colton plant, including R.G “Pat” Patterson, working in cooperation with the engineering firm to transform a cotton field 15 miles from Tucson into a cement plant. Pat Patterson headed the engineering department for California Portland Cement and was a familiar sight whenever the company was involved with expansion or modernization

projects. He had his work cut out for him in Rillito. This location was an undeveloped site in nearly every sense of the term. Even the quarry would be almost five miles to the south of the proposed plant site. One of the first concerns was sufficient electricity to run the plant. This factor led to the development of a powerhouse that protected a huge diesel generator. The power source was so important the company provided housing for the powerhouse superintendent, Jim Nash - and that housing was placed very conveniently near the powerhouse itself. An old schoolhouse was pressed into use as the office building and chemical laboratory. During the early phases of construction, there was no railroad spur to the plant site. Large pieces of equipment had to be trucked in, providing Tucson residents an exciting view of the developments taking place a few miles down the road. Sections of the first kiln slowly made their way through the town’s business section aboard flatbed trucks. The unique feature of the kiln was the fact that the sections were riveted together. Workers at the plant could, in later years, vividly recall the red-hot rivets being thrown from the forge to the men pounding them into place. By December 1949, Arizona Portland Cement was producing cement. With a strong market, expansion plans began almost immediately. A $3 million expansion was completed by January 1952, which raised the annual capacity to 1.5 million barrels. By December 1955, capacity had risen to 2.7 million barrels annually. The cement bags with the green cactus on the front were becoming a familiar sight in Arizona. To keep the symbol clearly associated with the facility, two giant saguaro cacti were transplanted near the entrance to the plant in the 1970s. A growing market in Arizona during the late 1950s and early 1960s was reflected in improvements and additions to the Rillito site. A 1958 efficiency study resulted in an additional grinding mill, cement storage silos, and a CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021

CALPORTLAND - CELEBRATING 130 YEARS Left: Installation of the conveyor belt linking the Rillito plant with the Twin Peaks limestone quarry, 1970s. Below: Employees examining the conveyor belt.

change in the electrical system. In addition, a transfer plant for bulk cement and a warehouse for storing sacked cement was built in Phoenix. In 1960, CalPortland sold the powerhouse to the local utility company with the understanding that they would maintain it for backup power. The local company would meet the plant’s daily routine power needs. By 1966, Arizona Cement could boast three 335-foot-long kilns, a capacity of 3 million barrels per year, and a cotton crop that continued to grow on the portion of the 200-acre site not occupied by the plant. It could also point to a solid record of no lost time accidents, beginning in 1956. In 1966, after several accident-free years, it reached the 1,000-day mark for no lost time accidents. A thorough modernization of the plant took place in the early 1970s. A fourth kiln was placed in operation. This kiln had a preheater and a capacity to equal the existing three kilns. Originally it had been thought the new kiln would allow the older equipment to be phased out. In reality, the three older kilns were only shut down for a brief period before rejoining the operation. By late 1993 the market in Arizona improved to the point that Kilns 1-3 re-started, which left the plant with a shortfall in raw feed production. The solution was to install a new raw mill. The industry standard, even in the 1970s, was a roller mill for raw feed. Rillito, however, has very abrasive raw material. When the kiln line was designed in the 1960s, the roller mill technology available did not allow for a roller mill to reliably run, given the abrasive nature of the Rillito raw materials. By the late 1990s, improvements in wear materials, roll material, and table material allowed for the design of a roller mill in Rillito. Polysius was ultimately selected to provide this raw mill. The Quadropol roller mill has some unique design characteristics, one of them being that the bearings for the rollers are all located outside of the mill housing. The mill is designed to run on either two or four rolls. The new mill construction started in 1999 and came online in 2000. Ultimately, the Rillito Improvements lead to more output. A central computer control room was established. A covered conveyor belt replaced trucks transporting rock from a crusher at the quarry to the main plant. This long arm stretching across the arid CALPORTLAND.COM



Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

landscape became an unofficial trademark of the Rillito plant. Access to reliable transportation had played a part in the location of the plant. It was accessible by the highway but was approximately five miles from the quarry. The unpredictable nature of the nearby Santa Cruz River had played an essential part in the site selection. There was a concern - which later proved justified - that a facility closer to the quarry could be isolated by flash flooding. Although located in an adjacent state, the plant personnel were in close contact with corporate headquarters. During the early years of operation, Mr. Duque had been a frequent visitor, and Mr. Grant continued that tradition when he became President. There were monthly visits from Walt Koenig, and staff from the accounting department often came to the facility. The cement sacks might read Arizona Portland, but the plant was clearly a part of the California Portland Cement organization. The CalPortland Company has come a long way since those Arizona Portland sacks were first distributed. This year the company is celebrating 130 years of providing quality building materials not only to Arizona and California but also to Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Canada. Our focus on customer service and technical expertise will continue as we look forward to an exciting era of sustainable manufacturing. Above & Right: M.M. Sundt Construction building new silos for Rillito plant expansion, 1960. FORTY EIGHT

CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021





READY MIX AND AGGREGATES BACKGROUND CALPORTLAND CELEBRATED its centennial anniversary in 1991 and at that time its only presence in Arizona was a single cement plant in Rillito. More than 30 years later, there are now five aggregate sites, 19 ready-mix plants, two cement terminals and a materials testing lab, in addition to the cement plant. Much of this growth came in the form of ready-mix concrete. CalPortland ready-mix plants are centered around the Tucson and Phoenix markets. The Phoenix market, the 10th largest metropolitan market in the nation, is home to 35 percent of the company’s entire readymix fleet. There are more mixer trucks assigned to the Phoenix region than any other location within CalPortland. In order to supply much needed drivers to this fleet, Daryl Morgan, Louis Mizner, and Willy Hamblen created a patented design for a four-door cab training truck to help train new CDL drivers to service the growing Arizona market. In 2005, CalPortland entered the Arizona ready-mix market with the purchase

of Tucson Ready Mix. This purchase added three ready-mix plants, two in Tucson and one in Rio Rico. CalPortland then steadily expanded throughout Arizona. In the ten years between 2007 and 2017, CalPortland acquired five ready-mix companies. The expansion added 18 ready-mix plants and three aggregate sites to the company roster. iMix, with seven ready-mix and two aggregate plants, was the largest company purchased during the expansion in 2007. It was a young company, having begun busi-

ness in 2004. Charles Martin was the President/General Manager, but three members of the Pierce family-owned 55 percent of the company. They identified themselves as farmers. Another 25 percent was owned by a partner who owned a concrete construction company. All of the company ready mix sites were leased. All but one of the plants were built in 2003, and the exception was built four years later. All the plants

Top: CalPortland four-door training truck. Right: CalPortland Orange Grove ready-mix plant. Far right: CalPortland New River ready-mix plant. FIFTY

CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021


total amount of material that CalPortland supplied to Hardrock Concrete Placement during construction. In the Phoenix area, the OdySea Aquarium is the largest in the Southwest. CalPortland supplied the concrete to the aquarium that sits on a 14-acre site in Scottsdale. The aquarium is 200,000 square feet and three levels. The facility serves up to 15,000 visitors a day. Construction consisted of building both saltwater and

Above: University of Arizona video scoreboard, Tucson. Below: OdySea Aquarium, Scottsdale.

freshwater tanks. OdySea Aquarium’s structure involved more than 20,000 cubic yards of concrete for its structural foundations; 16 cast-in-place aquatic tanks with a unique mix design of 6,000 psi with corrosion inhibitor, Air, Micro Silica, and Water Proofer. The mixes for these structures

Image courtesy of McCarthy Building Companies

featured both hot and cold-water systems. There were over 100 ready-mix trucks, 26 more on order, six aggregate haulers, and 16 cement haulers in the inventory when CalPortland purchased the company. In addition to the expansion in ready mix, CalPortland grew its aggregate reserves with the addition of aggregate facilities. Currently, there are five aggregate locations in Arizona, two sites located in the Phoenix area, including the Diablo Aggregate site, which claims 37 million tons of reserves. The other three are located in and around Tucson. Four of the five locations are sand and gravel. The remaining site, Twin Peaks, is a crushed limestone plant situated near the Rillito Cement plant quarry. CalPortland concrete and aggregates can be found in buildings, highways, and structures throughout Arizona. The University of Arizona football fans have a better view of the game with the completion of the video scoreboard at the stadium. Completed in 2014, it contains 5,000 yards of concrete. Students can reside in Park Avenue Student Housing and may travel over the Cushing Street Bridge, which used 8,000 yards of concrete and 55,000 tons of aggregate in its construction. HomeGoods Inc. constructed a new distribution center on 100 acres in Tucson adjacent to the Tucson International Airport and just a mile from Interstate 10. The 800,000 square-foot tilt-panel built facility took over 45,000 cubic yards of concrete and more than 12,000 tons of aggregate material. The PCCP (Portland Cement Concrete Paving) added another 30,000 cubic yards and 18,000 tons of aggregate to the




Above and right: CalPortland delivering readymix for Bay State Milling silos, Tolleson. Below: CalPortland delivering ready-mix concrete for a subdivision in Casa Grande, 2012.

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required serious attention during trials and production since they contained air and were 6,000 psi with corrosion inhibitors and an internal waterproofing membrane. The general contractor, McCarthy Building Companies, was extremely satisfied due to the concrete being very surface-tight and level. There are 1.5 million gallons of water in the aquarium, held back by acrylic walls and structural concrete foundations. The aquarium’s 121 individual structural columns and 72 concrete tilt wall panels were assembled over eight days on-site. The largest panel placed weighed 220,000 pounds and is 60-feet tall. West of Phoenix, in Tolleson, a set of 24 slipform grain silos was constructed by McCormick Construction, an industrial contractor, for Bay State Milling. The silos are 140 feet tall with a 21-foot diameter, but what made this project unique was that the silos would be created through a continuous pour over nine days, 24 hours a day, using a slipform process. CalPortland ready mix was contracted to handle this intricate job requiring more than 6,000 yards of


concrete. A collaborative team effort was implemented from the QC department to the batch plant operators to the truck drivers to ensure a completed project. The Arizona ready mix and aggregate divisions of CalPortland may have appeared more recently in the company’s 130-year timeline, but their impact is significant. With the largest ready-mix truck fleet in the company and highly trained concrete professionals, we can assure our customers receive the highest quality ready-mixed concrete made possible with CalPortland products. Whether pouring a patio or walkway, building a home, designing an office complex, high-rise, or public works project for transportation, CalPortland looks forward to being a part of the Arizona landscape for many years to come. CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021


CALPORTLAND PROFILE: DAVE MCELVAIN AFTER 40 YEARS in the concrete readymix industry, CalPortland’s Dave McElvain can pinpoint what he loves about his job. “Being able to look at buildings and infrastructure and remembering that I was there in the beginning,” he says. “The good part about concrete deliveries is that we’re also the last ones to button up the project at completion.” Local projects that McElvain has worked on include the Interstate-10 freeway and tunnel, State Route 51, Terminal 4 at Sky Harbor International Airport, and Tempe Town Lake. McElvain is one of those rare individuals who, since 1982, has worked at just about every position in the ready-mix business. “My jobs have been laborer, mixer driver, dispatcher, scale operator, batched concrete, loader operator, and dump truck driver,” he says. “I’ve built relationships with people, sold concrete, took on roles as a Director of Sales and Marketing at Drake and as Marketing Director for Arizona and Las Vegas with CalPortland.” A Phoenix native, McElvain spent time in Dewey, Arizona, where he graduated from Bradshaw Mountain High School in 1982. He then moved back to the Valley to work for Ted R. Jenkins Asphalt. “They paid $6.50 per hour with time and a half for overtime,” he says. “We worked 15 hours a day, Monday thru Saturday, shoveling underneath a jaw crusher, all summer long. I made a ton of money!” Ted R. Jenkins Asphalt then bought Southern Ready Mix, located at 67th and Southern avenues. “They sent me over there to shadow Garland Eeds, who owned the company,” McElvain recalls. “We had six old 1964 Diamond Rio chain-driven

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Below: State Route 51 under construction, 1990.


mixer trucks with the 5/4 transmission. There were no CDL’s required back then, just a chauffeur’s license. We had three trucks that ran most of the time.” McElvain cherishes the experience he gained at the company and the people who worked there. “Eeds was my first mentor in the ready-mix industry, he says. “Another guy, Freeway Freddie as we called him, had to be 70 years old and frail-looking, but he could haul concrete like nobody else.” Afterward, McElvain worked for Kachina Ready Mix, Phoenix Ready Mix, Rockland Materials, Maricopa Ready Mix, and Drake Materials before landing at CalPortland. “Along the way, it took me ten years to get a two-year degree. Then, thanks to Ed Belt at Maricopa Ready Mix, I was able to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in two years.” The future is bright in the cement industry, according to McElvain. “The service and products that CalPortland delivers every day come from 130 years of experience,” he says. “From that comes uniformity and expertise. The evolution of cement and concrete is always changing for the better. These two products are the foundation for all our future development. It’s the most used substance in the world.” McElvain is pleased that 17 years ago, CalPortland knew that the responsible

thing to do for the environment was to reduce their carbon footprint and mitigate impacts from manufacturing cement. “The approach to sustainability became the culture that was centered around being energy efficient,” he says. “This culture has led to the innovation of processes and equipment design which has made fighting climate change and protecting public health through energy efficiency everyone’s responsibility.” This progressive viewpoint has made CalPortland one of the nation’s leaders in driving value for the environment, the economy, and the American people, according to McElvain. “It makes me proud to be a stakeholder in our future,” he says. “CalPortland’s customers can be proud to use these materials on their projects.” McElvain is thankful to the many individuals who influenced him along the way in the industry, starting with his wife of 35 years, Kathy. Others include Jeff Bentley for initially hiring him, Tim Valente for encouraging his education, Ed Belt for his guidance, Bill Larson for his support in entering corporate America, and Steve Trussell for his leadership style. Special thanks also to his best friend, Tim McPherson, who always gave him his hand-me-down mixer trucks, and whom he followed up the company ladder. McElvain found a home in the industry and particularly enjoys the new friends he makes while selling cement. “I’m doing what I love, helping people.” SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION


ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP CALPORTLAND cement plants and batch plants are not just communities of people; they are connected closely to the communities in which they operate. Early efforts at being a good neighbor go back to developing the Fleming Dust Control System at the Colton cement plant in the early 20th century. Reducing the amount of cement dust escaping into the atmosphere was a priority to establish good neighborly relations and improve the environment. Throughout its history, CalPortland has found ways to support a healthy environment. In addition to the Fleming Dust Control System, the Colton and Mojave plants have used discarded tires to keep the kilns fired, keeping them out of the landfill. The tires did not readily disintegrate in landfills and were often found dumped in vacant lots. When the tires first began to be used, it was not unusual to find CalPortland employees going to local communities and loading trucks full of old tires to help rid the community of nuisance tire piles. At Oro Grande, the plant employs the CemStar system. In this process, steel slag is used in addition to the raw mix and has the effect of reducing the facility’s greenhouse gas (CO2) emissions per ton of clinker produced. Batch plants have also contributed to environmental awareness. They have used an improved washout process that conserves water and recycles aggregate, reducing waste and landfill space. Worn-out mining operations can leave severe scars on the landscape at the end of their useful life. They also offer some exciting challenges. The former aggregate facility on the Puget Sound near Tacoma, Washington, is now the Chambers Bay Golf

Course. This impressive course served as the host for the 2010 U.S. Amateur Championship and the 2015 U.S. Open Championship. Additionally, CalPortland had a contract to take some of the material from the construction of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct and fill in another old aggregate site in Washington. CalPortland’s concrete is now a part of the new viaduct. The Central Coast operations have an award-winning vineyard reclamation. The former Colton cement plant is the latest reclamation project with plant waste materials and waste rock being processed as fill materials in the pits. CalPortland has won many state, local, and national industry association awards for environmental excellence with these and other environmental projects. CalPortland has received Community Excellence Awards from Arizona Rock Products Association (ARPA) for its contributions to local communities. Portland Cement Association (PCA), National Ready-Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA), and National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) are national organizations that have recognized the company’s environmental efforts. Most recently, the NRMCA recognized Arizona’s New River and Red Mountain plants with its Environmental Excellence Awards, recognizing outstanding contributions to protecting the environment and maintaining sound environmental management practices in their operations. The program salutes companies that have not only met but surpassed governmental compliance requirements and demonstrated a commitment to environmental excellence through plant and staff investment. In Rio Rico, Arizona, the Rio Rico Plant was honored in 2020 with the Silver Award by the NSSGA for Environmental Excellence, which recognizes operations that

actively demonstrate a commitment to the exemplary use of environmental controls and systems. But one unique project in Arizona was the Burrowing Owl Habitat expansion at the Coolidge site in Arizona. This project provided a suitable habitat at one of our working aggregate mines for the owl. CalPortland was the rock products industry’s first company to construct burrowing owl habitats within a mining site. A large community housing project was developed to provide the infrastructure required to support burrowing owls in a safe, comfortable, environmentally efficient manner. In the absence of suitable homes created by ground squirrels, prairie dogs, desert tortoises, new agriculture areas, and development, the burrowing owl habitat had diminished, and these feathered friends required assistance to ensure a prolific future. At the time, Rebecca Kervella, CalPortland’s environmental specialist for Arizona, was the person who hatched the idea of building a habitat at the company’s Diablo Sand & Gravel site to help these small, sandy-colored owls. Her vision was received with much enthusiasm and support by Scott Hughes, CalPortland’s Environmental Manager for Arizona, and support from the company’s management. In cooperation with Wild at Heart Raptor Rescue and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, excavation of 12 burrowing sites began in an area the size of a football field. On the morning of December 10, 2016, the organizers and a crew of 48 volunteers constructed 64 burrows for this master-planned community of subterranean dwellers. Burrowing owls have been known to nest in piles of PVC pipe and other lairs unintentionally provided by humans. They live in open, treeless areas with low, sparse vegetation. The owls can be found in deserts, and steppe environments, on golf courses and agricultural fields, so CalPortland’s mining site turned out to be a perfect habitat. By March 2017, the owls were released into their new burrow community. A tent covered the burrows for one month. The owls were fed “mousicles” while they became comfortable in their new homes. After a month, the tents were removed, and the owls were free to come and go as they pleased. The organizers were optimistic that other burrowing owls in the area would quickly take up residence in the community. This unique conservation initiative strongly supported CalPortland’s value proposition of being an environmental leader in the rock products industry. Left: Burrowing Owl habitat project at CalPortland Coolidge ready-mix plant.


CALPORTLAND 1891 - 2021


SUSTAINABILITY AND ENERGY STAR WITH THE CHANGE of administration and subsequent policy directions in the U.S., climate change is once again dominating discussions across the nation. CalPortland has a vital role to play in solving some of the world’s most significant challenges, such as reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and achieving net-zero by 2050. That’s why sustainability is a fundamental part of how we run our business and part of our commitment to the communities where we work and live. Concrete is the most widely used construction material globally, but it is also a sustainable building material due to its many eco-friendly features. Most materials for concrete are locally sourced and manufactured, which minimizes transportation energy. Concrete building systems combine insulation with high thermal mass and low air infiltration to make homes and buildings more energy-efficient. Concrete has a long service life for buildings and transportation infrastructure, thereby increasing the period between reconstruction, repair, and maintenance and the associated environmental impact. Due to its light color, when used as pavement or exterior cladding, concrete helps minimize the urban heat island effect, thus reducing the energy required to heat and cool our homes and buildings. Concrete can incorporate recycled industrial byproducts such as fly ash, slag, silica fume or other SCMs that helps reduce embodied energy, carbon footprint and waste. Concrete structures have withstood the test of time. For a building to last for generations, durability must be an inherent quality of the construction material. Concrete does not rust, rot, or burn. Concrete used for buildings and pavements is durable, creating long-lasting structures. CALPORTLAND.COM

Because of its longevity, concrete is a viable solution for environmentally responsible design and requires less maintenance over the lifetime of the building. As companies along the value chain address their climate impacts and implement carbon reduction solutions, CalPortland concrete will play a vital role in providing solutions to the challenges of building sustainable structures. Concrete’s inherent benefits and sustainability values mean concrete is uniquely placed to help the world towards a more sustainable future. The benefits of energy savings, resilience, and associated greenhouse gas emission reductions from constructing and operating buildings and infrastructure with concrete exceedingly offset the emissions from cement manufacturing over the life of a structure. With a rich history of innovation for the past 130 years, we understand the importance of durability and that building for the future must combine sustainability with resilience. Sustainability and energy efficiency have become an integral part of the culture at CalPortland. CalPortland joined EPA’s ENERGY STAR program in 1996 and has been a Partner ever since. In 2003, CalPortland took the next step and worked with ENERGY STAR to create a company-wide energy management program that focused on improving energy efficiency at all facilities. The program started with a small energy team that has now grown to include employees from nearly all company areas, from the plants to the corporate office. Over the years, the energy team led initially by Steve Coppinger, VP of Engineering Services, and later by Bill Jerald, Chief Energy Engineer, has worked on many efficiency initiatives, including reducing compressed air leaks, installing energy-efficient motors and equipment, lowering fuel usage on mobile equipment, installing renewable energy and much more. Because our

employees support this vision, we are honored to receive the 2021 ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year – Sustained Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy. This honor is CalPortland’s seventeenth straight Partner of the Year award! Earning an ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Award is the highest level of recognition by the EPA. In 2020, 95 U.S. manufacturing plants earned ENERGY STAR certification for being among the most energy-efficient in their industries. CalPortland’s Rillito, AZ cement plant, was one of 13 cement plants and 95 U.S. manufacturing plants to earn The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR certification in 2020 for being among the most energy-efficient in their industries. Facility Certification signifies that the industrial plant performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency and meets the EPA’s strict energy efficiency performance levels. This honor is the ninth consecutive (2012 – 2020) year that the Rillito, AZ cement plant has earned the ENERGY STAR, reflecting a legacy of continued energy savings. And finally, The ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry recognizes plants that achieve a 10 percent reduction in energy intensity within five years. CalPortland has six Arizona plants that have earned the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR Challenge for Industry: Buckeye Ready Mix, Fountain Hills Ready Mix, Maricopa Ready Mix, Orange Grove Ready Mix, Queen Creek Ready Mix, and Tangerine Ready Mix plants. The ENERGY STAR program creates an opportunity to realize energy efficiencies and sustainability. The use of concrete for new construction is an environmentally responsible choice that provides building owners with energy-efficient buildings and provides occupants with optimal comfort and health. Concrete maintains a low embodied energy, utilizes recycled materials, and provides a cleaner indoor environment. Using concrete in the exterior environment helps to reduce the urban heat island effect and provides for a beautiful exterior landscape. Concrete can also provide solutions for achieving LEED certification. CalPortland is proud to produce a building material that is a durable, long-lasting choice that can provide longterm sustainable solutions for infrastructure.


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July August 2021

The Stack: Phoenix’s Freeways Rise to the Challenge

Image courtesy of Jim Tambash



Douglas Towne

or a city to be considered “modern” in mid-century America, it needed to boast a new and complex highway feature. Equally important was giving the structure a catchy nickname. Denver’s “Mouse Trap” was operational in 1951, Las Vegas cooked up the “Spaghetti Bowl” in 1968, and San Francisco coughed up the “Hair Ball” in 1974. These multi-level interchanges were designed to facilitate traffic flow when freeways intersected in congested urban areas. But, despite their astronomical price tags and intricate engineering and design, the newfangled crossroads were still the source of traffic slowdowns and the ruin of neighborhoods. By 1987, Arizona was ready to create the state’s first mega-interchange, “The Stack,” which would link Interstate 10 (the Papago Freeway), Interstate 17 (the Black Canyon Freeway), and U.S. Highway 60 (Grand Avenue) west of Downtown Phoenix. The 82-foot-tall, earthquake-resistant structure was the most expensive road project in the state at that time. The Stack would prove to be a success, though not everyone was comfortable with the finished creation. “When my brotherin-law drove my mom over the top ramp from I-17 to I-10 east right after it opened, she came close to having a heart attack,” says Phoenix native Wyatt James. The Stack has been a valuable addition to the state’s transportation system, even though it needed a last-minute fix to rectify a significant construction hiccup. Phoenix led metropolitan areas in growth in the 1980s, and The Stack was essential to untangling traffic. Need alone, however, did not create the project. Arizona’s debut mega-interchange would never have gotten off the ground without Uncle Sam’s assistance. The estimated $125 million construction tag was 95 percent paid for with Federal Interstate funds set aside to complete Interstate 10 from Jacksonville, Florida to Los Angeles. “The I-10 / I-17 junction was the last major interchange built of the original “Interstate Highway Act” that dates back to 1956,” Sal Meringolo says. “Newer ones have been constructed, but they were not in the original plan.” Arizona provided the Arizona Contractor & Community

Top left: The Stack interchange ADOT design plan, 1986. Above: A view of The Stack after completion. Top right: Two sets of T-support pillars were spaced too far apart (blue circles) so bridges were built connecting the pil­lars (yellow circles) so that the ramp could be completed. Below: The Stack appeared as a “Stonehengelike” monument during construction.

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

balance of the money to build the fourlevel, eight-ramp structure. ADOT spent five years of planning the project, and then retained Howard Needles Tammen and Bergendoff (HNTB) as the engineering consulting company for design

and Morrison-Knudsen Engineers (MKE) for construction management. “This is a typical California interchange,” Ben Marten of HNTB told Southwest Contractor in 1987. Tanner Companies won the main $62.8 million construction contract, which included rebuilding I-17, frontage roads, column structures, retaining walls, ramps connecting I-17 to I-10 to the west, and constructing I-10 across I-17 from 27nd to 22nd avenues. “My father worked on that project for Tanner,” David Moreno says. “I remember he had sweatshirts with “The Stack” project on them that they would give them to wear.”

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Kasler/Sundt was awarded a secondary construction contract of $25.8 million. Their tasks included building I-10 structures, roadways, and ramps between 15th and 19th avenues, and rebuilding Grand Avenue in the area. Other companies involved in the project included JWJ Contracting Co. and V.O. Contracting Co., which built bridges, retaining walls, and pump stations. Not surprisingly, one of the first items tackled by Tanner went unseen by the public. “Most people don’t recognize that there’s an awful lot of work that goes on underground, and before you can do any of this [aboveground],” Dick Wright, the company’s senior project manager, told Southwest Contractor. A memorable step in the project occurred with the construction of ten pier columns that would support ramps over I-17. Caissons were poured by the Inter-American Foundation, a company from Mexico City, to which Sun Dance Co tied a network of steel footing. The iron subcontractor also created reinforced steel cages on-site with material provided by Bear River. The reinforced steel cages were lifted into position by cranes, supported by guy wires, and connected to the steel footing. Concrete columns were then formed around the cages, each of which was unique in height and tilt, ranging from 10 to 89 feet tall. United Metro supplied 49,457 cubic yards of concrete to fill the columns. About one column per day was created with this process, with a time-lapse camera filming the process. “We’ll then get the foremen in, and then the whole crew in and try to critique the film—participatory management,” Wright said. “We ask them, July August 2021

Images courtesy of Jim Tambash

The Stack under construction, late 1980s.

‘How can we do this better, more efficiently or economically?’ Then more changes are made.” “I remember the big columns that looked like “Stonehenge” monuments rising above I-17 and lots of dirt being moved around,” says Jim West, a former KNIX disc jockey who did a voice-over video narration of the project for the state. “ADOT had also just developed roadside flashing signage warning motorists of delays and alternate arizcc.com

routes. The Stack was a big deal at the time.” Structural steel sits atop the columns, with 10,000 tons of steel girders made by Schuff Steel of Phoenix and Utah Pacific of Salt Lake City; Mohawk from California did the erecting. On top, an 8-inch deck slab was poured, with a finishing machine leveling it off. ADOT fashioned the contracts with a bonus/penalty format, with incentives to keep freeway lanes open and to meet or

exceed construction timetables. At one point, Tanner was more than a half-year ahead of schedule. “We scheduled work to occur more rapidly, and in order to do that, we increased crew sizes and refined our work methods,” Wright said. Still, the project inconvenienced many motorists. “I drove past that construction nightmare every day,” Mark Robeson recalls. “Jesus, what a pain in the ass that was!” Eric Smalling considers himself fortunate just to have successfully negotiated Arizona Contractor & Community

Images courtesy of Jim Tambash

the morass of detour signs. “I remember having to drive through there while it was under construction as part of my behindthe-wheel driver’s education course,” he says. “I was white-knuckled the whole time.” As expected with a project of this scale, there were several hiccups. One major snafu involved the westbound-I-10to-southbound-I-17 and eastbound-I-10to-southbound-I-10 merge ramps. “Two sets of T-support pillars were spaced too far apart,” Gene Homerud, a retired engineer, says. “Construction stopped while the designers came up with a solution. The adjacent tops of T-support pillars were jack-hammered down a bit, exposing rebar, and a bridge was built connecting the pillars so the ramp could be completed.” Fortunately, the original plan had excess support built in, and the added bridge can be seen while going southbound on I-17. After four years of construction with 20,130 loads of concrete, enough steel that could build more than 40,000 autos, and the work of almost 850 construction and ADOT employees, the Stack was finally finished at the cost of $131 million in June 1990. Competitive bidding enabled the project to come in $7 million under budget. Just because the project looked impressive didn’t mean that everyone felt comfortable using it. “When it first opened, Shamrock Farms said any driver that used it would be fired,” Michael Grogan Sr. says. “They were afraid of it holding up. The plant was just down the street, and Shamrock’s owner could see the Stack.” A side benefit of the project was that ADOT acquired 25 partially shaded acres underneath The Stack. The four buildings on the property were converted into wareThe Stack under construction, late 1980s.

houses, offices, and classrooms. An inspection area for large commercial trucks is also located there. “There was enough area underneath our Stack, so we didn’t have to buy a million-dollar piece of property,” Cal Pepper, ADOT manager of acquisitions, told The Arizona Republic in 1990. In 2007, after nearly two decades of operation, the Stack received some negative publicity. Forbes magazine ranked the mega-interchange #12 nationally in terms of motorists’ wasted time, with 16 million hours of delays annually. But the publication provided no estimate of the gridlock that would have occurred if the project had never been built. That’s something to ponder next time you’re cruising The Stack. Sixty

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Mid-Century Modern Blockheads: An Ode to the Humble Concrete Block Heather M. David


Images courtesy of Author

am a blockhead. A mid-century modern (MCM) blockhead. I have been one for as long as I can remember. I started documenting concrete screen block patterns around 2007 or so. It seemed like a fine enough hobby. The motivation was there. The financial barrier to entry was non-existent. I figured that it was just another one of my quirky interests. Unbeknownst to me, there were MCM blockheads all over the world. My photos were invited to Flickr groups like “Concrete Block Walls” and “Perforated Screen Walls.” A Master’s degree student reached out to me from Australia. She was doing her dissertation on “breeze block,” the Australian terminology for concrete screen block. Maybe this obsession wasn’t so eccentric, after all. Around the time that I started photographing block patterns in Northern California (and beyond), a real estate agent in Las Vegas, Jack LeVine, was doing the same public service for Nevada. And the Palm Springs, California-based husband

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and wife duo of Ron and Barbara Marshall was embarking on a ten-year journey that would result in what is perhaps the most comprehensive study of the mid-century modern screen block to date. In 2018, the Marshalls presented their work in the book Concrete Screen Block: The Power of Pattern - a “must-have” for all MCM Blockheads. The history of the mass-produced concrete screen block can be traced to the American architect Edward Durell Stone and his liberal use of the material in the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi (1958). It could be argued that this widely celebrated building started a design trend in architecture. The patterned block, stacked to form a screen, turned out to be both decorative and functional. Sadly, I’ve yet to make it to India to experience the U.S. Embassy in person. Fortunately, however, Stone’s use of concrete screens was not limited to his work in India. I began my research with a self-guided tour of the Stone-designed Stanford Medical Center (1959) in California. Although most commonly found in the Sunbelt region of the U.S., concrete screen blocks can pop up almost anywhere. And it need not be affiliated with an internationally renowned architect. From the mid1950s to the mid-1960s, concrete block was mass-produced in the U.S. and very popular. It can be seen in many residences, office buildings, schools, churches, motels, and shopping centers from this period. Top from right: Venetian, Festival, Constellation, and Square #6 block patterns. Left: • The book, Concrete Screen Block: The Power of the Pattern. • U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India. • Stanford Medical Center, Palo Alto, CA. • Permanente Cement Company ad, 1962. July August 2021


PATTERNS Over the course of a decade, Ron and Barbara Marshall documented over 250 unique screen block designs. At the end of their book, they have included a pattern guide. You’ll find this guide used in screen block “treasure hunts” from Palm Springs to Mississippi. Let’s examine some of the more commonly used patterns.


EMPRESS Attributed to Edward Durell Stone, this pattern was used in the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. Stone submitted a patent application for his design, which looks like a diamond framed by a square, in 1957. However, as the patent was working its way through the approval process, several U.S. companies were already producing blocks using the “Empress” design. By the time the patent was approved in 1959, it was almost futile to litigate.


MALTESE Another early pattern, “Maltese,” appeared in 1959. Like Empress, it was produced by multiple companies. The design is reminiscent of a Greek cross. Ironically, I’ve never encountered it in a church.


RADIANT On its own, the Radiant block pattern, a straight line that meets a curve on a slant, is mostly forgettable. But marry four blocks together, and you’ve got yourself a shining sun. This design was most likely introduced in 1958.



STARBURST In the early 1960s, the theme of space was widespread in American popular culture. People worldwide were intently watching the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. The Starburst block pattern appears in print advertising as far back as 1960. Note: Not to be confused with “Sunflower,” “Starlight,” or “Constellation.”


Images courtesy of Author

Clockwise from upper left: • Decorative concrete block construction options by Burbank and Phister, 1968. • Empress pattern at Stuart Pharmaceutical, Pasadena, CA. • Maltese pattern at San Jose Water Co. building, San Jose, CA. • Starburst pattern at Creative Arts Building, San Francisco State University. • Radiant pattern at Plaza Hotel, San Jose, CA.

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VISTA-VUE Vista-Vue appeared in industry trade magazines in January 1959. An excellent example can be viewed at the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs. Surprisingly, the giant screen wall that fronts the hotel entrance is a recent addition to the property, not vintage.


FUN WITH SHADOWS (example of Mayan pattern used in two ways) A 1965 condominium tower in Oakland, California, features a unique display of the Mayan block pattern. Architect Michel A. Marx opted to stagger the blocks, all positioned in the same direction, creating a wall of cats (or some see bats). Depending on the lighting, one might see black cats or tuxedo cats. For this project, Marx received an industry award for “excellence in design and use of unit masonry.”


CUSTOM BLOCK (Shell Oil Co.) Screen block was so popular that a few companies had custom designs made. Shell Oil had a pattern that mirrored their company logo, and used them at stations including this one in San Jose.


INTENTIONAL PLACEMENT or MISTAKE? This Sprite design is used in an usual way in an apartment building in Daly City, CA. Compare to the Sprite design featured in the General Concrete Products advertisement, 1962.


embracing a more natural aesthetic in the built environment. Concrete screen block still makes an occasional appearance in the “Do it Yourself” home improvement guides of the early 1970s but architects and builders had moved on to new design ideas. THE BLOCK IS BACK The renewed appreciation of mid-century modern architecture and design has resulted in a demand for the once-ubiquitous screen block. Atomic Ranch purists, seeking authenticity, are drawn to homes that incorporate block walls into both interior and exterior spaces. Artists and designers use screen block imagery in jewelry, home accessories, and art. Unfortunately, only a handful of block patterns are still in production today. A listing of 28 companies that sell more than 75 concrete breeze block designs is available at retrorenovation.com. Perhaps, however, with increasing demand, the past’s discontinued molds will get a second life. The “I Brake for Breeze Blocks” group on Facebook has 11,000 members. Just saying.


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Images courtesy of Author

By the early 1970s, screen block was fast falling out of fashion as an architectural design statement. Architects were

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King of the Valley’s Roads Michelle Dodds


oncrete denotes something solid, with great strength, and permanence. Perhaps that’s why there was such a clamor way-back in 1919 when the Maricopa County Highway Commission decided to eliminate concrete construction from its $4 million road program. Voters approved the county’s 278-mile highway program through a bond issue on May 17, 1919. But the rising price of concrete and freight costs made it impossible to construct roads with this material. From random telephone calls, The Arizona Republican reported that county taxpayers favored concrete.

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“We want no shoddy in our road,” J.G. Hammels said. “I am sure every man I know wants permanent concrete highways— roads that will last more than a year or so.” Likewise, Stanley Howard opined that “If we did not have more than a mile of road, we should have a good one; a good road or none at all.” The Highway Commission tried to address the high cost of constructing concrete roads by exploring the possibility of manufacturing cement themselves. When they discovered that they didn’t have the legal authority to do so, they made an effort to seek assistance from the Salt River

Valley Water Users’ Association (SRVWUA), known today as SRP. SRVWUA primarily consisted of farmers who would benefit from the improved roads to get their food to market. SRVWUA’s articles of incorporation only allowed them to buy land and manufacture cement for their use. The Highway Commission even urged SRVWUA to hold a special election to amend their articles to sell the cement. Thankfully, on December 31, 1920, voters approved another bond election for $4.5 million, making $8.5 million available for good roads. The December 24, 1921 issue of Arizona Highways noted the HighAbove: Workers using a Fresno scraper pulled by four mules to grade a bed for concrete road in Phoenix, 1921. Right: During construction of a concrete road in northern Arizona by H.L. Royden in 1937, mixed concrete pours from the chute at the right, which is smoothed out by a leveling machine at the left. July August 2021


way Commission’s program as the “most ambitious county paving undertaking in the United States and has attracted no end of interest among highway engineers the Country over.” Now fast forward about 40 years when Phoenix was booming, and the city had problems keeping up with building and maintaining its infrastructure. Phoenix streets were quickly deteriorating, and it was known as the “Pothole Capital of the

Image courtesy of Architect & Engine


er Archives Image courtesy of Newspap Image courtesy of ACC

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of McCulloch Bros

Top left: Twohy Brothers Company advertisement for concrete roads, 1921. Top right: Companies advertising concrete mixing machines, 1920. Above: Phoenix cartoon boasting 300 miles of paved road, 1923.

U.S.” There was a tremendous need for inexpensive, rapid repairs. Some innovative government employees helped keep motorists traveling the city’s roads, many of which were concrete with an asphalt overlay. The city was fortunate to have employee Charlie McDonald, whom the Rubber Pavements Association termed the “Father of Rubberized Asphalt.” Starting in 1959, he and Joe Cano worked at the city’s Materials Testing Lab to determine a better street repair system than the conventional chip seal used to repair streets. Chip seal eventually cracks and leads to water infiltrating the paved surface. Charlie and Joe experimented with different materials, trying to extend the life of pavement and save taxpayers’ money. They tried several iterations of mixes with hot asphalt and ground recycled tires until they found the right blend. The city continued to gradually increase the use of rubberized asphalt instead of chip seal. The city banned chip sealing in March 1989 due to decades of overwhelming complaints about loose rocks cracking people’s windshields. Freeways in the 1960s used transverse tining (perpendicular to the flow of traffic) to help make the roads skid-resistant. Tines are grooves cut into the pavement; the grooves create noise as tires hit them. By the early 2000s, there were many complaints about freeway noise. Although longitudinal tining (grooves in the direction of traffic) would create less noise, political timing called for a different solution. Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Public responses to this noise reduction test were good. Will the public warm up to diamond grinding? Time will tell, as engineers see how well the new surface treatment holds up and what future noise tests show. Studies estimate that approximately $3.9 billion can be saved in maintenance costs over 30 years by using diamond grinding instead of rubberized asphalt. Everett doesn’t mind hearing from the traveling public about their experiences on our freeways because it gives him an opportunity for innovation. In the end, if the public wants their black rubberized asphalt, transportation agencies must find funding to make it happen. There are still several simple, unadorned concrete residential streets in Phoenix, but there are likely many more that have an asphalt overlay. The city wouldn’t remove concrete streets from residential areas in the past as it was too costly to haul the debris to the dump. But some concrete streets must be removed because of issues caused by the grade of the road or complicated widen-

Above: A concrete road along Henshaw Street, now called Buckeye Road, at 19th Street, 1950. Bottom left: Bressani Construction’s pavement breaker machine working on Eighth Street in Tempe, 1986. Bottom right: A concrete street in the Coronado Historic District, 2021.

ing projects. One concrete street removal project in 1986 was awarded to Nesbitt Contracting. They won a $522,749 contract for street improvements on a 1-mile segment of Eighth Street from McClintock Drive to Rural Road in Tempe. According to Southwest Contractor, Nesbitt hired Bressani Construction from San Jose, California, which used their pavement breaker machine to help remove the concrete road. Phoenix maintains 4,849 miles of roads, Maricopa County 2,476 miles, and ADOT 6,780 miles, including 435 miles within the Central District. No one seems to know how much concrete still lies beneath the various overlays applied to them, but one thing seems apparent: the voters in Maricopa County know the actual value of concrete roads!

Images courtesy of Nesbitt Contracting

Rubberized asphalt had been improved over the years. As a result, beginning in 2003, the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) worked together to cover concrete pavement on freeways with 1 inch of rubberized asphalt. Rubberized asphalt is designed to only last ten years, though its use may stretch to 15 years because of financial considerations. After a decade, though, it begins to delaminate, creating what are perceived as potholes. Further deterioration of the asphalt causes tires to kick rocks from the roadway, potentially breaking windshields. The Loop 202 Santan Freeway recorded a much higher percentage of damaged windshield claims than other areas of the county, according to Randy Everett, senior division administrator with ADOT’s Central District. The big challenge is how to maintain these freeways. ADOT sought a better method than milling and filling the delaminated areas with new rubberized asphalt. After testing four options, ADOT selected diamond grinding of the existing concrete as a surface treatment alternative for Valley freeways. At about the same time, MAG came out with a report noting that diamond grinding should be considered for noise reduction on Valley freeways. To further test diamond grinding, ADOT selected a four-mile section of the Santan Freeway, from the I-10 to Loop 101. After removing the rubberized asphalt, they ran three large diamond grinders alongside each other, their blades cutting grooves in the concrete pavement. Subsequent tests showed that noise levels this segment were only five decibels higher than newly laid rubberized asphalt and were comparable with rubberized asphalt that was 5-7 years old.


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Concrete Fountain Renews Tucson’s Historic Plaza Jennifer M. Levstik


ven the most innocuous objects have stories to tell. Tucson’s El Presidio Fountain is one of them. Constructed at the height of Urban Renewal between 1970 and 1971, this concrete fountain represents an outstanding example of late Modernist public art and an expression of how communities rebuild their image over time.

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Located within El Presidio Park in downtown Tucson, the fountain serves as a focal point within a complex of City of Tucson and Pima County-owned municipal buildings. The name El Presidio Park, referencing the park’s Spanish origins, is just one of several names—La Plaza de las Armas, Court-house Plaza, Court Plaza, and El Presidio Plaza—that graced this small park.

In 1775, with the construction of the Spanish presidio in Tucson and the protection it offered, private construction outside the presidio’s adobe walls enabled the establishment of the Plaza de las Armas. By the late 19th century, increasing Anglo-American settlement transformed Tucson’s urban core. A new courthouse constructed immediately to the plaza’s east led to renaming it Court-house Plaza. Between 1881 and 1888, a Presbyterian Church was established along the margins of Court-house Plaza; a new courthouse replaced the earlier one, and the former open space became a formal park with a radial plan. This transition from a Spanish military plaza to a parque central repreJuly August 2021

Images courtesy of Charles Clement Collection

sented the first significant “re-branding” of The continuing decline of Tucson’s El Presidio Park. Through the late 19th and downtown led city voters to approve the early 20th centuries, the old adobes and “Pueblo Center” plan in 1966 that remade their former residents were replaced with 76 acres of its downtown core. Federal new classical styled civic funds and city bonds and religious buildings the condemna“Hopefully, it will be dark financed and Anglo residents. tion and demolition of From the late 1940s enough for kissing but not the area and construconwards, federally incen- dark enough for mugging.” tion of new public facilitivized urban renewal ties. The plan included a programs sought to sanitize downtowns civic and governmental center whose cenand facilitate the expansion of their associ- tral Court Plaza anchored the surrounding ated business districts. Often, this involved administrative buildings. the demolition of adjacent neighborhoods, The remake of Court Plaza (now El classified as “blighted,” to clear land for Presidio Park) in the Pueblo Center Redesubsequent investment--that did not velopment Plan was entrusted to local Tucalways materialize. son architect Michael Angel Lugo, Jr. of the arizcc.com

Top left: Ornamental blocks under construction at El Presidio Fountain, 1971. Above: Workers set concrete blocks during El Presidio Fountain construction, 1971.

architectural firm of Blanton and Company. Lugo’s involvement in the redevelopment of El Presidio Park appears to have been a career highlight. The task before him was far from easy; Blanton and Company had created a 3-story subterranean parking garage that placed severe weight restrictions on the landscape above. Further, the park needed to wed the Spanish Colonial design of the Pima County Courthouse with the formalist and brutalist lines of the new public administration buildings now opposite it. Arizona Contractor & Community

Image courtesy of THPF Image courtesy of Arizona Historical Society Image courtesy of Arizona Daily Star

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Above: El Presidio Fountain looking towards Tucson City Hall and Pima County Superior Court buildings, 2019. Left: Court-house Plaza (now El Presidio Park) showing the beginning of a newly landscaped park and Presbyterian Church, 1880. Bottom left: Former City Hall looking northwest from the southeast corner of Court Plaza park, 1967.

The components of the park were Modernist in design but included traditional brick masonry and ample vegetation. A large plaza connected to its surroundings through straight and curving pathways of brick and poured concrete. To soften the hardscape, the park included ten grassy areas, shade trees, and flower boxes. Lugo noted that “[we] tried to plan a park that would be used the whole darn day… And it may appear overlighted until the trees get big… Hopefully, it will be dark enough for kissing but not dark enough for mugging.” The fountain echoed the park’s rectilinear forms, concrete surfaces, and lack of symmetry. Within the footprint of the fountain, a series of intersecting rectangular blocks of buff-colored cast concrete in varying size and height created a rectilinear basin. Three cast concrete cylindrical masts, rising from the basin, form a triangle joined by struts. The lower strut consists of three crossed arms cantilevered out from a triJuly August 2021

angular arrangement of masts crossing 6 and 8 feet over the basin. The two 8-foot arms hold small-scale cast concrete blocks echoing the irregular arrangement of the blocks forming the basin walls. The remaining 6-foot arm terminates in a cast concrete bowl. Together, these elements were meant to represent a saguaro cactus and a flower. Ornamenting many of the concrete blocks are cast concrete bas-reliefs with organic and orthogonal shapes. Commissioned by Lugo, artist Charles A. Clement designed a series of cast concrete panels using Styrofoam molds and interspersed with inlaid glass tesserae. Clement drew inspiration from the Sonoran Desert and local history, remarking that the lower 12 panels would be “an abstract impression of the richness of the pre-history of the Tucson area.” The upper blocks would depict “the story of Tucson after the arrival of the white man…based on the care, preservation and careful use of water, and the culture based on that water and the ground it nourishes.” After its completion in 1971, the fountain largely fell from local attention and was only sporadically maintained. By 2018, the water was shut off permanently for fear it would damage the parking garage below. Then, in 2020, Pima County determined that the fountain was cost-prohibitive to repair and threatened demolition. In response, the City of Tucson acquired the property and hired Logan Simpson, an environmental consulting, urban planning, and landscape design firm, to prepare a National Register of Historic Places nomination and a local landmark designation package. They, in turn, hired BWS Architects to prepare a condition assessment and rehabilitation plan. The fountain is arguably located upon Tucson’s most important public gathering space, with a history stretching back to the city’s Hispanic-era founding. It is an outstanding representational object of the space’s many transformations and the City’s repeated efforts to makeover the area for new generations. Today, the January 8th Memorial’s construction, which honors the victims and survivors of the tragedy Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson that wounded 13 and killed six individuals, demonstrates the park’s continuing transformation, and the fountain remains the principal reminder of this past. The fountain was recently renamed for the late Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, who had championed environmental causes during his career. arizcc.com

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Old School Equipment:

The Mixermobile and Scoopmobile


fter two years in the concrete industry, Ed Wagner of Portland, Oregon, realized the need for a more efficient way to handle the heavy building material. The contractor designed the Mixermobile, a truck-mounted concrete mixing and pouring system that could be transported on highways up to 50 miles per hour. The Mixermobile consisted of a cement-mixing drum mounted on a truck with a 35-foot pivot tower and adjustable chute to deliver the concrete ready-mix to the desired height. The mixing drum could produce 50 yards of concrete per hour and pour this into a hopper on the tower. The

2-yard buckets. The articulation allowed for up to 20 degrees “bucket swing,” according to sales literature. Not only was the steering articulated, but the pivot point also provided left and right oscillation from horizontal. Equipment Sales Co. (ESCO) at 720 South 19th Avenue in Phoenix and Neil B. McGinnis at 500 South Central Avenue became the Arizona distributors for the Mixermobile in the mid-1940s. Several Arizona contractors purchased the Mixermobile to use on their projects, including Arizona Sand & Rock, Del Webb Construction, and Womack Construction. The machine proved valuable for long concrete pours like the foundation of the Phoenix Central

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Top right: Mixermobile Production Line advertisement, 1953. Below: St. Joseph’s Hospital under construction using the Mixermobile in Phoenix, 1953. Bottom right: TGK Construction using a Mixermobile during construction of Luhrs Parking Garage in Downtown Phoenix, 1957.

hopper could climb the tower in 10-foot sections up to a height of 165 feet. The machine improved concrete handling, and Wagner’s seven sons founded Mixermobile Manufactures to build the equipment, according to constructionequipment.com. Mixermobile then developed one of the first articulated wheel loaders, dubbed the Scoopmobile, in the early 1950s. “The loader had an unusual tricycle arrangement with driver tires in the front and a steering bogey with paired tires on a swivel at the back,” according to constructionequipment.com. “It steered by means of a tiller handle, much like a sailboat, and could be towed at highway speeds behind a truck.” This basic loader design continued into the 1970s and was popular with highway departments and ready-mix companies, especially in the Western states, because of its superior maneuverability. The Scoopmobile offered 1-yard and

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July August 2021

Left: An Arizona Sand & Rock Co. Mixermobile in transit mode, 1947. Below: Scoopmobile loading clay into a belly dump truck at Phoenix Brick Yard’s 35th Avenue and Thomas Road clay pit, 1953. Bottom: Delbert Burnett of Stevens Paving Co. using a Scoopmobile loader to fill a Conquer Cartage Co. dump truck during construction of Penney’s at Park Central Mall, 1967.

Library and floors at St. Joseph’s Hospital, both in 1952, and for the Luhrs Parking Garage in 1957. Mixermobile built an extensive line of models, including a couple of loaders that were, during their production runs, among the world’s largest machines. But despite


its design advantages, the Scoopmobile line never achieved its full potential for success. It wasn’t until the Euclid Division of General Motors introduced their version of articulated steering loaders in 1959 that the design took off to become today’s industry standard.

In 1968, the Wagner family sold their production line to Wabco. Along with their Mixermobile, the Wagner family offered the Dozermobile and Loggermobile lines. All these vintage machines can still be found for sale on the web and in private collections.

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Arizona Contractor & Community

Building on the Past 1958: A “Heavy” Order of Superlite Blocks


o it big, do it right, and do it with style,” said actor Fred Astaire. Apparently, famed Valley developer John F. Long was listening. In 1958, Long signed a contract with Superlite Builders Supply Co. for delivery of some 16-inch-long blocks, specifically 12 million Superlite blocks. It was the largest single block contract ever signed at that time. The blocks, if laid end-to-end, would stretch from Los Angeles past New York into the Atlantic Ocean. Long, the third-largest homebuilder in the world at the time, needed the blocks to continue building his Maryvale development. Designed by California architect Victor Gruen, Maryvale was the first master-planned community in Arizona. By 1956, Long was selling 125 homes a week there. He would eventually complete more than 25,000 homes in Maryvale, which the city of Phoenix annexed in 1960. Superlite Builders Supply Co. was the largest single concrete block producer in the world, when Long placed his big order. The company’s headquarters, including a Superlite block demonstration yard, was


located at 5201 North Seventh Street in Phoenix. The building was converted to the Humanities and Sciences Acadeour Charter School in 2007 but retained its signature breezeblock accents. The company’s initial manufacturing plant was located near Six Points at Grand Avenue and McDowell Road. To meet the demand created by Long’s purchase, the company added eight block manufacturing machines at the site. Superlite blocks were unloaded at construction sites beginning in 1953 using the Superlite Unloader, a specialized machine manufactured by the company. The unit could be mounted on the end of a truck or trailer, and unloading the block took minutes rather than hours. The new machinery reduced delivery costs by 50 percent and could be adapted to unload other heavy products such as clay tile, cement, or machinery. Since 1958, ownership of the company has changed hands several times and is currently owned by Oldcastle APG, which operates a handful of Superlite plants in southern Arizona.

July August 2021

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community Image courtesy of Don Poppe

Left: Superlite block in a new Maryvale home entryway, 1958. Top right: Superlite Builders Supply Co. Sales Manager M.E. Wagoner and John Long sign a contract for 12 million Superlite blocks in front of a Superlite Unloader, 1958. Middle right: Wagoner and John Long watch a Superlite Unloader, 1958. Right: Truck driver Don Poppe with his Kenworth Superlite Builders Supply Co. truck with attached block loading machine, early 1950s. arizcc.com

Arizona Contractor & Community

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Arizona Contractor & Community


Architect’s Perspective: Concrete Innovations in Arizona Doug Sydnor, FAIA Doug_sydnor@outlook.com improve its physical properties and/or finished material, and reinforcing materials stretch its structural capabilities. There are different methods of forming concrete, whether it is poured in place or offsite. Let’s explore some innovative uses of concrete in Arizona. The 1906 Kingman Powerhouse was constructed to supply nearby mines with electric power for hoists and pumps. The Powerhouse, along with the Santa Fe Railroad Depot in Kingman that was built the same year, were some of the first pouredin-place concrete buildings in Arizona. The Tracy Engineering Company of Los Angeles designed the Powerhouse, which had

20-feet-high, 18-inch-thick walls, and measured 60 feet wide by 110 feet long. The completion of the Hoover Dam in 1938 and its inexpensive hydroelectric power put this oil-fired powerplant out of business. This fine example of a purely functional and durable concrete structure was later used as a recycling center until Otwell Associates of Prescott in 1995 performed a sensitive rehabilitation. The original boardformed, cast-in-place concrete buttresses and walls are fully exposed and define this utilitarian yet iconic structure. A new metal roof to match the original was installed over the existing steel trusses. The building now houses the Kingman Visitor Center, Route 66 Museum, a café, and historical organizations. Frank Lloyd Wright was commissioned in 1949 to design the Southwest Christian Seminary as a Classical University in Phoenix, but it was not built. Wright’s widow, Olgivanna, later permitted the original plans to be used for the new First Christian Church at 6750 North Seventh Avenue in Phoenix. Completed in 1973, it used concrete and stone walls similar to the Taliesin West materials. The sanctuary was enclosed by a series of poured-in-place, concrete tree-like fins and piers. Stepped profiles form each pier Left: Kingman Powerhouse, Kingman. Bottom: First Christian Church, Phoenix.

Images courtesy of Author

Image courtesy of Otwell Associates

oncrete is not only a long-lasting material; humans have also used it for a long time. Its origins are a concrete-like material used in the 4th century B.C. in southern Syria and northern Jordan. The Roman Empire improved concrete and used it to build revolutionary designs of structural complexity and dimension, such as the Colosseum in Rome and the Pantheon, the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. After the Roman Empire collapsed during the 4th century A.D., the use of concrete became rare until the technology, and its workability, was redeveloped in the mid-18th century. Concrete is a mix of coarse aggregate bonded together with fluid cement and water. The raw natural materials available for making concrete, including the aggregate, lime, and sand, are readily available in Arizona. Since concrete is fluid, it can be molded into a wide variety of shapes and becomes a durable stone-like material. Over time various additives have been developed to

Eighty six

July August 2021

Images courtesy of Author Image courtesy of 180 Degrees

as it goes vertical and then becomes a shade canopy. The resulting form is quite sculptural and plays with the ever-changing shadows; the grouping appears to be an abstract orchard. The faceted Bell Tower was completed in 1978 and clad in architectural precast concrete panels similar to the main structure. In 1979, Taliesin Architects designed a new addition of a baptistery, choir loft, and administration wing. The Market Street at D.C. Ranch in Scottsdale was completed in 1988. The 300,000 square-foot, mixed-use community center features offices, retail, restaurants, and entertainment. The design was a fresh contemporary interpretation of historic Arizona mining and farming structures. Of particular note is Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, which is primarily constructed of horizontal board-formed concrete walls with broken ribs. This technique hadn’t been used since the 1960s Neo-Brutalist architecture.


Architect Peter Koliopoulos and the Circle West Architects design team researched the area’s history, which encouraged the organic forms and materials of concrete, rusted steel, natural metals, wood accents, and stone. The architecture captures an authenticity and genuine quality while being animated. The TrueNorth public art installation at the Tempe Center for the Arts was completed in 2007. According to the team of Mayme Kratz and Mark Ryan, AIA, “This campfire on the edge of the water was inspired by the Native American legend of the ‘Great Spirit.’ Passed down through generations, the story tells of the Great Spirit assigning guardianship of the earth, wind, fire, and water and assigning [each of] them a direction; - to north, the great spirit gave fire. Using the geometric center of TCA’s semi-circular plan, a line was struck on the true north alignment.” There were initial walks at the site and the team noticed the ground had sparkles. The sparkles were then photographed so that the same sparkle locations were marked on the new black concrete wall; and positioned 120 cast-resin rods at such locations. Within each resin rod is a unique project artifact such as sketches, correspondence, screenplays, sheet music, poetry, or natural objects from the site. This art piece explores technically-challenging curved formwork, the use of black integral color, and inserting the resin rods to introduce a magical light to the interior and exterior spaces. 180 Degrees Design + Build constructed this well-crafted public art piece. Although the artist, architect, and philosopher Paolo Soleri had been designing bridges for decades, the first to be built was the Soleri Bridge & Plaza in Scottsdale

Top left: Market Street at D.C. Ranch Flemings Steakhouse, Scottsdale. Above: Soleri Bridge & Plaza, Scottsdale. Bottom left: Tempe Center for the Arts ‘TrueNorth’, Tempe.

on the Arizona Canal in 2010. This gathering place along the Scottsdale Waterfront also serves as a solar calendar. The 22,000 square-foot plaza has two 64-feet-high pylons with a 6-inch gap between them to create a light shaft as the earth moves at the solar noon and along a “red stripe” inlaid into the plaza. I was one among 1,000 attending the dedication, and the moment came when they escorted Paolo Soleri over to the “red stripe” to stand next to me. The solar noon arrived, and as predicted, the sun did light up the “red stripe.” “It actually works,” I said to Mr. Soleri, who just smiled in agreement. The plaza’s southern edge is defined by a series of monolithic, earth-cast concrete panels that each weigh 3,500 pounds; similar panels are used in the same way at Cosanti. Soleri and Roger Tomalty created these sculptural panels with earth-colored pigments. The project team was Paolo Soleri & Cosanti Foundation with John Douglas Architects, Scottsdale Public Art, and Howard S. Wright Construction. Such examples demonstrate how concrete can be formed to bring out a wide variety of shapes and textures to play in our sunlight, be integrally colored, and absorb stone and artifacts. Concrete in Arizona promises to have a creative future given its local availability, durability, natural qualities, and appropriate character in the Sonoran Desert. Douglas B. Sydnor, FAIA, is Principal at Douglas Sydnor Architect and Associates and author of three architecture books. Arizona Contractor & Community

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Image courtesy of David West

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor

Digging Through the Archives:

Cook, West & West: A Truck Driving Family Billy Horner


recently connected with a family with an impressive legacy of truck driving in the Valley. This linkage occurred when I befriended David West through vintage pictures he posted of his father, John West, on the United Metro Materials Alumni Association website. But it turns out that his family has an even more extended history with truck driving, involving his grandfather on his mother’s side, James Cook, who worked at Arizona Sand & Rock Company. Cook had some exciting jobs behind the wheel before driving a concrete mixer at ASR. “He drove an auto transport, prob-

Images courtesy of David West

Top left: Southside Sand & Rock Company advertisement, 1953. Top right: John West by a Southside Sand & Rock mixer, 1962. Below: John West by a United Metro mixer, 1960s. Bottom right: Larry Cook and John West by a United Metro truck, 1970s.

ably late 1940’s early 50’s, out of St. Louis,” David says. “He had a stint as a test driver/ mechanic for Ford Motor Company when the road to Flagstaff was dirt. A few cars would convoy together up and back. They carried tools and such, so they could take care of repairs as needed.” Cook worked at ASR from the late 1950s until he passed away in 1975. “My grandfather died when I was 15, so I wasn’t exposed to much of his career,” David says. “I always found it comical that my dad, who worked as an inspector at Allison Steel, rode with my grandfather on weekends and off days to learn to drive a mixer. Then Maynard Graham at ASR would not hire Dad because he lacked experience. I always thought it was funny they let Dad ride for free but wouldn’t give him a shot as a driver. That’s why he never worked for ASR.”

During his career at ASR, Cook won second place in the company’s “Driver of the Year” contest in 1960. His prizes included a Coleman ice chest, a Brazier barbeque, and a Sequoia sleeping bag. David’s father, John, worked for another outfit that, at various times, was called Southside Ready-Mix, United Materials, and United Metro. “It was the same company, but had different names because of mergers and acquisitions,” David says. His father drove just about every major brand of the day, including Diamond Reo, Diamond T, Peterbilt, White, Kenworth, Cummins, and Detroit Power. “Dad drove mostly 5x4 twin-stick trannys,” David says. “I don’t think he ran anything but mixers, maybe an occasional 10-wheeler dump truck, and a boost-a-load mixer by the late 1970s.” His father drove to provide for his family, according to David. “He was very hard-working and a good Christian. Strict but fair. Well-liked by most everyone.” John didn’t talk about himself much and preferred to tell stories about other old-time drivers like Leroy Riddle, Arthur Fiddler, R.L. Compton, George Martin, and Richard Beeler.


July August 2021

Top to bottom: • Arizona Sand & Rock Co.’s fleet of ready-mix trucks at the Seventh St. plant, 1963. • Arizona Sand & Rock Co. billboard advertisement, 1960s. • David West hauling a girder for the U.S. Highway 85 bridge over the Gila River between Buckeye and Gila Bend, 1990s. • David West transporting a Lampson 3900 Manitowoc, 2003. arizcc.com

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community Images courtesy of David West

John used his house as a pit stop to sip iced tea in the summers, which attracted his son to the occupation. “I was fascinated with the trucks!” David says. “I’d stand at the curb and just be mesmerized. Occasionally he would let me sit in the driver’s seat. It wasn’t but a few minutes, but those moments have stretched into a lifetime. After my time in the Army, there wasn’t any other thing I saw as a career but driving.” David says that his father had more safe driving awards than he can remember, including 2 million safe miles with United Metro. John passed away on February 12, 2005. David has driven for United Metro, Road Machinery Company, Atlas Forklift Rentals, Tatel Inc., Bennett Motor Express, Keen Transport, and is currently with Daily Express Inc. “I enjoy driving in the Phoenix area because it’s one of the easiest large cities to negotiate,” he says. “Everything, at least then, was laid out pretty much as a square. Once you memorized the numbering system and major crossroads, you could find almost any location.” When David was a Bennett Motor Express owner-operator while based in Raeford, North Carolina, in 2006, he was awarded the “Heavy-Haul Driver of the Year. In 2008, he was the “Heavy-Haul Division Driver of the Year.” The family’s connection to truck driving, however, extends beyond James, John, and David. “My mother’s brothers all became truck drivers,” David says. He details how Bill Cook hauled gas, worked for Ameron pipe as a driver, and drove dump trucks for many years. Larry Cook drove mixers and dumps for United Metro and Blue Circle and worked as a truck foreman for the latter. Allen Cook worked for years as a machinist, then embarked on a driving career. Michael Cook has driven almost everything you can imagine, from mixers to flatbed to cement train. “Wonder how I have evolved into this industry for so many years combined?” Michael declares. “It’s all due to James; I have such a family trucking history!” David concurs. “My grandfather and father influenced a large driving family. I’m so proud to know my dad, grandad, and uncles will be remembered.”

Arizona Contractor & Community

Bid Results May-June 2021 Monks Well Waterline Earth Resources Corporation $283,517 5/3/21

South Recharge Site Phase II Redpoint Contracting Action Direct $6,313,433 5/13/21

(DESIGN BUILD) Lone Tree Overpass Ames Construction - AZ $52,000,000 5/26/21

Water Main Replacements Haydon Building Corp. $6,442,188 5/4/21

FY22 PRPP Arivaca Mill Pulverize Pave Sunland Asphalt - AZ $8,549,000 5/14/21

Pavement Preservation FY 2022 Group 1 Nesbitt $5,899,960 5/26/21

Runway 4L 22R Headwalls Combs Construction Co. $230,541 5/6/21

Phoenix Goodyear Airport Drainage Granite Construction - AZ $2,665,376 5/18/21

City of Chandler Right of Way Repair Vincon Engineering Construction $578,643 5/27/21

W Downtown Water Main Replacement Lincoln Constructors $374,867 5/6/21

Alamo Road Low Water Crossing AZ Western Contracting $310,779 5/19/21

Posse Ground Parking Soldiers Pass Paul R. Peterson Construction, Inc. $1,352,871 5/27/21

Annual Asphalt Paving Program Earth Resources Corporation $371,810 5/10/21

San Luis Yuma Rifle Range (095-B-NFA) Fann Contracting $14,877,953 5/21/21

Somerton High School Sewer Lift Station Yuma Valley Contractors $2,164,874 5/27/21

35th Ave Carver Elliot Rummel Construction, Inc. $2,371,998 5/11/21

Prescott Chino Valley Hell Canyon VSS International - AZ $983,000 5/21/21

Noon Street Water Paving Replacement Accelerated Construction Excavating $1,180,341 5/28/21

(CMAR) Gililland Middle School Chasse Building Team $38,000,000 5/11/21

State Route 24 Roadway Drainage DCS Contracting Inc. $8,938,000 5/25/21

Sundog Trunk Main Sewer Phase 2C Fann Contracting $4,245,056 6/3/21

Taxiway A Connectors Reconstruction Combs Construction Co. $6,475,069 5/12/21

General Apron Yuma Airport Cemex Materials South $2,492,820 5/26/21

Drake Road Pavement Improvements Fann Contracting $1,020,577 6/3/21

County Basin Dog Park Construction Scholz Contracting $1,002,814 5/12/21

Shinarump Road Phase II Perco Rock Co. $895,787 5/26/21

Arizona Avenue Waterline Replacement DPE Construction Don Peterson Engs $524,000 6/3/21

Bid Awards Jul-Aug 1986 John W. Lattimore Contractors $70,550 New Box Culverts Kyrene de la Colina Elementary School Nesbitt Contracting, Mesa $208,749 Street Widening Hayden Between Camelback and Indian School Rds. R.E. Miller Paving, Tucson $369,661 Street Improvements Craycroft Rd. Granite Const., Tucson $1.41 Mil. Street Improvements Kinney Rd. Banner Const., Phoenix $146,740 Sanitary Sewer Line City of Phoenix Hunter Contracting, Gilbert $4.5 Mil. Street Improvements Guadalupe, McClintock Dr., Elliot, and Rural Rds. The Ashton Co., Tucson $539,795 Box Culverts, Paving Arivaca Rd. Sanner Contracting, Phoenix $1.06 Mil. College Ave-Roosevelt reconstruction Tempe

coming next issue... • Johnson Stewart Materials • Architect Kemper Goodwin • The Valley’s Drive-In Theaters • Deterring Construction Theft • ANd lots more!

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July August 2021

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