Laying the groundwork for success

Laying the groundwork for success

In 2014, construction teams broke ground on an ambitious $365 million expansion of Tulsa, Oklahoma’s River Spirit Casino resort. With 29 stories and close to 500 rooms, the 415,000-square-foot expansion is a project requiring the know-how and dedication of both general and specialized contractors to ensure that components of the project are strong and solid every step of the way.  

As the foundation and the backbone of any building—and for maximum progress on a structure as large as the River Spirit Casino—finding the right mix of concrete for speed and strength is imperative. To tackle the structural concrete portion of the project, the Muscogee Creek Nation and joint venture contractors Manhattan Redstone turned to the concrete construction specialists at Lithko Contracting Inc.

Keeping the project safely on schedule

With the new and improved River Spirit Casino set to open in 2017, all contractors on the job must keep to a tight schedule to avoid falling behind. This is especially important for contractors like Lithko, responsible for placing the foundations, columns, decks and floors on schedule to specific tolerances that every other detail will be built on.

“Key items on this project really were schedule-driven,” says James Duke, Operations Manager for Lithko’s work on the River Spirit Casino project. Lithko worked out a seven-day cycle with Manhattan Redstone and its concrete mix supplier and subcontractors, working nights three times a week to make the most of crane and site logistics.

But despite this tight turnaround timeframe, safety never takes a back seat for Lithko Contracting. The company approaches this issue through several safeguards, starting with preliminary Phase  Hazard Plans drawn up by project leads and then involving Field Leads on weekly “Operational Activity Trainings” (OAT) and using the Daily Preparation Process (DPP) to identify and assess the unique hazards and challenges facing co-workers each day.

“We don’t try to push it down from the top, but try to get the buy-in and input from each and every one of the guys doing work on the best way to do it safely,” says Duke. “Do we put the ladder on the inside or the outside? Do we stage materials left or right? They get to have a voice in that and some ownership in their own plan for the day, and it gets more eyes and more ideas around each thing we’re doing. So you tend to get tunnel vision if you’ve done the same thing over again. With eight or ten more guys working on a problem, you get a better result.”

The right mix for the job

Finding the perfect concrete mix is also vital to staying on schedule, as every other operation hinges on floors and load-bearing walls that have gained enough strength to keep moving forward.

“We poured the structural deck typically at 2:00AM, and by 3:00 the following afternoon we poured columns and sheer walls—then by noon the next day we tensioned the post-tension slabs,” says Duke. “We had to have 3750 PSI on the concrete within 24-30 hours in order to make schedule. We also had to not just make the strength in the timeframe, but finish it.”

Countless tests and trial batches performed by local Tulsa-based supplier and partner Eagle Ready Mix, resulted in the perfect concrete formulation to meet the challenges of the River Spirit Casino resort.

“They worked with BASF to really hone in on the mix and the additives we used,” says Duke, noting that by working together they were able to dial in a perfect mix of concrete and additives to suit the needs of Lithko and Manhattan Redstone.

“A lot of times you get the strength, but it turns into something you can’t finish,” Duke explains. “They worked with us, and really got something that I think they’ll market for a long time. We used Engius intelliRock II maturity meters to determine the strength in the concrete, where we didn’t have to wait on cylinder breaks from the testing lab. We were making 3,750 PSI within 24-30 hours, dependent on what the temperatures were, and ultimate strength was within the 7,000 PSI range.”

Laying the groundwork for success

With its last significant pour achieved on schedule, Lithko’s active part in the River Spirit Casino project is now starting to wind down. When all is said and done, the contractor will have contributed nearly 20,500 cubic yards of concrete to the structure as well as 700,000 ft of post tension cable and 1,800 tons of rebar. When the project is complete, visitors will be able to enjoy new entertainment and luxuries atop Lithko’s strong and steady surface.