Carl Walker Construction

Carl WalkerCarl Walker Construction completes high-profile parking garage projects.   

By Kat Zeman, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media

Although the company considers itself a general contractor, Carl Walker Construction has become an industry leader for parking garage design, construction, restoration, waterproofing and specialty concrete projects.

From small restoration projects that cost a few thousand dollars to large-scale design/build parking structures that reach into the millions, Carl Walker prides itself on being able to provide a single-source solution. Carl Walker info box

“We can design and build a garage in a shorter period of time than conventional bid/build projects,” Project Manager Marc Palmieri says. “We accelerate the schedule by streamlining the design process by reducing the soft cost of the project because of our ability to perform everything in-house.” 

The Pittsburgh-based company has done work in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and New York. It completed a signature project in downtown Pittsburgh this year. Referred to as the 350 Oliver project, it involved building a 585-space parking structure. 

“It’s a very high-profile project because it’s a part of the transformation of the city of Pittsburgh,” Senior Project Manager Chris McElhaney says.

The project consists of two phases. Phase one includes the parking garage and a retail component. Phase two calls for building nine stories of condominiums on top of the new parking garage. The condos should be ready for occupancy by late 2019. It is a joint venture between Millcraft Investments and McKnight Realty Partners under the name of Smithfield Oliver Partners. Carl Walker was contracted by Smithfield Oliver Partners to design and build phase one of the parking garage. 

Transforming Pittsburgh

Lack of parking has always been an issue in Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle. Although most property redevelopment projects usually focus on providing parking for the facilities being built, the 350 Oliver development went beyond.

Smithfield Oliver Partners instructed Carl Walker to address the parking needs of its adjacent buildings in addition to that of the future condo residents. Roughly 100 of the 585 parking spaces will be utilized by future tower occupants, while the rest will help alleviate parking congestion issues in the area.  

The 350 Oliver development is seven-story parking garage and mixed-use facility consisting of roughly 25,000 square feet of street-level restaurant/retail space and 585 parking spaces.

Contributing to the high-profile nature of the project was the demolition of the former Saks Fifth Avenue building, which was an iconic building in Pittsburgh’s downtown. Its replacement, as well as the diversified use of the new building, required Carl Walker to consider various structural and aesthetic solutions during design.  

Carl Walker’s team designed an integrated topping and waterproofing system over retail space, and an aluminum façade system. “The aluminum façade system transforms the building to look more like an office building rather than a parking garage,” McElhaney says.  

With adjacent buildings mere feet away during both demolition and construction, Carl Walker also had to take many protective precautions while performing this work. In addition, the design of the foundation presented its challenges. 

“We had to design the foundation and the garage superstructure to support a 10-story tower on top of the parking garage,” Palmieri says. 

Carl Walker considers itself fortunate to have played such a significant role in a signature project that’s part of the continued revitalization of the greater Pittsburgh region. 

High-Profile Projects 

Carl Walker has tackled a number of other high-profile projects in the Pittsburgh area. In 2010, the company completed construction of a $50 million, 2,000-space steel frame, cast-in-place, post-tension parking garage – its largest project to date – for the casino Sands Bethlehem. This year, it completed work on a $6.5 million, 350-space parking garage for St. Clair Hospital in Pittsburgh. 

Carl Walker is also currently in pre-construction for a dam project in Beach City, Ohio. The $1 million project for the U.S. Army Core of Engineers will take about six months to complete. It is an example of some of the company’s specialty projects. 

“We are moving the existing rails of the emergency overflow gates and replacing them,” McElhaney says. “It’s a pretty technical job. Access to the area and the timing is challenging. You have to watch water levels while you are working.” 

Aside from that, Carl Walker completed a relatively large project, the HUB at 3 Crossings, last year. The project helped transform old trucking yards and an industrial building in Pittsburgh. The development required a multimodal hub for the neighboring residential and commercial developments including space for cars, bikes, and kayaks.

Carl Walker was awarded the contract to finalize the design/build of a 588-space precast parking structure. The project’s challenges included contending with an unusually high concentration of adjoining construction projects, site reclamation necessitated by previous contamination and a tight footprint abutting a restricted railroad.

The design involved special façade elements to complement the aesthetic of sister developments. The elevator and stair tower was designed with ground face precast walls and spandrel panels were stained to match the neighborhood. Retail space utilized a glass storefront highlighted by a stamped/dyed patio surrounded by railings of stainless steel and glass.

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