Riverlite Used in New Orleans Veterans Hospital Project

New Orleans VA

Riverlite®, an expanded clay lightweight aggregate produced by Trinity Lightweight, is providing structural and cost saving advantages for the Department of Veteran Affairs’ 30-acre, state-of-the-art medical facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. The old facility was severely damaged by flooding during Hurricane Katrina.

Project Legacy, as the $995-million project has come to be called, is one of the single largest construction projects in the history of the city of New Orleans. The multi-building campus will cover twelve city blocks and will include buildings for Inpatient, Diagnostic and Treatment, Outpatient, Transitional Living and Rehabilitation, Research, Administration, Central Energy Plant and two separate parking structures.

“Utilizing concrete produced with Riverlite® on the metal decking as the floor/ceiling assembly is a typical application for our product,” says Jeff Speck, of Trinity Lightweight. Riverlite®, a structural lightweight aggregate produced at Trinity's Erwinville, Louisiana Plant, provides two significant advantages for projects such as The Veterans Hospital.

“Contractors can achieve the necessary fire rating for the buildings while using significantly less concrete compared to normal weight concrete. Using less concrete translates into cost savings”, says Speck.

“Using lower density concrete means less weight and a significant reduction in the dead load of the building from top to bottom,” adds Speck. The supportive beams and columns can often be reduced in size, meaning the structure requires less steel, as well as less concrete. “To put it simply, less weight means less material used in construction and that means lower cost,” says Speck.

Carlo Ditta Ready Mix, a third generation New Orleans ready mix company, supplied the concrete for the project. “Lightweight aggregate offers dual advantages," says Joseph Ditta. "We achieve the desired structural strength and meet the strict fire codes with concrete floor slabs up to one inch thinner. Some 15,000 cubic yards of lightweight aggregate were used in more than 30,000 cubic yards of concrete throughout the new buildings, as well as in the rehabbing of many buildings damaged by flooding during Katrina.”

New Orleans VA

About the Facility

The Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System replacement medical center, designed to create an environment to honor veterans and their families, was completed in 2016. During construction, administrators occupied the old Pan American Life Insurance Co. building on Canal Street, the first and only building to be renovated. The entire facility went under VA control in early 2016, with the first patient being seen by the end of that year.

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