MIM Converts Food Bank and 20 Other Projects to CMU With Direct Design Software

The Greater Lansing Food Bank, Bath, MI, is one of some 20 projects that the Masonry Institute of Michigan (MIM) has converted to CMU over the past two years using NCMA’s innovative Direct Design software, according to Philippe Ledent, P.E., S.E., the group’s executive director.

The food bank provides between 8 and 9 million meals annually to families in the region, along with some 40,000 vegetable plant “starts,” and a wide variety of other services.  The new concrete masonry structure is allowing the organization to expand operations to serve the growing needs of the community.

Direct Design Helps Demonstrate Cost Savings

 “Saving money was a priority for the food bank, as it is for many projects. Originally, the entire building was going to be a steel structure or tilt-up,” said Ledent, who joined MIM in 2020 and is also an adjunct professor of engineering at the University of Toledo. Ledent worked with MIM member Xtreme Mason Contractors to convert the project to block.

“Xtreme is passionate about taking projects initially designed using steel, wood frame, precast,  or tilt-up wall construction, and converting them to masonry,” Ledent said. “They, like all of our members, work hard to demonstrate that masonry is affordable, resilient and one of the most sustainable products around.”

Xtreme budgeted the food bank’s office area with a decorative split-face CMU, eliminated all of the steel lintels, and converted the warehouse from poured walls to decorative CMU.

“MIM used Direct Design to perform a preliminary structural design on the food bank that highlighted the economy of masonry, and also worked with the architect to meet the Michigan Energy Code using COMcheck (a program that  makes it easy to determine whether structures meet the requirements of the IECC and ASHRAE Standard 90.1). CMU wound up being less expensive than precast, and both the general contractor and the food bank agreed that masonry was the way to go.” Ledent said.

Jim Conklin, operations manager at Xtreme, said the client was very pleased with the outcome of the project. “They wholeheartedly agree that masonry was the better choice thanks to the ease of construction, elimination of the steel lintels and creation of a more attractive finished product compared to poured or tilt up walls.”

Using DirectDesign is Quick and Easy

 The food bank project shows how Direct Design can help provide the kind of quick response needed to get masonry specified over other wall systems, Ledent said.

“DirectDesign is very simple and easy to use.  All you have to do is enter some basic information about window and door openings, size, etc., wind speed, and a few other parameters,  and the program does the work. We’ve been able to be very responsive to the needs of our members and the design and building community.”

“We can react very quickly, sometimes in a couple of hours,” Ledent said, adding that when it comes to trying to convert a building from another system to masonry, time is often of the essence.

Built on TMS Direct Design Protocol

NCMA’s Direct Design software is built using the protocols of The Masonry Society’s (TMS) Direct Design Handbook (TMS 403).

The software makes it easy to provide draftsmen and contractors with fully-detailed wall elevation drawings, up to the latest consensus standards.  It fully automates the Direct Design approach and provides detailing of every block and reinforcing bar. The program is  also transparent – providing users with the detailed calculations that produced the design.

Click here to find out more about Direct Design.

Published February 25, 2022
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