Villa Construction Inc.

Villa Construction picVilla Construction develops in-house processes that deliver on its clients’ architectural concrete expectations.

By Janice Hoppe-Spiers

Villa Construction Inc. has become the go-to contractor for architectural concrete in the New York City tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The company specializes in cast-in-place concrete that is used for the exterior or interior ornamentation or finish of a building. “That’s our forte,” says Italo DiNunzio, chief estimator and project executive. “We have done many very unique projects.”

The Hawthorne, N.Y.-based concrete contractor was founded in 1984 by Antonio Dellorso and has remained focused on providing excellent service and exceptional craftsmanship. From pouring a foundation to the most complex water pollution facilities, Villa Construction says it has successfully completed every project to the satisfaction of its clients.

Villa Construction employs eight people in its office and an average of 50 to 60 people in the field, but has ranged to as many as 125 depending on the projects. “We have skilled carpenters whom are men we highly depend on to put the formwork up,” DiNunzio says. “Our labor force consists of union members. They are men who stick with us for many, many years and develop their skills on the job.”

Reputable Processes

Specializing in cast-in-place architectural concrete required Villa Construction to develop proprietary in-house processes that enable its field crews to properly and efficiently form and pour the cast-in-place concrete. “It starts in the office,” he says. “We develop the means and methods, with field input, explain it to them and they build it.”

Villa Construction’s reputation precedes it such that most of its work is generated by word of mouth. “There are certain architects that know us and might tell the general contractor or owner about our expertise in architectural cast in place concrete work,” DiNunzio says. “In other cases there are different leads from structural engineering firms and or consultants.”

Molded for Life

In spring 2004, Villa Construction was contracted to construct cast-in-place concrete tanks at the Westport Waste Water Treatment Plant. The company spent a year-and-a-half constructing 12 tanks with an average of 30 to 40 employees on site. Some of the tanks were as large as 100 feet in diameter. The project was about $10 million and completed in 2005.

“Most of the challenges were the curvature of the walls with the integration of the vertical architectural rustification strips,” DiNunzio remembers. “This architectural feature became difficult and complicated due to the nature of wall form work curvature and interior reinforcement.” Villa Construction box

The skills of Villa Construction’s carpenters helped the architect’s design become reality. “It’s sort of like the mold for a cake, you can make any kind of shaped cake, but to make the mold for the cake is the part that these skilled carpenters can visualize and put together,” DiNunzio explains. “It is a reverse image of what the product should look like.”

Making Waves

The wave-shaped pool area in the New Wellness Center at the College of New Rochelle, N.Y., is shaped like a wave, which was molded out of concrete by Villa Construction. “As the wave starts on one side, it begins to fold over like a wave, thus creating a hollow tunnel above the pool,” DiNunzio describes. “What the architect did was smart. He made the base of the wave the seats for the swimmers while the roof seven-foot upturn beams curve and fold over, becoming the outline for the skylights that have a garden roof above. The end of the wave housed seating for the spectators.”

The Wellness Center received the Concrete Industry Board’s Award of Merit with Special Recognition. “[The Wellness Center is] a cast-in-place concrete project well integrated into the surrounding landscape,” the board said. “Fine use of sandblasting concrete surfaces to expose coarse aggregate. Fifty percent proportional use of slag substitution contributed to LEED Silver rating. Versatility of concrete is very evident in this project.”

The biggest challenge Villa Construction faced during construction was creating the tight curves at the seating area where the wave starts. “The pressure of the concrete onto this curved section of the wall was tremendous,” DiNunzio says. “It becomes difficult to make up form work to create the tight curves, but in order to achieve this, we used a quarter-inch bath liner backed with form work to create the shape of the curve.”

Villa Construction used ground and polished concrete with a 50 percent proportion of blast furnace slag and portland cement for the floors of the lobby, concourse and the main public circulation spaces. A second contractor broadcasted crushed, multi-colored recycled glass chips into the concrete and “created this beautiful floor,” DiNunzio says.

New Heights

7 Bryant Park is a 32-story mixed-used building designed to overlook the Manhattan park by “carving the corner,” the company says. The design includes 10-foot by 10-foot panels to give a panoramic view of the park.

In addition to the design, 7 Bryant Park is a core-first structure that adds to the uniqueness of the building, DiNunzio says. “They utilized the elevator shafts as the core – a very large core with multiple banks of elevators,” he explains. “All those banks are the central core of the building, allowing the connection of structural steel, thus noted as a core-first project.”

The project used 95 tons of rebar and 9,200 cubic yards of concrete while employing Chicago-based Forming Concepts Inc.’s Tru-Lift self-climbing system. The steel grid supports and hydraulic jacks enabled one floor to be poured every four days. “We had to create a structure that was adjacent to another building, thus doing a fully cast-in-place concrete or steel-based structure was deemed more expensive in this case,” DiNunzio explains. “Core-first was a cost-related design choice.”

Paneling Princeton

Steven Holl Architects, designer of The Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University, requested Villa Construction to create a board form finish on the walls. The company was tasked to construct subsequent concrete walls of three buildings with architectural concrete, thus known as the theatre and/or dance, art and music buildings.

Villa Construction developed a puzzle of sorts for its field crew to assemble on site. “This rough sound board form finish was unique because we had to figure out a way to create all this work in an efficient manner so the guys can construct it out in the field,” DiNunzio says. “I decided I wanted to panelize it and therefore developed the means and methods for ease of field construction. These panelized systems were nothing more than strips of boards fastened on to a plywood panel, numbered and sent to the field with a drawing showing how the puzzle pieces are to be put together in the field. A challenge that no one thought was achievable.”

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