Thermaflex installed in Zurich Insurance Parking Garage.

Zurich Insurance, Baltimore, MD


Date: 1999

Thermaflex installed in Zurich Insurance Parking Garage.

SGH-Designed Deck Features “Shear” Innovation

Parking deck expansion joints featuring shear pocket technology are a perfect match for engineering firm’s conservative design approach. Renowned for their rigorous forensics, conservative engineering and particularly thorough renovations, Simpson Gumpertz Heger (SGH) are widely considered tops in the engineering consulting field.

It is no wonder then, that when commissioned to design a parking deck from scratch, they employ a design philosophy that will ensure a lifetime of performance from the structure.

The cornerstones of this philosophy are conservative design and application of durable and proven materials. It is no surprise then, that Thermaflex by EMSEAL is found to be the expansion joint system of choice for Zurich Insurance’s new parking structure.

Thermaflex installed in Zurich Insurance Parking Garage.

One need look no further than the facade of the structure for evidence of SGH’s design approach. In order to match the look of the building and because of its location in a residential area of Baltimore City, the owner wanted the garage clad in the neighborliness of brick.

Usually reserved for the walls of office, residential, and other high-end, human-occupied structures, flashed and drained cavity wall construction allows moisture collected in the wall system a proper way out. This ensures that the cladding materials remain unharmed by moisture and freeze-thaw cycles.

Stainless steel through-wall flashing and stainless-gauze-protected weep holes through the brick facade ensure that the wall panels will drain properly.

Thermaflex installed in Zurich Insurance Parking Garage.

When it comes to expansion joints, SGH’s expectations are no less demanding. Designed to permit a full range of unrestricted movement, the slabs of the structure are supported at both ends by heavy split columns. In order to maximize space utilization, the slabs wrap around the columns. This means that the expansion joints turn perpendicular to the normal movement of the slab and induce a shear component relative to the rigid column.

The design challenge was to make the joint watertight throughout the jog around the column while ensuring that the materials used would, without undue stress, handle the shear movement.

Thermaflex installed in Zurich Insurance Parking Garage.

Meeting this challenge required EMSEAL’s shear-pocket technology. This concept centers around the introduction of a factory-welded sheet into one of EMSEAL’s Thermaflex sealing glands. The sheet runs through the area of shear and is attached to the column with termination bar.

Each transition for the project was factory-fabricated to field-measured dimensions provided by the installing contractor. Each column was unique and each was installed and fitted without need for field-modification.

EMSEAL’s approach to parking deck expansion joint sealing centers around the belief that through better design, better products, and better installation we can provide owners with trouble-free expansion joint systems. The Zurich Insurance parking garage is evidence that this approach yields results.