Washington DC Convention Center Gets it Right with TWINSERT Interior Floor Expansion Joint Upgrade by EMSEAL
Convention center expansion joints take a beating. Convention centers feature traffic that arguably represents the entire world of products, services and the vehicles that keep them moving.
Structural expansion joints are design elements necessary for accommodating movements within buildings. These movements are caused by thermal changes, wind, dynamic loading and unloading, and seismic forces.
Because expansion joints bisect the entire structure, they are essentially a gap through every element of the building–floors, walls, foundations, roofs, bathrooms, suites, halls, foyers, lobbies, waterproofing elements, and structural supports. Interior joints must withstand traffic from pedestrians and all kinds of wheeled traffic while at the same time accommodate joint movement.
Convention center expansion joints endure a huge diversity of traffic. Carts, hand trucks, forklifts, maintenance lifts, cars, boat trailers, and even aircraft can be rolled across the joints.
Convention Center Expansion Joints: The Problem
Point-loads from small, hard-wheeled traffic are often the hardest on joints. This is because localized rolling loads can quickly cause cupping, and bending of under-designed joint systems and even cracking of adjacent flooring.
Interior joint systems designed with aesthetics as their primary objective — featuring pans, infills, “invisible” designs — are often chosen without consideration of their suitability to the loads the joints will experience.
Convention Center Expansion Joints: The First Attempt
Fix attempt number one involved the too often employed approach of covering a bad joint with a cover plate. While a quick fix, the result however was a system that sits proud of the floor posing a trip hazard with little advantage in the ability to handle point-loads.
It was quickly realized that this was not acceptable and that a flush-mounted system matched to the anticipated traffic loads was required.
Convention Center Expansion Joints: The Solution
The Twinsert series of floor joints from EMSEAL combines two of any of EMSEAL’s wide selection of interior joint products joined with any of a number of bridging options matched to the load, joint width, and aesthetic goals of the facility.
In the case of the DC convention center, experience had taught that load and smooth rolling surface outweighed in importance the desire to completely hide the joint under the flooring material.
The FS 110 system was selected as the flanking standard model for its smooth rolling surface, ability to absorb joint movement within the joint as opposed to sliding over flooring materials, and because of its high point-load resistance.
The bridging unit selected was solid, 1/2-inch thick Type 6061 aircraft aluminum with a sandblasted finish.
It is of course better to start out at new construction with EMSEAL as the basis of design for joint systems but retrofit is possible, practical and lasting and can be staged for minimal disruption. Retrofit can also be phased to suit budget constraints–allowing for gradual upgrade of all joints over time.
Lasting expansion joint solutions in sports, assembly, convention and performing arts venues as well as in retrofit of existing structures is a central focus of EMSEAL’s.
The company’s unique approach to expansion joint treatment combines innovative materials technologies with a fresh look at the roles of owners, designers, general contractors, manufacturers and subcontractors, in achieving trouble-free expansion joints.
The approach is grounded in an integrated, collaborative process centered on joint treatment that requires all of these parties to think, design, detail, specify, construct, fabricate, and install three-dimensional solutions.