McMaster University


    McMaster University Engineering Building


    Bird Construction


    Hamilton, Ontario


    Agilia & Agilia Screed A


    September 2009


    Vermeulen Hind Architects


    Agilia = 200 m3 Agilia Screed A = 400 m3

In the seven years from design to completion, a lot went into the Engineering Technology building at McMaster University in order for it to be a LEED certified candidate. A large part of the building relied on sustainable construction materials, which Lafarge helped to provide by offering a value-added product called Agilia. This new facility was to be built with an innovative mindset and a modern edge that would reflect the spirit and culture of McMaster\'s engineering program.

The design of the project itself presented several challenges for the construction team, of which Lafarge was prepared to face. From the complex form conguration of the elliptical wall, to the elaborate architectural features in the retaining wall, to the tight rebar spacing involved in the flooring system, Lafarge was able to supply the high-quality materials needed to complete the project.

One of the technical challenges in the design called for an elliptical wall that houses a classroom. It was designed to lean outward from the western edge of the building at eight degrees from vertical with an exposed concrete finish. An element of this complexity presented the challenge of achieving full consolidation without segregation, all while providing a high quality surface finish.

The flooring system used in the Engineering Technology building was the new innovation introduced by Lafarge: Agilia Screed A. A self- levelling anhydrite screed that can be poured at depths as low as 25mm for unbonded floating floors, had an average depth poured for this particular system at approximately 35 to 45mm.

The floor system provided a level surface with minimal cracking and no curling - a long-term benefit for the customer. A mortar epoxy topcoat was also applied as the nal floor finish, giving the building floor a jointless and consistent surface. Agilia concrete and Agilia Screed A also contributed to obtaining a LEED Gold certication, through innovation and the use of high recycled content in the mixes. This certication has become increasingly valuable in the institutional building sectors.

Technical Challenges

The structural design called for tight reinforcement, and therefore, would make it dicult to use fully consolidated standard slump concrete. Often this can lead to segregation due to over consolidation and results in poor structural integrity and a low quality surface finish.

Lafarge recognized the opportunity to oer a high value proposition early in the construction phase by using Agilia, a self-consolidating concrete. The ease of placement and flowability of Agilia provided full consolidation without the need for vibration, which eliminated the risk of segregation. The properties of Agilia also provided a high quality finish on the ellipse surface. The shape of the element combined with the choice of concrete also called for specially designed forms that could withstand the pressure applied and ensure a high quality surface finish.

The retaining wall also had many of the same challenges with the added feature of rough cut lumber fastened to the formwork. The idea was to mirror the appearance of the wood in the surface of the concrete wall. Agilia provided the highly flowable concrete product required to acheive this surface nish which replicated the fine details of the wood plank surface.