At a Glance
Infrastructure, pavement, and lighting for airports
With three offices in Florida and North Carolina, AVCON, INC. specializes in airfield-pavement and lighting designs for international airports throughout the southeast—a niche that requires extensive background knowledge. According to Rick Baldocchi, PE, vice president of AVCON, “We have people here who’ve worked their whole lives in the airport industry, and they understand all its aspects. It’s not just the construction of a bridge or a taxiway; you have to know how your construction will impact airport operations. You need to coordinate with the all the different agencies such as the FAA and deal with heightened security issues. Employees have to be badged, there are background checks, and employees need to take courses on how to drive at the airport. It’s complicated and becomes a full-time job understanding airport procedures.” And, thanks to the in-depth know-how of AVCON’s staff, the firm has time and again found itself in the position to take advantage of lucrative opportunities in its particular industry niche.
For instance, AVCON provided all the airfield-pavement design for Boeing’s new 787 aircraft, the Dreamliner, at the airplane manufacturer’s new plant at the Charleston International Airport. Construction started in 2009 and should be completed near the end of 2011, and Baldocchi says it’s a complex project because of Boeing’s exacting specifications. AVCON proposed a paving process, using 306,000 square yards of concrete, that was different from the one used by Boeing at its Seattle plant, and AVCON also suggested a high-quality concrete to minimize cracks because such cracks expose small particles that can get ingested by jet engines.
Top 5 Design Trends in the Airport and Civil-Structure Sectors
1. Clients are focusing more on asset rehabilitation than new projects in the current economic climate.
2. Cost-effective LED lighting and resin-based concrete are elements that municipalities and private companies are more frequently making a switch to.
3. With issues of water retention having risen to the national level, AVCON’s engineers are now designing new rainwater-harvesting systems.
4. More projects will require LEED certification as sustainability extends its reach to all sectors of the economy.
5. New procedures and processes are being introduced for rehabilitating older underground piping systems.
Alongside its work in aviation design, AVCON provides civil-, mechanical-, electrical-, and structural-design services in other market sectors, including transportation infrastructure. Another of the firm’s current projects is the concrete rehabilitation—funded by the federal Highways for LIFE program—of State Road 600 for Volusia County, Florida, in the Daytona Beach area. The project involves the testing of innovative pavement products such as precast, prestressed panels that come to the job site immediately ready to be put in place. “We’re starting to see resin-based concrete in this area,” Baldocchi says. “It provides greater reflectivity for heat, so it absorbs less heat, and that reduces the temperature of the pavement by 10 degrees. We’ve been using concrete pavement for years because concrete lasts longer and reduces the heat-island effect. The whiter the concrete, the less it absorbs the heat. Projects also get LEED points for using concrete pavement.”
AVCON’s engineers have a significant interest in sustainable design. The staff has been exploring the use of pervious concrete and underground water-treatment facilities, and it has developed designs for easy maintenance where trash is isolated in easily accessible areas. The firm is also developing rainwater-harvesting systems to capture roof and parking lot run-off for irrigation, and it’s in the process of designing a greywater-capture system for its headquarters in Orlando, Florida. On its airport projects, AVCON has also been incorporating LED lighting for the past few years for overall life cycle cost savings.
In 2010, AVCON was recognized by the Orlando Sentinel as one of the Top 100 Companies for Working Families, largely thanks to its encouragement of a better balance between work and life through benefits packages and programs. And because of this, the firm’s staff is now healthy enough in size to handle more complicated endeavors. “We’re small enough to have the involvement of senior management in our projects but big enough, with 50 employees, to bring significant experience to a project,” Baldocchi says. “We pride ourselves on taking on the hard projects that require a little more broad thinking. ABQ