Pillar Construction Inc.
- Written by: Jeanee Dudley
- Produced by: Chuck McKenna
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
Domiciled in the Washington, D.C. area, Pillar Construction Inc. (Pillar) has become a recognized name since 1989. Pillar’s team of over 30 office employees and hundreds of field personnel specialize in full service commercial construction. More specifically, the team has built a niche in building skins, which is the protective, outermost layer of a structure.
The company’s portfolio includes institutional buildings, hospitals, retailers and hotels, as well as high-rise office and apartment buildings. Pillar also regularly performs contracts for federal, state and local governments. In order to meet the needs of clients, the business operates from three East Coast offices, serving the northeast, Mid-Atlantic, southeast and Midwest United States.
The Pillar team utilizes a number of technologically advanced products to offer clients durable and attractive building skin solutions. The company offers a wide array of exterior claddings, wall protection products, exterior substructures and the supporting framing. Executed efficiently and effectively, these materials come together as a synergetic assembly, keeping buildings standing and the occupants and assets inside dry and warm.
Gabriel Castillo, director of business development for Pillar, notes that one of the company’s systems in particular has grown rapidly in popularity over the last few years. Many of Pillar’s projects are rain screen facades, also known as ventilated cavity wall or back-drained wall. These innovative façade systems consist of an air and water barrier, continuous insulation contained behind a sub framing that supports a cladding product that can be cement, concrete, porcelain, terracotta, glass or even photovoltaic panels.
“These building skin systems offer not only a more contemporary appearance than other skins,” Castillo explains. “It essentially breathes out the moisture, which prevents mold, mildew and it provides a continuous insulation.”
Pillar sources this system from suppliers, such as Equitone, Etex, NeaCera, NBK, Moeding, Argeton, Boston Valley, Palagio, Porcelanosa and Verotec. The product lines have built a strong presence overseas, as well as in the U.S. construction market.
Pillar has installed the innovative systems in a number of recent projects. The team installed its first rain screen during a major expansion project for the Mount Pleasant Library in Washington, D.C. The company has also installed the rain screen façade system on the new Capital One headquarters in Richmond, Va., Fauquier High School in Warrenton, Va., as well as the new Hilton Garden Inn Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“At Fauquier High School, VMDO Architects wanted to use a rain screen façade system with terra-cotta panels on the primary elevations of the building,” Castillo explains. “However, public school budgets are naturally very tight, and terra-cotta has a reputation for being expensive.”
According to Castillo, NeaCera, the third-generation solid, single-wall panel system, has made premium terra-cotta rain screen solutions affordable. “Frustrated by the exorbitant installed price points of the double-skin or double-leaf, hollow-core systems, architects are now able to bring quality, reliability and distinction to their iconic projects using the natural beauty of terra-cotta rain screen that can be installed inexpensively,” he details. After evaluating the benefits of rain screen over traditional brick – along with the design possibilities and cost savings – NeaCera proved to be the system of choice.
Castillo goes on to explain that Robert Moje of VMDO Architects, the designer on the project, commented on the product after the installation. “He said, ‘NeaCera was clean and efficient to use on the construction site eliminating all concerns with weather and scheduling. The ease and cleanliness were also significant factors in working on a tight site that was occupied and in use throughout construction. I would say I was very impressed with the design possibilities and the tight tolerances that were possible with all of the pre engineering of the system before it is delivered.'”
In addition, the school board decided to increase the area of NeaCera panels. “As expected, the project was finished on time and on budget, and everyone was satisfied with the results,” Castillo says proudly.
Managing a Changing Market
Much of the construction industry has struggled throughout the recession. With commercial and residential building at an all-time low, many contractors have scrambled to hold onto a share of the market. While the Pillar team faced many challenges throughout the downturn, Castillo explains that a single facet of the business has kept the company out of trouble: relationships.
“We focus on our repeat clients,” he continues. Pillar recognizes the importance of a job well done and the reputation that can build. Therefore, Pillar’s clients have come to rely on the business for efficient and appropriate construction, performed with industry-leading standards.
Project performance takes priority at Pillar; however, along the way, the company has made connections to make it possible. Pillar is in constant communication with the manufacturers in the U.S., as well as overseas, according to Castillo. “Our continuous conversations with manufactures keep us in touch with other businesses in our industry,” he explains. “It also helps us stay on top of the trends and new technologies that keep us ahead.”
In 2014, the Pillar team will celebrate 25 years in business. As the economy improves, the company is taking advantage of the growing opportunities in the market. “Our rain screen ventilated facades have given us a canvas to paint our path for the decades to come,” Castillo continues. “We expect a significant increase of work as all the markets adapt and embrace the new trends in the building skin options.”
As the business continues to expand, Pillar maintains a strong dedication to innovative building systems and quality products that will protect the assets of clients for years to come. With a strong team of architects, engineers, construction professionals and applicators, Pillar Construction Inc. continues to lead the industry in full service construction and specialty building envelope solutions.
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