That structure’s primary support system can be found in your neighborhood craft store. It’s called geofoam. The lightweight, flexible, and easy to maneuver material is an innovative solution to auditorium and stadium-style seating. MCL Construction is using this material to complete the new worship auditorium at Love Church, 203rd & Blue Sage Parkway.
“One guy can pick up a big cube of it and move it around really easy. It saves a lot of labor with having to form things,” said MCL Superintendent Kevin Smith.
The auditorium was formed out of structural steel that our craftsmen set by hand. The nine-foot elevated bleachers are made up of the foam, will hold 275 seats for church members, and are designed to make sure each member has a view of the worship service.
Framing in a structure of that size would take time, require a lot of labor, and incur more cost without the geofoam. In a matter of days, the crew at Love Church installed and set 200 pieces of foam without any setbacks.
“On something like this, you would not be able to pour concrete that thick so you would probably do a lot of formwork underneath with plywood and forms,” said MCL Superintendent Kevin Smith. “It would take forever and be a lot more work.”
Facts About Geofoam
Expanded polystyrene geofoam, which holds a lot of the same characteristics of Styrofoam, is made from a material called polystyrene polymer. One difference between the commonly known Styrofoam sheets and EPS geofoam is in the way the foam foundation blocks are manufactured. It all starts with polystyrene resin “bead”. EPS geofoam is then fed into a hopper for manufacturing along with the addition of heat and pressure. It is a thermoplastic material that can be shaped and reshaped repeatedly.
“When they send it out it’s made up for your specific project and project needs,” said MCL Project Engineer Sam Howe. “It eliminates the need for a lot of field cuts and really cuts back on time and resources.”
Once the foam is set, a hot wire can be used to trim any excess material if needed. At Love Church, the MCL staff is running a electrical conduit for auditorium lighting. After that, it is reinforced with rebar and layers of concrete.
The new Love Church is a 40, 000 square foot building with a two-story classroom wing, worship auditorium that includes state-of-the-art audiovisual and lighting systems with acoustic treatments, and main lobby areas.