The 1995 renovation of Navy Pier brought a children's museum, an amusement park, restuarants, shows and expos to the facility. It also brought crowds that quickly filled up the existing underground parking garage. To ease the parking problems, the City of Chicago decided to build a new multi-level above pier garage adding 700 parking spaces.

Included in the design of the building was consideration for sound-deadening properties. Because a concert stage is located near the garage, the parking structure surface was designed to shield residents in the nearby Lake Point Tower condominiums from unwanted noise.

After an accoustical engineer determined that a combination of rough and smooth textures in high relief would minimize the sound disturbance, the architectural firm then began inquiries with formliner manufacturers. Symons® by Dayton Superior was chosen because of superior experience with custom designs.

The first step in creating the formliner was chiseling the stones that would be used to crate the formliner mold. John Gast, the stone mason chosen for this project, chipped away at various sized stones to achieve the desired texture. After that, a set of master molds were created. In this case, molds ranging from 2'x2' to 3'x6' were made. Sizes that were used repeatedly had several molds made with slight variations to achieve a natural look in the finished concrete.

Job Superintendent Rich Phelan was concerned about creating an appropriate surface for the structure. He felt that “bugholes” and other concrete imperfections would interfere with the architect's intention to create a cut stone appearance. With vibration guidlelines provided by Symons, he reports that “the result looked more like cut stone than poured concrete”.

Carpenter Foreman Tom Reidy was also impressed with the results. He remarked, “I’ve worked with all different types of liners from virtually every manufacturer. Nothing compares to the performance of these liners.”

The architect was also very happy with the outcome. He reports that another formliner manufacturer even expressed amazement at the excellent results produced.

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