Wursthalle in New Braunfels, Texas, is the main event center for Wurstfest. From humble beginnings as a one-day affair, it has grown into an annual 10-day festival commemorating German culture. Wurstfest is a non-profit corporation designed to promote local commerce, especially through tourism, and preserve the community’s heritage. It provides a vehicle for local civic organizations to raise large amounts of money for a wide variety of community projects. Wurstfest is a special event that visitors can attend, enjoy themselves and leave gratified, knowing that their expenditures will go towards worthwhile projects.
When the 2019 Wurstfest concluded, a fire started destroying the Marketplatz and damaging the iconic Wursthalle. Members of the Wurstfest Rebuild Committee swiftly brought on Design/Builder Byrne Construction to help them complete rebuild in time for the 2020 Wurstfest. Byrne engaged Marmon Mok Architecture as their design partner who presented new renderings and construction updates for Wurstfest at the February 2020 City Council meeting. “We rebuilt after a flood in 2015, we will rebuild after this,” said Kelly Kistner, chief of safety and security for Wurstfest. “We will come back stronger than before, and we will come back better.” The Marktplatz was designed to be a separate building from Wursthalle, or rather four buildings linked by a single roof with large overhangs. This was designed to enhance crowd control and improve the experience of festival goers through air flow and natural lighting. The new buildings were designed in a German look with Fachwerk styling that features external wood supports.
Chamberlin was selected by Design/Builder Byrne Construction for concrete restoration on Wursthalle and waterproofing installation on the new Marketplatz. Crew members worked hard to rectify the damage to Wursthalle and help build a new Marketplatz.
Time was of the essence on this project, as everything had to be completed within seven months for the 60th Annual Wurstfest. Construction had to conclude by the middle of October to allow the vendors enough time to set up their booths. The schedule was to remain the same even after COVID-19 hit and Wurstfest was canceled.
After the fire, Chamberlin crew members were one of the first trades on site in March of 2020 working under Byrne Construction. While roof repairs were needed, the buttresses and walls had to be repaired first to stabilize the building. Shoring was in place to secure the roof while the first task at hand was tackled. The project schedule was short and tight.
Working Our Hintern Off
The Marktplatz was attached to Wursthalle and, when it burned down, it damaged the buttresses that were supporting the adjoining wall and roof of the hall. The extreme heat from the fire caused the concrete buttresses to crack and pull away from the wall in some areas. It also caused severe spalling in multiple locations.
Nineteen buttresses were in need of concrete repairs. The crew began by removing all loose spalls and unsound concrete from identified buttresses and the wall using hand tools only. No mechanized tools were used for fear the vibrations would cause even more cracking and damage. The crew then prepared the concrete surfaces per Sika Sarnafil requirements, coating all exposed reinforcements and steel plates with Sika Armatec 110 EpoCem to receive Sika VOH repair mortar. To repair the cracks, Chamberlin installed stabilization ports into the wall, injected the cracks with Sikadur 35 Mod LV, removed the ports and then sealed over the cracks.
Due to the age of Wursthalle, the buttresses and wall still had the imprint of the original forms. The crew had to match those imprints so the patches and repairs would blend evenly with the parts that were not destroyed in the fire. Through several mock-ups and trial runs, a solution to diligently match the imprints to make the building cohesive was found.
New Things to Celebrate
The fire brought all of Marktplatz to the ground, making an entire redesign necessary. Chamberlin’s scope included furnishing and installing self-adhered membrane flashing at window and door openings, structural columns up to the I-beams and at the base of the wall where stucco meets stone.
The walls were an extremely unique product, an insulated metal stud panel system that utilizes EPS (High Density Expanded Polystyrene) from Novidesa that is manufactured in Mexico City. These panels replace typical batt and rigid insulation, metal stud framing, sheathing and waterproofing in one step. The challenge for Chamberlin was how to integrate these panels with Chamberlin’s waterproofing into a warrantable product. Byrne Construction, Carlisle Coatings and Waterproofing Inc. and Chamberlin went through several mock-ups to determine an installation method that would successfully seal off the I-beams and wall panels at the base of walls, openings and structural columns with the peel and stick waterproofing.
The scope also included installing site sealants at various locations on the limestone façade, men’s and women’s restrooms and hollow metal door frames. Water repellents were installed on the exterior stone at the end of the buildings, the urinal walls, exterior tap wall and at the trash enclosure stone. Lastly, Chamberlin installed stainless steel to the top of the stone walls at the through-wall condition at the end of the buildings.
Chamberlin was able to rectify the buttresses and stabilize Wursthalle as well as help rebuild the Marktplatz within a short time frame and zero safety incidents. While finding new ways to work peel and stick waterproofing into a unique wall system and keeping the history of Wursthalle intact, Chamberlin contributed to a dedicated project team led by Byrne Construction who helped the long-time German traditions continue in New Braunfels.
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