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October 08 www. bus- ex. com 79 Lease Crutcher Lewis the waterfront with heavy groundwater. Cutter soil mix ( CSM) walls are a relatively new shoring system that allows for retention of the sides of an excavation when it's below the water table. CSM is proving successful on both these projects cost- effectively." Offshore material procurement is another advantage. Materials such as casework and curtain wall can be procured from China at 20– 30 percent below what's locally available. " These days, unpredictable commodity pricing creates a huge variable in our estimating efforts," Cleator says. " When the owner applies for construction fi nancing, he wants to eliminate budget uncertainty, so we've gotten more creative with purchasing. In some cases we will purchase and store materials ourselves and then assign those contracts to the appropriate subcontractors after the traditional bidding period. We also promote and encourage our owners to hire the subcontractors and vendors earlier during design development, use the subs' expertise with their own supply chains to understand where the variability is, then hedge our risk as appropriate." Lewis is just completing the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Seattle, an upscale ( fi ve- star) 21- story building with 149 hotel rooms plus 36 luxury condominiums above. And currently under construction is a 28- story offi ce building for Touchstone Corporation called West 8th, with a concrete shear core design. The elevator and stair core is a rigid concrete tube that runs along the full height of the building to provide seismic strength, reducing the number of steel frames that would otherwise impede offi ce layouts. But it takes longer to build than a steel structure, because normally concrete construction proceeds slowly. To expedite construction, Cleator says, " We got innovative and modifi ed the vendor- supplied formwork system. We pre- manufactured as much of the reinforcing steel curtains as possible including the structural steel embeds. We also used a self- consolidating concrete that reduced labor costs and increased set times. In the end, we constructed a fl oor every three days, which is as fast as I've ever seen in Seattle's seismic zone." The economic downturn is affecting construction everywhere, and Seattle is no exception. " It looks like the industry has peaked for this cycle," Cleator says. " We're starting to see more competitive subcontractor pricing, and worker availability is improving. We're also seeing tighter availability of fi nancing. So while we still have a strong backlog of projects in planning and pre- construction through 2009, we're starting to prepare for the market slowdown. We've been here before. Through our diversifi ed work portfolio, strong relationships and customized approach in servicing our customers, we'll continue to be successful." Walters & Wolf Curtain Wall, a Seattle- based glazing contractor, is recognized for its expertise in the design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of the exterior façades of buildings. Walters & Wolf