Tilt Wall Construction Methodology – Online Learning Module


Tilt wall Learning module


The purpose of this video is to provide an overview of the construction method referred to as Tilt Wall Construction.  This learning tool will provide actual time-lapse photography of tilt wall production as well as procedural non-field activities required to implement this type of construction.

Student demographic

–       Adult learners

–       Construction personnel

–       Novice’s to tilt wall construction

Learning objectives

At the completion of this learning module, the student should have accomplished the following educational goals.

–       Understand the sequential steps required to build a tilt wall structure.

–       Understand the historical development of tilt wall method as a structural option in the United States.

–       Identification of the planning steps and documents required before construction commencement of tilt wall        operations.

–       Accessibility to sample examples of the detailed components required in each planning document.

–       Understand the benefits of tilt wall methodology as compared to conventional structural systems.

Module Design

–       A 12 minute video provides visual content for the learner.  The first 3 minutes of the video contain a time lapse video of an actual project building sequence.  The decision to start the module with an actual construction operation is based upon a recommendation from Dirksen (2012, p. 191), to provide an example first then follow up with detailed materials.  Per this teaching technique learners have a better chance for retention when the material is shown through an example first.

–       The remaining 2/3rds of the video covered the following content and explained the functional input relative to the planning process:

  • History of tilt wall construction in the U.S.
  • Benefits of tilt wall construction vs. conventional methods
  • Estimating the cost of tilt wall with general pricing ranges
  • Scheduling the activities involved in construction and general time frames for the overall process
  • Engineering design submittals required for approval by the structural engineer of record.
  • Safety checklist before, during, and after the construction process.

–       While the steps in the process weren’t discussed in detail, the learning module and examples of actual planning documents are included on the learning module website.  By including these documents as attachments, the possibility of learner engagement during the video is greater.

–       The overall progression from summary to greatest detail is intended for the modern day digital student, where time is limited and the format allows the learner to progress at their own pace.

–       Presentation of the material as text on the website and visual imagery in the video also creates multiple modalities which should appeal to a variety of learning preferences by the student.

–       As this content is directed toward construction professionals as a continuing education module, assessment techniques are not included.  Adaptation of this module for the flipped classroom in a higher education curriculum would require assessment components and structured feedback.

Learning Content


Robert Aiken, architect-contractor, was the father of tilt wall construction in the early 1900’s.  The first projects were non-load bearing buildings in the Midwest, U.S.   One of the earliest multistory tilt-up buildings was a Chicago factory erected in 1912.  With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930’s tilt wall methods diminished.  The decline of this building method was due to public funding for the majority of building projects and labor-saving methods were not a priority, therefore conventional methods were preferred.

The construction boom post-World War II, coupled with a shortage of skilled labor, created a demand for more efficient methods. The availability of high-capacity mobile cranes, portable welding machines, and ready-mix trucks enabled contractors to erect tilt-up buildings quickly thereby becoming an in demand method.  In the 1950’s and 1960’s, manufacturers furthered the development of tilt wall methods by creating custom lifting devices, temporary braces, and chemical bond breakers. Load bearing tilt wall capacity was developed by engineering designs in the early 1970’s.   The advent of computers enabled more sophisticated architectural treatments and complex panel shapes, which solidified popularity in modern day America.



  1. Ideal for 1 – 3 story buildings with 50,000 sf base plan area and less than 50% wall opening space
  2. Reduced labor costs due to Smaller construction crews and Faster production times
  3. Faster construction time than conventional methods and Even faster when casting beds are located adjacent to slab area…this facilitates production of slab and walls at the same time
  4. Proven safety as Majority of work is performed on the ground; reducing the #1 source of accidents; falls
  5. Durability:  Earthquake resistant and Blast resistant under proper specifications
  6. Fire safety: Typical tilt wall offers fire resistance of 4 hours or more
  7. Ease of Maintenance: Impervious to insect and rodent infestation
  8. Repairs and Expandability
  9. Modular design allows easy expansion of the building base square footage
  10. Security: Ideal for secure facility since openings are less than 50% of exterior wall surface area which is typically less than other structural methods
  11. Reduced Insurance Premiums due to Increased fire resistance ratings, and Seismic durability



In order to prepare for actual construction the following deliverables should be prepared:

–      Estimate of cost, which includes labor, materials and equipment.

–      Schedule of activities required to execute construction of tilt walls.  These activities should include

  • engineered design submittal due dates with the appropriate approval cycle time,
  • preparation of casting beds; either on the slab or adjacent to the slab,
  • carpentry forming, steel reinforcement, and concrete pouring of panels,
  • lifting and bracing of individual tilt wall panels,
  • pouring the concrete slab leave out adjacent to the tilt panels,
  • completion of roof steel structure and roof decking, and
  • removal of tilt wall bracing upon completion of roof diaphragm.

–        Engineered design submittal showing steel reinforcing, lifting connections, rigging procedures to meet lift loads, panel opening framing and reinforcing, and structural embeds for connections to slab and adjacent structural steel members.

–       Casting Bed  panel layout plan identifying each panel, it’s location on the casting bed and designation of single or stacked panels.  Casting bed plan should also include the lifting sequence for each panel to ensure crane mobility relative to the placement of each panel.

–       Safety Checklist  with all pre, during, and post procedures during lifting and bracing operations.  Pathways for the purpose of walking the panels in place should be identified and stored materials should be designated in an area away from the pathway.  Lastly, all braces should be included in the checklist to ensure proper temporary structural support until the roofing diagram is completed.



2008, S. S. C. (2008). SEAOC Blue Book – Seismic Design Recommendations Tilt-up Buildings September 2008 SEAOC Blue Book – Seismic Design Recommendations Tilt-up Buildings (pp. 1–25). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1051&context=aen_fac


Architects, K. (2013). cost update 2013 cost update 2013. 13th Annual Construction Cost Update. Retrieved from http://www.kirksey.com/files/articles/pdf/KirkseyAnnualConstructionCostUpdate2013_0.pdf


Article, C., Company, H., Resources, P., Contact, P., Map, S., You, P., … Article, C. (2014). Tilt ­ up Construction ­ the Complete Article. Retrieved from http://www.generalcontractor.com/resources/articles/tiltwall-tilt-up-complete.asp


Dirksen, J. (2012). DESIGN FOR HOW PEOPLE LEARN (pp. 161–213). New Riders.


Naito, C., Asce, M., Dinan, R., & Bewick, B. (2011). Use of Precast Concrete Walls for Blast Protection of Steel Stud Construction. Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities, (October), 454–463. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000228.


Ruhnke, J., & Schexnayder, C. J. (2002). Description of Tilt-Up Concrete Wall Construction. ASCE Practice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction, 7(3), 103–110.


Staff, C. C. (2006). A Century of Tilt ­ up. Concrete Construction, 1–4. Retrieved from http://www.concreteconstruction.net/concrete-construction/a-century-of-tilt-up.aspx


Tilt up walls tilt down construction costs. (2006). Aggregate Research. Retrieved from http://www.aggregateresearch.com/article.aspx?ID=8815

Reference Documents

Tilt-up Construction – the Complete Article

Tilt-up Buildings KirkseyAnnualConstructionCostUpdate2013_0

ASCE Description of Tilt Wall Construction Aggregate Research _

Tilt up walls tilt down construction costs

A Century of Tilt-up – Concrete Construction

Life long learning Inventing and reinventing

Designing a mobile system

  • Tilt Wall Lift
  • Pour Strip
  • Tilt Wall and Steel Support System
  • Tilt Wall Brace
  • Tilt wall bracing attached to concrete slab
  • Tilt wall bracing through 2nd floor deck
  • Tilt Panel Bracing and Pour Strip
  • Tilt panel concrete pour
  • Mobile Cranes for Tilt Wall lifting
  • Blind Lift

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