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Gate Precast Finishes Complex Miami Planetarium

Miami, FL

A five-level precast building and orange-shaped planetarium comprise the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in Miami. The high-profile project required the forming, casting and transportation of a variety of uniquely-shaped precast pieces.

Gate Precast recently completed the multifaceted construction of dome segments for a full-sphere planetarium and architectural precast cladding panels for the five-level building for the new $305 million Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami’s Museum Park. Once operational in late 2016, the sustainable facility will be home to a planetarium, science galleries, and a “living core” aquarium that contains a microcosm of South Florida’s animal, fish and native plant species.

Gate’s ingenuity and resourcefulness at the Miami job earned it the top award during the 2015 PCI Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Awards, which recognizes PCI certified plants for excellence in manufacturing and craftsmanship of architectural precast. Gate dominated the competition, also capturing Honorable Mention for its work on the South Tower of the Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth. The awards were announced in Concrete International magazine and presented at the PCI Membership Conference in Louisville, KY.

Bruce Bartscher, plant manager at Gate’s Kissimmee plant, said engineering and creating the various precast shapes for the facility was challenging. “The five-level building required 16 different geodesic shapes, combined in different configurations to create a random pattern to a point where almost no two panels were the same,” Bartscher said. “Gate created a master of each of the shapes, then made quantities of each shape in re-usable negative rubber plugs.” Additionally, special frames had to be designed and constructed for transporting the oddly-shaped pieces.

For the domed Frost Planetarium, Gate formed, cast and assembled 32 concave orange peel-like pieces, each weighing about 50,000 pounds. During assembly, a 50-foot-tall center shoring tower first set and welded the precast dome cap into place. The project team then installed the orange-peel perimeter segments opposite one another in a counter-clockwise rotation to avoid lateral load on the dome cap. A specialized 550-ton hydraulic crane with a super lift was used to maneuver the pieces. The installation required a 24-hour-a-day/seven-day-a-week schedule over two-and-a-half weeks. The concrete-clad planetarium is adorned in custom formliner concrete exterior wall panels and radius pieces.

Gate’s Kissimmee plant is among eight Gate manufacturing facilities that design, manufacture and install architectural and structural precast systems.

More About Gate: 
Gate Precast Company is a subsidiary of Gate Petroleum Company, a privately-held diversified corporation headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. Gate Precast has become one of the largest and most diversified precast concrete producers in the United States, with eight manufacturing facilities, and is known for its design-assist collaboration with design teams. Annually, the company is recognized as a top subcontractor by Engineering News-Record Magazine and wins Best-in-Class PCI Design Awards for a wide range of projects. For more information, please visit

About the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science) 
Frost Science aims to make a difference in people’s lives by inspiring them to appreciate the impact that science and technology can have on every facet of our world. In 2016, the museum will continue to inspire visitors in a new state-of-the-art facility designed by Grimshaw Architects currently under construction at Museum Park, in the heart of downtown Miami. The museum will be structured around a lushly landscaped indoor and outdoor Living Core Aquarium of terrestrial and aquatic environments, featuring a Gulf Stream aquarium experience totaling over 500,000 gallons of salt water. The facility will also feature the state-of-the-art full dome Frost Planetarium, the Knight Learning Center, Innovation Labs and Cafe, Baptist Health South Florida People and Science Gallery, and an Exploration Center featuring permanent interactive exhibits: Feathers to the Stars and The River of Grass. Frost Science is sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, and the Florida Council on Arts and Culture. Support is provided by the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. This project is supported by the Building Better Communities Bond Program and the City of Miami. The museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers. Learn more at

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