The Perlo Podcast – Onsite at the Tesla Service Center


“This is The Perlo Podcast. We talk construction – it’s people, it’s challenges, it’s opportunities. We talk to industry and trade experts, movers and shakers, and people who get buildings built right. Join us. You won’t regret it.”

For full episodes you can visit our YouTube page or search “The Perlo Podcast” wherever you get your podcasts.

In this week’s episode of The Perlo Podcast, Host Elissa Looney, Perlo’s Director of Strategic Initiatives, meets with Perlo Project Manager Forrest Gregg and Superintendent Glen Alcock to discuss the Tesla Service Center in Vancouver, Washington. The Tesla Service Center is a 32,000 SF concrete tilt-up building located on about 3 acres and required the demolition of 3 older buildings. Tesla has been building similar projects across the country, but this model is relatively new compared to other auto manufacturers. Additionally, this building envelope is made of insulated tilt panels, a unique construction method.

Elissa Looney
Podcast Host & Director of Strategic Initiatives
Forrest Gregg
Project Manager
Glen Alcock

Unique Features

While this building is a concrete tilt building, it’s unique in that the shell is made of cast-in-place tilt panels with insulation sandwiched between two layers of concrete. Superintended Glen Alcock explains how the tilt panels were constructed, including the time limits for setting the insulation and placing the connectors, testing them, and what happens if the connectors don’t ‘set’ correctly. Perlo’s team self-performed the slab-on-grade and insulated tilt panels. We looked at the strategies Glen and his team use to communicate the tilt panel pour sequence, layout, pick order, and what trade partners are involved in the process.

Safety and Logistics During Tilt-Up Construction

With tilt panels weighing 75,000 lbs or more, which Glen calls ‘reasonably light’ compared to some of the panels that Perlo has done, safety is a significant concern. The team discussed the crane-picking strategies and site logistics constraints that dictated how they decided to pick the panels.

Lessons Learned with Insulation Tilt Panels 

While much of the process is the same as our typical panels, adding the insulation led to some lessons for the team. The biggest was to ensure the insulation laid loose inside the concrete forms instead of trying to fit it in tight and ‘pushing’ it down. Failure to do so led to the connectors failing to set.

Project Challenges 

Construction projects always have challenges, and this site was no exception. The team encountered many underground utilities due to old placement that wasn’t documented. In addition, high groundwater led to extensive dewatering measures, and the team had to be conscientious of the local businesses in the area. The building site is very small. Building great relationships with the neighboring properties has made a big difference in the success of our work.

In addition, materials lead times are extensive currently. Hence, the team found offsite storage areas to utilize so that the schedule could be met and kept as many items offsite as possible to avoid theft and damage in the interim.

Site Tour

The episode continues with a short tour of the site. First, we looked at the front storefront area where the tube steel structure was erected, the tilt walls were standing, and the roof structure and decking were underway.

In addition to the structure, the site includes the following:

  • Right-of-way improvements.
  • A new parking lot.
  • Electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Underground storm drainage.
  • Utilities.

The team discussed the significant number of underground utilities that had to be relocated once discovered, including the storm lines, power for this and the neighboring site, sanitary lines, and power to the nearby cell tower. In addition to the building and parking areas, the project includes 12 vehicle charging stations. These super charges will reach 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for joining us for another episode of The Perlo Podcast! You can find us on your favorite listening platforms if you’d like to hear more. You can also engage with Perlo on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram.