First Use of Innovative Pulley and Rigging System in the U.S. in Nashville

How one team's innovative solution ensured safe and efficient placement of prefab panels while preserving history

At a project site deep in the heart of Nashville, with less than a foot of clearance between the new structure, the surrounding historic buildings and thousands of pedestrians on Broadway, a traditional approach to installing exterior panels was not feasible. To navigate these challenges, the team at JBJ's Nashville used innovative systems and strategies including virtual design and construction (VDC), prefabrication, self-perform work (SPW) and, used for the first time ever in the United States, UpBrella's crane and track system.

Aerial view of the corner of Broadway and 9th St. in Ashville, where JBJ's Nashville at 405 Broadway is under construction next to in-tact historic buildings.
Tight spaces and preservation of the surrounding historic buildings led the team to the UpBrella system, which was positioned on top of the JBJ's Nashville, and rigged so that prefabricated panels could be slotted in between buildings and flown into place. Photo: Wally Burhan

The skin of the building is built of prefabricated panels installed with an UpBrella track system. This system eliminates the need for a tower crane and doesn't require swinging any materials or equipment above the adjacent historic buildings or busy streets below. About 75% of the panels are prefabricated and delivered, which is not unusual on smaller projects, but not quite as common as would be expected.

“Prefab has a place even in the tiniest of spaces. It doesn’t only have applications on large-scale projects with many repeated elements,” said Sam Rowland, DPR project engineer.

The system uses a bridge crane suspended from the outside of the new structure and a monorail with trolley cranes that circles the perimeter of the new building. The bridge crane lifts panels off the delivery trucks, which are then picked up by one of the trolley cranes and transported with the monorail to its correct location on the building.

The UpBrella system was installed on top of the building, and the team used BIM to plan how panels would be “flown” around the building—through the tight spaces—and installed.

A black wall panel hooked up to the rigging system is "flown" around the building into its proper placement, where workers wait to install it.

“We’re flying panels in-between the new building and existing buildings, and we’ve only got about 14 to 18 slot panels through,” said Harley Manning, who works with DPR's SPW drywall team.

According to the installation teams, hook up of the panels took two minutes, hoisting took about seven minutes, flying to the appropriate location took up to 13 minutes to the furthest point from the street, and installation took about 10 minutes. In total, less than 10 people are needed to lift, fly and install the panels.

Installation of a Panel

By the Minute

Hook Up Panels

2 minutes

Hoist Panels

7 minutes

Place Panels

13 minutes


Install Panels

10 minutes

“On any day, we can install 10 to 13 panels. On some days, we can install up to 18 panels,” said Manning. “Once we get that first layer perfect, we can move a little faster on the second run.”

During that time, DPR’s SPW team, who performed the actual installation, always had hands on the panels, making it much safer than flying the panels overhead with a crane, especially on a busy and crowded street like Broadway.

One day, when I come to downtown Nashville, I want to tell my sons "Look at the building. I worked on that."

Antonio Hernandez

DPR Self-Perform Work Team

The innovation, efficiency and quality of the work on this project has made the team incredibly proud. A lot of lessons were learned about prefabrication, safety and working in tight footprints and thinking outside of the box to create solutions.

“One day, when I come to downtown Nashville, I want to tell my sons ‘Look at the building. I worked on that,’” said Antonio Hernandez with DPR’s SPW team.

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