Norwegian Cruise Lines recently constructed a spacious new terminal in Port Miami, FL that can accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers. Dominating the terminal’s passenger waiting area are three large floor-to-ceiling drywall structures nicknamed the “pearls.” Inspired by the shape of a nautilus shell, the longest is 809 feet and the shortest, 266 feet. The tallest is 118 feet high, and the smallest, 73 feet high.
According to Andy Irvine, Project Manager for Lotspeich, Inc., the installation contractor, the biggest challenges to constructing the “pearls” were the height of the structures and the restrictions regarding weight that could be put on the slab.
To meet the restrictions, smaller lift systems had to be used, plus COVID-19 requirements no longer allowed two people in one basket. Even with the restrictions, nearly 500 square feet of drywall was installed per man day. A total of nearly 64,000 square feet of drywall were installed.
Irvine also notes the original design called for metal stud framing, but he felt it was too complicated and switched to a drywall grid system from Armstrong Ceiling & Wall Solutions. “This was a huge expanse that was perfect for drywall grid,” he says. “Drywall grid met all load requirements and converted to a much faster, easier installation. We took a complicated framed ceiling design and made it relatively easy.”
To facilitate installation, Armstrong drew up shop drawings that included the placement of mains, tees, hanger wires, edge details, and more. “It was a real team work approach in terms of working with Armstrong and putting the drawings together,” Irvine states. Armstrong also provided training, especially with regard to bending the mains. “Mains were bent only at the ends of the pearls, he states. “The radius is so large in the midsection, we didn’t have to bend the mains, only camber them about an 1/8.”
"Production was fantastic,” Irvine adds. “No way this ceiling could have been done other than with drywall grid. If it had been stick framed, it would have been much more labor. By switching to drywall grid, time and labor were saved and we were able to shorten the schedule by 40%. Otherwise, meeting the schedule would have been a real problem.”