In design-building Unilever’s expanded ice cream manufacturing facility adjacent to the company’s existing production facility in Covington, Tenn., contractor Primus Builders and its design arm, Primus Design Services, connected the two buildings via an elevated corridor that’s kept at a temperature of -20°F. The facility, which will be operated by United States Cold Storage (USCS), includes a 336,500-sq-ft dedicated frozen food distribution facility.

Within the extensively automated building, product makes its way from the production facility to a 35°F pallet delivery space by way of automatic guided vehicles that autonomously move, load and unload pallets. From there, product then moves down the elevated corridor to a -20° freezer warehouse. The receiving area in the warehouse is equipped with computer-controlled 28-ft-high stacker cranes that distribute product to its assigned space.

But construction didn’t flow that smoothly. Inclement weather vexed contractors throughout, effectively eliminating 92 days from the work schedule. Additionally, the rains left the soil too wet and unstable to support paving activity. As a solution, Primus opted to use lime kiln dust (LKD) as a drying agent. For the building pad, though, it became apparent that the site was incapable of supporting the final structure. To overcome this challenge, contractors used a system of geopiers—ultimately driving more than 6,000 piers approximately 27 ft into the ground—and topped the site with 8 ft of fill material.

Primus placed an emphasis on the building’s sustainability and interior design. For this, the contractor engaged IA Interior Architects to create environments that reflect USCS’s history, goals and culture, resulting in an interior design and graphics package that informs employees about sustainable building components.

Unilever United States Cold Storage Distribution Center

Covington, Tenn.

Key Players
United States Cold Storage
Lead Design Firm Primus Design Services LLC
Contractor Primus Builders Inc.
Structural Engineer Primus Design Services LLC
Civil Engineer Insulated Metal Panels
MEP Engineer AHA Consulting Engineers