2018 Light Commercial

As the name suggests, this building is a warehousing and shipping facility for Arturo Fuente Cigars. The company was founded in the Tampa area in 1912, and in the past few decades has grown to be one of the most popular premium cigar brands in the world, selling more than 30 million cigars annually.

From the very beginning, the company has focused on quality. Carlos Fuente Sr., who bought the company from his father in 1956 and spent more than 50 years at its head said, “We don’t hurry things; we just do things the way they are supposed to be done.”

So when the company needed a new global distribution warehouse, quality and longevity was at the top of the list. Carlos Sr. participated in the groundbreaking. In years past, the Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa, Florida was “the hand-rolled cigar capital of the world,” and the company’s current headquarters—built in 1903 and meticulously restored—is one of the few buildings from that era that remain. The construction site was right across the street, so the architecture of the new warehouse intentionally mimics the historic design aesthetic, with gorgeous old-school brickwork, decorative corbels, and distinctive arched entryways. Robert Holsopple designed and installed the fully functional, historically accurate metal shutters. There are 105 pairs, each weighing 130 lbs.

Under the brick façade, though, the building utilizes the latest state-of-the-art technology. Exterior walls are built with insulating concrete forms, a unique foam-and-concrete building method that offers exceptional energy efficiency and durability. Turning Leaf Construction, who served as ICF installation subcontractor, used Fox Block ICF on this job. John Riddle, vice president at Turning Leaf, says the large, extended corners were a big advantage as the walls went up.

Riddle says, “Our scope consisted of the ICF envelope, elevator shaft, and stairway.” The three-story design reaches more than 52 feet above grade, meaning every floor was a tall wall, averaging 16 feet per floor.

More than 100 windows openings were placed flawlessly, along with nearly a thousand embeds and attachment points.

The floors are open web metal joists with a composite concrete slab. James Lloyd, project manager at Arco/Murray Construction, the GC, says, “This system was chosen as  the most cost effective way to support the anticipated storage loads on the upper floors.  The installation required a lot of planning prior to construction to create the necessary attachment points to the ICF walls.  The installation also had to consider that welding could melt the ICF.”

As Turning Leaf Construction moved upward with the ICFs, the brickwork followed floor by floor. “Use of cast-in-place concrete and innovative steel flooring allowed optimal speed of construction all around,” Riddle says. “Experienced crews worked at steady pace in very humid conditions to keep ahead of the masons.” In total, the building used about 10,600 sq. ft.
of forms.

Cigar aficionados know storage temperature and humidity must be carefully controlled in order for a good cigar to maintain its quality. Fortunately, ICF walls are practically airtight, and coupled with a specialized HVAC system, it allows the upper stories to serve as a 10,000-sq.-ft., climate-controlled humidor.

Unlike desktop humidors, the building interior is not Spanish Cedar. It’s actually finished in yellow brick, which was typical of cigar rolling and packing plants a century ago.

Completed in January 2017, Arturo Fuente is now providing global distribution for their premium hand-rolled cigars through the 15,676-sq.-ft. warehouse. The building is dedicated to Carlos Fuente Sr. He’d likely approve of the result. Like his cigars, it was built “the way thing are supposed to be done.”

Lloyd reports that the owners are satisfied with the cost, especially considering the ornate brickwork, attention to detail, and specialized HVAC system with humidification control.

With walls and floors of reinforced concrete and functional storm shutters, Riddle says, “The owners are excited that the structure and its windows will withstand the worst that Mother Nature can throw at the structure and last for many, many generations.”

Project Statistics

Location: Tampa, Florida
Type: Manufacturing and Packaging Facility
Size: 15,600 sq. ft. (floor)
ICF Use: 10,600 sq. ft.
Total Construction: 52 weeks
ICF Installation Time: 45 days

Construction Team

Owner: Ostra Holdings
General Contractor: Arco/Murray Construction
ICF Installer + Form Distributor: Turning Leaf Construction
Architect: Florida Design Studio
ICF System: Fox Blocks


Fast Facts

Design fits perfectly in historic Ybor City area
105 pairs of functional steel window shutters
Specialized HVAC makes entire building a giant humidor


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