The new office building at 1200 Intrepid Ave., in the Philadelphia Navy Yard Corporate Center is a sight to behold, described by some as gravity defying in that parts of the structure are designed to replicate the shape of a ship's hull, narrow at the bottom and wide at the top.
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Size: 82,265 sq. ft.
Type of Precast: Architectural, form finished
Stunning New Arts Center Truly a Unique Work of Art
The new home of Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center embodies the institution's ongoing role as promoter of daring and farsighted artistic strategies. In that creative spirit, the ingenuity of High Concrete Group contributed to the completion of the award-winning building.
Founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society, the Center was one of the first institutions in the United States dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art, and has always included design and architecture in its mandate. Consistent with its probing of the outer limits of the current art scene, the Center, under the leadership of Director Charles Desmarais, selected Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid to design its new facility: The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art. It is the first major American museum designed by a woman. Hadid remains on the cutting edge of Deconstructivist architecture, both challenging and, in her own way, responding to context.
The unique building is primarily made of precast concrete panels that were fabricated and installed by High Concrete Group’s Springboro, Ohio facility. High was selected for the complex project because of its reputation and experience with high-end architectural concrete. Working closely with the architect, High Concrete designed 140 spandrel panels for the 82,265 square-foot building.
“The architect wanted the building to be truthful, raw, and natural,” says Kevin Iddings, General Manager. “We chose a straight form finish, which is very unusual for a high-profile building. As a result, joints between the plywood forms that transferred during curing is visible on the panels.” Iddings notes, “Using only structural gray concrete we couldn’t control the color, and you can really see that in the building. The variation and natural appearance of the material gave the effect the architect was looking for.”
The facades appear as if each had been carved from a single block of concrete, floating over the lobby space. This effect was achieved through thin concrete fins added to appear as if the building was cast in place as individual giant pieces of concrete. When the forms were built, gaps between plywood pieces were left unsealed to allow the concrete to fil in, creating the fins. Extra care was taken when storing and installing the panels to protect the delicate fins.
In addition to the fins, the building posed other challenges with difficult and ever-changing angles as the building rose vertically. High engineering and operations developed high quality panels that erected perfectly in the field. “The angles in the building weren’t common angles like 45 or 90 degrees, but the dimensional control of the panels was excellent. They went up without any joint problems,” says Iddings.
Overall, in a building dedicated to creativity, it is only fitting that High’s functional and aesthetically pleasing panels helped the Rosenthal Center truly become a work of art.