Willow Creek Elementary
The two-story, 108,000 ft2 Willow Creek Elementary School was built in response to increased enrollments at the elementary school level. The school opened for the 2009-2010 academic year and features 44 classrooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium, library, computer labs, art, and music classrooms for an estimated 700 students.
The $22.1 million school was designed by AEM Architects, Inc., which also designed the nearby Tilden Elementary Center in Hamburg, PA with CarbonCast High-Performance Insulated Wall Panels. The Tilden school was completed in 2007.
Willow Creek was built in proximity to other Fleetwood facilities and takes the place of an older block and brick structure. According to AEM project architect Justin H. Istenes, the insulated wall panels were chosen for the school because “precast is built to last. The owners toured High’s Denver plant and the Tilden school while it was under construction, and were satisfied they were getting better value with precast insulated wall panels.”
An outstanding thermal performance was achieved at Tilden Elementary with CarbonCast walls. Amid skyrocketing energy costs and heightened public awareness of green construction practices, more building owners are seeking environmentally friendly solutions without incurring higher costs.
Tilden Elementary Center in Hamburg, PA, is no exception. The school for kindergarten through fifth-grade students will save on heating and cooling costs with innovative precast high performance insulated wall panels engineered, manufactured, and erected by High Concrete Group.
High Concrete’s 10”-thick precast exterior walls on the 110,000-square foot project delivers R-15 performance. They use three inches of continuous XPS insulation (“ci” as defined in ASHRAE Building Energy Code 90.1-2007) sandwiched between a 4” interior wythe and a 3” exterior wythe. C-GRID carbon fiber shear grid connects the two wythes. With relatively low thermal conductivity, the carbon fiber prevents thermal transfer, virtually eliminating hot and cold spots on the interior wall preserving comfort for students.
High’s precast walls helped keep the project on schedule and under budget, both of which are critical for a public school. The project was completed in June 2008—in plenty of time for teachers to welcome students for the first day of school.
Statue of Liberty Museum and Screening Facility
At this iconic location, now stands resilient structures that are dynamic in expression and were inspired by the irregularity of the water’s edge, as well as the geometry of the circular Flagpole Plaza. This is a one of a kind museum and screening facility that leads precast structures into a new level of strength and beauty.
Merging building into the landscape, the design eschews formality in favor of an asymmetrical design that embraces its dramatic setting and changes of form as visitors move around it. The vertical patterning of the precast concrete sandwich panels was inspired by the Palisades cliffs along the Hudson River. The project’s materials link the future of the Island with its past. Inspired by the idea that the museum has been “lifted” from the park, all vertical surfaces are rendered in irregular, vertical patterns suggestive of a tectonic shift; they provide a compositional counterpoint to the building’s dominant horizontality. The precast concrete panels have a deeply textured, irregular pattern, which creates dramatic shadows; this texture reflects the Palisades cliffs of New Jersey.
Mercy Health West Hospital
Opened in fall 2013, Mercy Health - West Hospital brings a new level of healthcare to Cincinnati's west side. The 625,000sf project features 250 beds, comprehensive cardiac care, an oncology treatment center, a maternity and birthing center, and Ohio's largest green roof. The medical facility eliminates the need for the local residents to travel outside of the area for full-service medical care.
The medical facility features state-of-the-art care combined with amenities that focus on the patient and their families to create a comfortable and healing atmosphere. This approach to health care architecture, balancing beauty, culture and function set a new standard for hospital design. Connections between architecture, natural light, and landscape promote healing.
Located on a 60-acre wooded site, the hospital's large diagnostic and treatment base is designed to co-locate surgery, imaging, the emergency department, and cardiovascular ICU. Two-bed towers sit on this platform, which features a living roof covered with native plants — providing an ever-changing view from the patient rooms above.
The unique, 107,000sf green roof covers 2.5 acres and has more than 65,000 plants. Patients and visitors can enjoy views of the roof from the patient towers, as well as an observation area. The roof helps maintain cooler building temperatures during summer months, while capturing and holding 75% of rainwater, thus lessening the amount of stormwater run-off.
Lehigh University Alumni Parking Garage
A design-build approach that reused steel forms from an award-winning project resulted in the 315-space Lehigh University Alumni Parking Garage in four to six months less time than typical construction. The form design was recognized with a PCI Design Award in 2002 and again in 2007 when it was repurposed for this project.
The five-level, 104,000 square foot garage for university faculty features 10- by 30-foot precast concrete elements that incorporate slender precast concrete columns and spandrel beams. The structural design eliminated tall, heavy spandrels that are traditionally associated with parking structures, replacing them with an open, lightweight concrete latticework that provides both exciting form and efficient function. The panels' slender columns correspond individually to the 7-foot 6-inch span of the 15-foot-wide structural double tee stems. In addition to bringing in light and providing an open, airy feel, the exterior lattice system blocks headlight beams from reaching into the neighborhood.
In 2012, the Christ Hospital Network in Cincinnati, Ohio, decided to add an orthopedic center of excellence to its already nationally renowned healthcare facility. The owners worked with an architect to design the seven-story, 381,000 ft2 LEED Silver-certified Joint & Spine Center, which linked it directly to the hospital’s existing surgical and imaging areas.
As part of the broader master plan, the client and architect agreed that the design for the Joint & Spine Center needed to reflect the historical redbrick vernacular of the other campus buildings. It also had to meet strict budget restrictions, deliver a watertight building envelope, and meet the high-performance goals set for the new building. All of these requirements would be met with a precast concrete design.
2016's Harry H. Edwards Industry Advancement Award winner proves that precast concrete enables the most innovative architectural designs while providing a highly energy-efficient and durable envelope. One of the most prominent features of the building is the white precast concrete façade, which dips dramatically away from the walkway along the eastern edge, then tips back out again, much like the buildings in a Dr. Seuss story. “One of the key design challenges was to create that curved façade from precast panels,” says David Bosch, engineering team leader for High Concrete Group. The curved load-bearing design was achieved by assembling flat, traditional precast concrete panels to form a complex faceted geometry. An interlocking structural system was embedded within the panels to eliminate the need for traditional precast concrete spandrel panels. “The resulting façade creates an aesthetic versatility that is unique to the project,” Bosch says.
Villanova University Pedestrian Bridge
This collegiate pedestrian bridge harmonizes with a collegiate campus that has been around for years. The environment of a college tends to develop around them, causing a need to adapt. Taking something that was, “a necessity and turning it into an asset” was an added benefit to the Architect. Ultimately plastic and versatile, precast concrete helps designers realize their vision even when it’s not the hero in the visual. In this project, harmony, and consistency with the campus aesthetic was a high priority to both the University and the designers. To achieve this goal, the design included a fieldstone veneer to the exterior of the precast bridge following erection except for the architectural panels over the road. The panels over the existing road had the fieldstone applied by the precast manufacturer to the panel prior to being transported to the location. This helps cut down road closure time and boost efficiency.
Riverside Hospital Neuroscience Tower
The Riverside Hospital Neuroscience Tower project is a 10-story, 437,000-square-foot addition to an Ohio Health campus. The project is the only one of its kind and is a state-of-the-art, world-class brain and spine care destination. The project includes 224 private rooms and a large interior atrium the size of two full-size basketball courts.
The exterior features 72,390 ft2 white, precast concrete panels as well as a series of blue-tinted, vertical windows. This was done to resemble the other buildings on the campus. These buildings were built at different times, with different materials, but many feature white brick walls surrounding vertical rhythms of windows. “We wanted to stay away from bricks,” said the architect. “They have an institutional connotation and can make a building appear bigger.”
Precast panels were utilized on the exterior of the building to cover a substantial portion of the facade. Precast was also used to clad a large portion of an interior courtyard that began at the third level of the structure with a rooftop green space/garden area and concluded seven stories higher at the penthouse level.
Penn State University Hershey Campus
Inspired by the rolling hills in Pennsylvania, the eye-catching waving spandrels are the first element to greet you as you drive onto the health campus and the last you pass as you leave. Being in such prime real estate, the owners did not want this to be an ordinary parking garage. The Architects took on the challenge with inspiration from the land around them and created a total precast concrete marvel with 1,235 parking spaces with room to expand as needed.
Red Rose Parking Garage
Once bustling with retail business and pedestrian traffic, the City of Lancaster, PA is working toward rebuilding a vital and vibrant downtown. Designed with an intention to stimulate the Lancaster economy with much-needed commuter and transient parking and 15,000 square feet of retail space on two floors, the 185,000-square-foot Queen Street Station Parking Garage complements the city’s historic streetscapes and creates a pedestrian-friendly aesthetic.
Nassau 8th Precinct
Following Hurricane Sandy in 2012, many structures owned by Nassau County in New York state were evaluated for structural damage, including the police precincts. Prior to the storm, several of these buildings had already been in need of renovations to accommodate a growing police force and resolve problems of aging infrastructure, and the storm accelerated this need, says Gilbert Balog of LiRo Architects + Planners.
In the 8th District, Nassau County wanted to replace the 1950s-era frame and brick precinct buildings with structures that communicated civic pride and could withstand the onslaughts of future major events. “Resiliency was a major factor in the selection of precast concrete construction,” says Dianne Pohlsander, design architect for LiRo. “In fact, everything came together with precast concrete: resiliency, fabrication that wasn't weather dependent, constructability, and the desired aesthetics.”
Precast concrete also helped address unique logistical challenges on this project. Construction was constrained by long and narrow site, and, because the new precinct house was constructed at one end while the old building stayed open for operations at the other, the team was under pressure to complete the project quickly with minimal site disruption. “Precast concrete gave us that quick erection time that we needed,” Pohlsander says.
Ohio State University Chiller Plant
Recent trends in chiller plant design that have been to use eye-catching enclosures, often glass boxes, to allow mechanical systems to be visible from outside. However, this presents the problem of cooling the chiller plant. At Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, a new ten-story plant uses precast concrete panels with a series of openings that allow a view inside, while keeping the interior temperature consistent and the energy use regulated.
The plant building is more than just a concrete box with openings, however. Conceived as a “House for Energy,” the envelope showcases the energy-efficient chiller equipment inside and records the sun’s energy on the exterior.
The LEED Silver Certified building features a high-polish finish and “fins” of diachronic glass that cast colored light rays across the concrete surface. The result is a dynamic façade that changes with the time of day, season, and location of the observer.
The chiller housed at the new plant facility provides chilled water production and distribution to the medical center area of the campus. The plant encloses the equipment used to maintain 12,500 tons of chilled water, with a plan to increase that capacity to 30,000 tons. Emergency power installed at the plant increases the reliability of the water production and distribution in the event of a power outage.
80 on the Commons
The playful yet sophisticated use of a herringbone pattern results in a standout, bold style that NBBJ wanted to capture on this civic asset in the city’s central open space.
Continuing in the style of the black façade on the top eleven stories, the white panels at ground level begin with linear lines and gradually fade to a smooth finish. The transition from a smooth finish to a heavily textured panel gives the ground level a clean ordered look in contrast to the beauty of the organized chaos above. The white mix used as the deep contrast is captured throughout the façade from the balconies to the back of the building’s recessed design were all achieved using precast concrete.
Scattered among the levels are cantilever balcony decks protruding straight out from the structure of the building. No support brackets or elements are needed for these precast slabs due to the design, therefore providing the visual of a floating deck. The severe contrast of the two colors helps deliver the architect's design intent.
The result of the refined material palette and texture of the pattern used is one of the unique features of the building. The custom formwork makes the surface appear as if it is changing throughout the day due to the shadow with the sun. Depending on the angle, the layout gives off an impression where sections appear as different shades of a black concrete mix, when in fact, it’s not.
5th and Race
The new mixed-use structure at 5th & Race Street in Cincinnati, Ohio, gives visitors the impression that they can see right through the building. Designers of the 280,000 ft² facility, elegantly merged broad windows and precast concrete panels to create a light and elegant building that reflects the blue sky during the day, and golden street lights at night, while giving residents a strong, open space for their offices and retail.
The building, titled 84.51° Centre, includes a 1000-space, four-story parking garage at the base topped by four stories of commercial space. Precast concrete was chosen to achieve the owners’ durability, accelerated timeline, and aesthetic goals, says Glenn Ebersole, P.E., Market Development Manager of High Concrete Group, the precaster on the project. “By using architectural precast panels we were able to provide the dark color and avoid the repetitiveness of patterns while limiting erection time.” The dark color of the precast concrete was created by combining black granite coarse aggregate with black sand in the mix. The panels were acid etched to provide a soft texture, sometimes referred to as sugar cube texture. The acid etch finish also enables the sand to sparkle in the sun, providing glints of light and visual interest to passersby.
“The use of precast to provide ventilation on the garage level helps camouflage the fact that the lower levels of the building are a garage and it creates a unified facade,” says Michael Zensen, Associate Vice President, CannonDesign, one of the judges of the 2016 PCI Awards committee. The horizontal reveal pattern provided the desired modern, industrial look, and random non-symmetrical window openings combined with reveal accents added visual interest.
500 Pearl Street Parking Garage
Perched up above a seemly 6-story precast podium parking garage stands a hotel and apartments that rely on the durability of precast to provide key functionality to the structure. While the garage is an open design for natural ventilation, the designers observe a balance using large wall panels with a square reveal to create the visual of sectioned windows on a standard building. Being able to factor in the finished material by augmenting another material elevated off the precast panels was a benefit to using precast concrete on this project to create the feel of a cohesive building and not a parking garage.
The precast columns stream down through the 380 car parking garage into the ground level to structurally support the garage as well as the steel structure placed above the garage. The structural capacity and durability precast brings are essential to the harsh weather climate that this structure will come into play with.
The first level of structural elements complements the functionality of the building ground level by acting as a ceiling that completely seals an operational facilities portion of the hotel and several retail/food services tenants. A waterproof sealant was applied to the structural elements on the first precast level to keep the moisture out.