Valvoline’s new headquarters was designed to celebrate their heritage as a leader in racing while simultaneously capturing their focus on technology and product innovation. The decision to use precast concrete was made because for a project such as this, it is unparalleled when compared with different frameworks. The double-return panels give this building an alluring quality, highlighted its geometry, and was also financially attainable and able to be produced within an anticipated timeframe.
Reading K-12 School
The Reading Community Schools made the decision to combine its three individual schools into one school that would house 15,000 students. The owners worked with an architect to design the school with a traditional look using brick and limestone trim. The architect, Earl Crossland, was able to achieve that look using precast concrete.
Academy of World Languages
The strikingly attractive building features several complementary finishes within each panel. Exposed aggregate provides bold texture and an earthiness that befits the school’s wooded surroundings. A subtle, uniform sandblast finish appears alongside an acid etched treatment that deepens colors for contrast and imparts a stone-like appearance. Horizontal lines of vibrant ruby red tiles below crimson-framed windows add contrast across the façade, while vertical lines of blue tiles almost make the seam between panels an aesthetic feature. Finally, insets of alternating yellow and blue tile provide a visual counterpoint to the exterior light fixtures directly above them. Overall, it’s a colorful, vibrant exterior that reflects the energy and discovery of learning.
Merrill praised the aesthetic versatility of precast. “It allowed us to play with colors and textures, maintaining a simple yet still attractive building,” he said. “We were able to gain economies through repetitive patterning and use scale and massing to keep the building interesting and not overwhelming to the kids.”
The benefits extended to the interior walls as well. The precast sandwich wall panels were prefinished on the inside with paint filler and institutional grade paint. Durable concrete will withstand decades of heavy use and abuse from energetic children. Furthermore, the prefinished interior eliminated the expense and time that a field-constructed interior would have entailed.
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.”
Hamburg Elementary School (Tilden)
An outstanding thermal performance was achieved at Hamburg Elementary school (Tilden) 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.
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.
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.
Lancaster County Convention Center
Big building, small space
Established in 1718, Lancaster is the oldest inland city in the United States. Its town square can be traced back to 1730 when James Hamilton laid the city out in a traditional grid. Structures with lasting, historical value have been fixtures on the square for years. The central area has always been among the most densely developed parts of the city.
Certainly, constructing an intricate project, Lancaster County Convention Center, that would bring new architecture to an established, compact downtown would require imagination and thoughtful planning. Knowing that precast could solve many of the potential issues, architectural firm Cooper Carry engaged High Concrete Group LLC from the earliest planning stages.
The biggest obstacle consisted of working around the existing structures, many of which would be integrated into the new complex. It severely limited the size of the construction site. Because precast is manufactured off-site and delivered to the job as needed, it was preferable over field-built options that would have required significantly more space.
“Staging was a big issue,” explains Kevin Iddings, general manager of Midwest operations for High Concrete Group. “We developed a regimented schedule that allowed us to ship the precast pieces one at a time as they were needed. It helped avoid a backlog of materials in the field.”
In addition, High worked with the architect to simplify the job as much as possible, eliminating unnecessary pieces and identifying ways to reuse molds, thereby minimizing costs.
FDNY Firehouse Rescue #2
Located in a city neighborhood, the FDNY rescue facility was designed for an elite force of specialized rescue workers to stage and simulate a wide range of emergency conditions. The members of the rescue company train to respond to various emergency scenarios, including fires, building collapses, water rescues, and scuba operations.
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 Hershey Campus Parking Garage
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.
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.
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.