High Concrete Group LLC has introduced ThinCastTM, the thinnest precast concrete rainscreen panel available on the market. Designed for use in commercial, institutional, retail, and low- to high-rise construction, this innovation provides architects with the natural beauty and character of concrete in lightweight panels that accomplish their rainscreen design goals.
Location: Hershey, Pa.
Type of Precast: Structural – 15’-wide double tees, shear walls, spandrels; architectural wall panels
Size: Station: 2,500 sq. ft.; Garage: 124,000 sq. ft.; 343 parking spaces
Architect/Engineer: Buchart Horn, Inc./Basco Associates
General Contractor: Lobar, Inc.
Owner: Township of Derry Industrial and Commercial Development Authority
Design Cues from the Heyday of Rail Travel
A Taste of the Past with Modern Convenience
Strategically located near the offices of a major resort, the two-story, 2,500 square foot Downtown Intermodal commuter station in Hershey, Pa. is the main access point for employees and visitors who park in the adjacent two-level 124,000 square foot precast parking garage. Together, the two structures make up the second phase of a project that now serves an office development and museum expansion scheduled to open at the end of 2008.
The design goal for the project was to separate car and bus traffic to ease congestion on the site and to increase safety while maintaining the historic references of the surrounding town. Key in the decision to use precast was the schedule for the project, which was tied to the neighboring development, as well as economics, as well as the ability to mimic surrounding early 20thcentury construction forms.
Design Cues from the Heyday of Rail Travel
Buff-color architectural panels made with local aggregates have repeated rounded archways with formliner creating the look of stone ashlars at the base. A green metal hipped roof with vented gable ends and decorative bracketing completes the appearance of a rail station of days gone by. The roof and precast color relate to several historic buildings nearby, notably a famous hotel and a live performance theater.
Presently used for bus traffic transfers, plans for the station include a rail platform to allow customers to easily access a future commuter train. A glass-enclosed foot bridge connects the two structures which are located to either side of the existing track.
Pocketed structural spandrels on the precast parking garage were finished in a basket weave thin brick island pattern with square precast accents. The image was taken from a nearby historic building that had housed a press. Light walls in the middle of the garage allow light to pass through for maximum safety and security. The garage is naturally ventilated with shear walls at the ends.
The garage provides 343 parking spaces with 90º front-in parking and two-way traffic. With a single entrance/exit, it is joined to a 252-space precast garage with another entrance/exit that was previously constructed on the site. Typical bay spacing is 45’ and 36’ by 61’ 2” long with two levels of elevated parking. The garage is accessed 24 hours free of charge, with accommodation for ticketing in the future; the pedestrian bridge is closed during off peak hours.
The architect notes that the construction site was confined, and that the project team appreciated that precast contributed minimal disturbance, especially when compared with the scaffolding and additional personnel required for other construction techniques. Precast also allowed the team to lessen impact along a large original stone railroad retaining wall that helped preserve the authenticity of the site.
Project complexity was increased by the number of authorities involved, including the railroad, state funding agencies, municipal authorities and local manufacturing. Every eight minutes one of the three rail lines feeds local processing plants with raw materials. Special consideration was taken when the line had to be shut down for the pedestrian bridge installation. The location of the station was dictated by site constraints on either side of the tracks, including several overhead lines that had to be relocated to complete the project.
They don’t build ‘em like they used to, but with precast you can capture the spirit of the past with a modern material that performs better during construction and long afterward.