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: New Brunswick, N.J.
Type of Precast: Structural precast
Size:612,704 square feet
The 60,000,000 million, 612,000-square-foot New Brunswick Wellness Plaza Garage is a bustling urban center looks toward a health-conscious populace with this new wellness plaza. The brand new facility offers a full-service supermarket, and a state-of-the-art fitness and wellness education center on the bottom two levels, with a 1,200 space parking facility on the upper levels and pedestrian bridge to access the mass transit options for the neighborhood.
The holistic theme brings with it options for more healthful lifestyle choices for the residents in this up and coming neighborhood. Typically, urban dwellers find it difficult to access supermarkets, due to infrastructure and spacing challenges. The new health and wellness plaza features a 50,000-sf Fresh Grocer, a high-quality, experienced and socially responsible supermarket operator. The surrounding community benefits by having affordable and nutritious food options, including fresh produce and healthfully prepared food.
Additionally, the new facility provides space for a 60,000-sf, full-service fitness/wellness center, operated by the nearby university health system. Amenities include a variety of cardio and strength training equipment, fitness and dance studios, locker facilities with showers, sauna and steam rooms, three separate pools, and community/educational meeting areas. The center provides professional fitness assessments and health education classes from qualified medical personnel, as well as personal trainers and exercise physiologists.
According to Glenn Kustera, structural engineer for PS&S, precast was not the only system considered, however by keeping one building system for the whole structure it worked for everyone’s benefit. “The majority of this structure is a parking garage, and everyone is used to seeing that as precast, but using a parking garage system with double tees for supermarkets, wellness centers and gyms is not typical. It was nice that the precast solution, not just for the parking but for the bottom two levels, wound up being the most economical system,” said Kustera.
The major concern with using precast for the lower spaces was in the wellness center space, where a long span supports the floor, under some strenuous movements, like aerobic and step classes; the design team did not want a floor that would vibrate too much. “With the long spans, it was a fine, good solid floor system,” said Kustera, “the owner is happy, everybody is happy.”
Precast concrete systems played a very important role in the most challenging aspect of the project, the “helix” area, which permits access to the upper level parking structure, and is positioned directly over the Olympic-sized pool, therapy pool and Jacuzzi pool in the wellness center. Intense coordination and scheduling was required because part of this area was cast in place concrete. The cast in place concrete had to be poured, cured and brought up to strength before the precast erection got to that section of the building, so it would not create any problems or affect the construction schedule.
“If there would not have been a way to make the helix space work, it might have been a very different looking project,” said Kustera, “it was a matter of inches to make all this work within the footprint of the very tight, complex site.”
The overall key to making this project a success for the community, and helping that community take an active and interested part in living a healthy lifestyle, is the educational and outreach programs conducted in the community meeting areas within the new facility. Residents will find a wide range of course material including, childbirth and parenting, disease management, healthy cooking, first aid and CPR, stress management, and targeted health programs for women, men, children and seniors.
The structure is a great example of a multi-use, total precast building that helps the community incorporate healthy lifestyle choices into every day life. The new facility gives the city a lift by providing residents with a sense that there is an interest in improving their community. The precast concrete systems played a very important role in making this a successful project for the owner and end users.
“It circles back to the same thing,” said Kustera, “simplicity in design, long-span column-free areas, faster erection, less pieces to erect, same building system. At the end of the day it comes down to a project that is put up quickly. Everyone was able to get what they wanted from the building – from aesthetics, to form, to function.”