Lightweight Precast Building Envelopes Maximize Performance

Resilient and lean, fiber-reinforced modular precast wall systems maximize thermal performance, minimize construction scheduling, and produce buildings that meet the highest sustainability standards
[ Page 4 of 5 ]        
Sponsored by SlenderWall by Easi-Set
By Celeste Allen Novak, FAIA, LEED AP, BD+C

Residential Timesaving High-End Finishes

The applications of precast concrete panels were both innovative and revolutionary in the development of the housing stock in the 1950s. Today, another material revolution is occurring, meeting another growing need to provide buildings for a growing hospitality and housing market, which includes both student and senior housing.

Lightweight, Modern Thermal Enclosure

Kaczmer Architects is familiar with the specification of traditional precast concrete panels for use on client projects. The firm has completed numerous projects for the internationally famous Cleveland Clinic, a campus of more than 40 buildings. It was selected to design the Holiday Inn Hotel to provide housing for patient families on the site of a former guesthouse. The Cleveland Clinic provides design standards for all of its buildings, which specifies materials from door hardware to exterior finishes and performance standards from BIM drawings to fire-protection materials. These standards include information on energy modeling and performance testing for all building enclosures.7

“White everything,” is the shorthand Dave Kaplan, project manager for work on the hotel’s exterior facade and its detailing, uses to describe these guidelines. He adds that modernist touches, such as incorporating glass curtainwall and wood interior-trim detailing, also can be incorporated. “They have a very simple color palette that we have to adhere to.”8

Kaczmer Architects used lightweight precast concrete wall systems for The Holiday Inn Hotel at the Cleveland Clinic

© Terry Wieckert/SlenderWall by Easi-Set

Kaczmer Architects chose a lightweight precast concrete wall system that included a modern white surface, insulation, vapor barrier, and interior wall framing for The Holiday Inn Hotel at the Cleveland Clinic.

Integrating design with construction evaluation, the entire team realized that it needed an alternative to the use of heavier precast systems that required a longer construction schedule to meet its budget and schedule requirements. The team designed a building with traditional architectural precast used at ground level with matching modular panels above. It chose a lightweight precast concrete wall system that included the smooth, modern surface, insulation, vapor barrier, and interior wall framing. The team was able to control the surface appearance in the factory and meet the energy standards as specified by the Cleveland Clinic. According to Kaplan, the manufacturer of this economical all-in-one wall system was “able to point me to UL assemblies they’ve used on other projects.” as well as take “care of the energy code.”9

Logisbourg selected a precast wall system for the contemporary five- story Luxembourg III, a luxury apartment in Quebec City, Canada

© Stéphane Groleau

Logisbourg, an award-winning Canadian real estate company selected a technologically advanced precast wall system for the contemporary five- story Luxembourg III, a luxury apartment in Quebec City, Canada.

Ease of Assembly

The competitive rental market is another area where design professionals are employing fast-track, turnkey building processes. Even in the luxury market, design professionals are turning toward the use of lightweight precast concrete wall systems. Logisbourg, an award-winning Canadian real estate company selected a technologically advanced precast wall system for the contemporary five-story Luxembourg III, a luxury apartment in Quebec City, Canada. “We are one of the only companies that build like this in Quebec City and maybe the entire province,” says Logisbourg project manager Jean-Simon Généroux, explaining how quickly prefabricated building systems can come together. “You know exactly what it’s going to cost and exactly how much time—it’s like LEGO blocks.”10

Located in climate zone 7, where average winter temperatures are measured in single digits, the wall system was designed to meet IECC thermal requirements. The panels were delivered with all of the windows preinstalled. Généroux affirms his belief that “installing the windows in the precast plant is a lot faster, and the quality is better.”11

Load-bearing lightweight precast concrete panels that included a vapor barrier, insulation, and interior framing studs were lifted into place and stacked on top of each other to form the shell of this five-story housing.

Edgewater, New Jersey, luxury apartments, The Alexander on the Hudson, used lightweight precase concrete panel systems

© SlenderWall by Easi-Set

The 19th century Manhattan architects would recognize the classic detailing of the Edgewater, New Jersey, luxury apartments, The Alexander on the Hudson, but they would be astounded by its construction using lightweight precast concrete panel systems.

 

[ Page 4 of 5 ]        
Originally published in Architectural Record

Notice

Academies