The Total Solution for the Architect

The Total Solution for the Architect

TOTAL PRECAST CONCRETE STRUCTURES SERIES – ARTICLE 2

In addition to helping meet all of the building owner’s goals, total precast concrete systems provide specific advantages to architects that make the design process smoother.

Interior design flexibility:  Precast concrete systems help building owners adapt to changing client needs through the years.  Double-tee spans of 45 to 50 feet match typical composite-steel framing and minimize the need for interior columns required with cast-in-place systems.  Precast spans can reach as much as 70 feet, providing flexibility for challenging interior requirements.  Precast also provides high floor-loading capability with little added cost.

Efficient design:  Working in parallel with the precaster can provide early and precise design aid that ensures the most efficient sizes and shapes for components, which minimizes the budget for casting, transporting and erecting pieces.  Component repetition reduces form costs and aids design speed while retaining design flexibility.  These cost efficiencies free up more of the budget for other critical design areas.

Aesthetic variety:  Innovative precasters continue to develop mixes, tints, insets, finishes and multi-color pours, providing an almost endless range of aesthetic options.  Virtually any desired appearance can be achieved.  The options include natural stone replication, inset brick, multi-color panels, multi-surface textures and special logo, emblem or signage embedments.

Strong finish-approval process:  Precasters can provide finish samples, range samples and large-scale mockups, ensuring that design concepts translate into reality.  Designers can inspect window interfaces, joint connections and other critical elements to ensure they are visually acceptable and will properly interface between trades.  Plant visits to discuss technical and aesthetic concerns provide control without required constant site supervision.

Green design:  Precast concrete offers a number of benefits that make it environmentally friendly, a growing need as the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) criteria become more popular.  Precast requires fewer chemicals to keep it clean over its long lifetime, and it offers a high thermal mass.  It can be produced locally and creates no job waste.  Cement reducers such as fly ash and other admixtures also aid its environmental friendliness.  And its high durability gives it a total service life that far outpaces designs using other building materials.

Tight floor-to-floor heights:  Precast concrete systems sometimes fit within alternative system depths but shouldn’t add more than approximately eight inches to each floor level, creating an approximate 5-percent increase in exterior wall material.  This slight addition is easily overcome by working with the precaster to make effective use of the overall floor-plan shape and using the benefits precast provides in repetition of component fabrication.

Concrete systems mean success.  The benefits offered by total precast concrete systems accrue to the owner, architect, general contractor and structural engineer’s bottom lines – and ultimately benefit the end user.  The system provides an efficient design, cost effectiveness and a strong, durable appearance that will maintain its image throughout a long service life.

Key Benefits:

  • Speed to market
  • Design flexibility
  • Aesthetic versatility
  • High quality
  • Low maintenance
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Strong engineering support
  • Single-source supplier

–  Information provided by PCI (Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute)

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