Architectural Precast Concrete Project in New Jersey
To create the Summit Executive Center at One Deforest Avenue in Summit, New Jersey, owner ODA Associates took an existing concrete structure that was a long-time eyesore to the area community, expanded it and with the benefits of precast concrete, and transformed it into an attractive, contemporary Class-A Office Building.
Construction began with the adaptive re-use of the former Summit Medical Center, a 40-year-old, 47,000-square-foot concrete structure to which a new 30,000-square-foot was added. The resulting four-story, 77,000-square-foot executive center features 65,000 square feet of Class-A office space and a two-level parking structure for 200 vehicles.
Precast Concrete Proved to be the Perfect Choice
An integral phase of the construction process was stripping down the existing building to its concrete structure and giving it a new precast concrete, high-performance aluminum and glass facade that seamlessly carried over to the new addition. The precast, which features modular thin brick and sandblasted finish, was produced and erected by Architectural Precast Innovations.
According to Robert Sandy, P.E., of general contractor Gale Construction Company of Roseland, New Jersey, the decision to use architectural precast elements for the facade was based on several significant factors.
To begin, the architectural design of Summit Executive Center, which was endorsed by the City of Summit, included multiple shades of smooth banded material, clay brick and articulated cornice work. The varying number of finishes and shapes in the cross section of the facade provided an impetus to reduce the number of trades and subcontractors required, which in turn, led to a reduction in coordination efforts and cost.
In addition, the design called for a seamless transition of elements in the facade between the original gutted reinforced concrete structure and the new structure. Because the existing structure had limited capacity to carry the superimposed loads of a conventional stick-built facade, a precast facade was designed to transmit the majority of its weight directly to a new cast-in-place concrete-grade beam with very little load transmitted to the superstructure.
The project's engineer, Mark von Bradsky, PE and principal at Morristown, New Jersey-based Structure Studio, explains, "A new facade was needed to transform this tired, concrete-framed building, built in 1966, into a Class A office space. The existing structure could not directly support the weight of the new facade, so several facade systems were investigated and developed that only relied on the building for lateral support. All gravity loads were transferred to the building's existing basement walls and foundations. The most viable option from both a cost and constructability point of view was architectural precast. Although there were many challenges imposed by the existing concrete structure, the precast concrete facade system proved to be the best solution."
Tight Time Schedule
The project schedule required the enclosure of the structure during potentially inclement winter weather. The use of prefabricated elements such as precast concrete were clearly beneficial to achieve a timely completion when faced with weather constraints versus stick-built, field-assembled materials involving wet trade work. In addition, work performed in a factory-controlled environment with skilled craftsmen ensure tighter tolerances and fewer errors than alternative means of construction.
Site Logistics not a problem with Precast Concrete
Since the structure was located in Summit's busy Central Business District, there would have been greater traffic disruptions on streets abutting the site if the project were constructed with field-installed masonry products instead of architectural precast. Gale was able to plan the worksite to have the ability to let Architectural Precast Innovations, Inc. staged precast panel deliveries in an area where a parking deck was to be erected months later without affecting overall project delivery requirements.
Considering the multiple number of ways in which using concrete affected the outcome of the Summit Executive Center project, Gale Construction's Sander concludes, "The initial thought processes and decisions to use precast really clearly proved to be of great benefit as the project moved from the design stage through implementation."