By Sue McCraven
Dreamscape: Louisiana State
Museum & Hall of Fame,
Precaster: Advanced Architectural Stone
The fluid, soothing design found at Louisiana’s State Museum and Sports Hall of Fame may place a visitor into a dreamlike state as they walk the winding halls and corridors. The museum overlooking historic Cane River Lake captures shapes and textures that emulate Natchitoches’ local terrain and winding rivers, fusing two seemingly incompatible venues — sports and history — with exceptional design. According to Trahan Architects, the site greatly influenced the interior design. The “fluid shapes” of the corridors, or “river channels,” are separated by structures, or “masses of land.”
Advanced Architectural Stone created more than 1,150 precast concrete panels that are supported by a custom structural steel frame beneath.
A slanted view: Bella Sky Hotel,
Architect: 3XNEngineer: Rambøll
Consulting Engineers (M&E): EKJ
Precaster: Contiga Tinglev
Size: 452,000 sq ft, 23 floors
Scandinavia’s largest hotel, Bella Sky, adds modern elegance to Copenhagen, Denmark’s capital city, and was designed as the perfect world-class structure for the trending neighborhood of Ørestad. “We have knowingly worked towards designing a building unlike anything else in Copenhagen — and we did that because Ørestad, which is a new city neighborhood, is also unlike any other place in Copenhagen,” said Kim Herforth Nielson, principal and founder of 3XN, project architects. “Bella Sky is designed specifically to reflect the identity of Ørestad.”
3XN designed Bella Sky’s two towers to twist apart (the south tower twists at the top, while the north tower twists at the bottom), a daring architectural approach. “The effect of the leaning towers has also resulted in corner rooms where the building angles create a view which is actually underneath the room!” said Nielsen. “It gives the illusion of floating above the view itself.”
In addition, one tower twists outward by 19.2 degrees, making the 250-ft structure appear to contort in the wind. Located near the Copenhagen Airport, the hotel could not be designed as one tall tower due to flight safety regulations. Aluminum and glass façade panels cover the precast concrete building, which includes hollow-core slabs, beams and internal columns.i
“Abroad, a building such as Bella Hotel would normally be built using in-situ concrete or steel,” said Kaare K.B. Dahl, project engineer at Rambøll. “But in Denmark we have a tradition of using precast concrete units. It is cost-effective, results in fewer flaws in the individual units and is far more comfortable to work with.”
The Danish Precast Concrete Association (DPCA) is proud of the Bella Sky Hotel. “Bella Sky is not only an icon for precast,” said Poul Erik Hjorth, director of DPCA. “It also has moved the limits for precast. When you can design and construct such a building with concrete elements – you can use precast solutions everywhere.”
Bella Sky Hotel recently received the 2014 fib award for Outstanding Concrete Structure from the International Federation for Structural Concrete.
Featured below are more photos of Bella Sky’s precast exterior and a precast structural model 3XN used to showcase the project.
Linking history: Grapevine Convention & Visitors Bureau, Texas
Contractor: Byrne Construction Services
Architect: ARCHITEXAS Inc.
Precaster: Advanced Architectural Stone
Mason Contractor: Clay Hunt / J & E Masonry
The City of Grapevine, Texas, a community just northwest of Dallas, grew in prosperity when the railroad linked the city with Dallas. To maintain the rich and deep history of the town as a transportation hub, the convention and visitor’s bureau has preserved the old railroad hotel façade architecture in its new building.
According to Advanced Architectural Stone (AAS), the specs for the center called for a series of storefronts that would mimic the rustic style of the Old West found in the 1800s. Cast stone copings, pier caps and water tablesii all were formed using a grapevine motif that is similar to the original wooden façades.
With its detailing work, AAS’s achievement of exceptional architectural intricacy for the building won many industry accolades and more including the 2012 Architectural Precast Association Award of Excellence – Design & Manufacturing & Craftsmanship, and the Construction Specifications Institute Award for Manufacturing & Design Excellence.
Hitting Home: Garner Veterans Memorial,
Artist: Thomas Sayre
Precaster: Lucas Concrete Products Inc.
More boys and young men from North Carolina fought and died in the American Civil War than from any other state in the Confederacy. The local veterans association in Garner, North Carolina, wanted to honor the ultimate sacrifice of all local soldiers lost in conflicts in a memorial that would give visitors an emotional connection with the fallen warriors. Garner Veterans Memorial’s architecture design achieves the shared objective.
The Architectural Precast Association awarded the memorial the APA Design & Manufacturing Excellence Award in 2013. “This really wowed us,” jury members said.
The following is Clearscapes artist Thomas Sayre’s detailed explanation of the design process.
The Garner Veterans Memorial is the result of a competition to create a place of both education and remembrance to honor the veterans of Garner, North Caroline. Individual bands of precast concrete and stone establish walls representing conflict, while benches offer peace marking 24 decades of our nation’s past and the series of conflicts that have brought us to today.
Each of the 37 precast concrete wall panels was individually molded and poured utilizing an “earthcasting” technique. Clay is broken into clods and the soil is packed into molds to create the texture of broken ground, the soil of the plowed field — or the exploded surface of warfare. The concrete was then pigmented with iron oxide to match the red clay soil. The surface of the earthcast panels protects the memorial’s smooth inner granite panels, where each conflict is described with the names of the fallen from Garner.
Caribbean flavor: Port Ferdinand Luxury
Resort, Barbados, West Indies
Precaster: Preconco LTDGeneral Contractor: Jada Builders
Current Architect: Michael Gomes Architects
Completed: Phase I completed in 2013, Phase II currently under construction, 2014
Port Ferdinand Marina and Luxury Condominium Resort is an exclusive residential resort set on 16 acres of land just north of historic Speightstown, Barbados. The resort marina features 120 yacht berths and 83 luxury homes, each with captivating views of the breathtaking Caribbean Sea and a horseshoe-shaped marina.
Preconco Limited, an NPCA member located in Lears Quarry, Lears, St. Michael, manufactured and installed all the precast and prestressed concrete components for the resort’s all-precast concrete superstructure core and shell. The “Cross Wall” construction method uses precision-engineered and factory precast concrete custom components for a more modern and effective building approach.
“After first getting our feet wet with the Port St. Charles Marina in Barbados (over 10 years ago) and again in St. Lucia with The Landings Resort & Residences, we were thrilled with the opportunity to be involved with the development of the Port Ferdinand Luxury Resort & Marina,” Mark Maloney, Preconco Limited CEO, said.
“Given the design and architectural flair of this luxury property, precast was the obvious choice for this project. Precast concrete is an efficient, cost-effective product, which allows for flexibility in design, speedy installations and high quality structures. We are proud to have had the opportunity to highlight precast concrete through the construction of this world-class project.”
Cellular architecture: La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science, Australia
Builder: Watpak Construction
Precaster: Advanced Precast
Size: 118,000 sq ft
The design by Lyons, an architecture firm in Melbourne, Australia, for the new La Trobe Institute of Molecular Science in Victoria, Australia, is bursting the bonds of typical campus structure geometry.
According to architect Carey Lyon, “The campus master plan dates back to 1968 and the objective was clear – the design of this new building is to break the mold belonging to the decades of the 60s and 70s. Obviously, we gave the façade a visual metaphor for cell research.”
From the 200-mm thick precast external wall, hexagonal precast concrete cells blast out of the structure’s façade to starkly symbolize cell research. And the façade is made all the more dramatic and daring with the use of vibrant colors and wood finishes. Notice that the hexagons are positioned randomly and even offer spaces for students and classes to meet.
41X: Australian Institute of Architecture Victoria Chapter
Contractor: Hickory Group
Precaster: Euro Cast
Engineer: Winward Structures
Size: 307,000 sq ft, 22 floors
Developed by the Australian Institute of Architects, Institute 41X is a 22-level, Five Star Green Star strata-titled tower that sits on a small footprint of about 300 sq ft. 41X targets carbon neutrality over its 30-year lifespan — accounting for embodied energy, base building operational energy, transport and waste.
Besides the Institute, 41X offers a rooftop terrace and is home to retail operations, including a café and bookstore. A striking sculptural precast concrete exterior forms a stairway design that, according to Adrian Stanic, director of Lyons Architects, “explores the idea of joining together a public and commercial building by connecting the city street space with the Institute’s occupied levels.”
Intergalactic design: Proposed Guggenheim Hermitage Museum,
Architect: Zaha Hadid
Project Architects: Thomas Vietzke and Jens Borstelmann
Size: 140,000 sq ft
Zaha Hadid Architects used the latest digital and fabrication technology in its proposed design of the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. According to the architect, the structure “appears like a mystical floating object that seemingly defies gravity. Curvilinear lines echo the elongated contours of the building, offering an enigmatic presence that
contrasts with the vertical skyline of Vilnius’ business district.”
The interior design in particular is well suited for architectural precast concrete – a structural medium that possesses the fluidity required for seamless contoured designs. This futuristic architecture was chosen as the winner in a 2008 international design competition as judged by a panel that included the Guggenheim Hermitage director, Mikhail Piotrovsky and Guggenheim Foundation director, Thomas Krens. If built, the estimated cost of the structure is approximately $80 million.
Sue McCraven, freelance writer and NPCA technical consultant, is a construction engineer and environmental scientist.
Erika Brady says
I think precast stone is so beautiful! It is neat to see it on these different styles of buildings. I especially like the look of it on the Caribbean flavor house.
Douglas Wong says
Looking to build a affordable micro-housing in Hawaii that’s needed. Do you have some designs we can use using your precast method. Or shipping containers upwards high into the sky.
Sara Geer says
Thank you for your question Douglas. I recommend visiting the “Find Precast Products & Supplies” search feature on our website to contact either a precast manufacturer or engineering service to help you with your project. NPCA cannot give out specific project design or engineering advice. However, if you do have questions during the production process, our technical services engineers would gladly be able to provide help and support. Thank you.