Name: Daniel E. Hahn
Title: Senior Vice President; Director of Architectural Engineering Services
Company: HDR Architecture
Professional Designations: P.E., S.E., LEED AP
Q: What is your field of focus and what particular products do you specialize in?
I am a structural engineer doing primarily building design. The structures I have worked on include medical facilities, advanced laboratories, higher education buildings and research labs, concert and performing arts venues, stadiums, arenas, museums and a variety of other smaller industrial projects. I have used all the primary building materials in my designs, but primarily work with reinforced concrete, steel, masonry and precast.
Q: What are the benefits of using precast concrete products?
Precast concrete is used when unique, repetitive components are needed that are durable and consistent with high strength and a long-spanning capability. Our use of precast primarily centers on the exterior skins of buildings, but we have used it in a variety of ways to create high-quality, architecturally finished structural components. The speed of erection and consistent quality makes our contractors suggest precast on many applications where we would traditionally use cast-in-place design.
Q: What are some unique or interesting projects on which you specified precast concrete?
Two recent projects used precast in ways that are examples of the characteristics described above: Baxter Arena, the recently opened hockey, basketball and community ice arena for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and the River’s Edge office building complex for Noddle Development on the Missouri River in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The precast products used for these two buildings are primarily structural components within a basic structural steel framework.
The arena project used precast seating risers supported by structural steel raker beams to form the seating bowl. Precast was used to form all the walls, access stairs and barriers in addition to the U-shaped risers. Precast products allowed a larger column grid spacing and variability on riser height by simply adjusting the dap at the supported ends. It also provided integral architectural-grade finished surfaces without adding other coatings, keeping costs down.
The River’s Edge project uses precast concrete wall panels and stairs to form the lateral load-resisting elements of the primary structure. Originally proposed as cast-in-place concrete, initial cost estimates indicated that precast could save significant time and money in the construction of the shear walls. And since precast was on the job, the stairs themselves could be built from concrete rather than steel pan. Precast stair risers gave the building a much more durable and high-quality product for stairs.
Q: How have you seen precast concrete evolve? How do you see it continuing to impact your work?
We continue to find new and innovative ways to use precast in our building design. Precast products also continue to develop new architectural finishes for use in exterior building applications. The quality of the production and the reliability of the engineering make precast a great choice when repetitive but uniquely formed pieces are needed.
For more information on HDR Architecture and the company’s wide variety of projects employing precast concrete products, visit hdrinc.com.