Name: Ron Wiendl
Title: Vice President, Director of Design
Company: LEO A DALY
Professional Designations: AIA
Q: What is your field of focus and what particular products do you specialize in?
As a design architect for more than 20 years, I’ve done almost every type of building: higher education, corporate headquarters, civic centers – you name it. I would say higher education is my greatest love because it gives you the opportunity to mold young people’s lives through the physical environment, creating spaces that encourage collaboration and inquiry. In all areas of design, that sense of inspiring greatness is key, regardless of building type.
Q: What are the benefits of using precast concrete products?
When I know I am designing a building that has to be durable, precast is one of the first materials I mention to my clients. Working primarily in Florida, the climate can be very unforgiving, so the durability factor is huge. I never worry about a building done in precast – they have great thermal properties.
Consistency is another big factor. If I create a building that has a module, I know every panel has the same quality as the previous panel. On the other hand, if I have someone constructing a building on-site, I’m at the mercy of the person putting it up.
Finally, precast provides great benefits in terms of speed of erection. If you’re working with a trusted fabricator who can deliver on time, it can have a dramatic effect on your ability to meet tough deadlines.
Q: What are some unique or interesting projects on which you specified precast concrete?
One example that shows the versatility of precast is a series of seven laboratory buildings I recently designed for a consortium of Florida state colleges. A group of colleges came to LEO A DALY wanting to create a flexible lab prototype that could be adapted quickly and economically to the different program needs and aesthetic environments within the system. Precast concrete helped us achieve this goal.
From a floorplan perspective, the seven lab buildings on seven different state college campuses are identical. What’s different are the specialized interiors and engineering systems needed for the various curricula, as well as the architectural contexts of the surrounding campuses. Using precast, we could create different styles of architecture using the same basic footprint. Each building uses different embeds, tints, textures and entryway schemes to blend into the surrounding architecture. This prototype scheme gave the consortium a big cost savings in erection time and saved money that would have otherwise been spent creating distinct sets of construction documents for each one.
Q: How have you seen precast concrete evolve? How do you see it continuing to impact your work?
One factor that has emerged recently is the artistry of precast. Many people associate precast with warehouse boxes, but that way of thinking is outdated. Today, precast is used for high-end projects and has a certain cachet. There’s tremendous flexibility in the different looks you can achieve, and a lot of expressive ground to be explored. The only limiting factor is your imagination. Plus, down here in south Florida, it fits in really well with the Mizner-style, Mediterranean architecture that characterizes the region.
For more information on LEO A DALY, visit leoadaly.com.
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