Detroit’s downtown area is known for its wide range of architecture and historic buildings, with the city housing several late-19th- and early-20th-century buildings ranging from art deco to post-modern styles.
The last thing developer Bedrock and architect firm Kraemer Design Group wanted for their new apartment building, 28 Grand, was for it to stick out amidst the surrounding historical district so they chose the form of the building and the materials very deliberately.
With a design calling for the building to mimic masonry and limestone, the teams quickly turned to precast concrete to accomplish their goals. The result was a precast-heavy building with structural elements manufactured by Kerkstra Precast architectural elements from Gate Precast.
“Aesthetic was the biggest reason we chose precast for the exterior,” said Blake Drouillard with KDG. “We were able to get the stone look we wanted.”
The exterior of the building was so important to the architect and owner of the building that they took numerous visits to Gate precast to see samples before the final color for the brick and stone was chosen.
“We had to go through several samples and mockups for the owners and architects in order to achieve the look they were looking for,” said Gate Precast’s Scott Robinson. “We wanted to make it look like it fit, and the brick helped accomplish that.”
Thanks to the use of Thermomass panels and extensive use of precast throughout the building, the apartments are extremely sound proof and energy efficient. In fact, the 28 Grand building became the first in Michigan to earn the ENERGY STAR rating.
Since the building is in an urban environment, the job site was tight, which is another reason precast was chosen for the project.
“We were able to bring the pieces in as we needed them,” Drouillard said. “We didn’t have any storage on site for materials so we had to have everything trucked in as we needed them to be hoisted up onto the building.”
The speed of using precast proved to be beneficial in making the project a success since they didn’t have to build up layers of the exterior skin.
“You had one piece, and you had everything you needed right there,” Drouillard said. “We had to have this thing built as fast as possible, so the less amount of materials you’re constantly putting on the exterior to build it up, the faster it goes. One piece and it’s done.”
Each apartment in the building even features an exposed concrete wall, something KDG wanted to keep as it was as an ode to the building’s design.
“We made that a feature, as something that could be talked about by the tenant to explain how the building is constructed,” he said. “We expressed it because that’s how the building is.”