In September 2014, Honor Credit Union in Berrien Springs, Mich., broke ground on a new three-story, 37,000-ft² operations center. The new building would provide centralized support, offices, and technological services for the entire credit union network—and the owners wanted it up and running in just 12 months.
“The biggest challenges began with the construction schedule, timing, and winter,” says Jeff Klymson, founding principal at Collective Office in Chicago, Ill., the architect on the project. Berrien Springs is on the east coast of Lake Michigan, which is known for its long, snowy winters, so the team had to work fast to get the building enclosed before the cold set in.
Their solution: make the entire cladding using only two precast concrete panels, and get them into production as early as possible. “That way, only the interior trades were working in the coldest months of the year,” Klymson says.
The final exterior design, which Klymson refers to as “quietly modern and timeless,” alternates between full-floor solid and glass using nine unique panels for the entire building; however, 80% of the panels were identical in size. To break up the design, the architect alternated the direction of the rectangular panel from floor to floor. They also integrated tall, narrow glass modules between the panels to provide more light in the building and in the individual offices at less square footage than smaller strip windows. “It created great efficiency for cost and manufacturing,” he says.
To link the new structure to the rest of the Union’s retail branches, the designers had 13,000 modular Black Manganese Ironspot bricks and 900 corner pieces cast into the face of the panels. “The brick holds a rich unique color with an incredible sheen, and it is the standard for all Honor Credit Union branches,” Klymson says. Precast concrete was also used on the interior flooring, where approximately 44,000 ft² of 8-in. slab and 118 brick-clad precast concrete panels were installed.
Along with providing a cost-effective, interesting design, the precast concrete panels offer a low-maintenance solution, which is critical for a corporate office maintenance program. “This is an owner-occupied building, and therefore was meant to be an economical project in every way possible,” Klymson says.
The client loves the modern, elegant design and the highly efficient nature of the building. “The objective was to create an open, welcoming, but industrial feel to the project,” he says. “Using precast concrete delivered on this goal.”