When Health Partners healthcare facility signed a new lease for its corporate headquarters in Bloomington, Minn., the extension allowed for significant upgrades, including a new, eight-level, all-precast-concrete parking structure. The new ramp includes 1666 parking stalls to serve more than 2500 healthcare employees who work on the campus, giving them an easier, safer, and more accessible parking solution. The new structure dramatically expands future growth opportunities for the mixed-use development, while shortening the distance employees have to walk from their cars. It also allows site owners to develop acres of impervious surface parking in the future. Precast concrete quickly emerged as the material of choice to meet the cost, schedule, durability, and expandability goals for the ramp.
From the early stages of design, the precast concrete fabricator, contractor, architect, structural engineer, and parking planners worked together to fashion a design that efficiently met the performance and design goals for the project. The efficiency of a simple box was embraced in conceptual design, and the team found an opportunity for variation and relief in the detailing of the panels. Sandblasted, acid-etched, and honed corbel finishes provide color and texture, while simple, framed relief in the casting beds adds reveals that cause light and shadow to shift throughout the day.
The arrangement of panels with different finishes within the facades lends a purposefulness to the design, helping the structure to mesh with the overall campus development and meld into the background despite its size. To inject further design appeal into the project without overshadowing neighboring structures, the design team added a “light wall” component to the exterior that provides a vertical expression of interlocking white corbels and contrasts with the shades of grey in the horizontal panels. These vertical elements also cover the sloping ramp floors, giving the exterior appearance a simple interplay of vertical and horizontal lines. The resulting design delivers a flexible, low-maintenance solution that can be expanded to accommodate future growth, while blending easily with the existing infrastructure.