14 West Broadway Condominiums is a new, $35 million, 10-story building in South Boston consisting of 49 luxury residential condominiums.
Bold and dominant, the steel-framed structure makes a dramatic impression by utilizing dark, parallel precast concrete column covers that soar skyward and frame floor-to-ceiling windows. Precast architectural mitered spandrel panels at the top complete the design. Serving as the building’s major decorative element, the spandrels, column covers and inside return panels all feature embedded thin brick in a Manganese Brown color encased in brown tinted concrete, according to Tim MacDonald, Project Manager for Strescon Ltd.
The highly complex column cover shapes, designed to create visual depth and shadow, were mastered thanks to the extreme design flexibility of thin brick precast concrete architectural panels. Collaboration in 3D modeling between the precaster and project design team made the unique and dramatic envelope system work.
Going for Bold
“This is South Boston,” explains Andres Bernal, Project Architect/Project Manager for RODE Architects Inc. “You enter the neighborhood from a subway station at Broadway. We wanted to make this structure a kind of entrance to the neighborhood. We wanted something that was not so much a background structure, but a bit of a foreground building — something that made a statement and was worthy of this interesting neighborhood.”
Bernal was trying to provide depth and shadow lines in the façade of the building with only a few materials, just curtainwall and precast piers [column covers]. Using a 45 degree angle that came off a hotel planned for next door resulted in a wedge-shaped pier design. The finished precast piers are actually a triangular shape with one corner cut. While the center piers are triangular the piers at the corners are bigger and no longer triangular.
Designers also knew that a just-finished adjacent building was brick and that the planned hotel was to be brick. The city wanted brick in their building as well. The Manganese Brown thin brick color was selected, says Bernal, because they wanted to stay in the same family of colors of the brick on adjacent buildings but be a little bit different.
“We envisioned the angle, the depth between the curtainwall and the brick,” Bernal continues. “Then, we had to figure out how to make it happen. We talked to brick contractors and it seemed like it would be difficult for them to accomplish. That’s when we started looking into precast [with thin brick]. Precast gave us the flexibility to achieve what we wanted. Precast met the needs of the design.”
Working in 3D
The next step was to figure out how the whole assembly was going to work. How was the precast going to be supported? Because of the shapes in the building design the connections would be very complex. After the precast was installed, how was the air vapor barrier and insulation to be installed? Contractors ended up using closed-cell spray insulation with an ignition barrier and then covering it up with gypsum.
Regarding precast connection complexity, Bernal notes that “what really worked for us is that the precaster, Strescon Ltd., was working in 3D. We brought them into our BIM model, shared and compared the models. There was a lot of collaboration three-dimensionally. Because of the project complexity it wouldn’t have work with only 2D blueprints. This helped us with the brick pattern. Brick is easy when you have a flat wall. But we had triangular shapes meeting at odd angles. The 3D component was very important to make it look like we wanted.”
Other Precast Benefits
The advantages in using precast components for 14 West Broadway extended beyond design flexibility, according to Ryan Sillery, Owner, CPC Cornerstone Development LLC, and include construction efficiency.
Using precast concrete components helped reduce problems during construction due to the tight, urban building site. Arriving ready for installation, precast components do not require an extensive staging area and contribute little in regards to construction waste. Moreover, architectural thin-brick precast panels install as one component and do not require additional on-site-trades or scaffolding. “Schedule-wise.” Sillery says, “it was faster than [conventional site-laid] brick.”
Foundation of the new structure is cast-in-place concrete. At the base of the building, the façade joins the streetscape with a ground floor restaurant and glass storefront. The 350-seat, 6,315 square foot facility offers outdoor dining and will connect to the planned adjacent hotel. The building also contains 4,836 square feet of second-floor commercial space including office and retail.
A covered portico at the rear of the building offers 24-hour valet parking for residents with access to the lobby. Below the structure is a 70-space poured-in-place concrete parking garage reached by car lift.
Building amenities include a roof deck, 24-hour concierge service, bike storage, car charging stations, media room and fitness center with a gym and pool. Units range from one-bedrooms to four-bedroom duplexes (707 to 2882 square feet).
On schedule, the project is projected for completion in the Spring of 2018.