Framingham State University needed to expand its housing options and used that opportunity to create a new, attractive entry to the campus. The result will be a new facility on Maynard Road that welcomes students and visitors and includes design features such as precast concrete hollowcore plank for its floor/ceiling components.
The 97,000-square-foot, 316-bed dormitory features a variety of amenities for students as well as lounges and study rooms. A key element is a large second-floor communal area with a fireplace and kitchen.
The 8-inch-thick precast concrete hollowcore planks are supported by masonry walls and provide long, clear spans that facilitated design flexibility. The top face of the planks received a topping covered with sheet-rubber flooring or carpeting, while the underside received a smooth trowel finish and will be painted.
“Precast concrete provided value in several ways, especially in giving us the dimensional opportunity of reducing floor-to-floor heights,” says Mark Dolny, associate principal at ARC/ Architectural Resources Cambridge. The shallow depth of the hollowcore, combined with its long-span capabilities, provided an efficient design. “Residence halls are all about efficiency, and steel beams would have reduced that efficiency,” he says. “We looked to precast concrete to provide the dimensional benefits we needed.”
A key structural challenge came in leaving a large central opening on the first floor, which serves as an access point for pedestrians coming onto campus from the adjacent parking facility. The site features a 30-foot grade change from the parking to the campus, and this access space, complete with stairs and elevators, helped smooth that out. Above this opening on the second floor is a large communal area for student gatherings.
“It was complicated to create, but it solved problems of negotiating that change in slope and provides a great entry onto the campus,” Dolny explains. The site was selected following a study by ARC that showed its site complications could be handled smoothly. The open span features both steel beams and hollowcore planks, with the planks used primarily around student rooms.
“Tolerances for the precast concrete and steel needed to be merged, and that created complexities where they came together that had to be coordinated,” he notes. A full model of the building was created using BIM software, allowing for 3D logistics plans and 4D scheduling models.
The building’s shell will be erected by June 2016, giving interior trades enough time to complete outfitting the facility so it will be ready to welcome students in August 2016.