The design-build team for the MGM Resort Casino in downtown Springfield, Massachusetts, faced several challenges in constructing the large parking structure that supplements the new adjacent casino. They needed an economical approach that met all the functional requirements while blending with the nearby historical buildings and constructing it in the busy downtown area. To meet these needs, they specified a total-precast concrete structural system.
The project, on a 300- by 600-foot footprint, consists of an eight-level structure containing 1.16 million square feet to park 3,400 cars. The design features double tees, inverted tee beams, columns, shear walls, vertical shear walls, horizontal lite walls, spandrels embedded with thin brick and with a sandblasted finish, stairs, slabs, and wall panels with a formliner to achieve a limestone look. Blakeslee Prestress fabricated and erected the components.
Precast concrete was chosen for several reasons, leading off with economics, says Steve O’Connor, senior project manager for Tishman Construction Co., the construction manager. “It was less expensive than alternatives we reviewed by a significant amount,” he says. “The 62-foot-long double-tees, at a 12.5-foot width, worked out perfectly for our bay design.”
Noli Alarcon, vice president at TimHaahs, the architect/engineer on the project, agrees. “It worked very well with our bay sizes,” he says. “Using precast concrete, we could create the design for this very large project with only one expansion joint. Cast-in-place concrete would have required many more.”
Loading Dock Added
The structure’s one key adaptation was making the first level twice the regular height, 26 feet, to create a loading dock at the rear of the facility and ensure any delivery vehicles would have access. “At 12’6”, we thought the typical height would suffice, but the owners wanted to be completely sure there would be no problems,” says Alarcon. “It reduced the total parking spaces only by about 100 and was added in very easily.” The loading area was fire-separated from the rest of the parking spaces to meet building codes.
Two walls had to be solid to meet design needs, so the space has sprinklers and mechanical ventilation to meet ventilation requirements. “Massachusetts requirements are tighter than IBC, so we added mechanical equipment to meet all safety requirements,” Alarcon says.
Brick Lends Historic Feel
Aesthetic requirements were met with a combination of thin brick embedded in the spandrels and accents finished with a buff-colored sandblast finish to resemble limestones. These included stair towers, some horizontal spandrels, and some of the base. The variations in the appearance help reduce the visual scale of the project. “It’s a very nice appearance, with joints that align perfectly and straight courses of brick throughout,” says O’Connor. “We couldn’t have achieved that nice of a job if we’d used laid-up brick.”
Aesthetics were critical due to the building’s location, near the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in a downtown district with historic buildings. “The parking structure had to match the casino and blend with the older buildings,” explains Alarcon. “We received samples of several options, and the precaster was very familiar with insetting the brick, so we experienced no issues.”
The erection was complicated by the on-going construction of the casino, with the parking structure planned for earlier completion. Material was staged on-site and at an off-site queuing yard, so it was readily available as needed. A large crawler crane was used in the precast erection process, which began in September 2016 and finished in June 2017. Dominant signage directs parking users to the entry that connects to the casino.
Parking finishes will be applied into the fall of 2017, with the casino scheduled to open in 2018. The work has progressed smoothly, Alarcon says. “The project was designed from the start as precast concrete, and it needed to be precast concrete to meet all of the needs. It has worked well.”