Chicago neighborhoods are known for their character and diversity. When new structures added to the environment, it is hoped that they will be aesthetically compatible with the surrounding architecture while also delivering a modern sustainable design.
When a new, eight-story, 50-unit luxury residential development was conceived for the Rogers Park neighborhood, finding the harmony between old and new was a leading goal for the designers. They also faced a tight urban project site and an aggressive timeline spanning an unpredictable Chicago winter, says Auggy Chung, sales manager for Spancrete. This combination of challenges led the design team to switch from their original cast-in-place design to a precast concrete solution.
Before drawings were even complete, the designer reached out to Spancrete for assistance in converting the original cast-in-place structure into a precast concrete building. Having those early design meetings set the tone for the entire project. “Through a series of design meetings, permit drawings were submitted, and these were followed shortly by the precast shop drawings, resulting in faster turnaround from design to manufacturing,” Chung says.
Fully enclosed in 45 days
The architectural exterior of the building features a thin brick facade with an acid-etched finish. A custom exterior mix was created consisting of white cement with an integral tint to best complement other historic buildings in the area.
The exterior wall panels contain an upscale cornice projection with thin brick, which adds custom visual interest to the project design. “Spancrete worked closely with International Concrete Products to incorporate the ornate architectural details into load-bearing architectural precast concrete panels with cast-in thin brick and cornices,” Chung says.
To accommodate framing for the three-story parking garage structure that integrates with the residential living space, the project team used a three-panel system: a double-tee system, which is the standard garage construction method; a wet-cast 12-in. hollowcore for the overhead requirement, and standard hollow-core for the residential areas. “The architect and the local residents did not want this to look like a parking garage,” Chung says. “Therefore, the architecture of the building at the parking levels was designed to blend into the building while acting as a load-bearing precast concrete wall panel.”
Choosing precast concrete accommodated the tight job site, which featured power lines to the east, an existing building 5 ft to the south, and city streets to the north and west that needed to remain open during construction. “Spancrete was able to minimize the impact to neighborhood by building the majority of the building from within the footprint of the structure,” Chung says. Once construction began, the team created a detailed erection schedule with phases to accelerate erection and accommodate crane removal to install a retention vault needed miderection.
Prefabricating the pieces off-site in a temperature-controlled manufacturing facility also mitigated weather risks and reduced the burden on the community and traffic patterns as the project took shape, he says. “Prefabricated, precast concrete building components allowed installation during wet and cold weather conditions to ensure the project stayed on schedule.”
The completed structure reflects the culture and history of the community while providing a safe, long-lasting, and visually appealing structure. “There were many challenges throughout the design and construction of this project, but Spancrete and our partners were up to the challenge,” Chung says. “We are proud and grateful to part of such a great project.”