Exponent is an engineering and scientific consulting firm that brings together more than 90 different disciplines under one roof. When disaster strikes in the form of fire, extreme weather and other natural and man-made events; Exponent helps determine the cause.
It was no surprise that precast concrete encloses their brand new, state-of-the-art, 65,000 SF office/lab building located on a site with beautiful views of Lake Cochituate.
After 20 years in Natick, Exponent needed to expand and consolidate their presence in the greater Boston area. Todd Squellati, Director of Corporate Facilities, Exponent, Inc. was involved in the selection of the site, as well as the design and construction of their new investigatory space. “We liked the look of precast. The primary reason was aesthetics and we were looking to get a 50 + year old building”, says Squellati.
In June of 2018, Exponent broke ground on their new precast and steel facility, designed by Spagnolo Gisness & Associates (SGA) with R.P. Masiello as General Contractor. The building design features precast concrete with glass to maximize natural light and capture views of the outdoors.
Sister companies Strescon Limited and Ocean Steel & Construction were brought in for the precast and steel packages respectively. The objective for both companies was to fabricate, deliver and erect the project in a very limited time frame. The collaboration created time savings and reduced on-site issues due to design efficiencies.
“Precast was selected for a combination based on the appearance as well as speed of construction. It was a very straight forward choice,” describes Jim Highum, AIA, LEED AP, Project Manager, SGA Architects, Boston. “They gravitated toward a very light, almost white color of the concrete matrix accented with a dark charcoal. It has a grey and white modern aesthetic, highly finished, clean look”, explains Highum.
“Resiliency is always a consideration at SGA when we talk about how we put together buildings. Long term durability was a primary driver but basic aesthetic considerations drove the decision making process,” recalls Highum.
After shop drawing approvals, Strescon began fabrication at its Saint John facility on September 6th and completed pouring on October 1st, nearly one full month ahead of the expected installation date. Drawing on prior experience, Strescon’s craftsmen were able to efficiently cast the two face mix colors in the same panel and maintain clean crisp color separation.
Installation of both the precast and steel was handled by Monadnock Steel and Precast and the precast concrete panel installation was complete by mid-November. “While we did not have fast track schedule, we wanted to get precast installed quickly and enclose the building, so that the following trades could fit out the interior during the winter,” says Squellati.
Class A solution
The final design blended the architectural requirements of the Class A office space with the technical requirements of the lab space. Their objective was to create a classic, timeless office building. The ultimate solution for the office space utilized quality construction and design features. The first floor serves as the lab and testing area with higher floor to floor heights. “They wanted the entire structure to look like an office building and appear seamless from the exterior,” says Highum. “They wanted something that was classic and wanted flexibility for the future. Something that might serve as a lab space now, but is suitable for office space should their needs change.”
The glazing on the lab portion is partially or fully covered with film on the interior so you don’t see the usage from the outside. SGA was cognizant of the need to design an innovative space—to bridge the processes, places and people under one roof.
The precast cladding hangs on a steel frame and the upper levels have traditional office floor plan with room for additional employees in the future.
The color and texture used for the spandrel panels feature a smooth finish, it is the smoothest finish the architect has ever specified in a precast project. No sandblast or exposure of aggregate, but merely rustications or reveals to offset the color contrast.
“They (Exponent) wanted the building to have plenty of natural light and to take advantage of the views of the lake in the rear of the property. The tight, narrow site called for a compact building design. The shape of the site- with the lake on one side and parking on the other- dictated the narrow, rectangular building layout,” says Highum.
“The speed of precast was of importance because Exponent wanted to relocate employees and meet their move out according to their planned schedule. They had their eye on the calendar to do final move-in during the Summer of 2019,” says Highum. The building was quickly enclosed and the final fit out is progressing on schedule. Exponent will move all of its employees currently working in its existing MA offices into the new location when completed
Exponent’s new regional headquarters in Natick features a precast façade and a view of tranquil Lake Cochituate. The new three-story Class A building with offices and laboratories is built to last 50 years and still be classic and relevant structure.