Proj Overview

Project Overview

The facade of the new Science Classroom Complex at Florida International University features stacks of precast concrete tilting window openings that climb up the side of the building like a giant glistening white game of Tetris. The unique windows provide practical cooling solutions for the building with an elegant design that draws the attention of passersby.

Precast Solution

Before choosing the unique facade design, the university did a thorough sun study to determine how they could best shade the structure—and the important research conducted within—based on the azimuth of the sun traveling across the elevation. Precast concrete was the only enclosure option that offered the design flexibility to yield so many different shade patterns. This was achieved through the integration of protruding sunshade boxes around the window openings that have angles varying from 0 to 15 degrees horizontally and pitched down as well. Architects developed the design using building information modeling (BIM) software, and the precast concrete producer used that model to produce the panels.

The major production challenge was how to construct a window blockout with such an extreme negative draft that could be disassembled and removed for stripping and then reused. Several mock-up openings were built and tested, including a computer numerical control (CNC)–machined high-strength foam blockout, a multiple piece fiberglass box, and a multiple piece wood blockout. Foam proved to be too difficult to hold in place and created a lot of waste, and the fiberglass mold proved to be inflexible and difficult to remove for stripping without damaging. Ultimately, the wood mold was determined to be the best option.

Each wood box was constructed from as many as 12 separate pieces that were numbered and color-coded by degree of angle for ease in reassembling after disassembly for stripping. For the final structure, seven different types of windows were produced with varying angles, including panels, which had multiple degree openings. A total of 148 panels and over 1,000 openings were cast.


2015 Design AwardsHonorable Mention: Higher Education Building
2014 Design AwardsHonorable Mention: Higher Education Building
Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award2013 Award Winner
Project Team


Florida International University 


Perkins + Will 

Precaster and Precast Concrete Specialty Engineer

Gate Precast Co 

Engineer of Record

Affiliated Engineers Inc 


DPR Construction 

Photo Credit

DPR Construction Project Team

Key Project Attributes

  • Protruding sunshade window boxes angle up to degrees horizontally and can pitch down to achieve sun shading throughout the day.
  • Three-dimensional BIM modeling was used to design the structure, and cast the precast concrete elements.
  • The complex is tracking LEED gold certification, thanks in part to the precast concrete window openings and low-emissivity glazing on the curtain wall.

Project/Precast Scope

  • Project elements: 32,055 square feet (2978 meters squared) of precast concrete
  • Cost of precast concrete: $1,785,670
  • More than 1,000 precast concrete window openings were cast for the project.