The new mixed-use structure at 5th & Race Street in Cincinnati, Ohio, gives visitors the impression that they can see right through the building. Designers of the 280,000 ft2 facility, elegantly merged broad windows and precast concrete panels to create a light and elegant building that reflects the blue sky during the day, and golden street lights at night, while giving residents a strong, open space for their offices and retail.
Designers of the building, which includes a 1000-space, four-story parking garage at the base topped by four stories of commercial space, chose precast concrete to achieve the owners’ durability, accelerated timeline, and aesthetic goals, says Glenn Ebersole, P.E., market development manager of High Concrete Group, the precaster on the project. “By using architectural precast panels we were able to provide the dark color and avoid the repetitiveness of patterns, while limiting erection time.”
While the precast concrete exterior of the building is among its most striking attributes, one of the biggest challenges that High Concrete Group's team faced was design precast for the interior of the project. “The owner wanted the precast to be exposed inside the final office space to achieve an industrial look like an old warehouse structure,” he says. “So all precast connections had to be exposed to view.” That meant special consideration had to be taken to ensure that connections within reach of personnel were both safe to be around and tamper-proof, as well as attractive.
Since the precast concrete was the only shell between the inside and outside air, all of the panels on the office tower were insulated to achieve thermal performance goals. “With no interior finishes there was no other way to provide insulation,” Ebersole says.
The result is a durable, attractive, high-performing structure that meets the needs of residents while creating an attractive addition to the urban landscape, he says. “The 5th & Race Street Development has been praised for the project’s positive economic impact and the forecasted benefits it will have on the west side of the central business district in Cincinnati.”