The new state-of-the-art Mercy Health–West Hospital, in Cincinnati, Ohio, would become a centerpiece for the healthcare center, replacing another aging facility within the network. The owners wanted a design that was both beautiful and high-performing, and designers turned to precast concrete to make that happen.
The façade of the building was inspired by Ohio’s tradition of pottery production, says Glenn Ebersole, P.E., market development manager of High Concrete Group, the precaster on the project. It is clad with a thin-brick veneer in a series of radiused wall panels and spandrels that were then embellished with thousands of tiles in 12 shades of blue and green in 19 different shapes laid out in pixel pattern.
Using thin brick in the precast concrete panels significantly reduced the overall project duration by enabling the tiles to be laid during manufacturing, rather than hand-setting them in the field. However, putting such a complex and decorative design together wasn’t easy, Ebersole says. “The biggest challenge was casting-in and coordinating the design and layout of the more 160,000 pieces of glazed tiles into the architectural precast panels.” The veneer was also glazed to blend with the design.
Along with offering a beautiful façade, the use of precast concrete brought several additional benefits to the building, including versatility of design, accelerated construction time, improved thermal performance, reduced long-term life-cycle costs, and increased fire and storm resistance to the structure.
To meet the client’s energy efficiency goals, the designer chose a unique insulated sandwich panel design that contribute to the overall energy efficiency of the building, while the radiused wall systems allowed versatility of shape of the structure. The insulated sandwich panels feature two solid concrete wythes that are both prestressed, and also have steel and wire-mesh reinforcement. “By nature, these steel-reinforced concrete wall panels cannot be matched for durability, and structural integrity.”
The result is a beautiful, durable structure that met all the goals of the owners, he adds. “This project showcases the high-performance attributes of precast concrete in a variety of ways.”