Designers of the new 730-space, six-level parking structure at the University of Michigan chose a precast concrete structural system with integrated architectural finishes that not only provided the most economical solution and quickest construction schedule but also delivered an exceptionally attractive facility that blends elegantly with the surrounding architecture.
The designers of the structure enhanced the context and character by using thin-brick and precast concrete finishes to simulate stone in the facade. The design copies the iconic building shapes typical of this community but with a lower cost solution that is much faster to construct. The articulation of piers, arches, banding, keystones and cornices on the facade give the sense of a traditional brick and stone building. Large brick piers over the concrete base support the upper levels, with details that enhance the shapes, while the base provides a human scale to the lower level serving as a graceful backdrop for the pedestrian walks, plazas, and historic informational panels surrounding the facility. A repetitive bay module was used to create pleasing proportions while delivering the additional benefit of economical construction.
In addition to eliminating the expense of field-laid brick, this choice reduced weight and foundation costs, eliminated material costs for lintels and flashing, and provided greater durability. The attractive and detailed architectural appearance could only be efficiently achieved by precast concrete construction according to the designer. Highly durable connections and concrete materials were specified for the precast concrete producers to provide exceptional durability that will yield a service life of over 75 years.