The exterior design for the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, a 254-bed replacement community hospital in Mishawaka, IN, was designed to integrate the building seamlessly into the local community. To achieve this, architects combined architectural precast concrete panels cast to simulate native limestone with panels embedded with a thin-brick veneer.
Warm, buff-colored precast concrete panels with a sandblasted finish define the three-story diagnostic and treatment spaces that form the base of the structure. The five stories devoted to intensive-care and patient rooms are clad with red thin-brick panels. Horizontal bands matching the buff precast concrete panels unify the tower and base. Unique windows with extended top lights bring natural light into the patient rooms. A five-story precast concrete cross, with a white glazed ceramic inset, is integrated into the stair tower.
The insulated panels eliminate thermal breaks at corners and optimize the building’s thermal characteristics. Plastic sheathing extends into the panel joints with two lines of caulk, creating a complete water-vapor barrier.
Earthquake-design requirements also created challenges in which the precast concrete panels provided help.
The exterior brick-inlay architectural precast concrete skin was designed to allow 2 in. (50 mm) of story drift to meet seismic design requirements. This was accomplished more easily with the panelized design, which spanned from floor to floor and column to column. Each panel was independent from adjacent panels in every direction, allowing sufficient movement if needed. The panels also reduced enclosure time over hand-set, bed-depth brick, which sped up the schedule while reducing costs.