DC Blox’s bold purple accent walls are just a small part of what makes this precast concrete building special. The 31,000-ft² structure will become the center piece for the DC Blox technology and innovation campus, giving employees a state-of-the-art center to do their work.
The new building includes 18,000 ft² of “white space,” allocated for servers and other information technology equipment, and another 13,000 ft² of office space, conference rooms, workstations, and common areas. It features a fully protected private network, and 5 MW of customer capacity—all in a building designed to withstand 150 mph winds.
The decision to use precast concrete was central to achieving the project’s many aesthetic and structural goals. “With security and reliability being of the utmost importance, precast was the clear first choice for both the building enclosure and structure,” says Charles J. O’Brien III, president of Pieper O’Brien Herr Architects.
From the start, the designers knew they wanted to create a building that would convey a sense of strength and security, while also meeting considerable structural requirements.
Both goals were accomplished with precast concrete serving as the primary structure and focal building component. “Satisfying blast-rating and wind-load requirements are inherently right in precast concrete construction’s sweet spot,” O’Brien says. “The ability to combine the architectural fenestration, the necessary blast and storm resistance, the insulation, and the fire resistance into a single manufactured, ready-to-erect wall panel, was a clear demonstration of the efficiency of precast concrete construction in this project.”
Ready to Erect
On the façade, multiple precast concrete planes were used to create a contemporary welcoming vibe for the flagship data center. Inside the building, the precast concrete walls and underside of the precast concrete floors and roof were left exposed and highlighted, serving as an integral showpiece for the industrial design theme.
A custom precast concrete face mixture design was developed for the exterior precast concrete of the data hall portion of the building, which consisted of two different abrasive blast depths to achieve the contrast the client was seeking. On the exterior of the office portion of the building, the precast concrete producer gave a light brush blast, which provided an excellent paintable surface for bold colors.
Using precast concrete was also essential to accommodating the very ambitious project schedule, O’Brien says. “Having ready-to-erect wall panels delivered right to the site was invaluable in meeting the deadlines to have the building in place and able to receive equipment in time.”
The substantial coordination and teamwork that occurred during the design and planning phases of the project ultimately culminated with the high level of construction quality and speed of construction to make this project a success, says Joey Langham, senior project manager for Gate Precast. “The project did a terrific job of combining structural and architectural precast elements to meet the needs of the client.”