The ability of insulated precast concrete wall panels to quickly be erected while providing an aesthetic design that allowed a university business-park structure to fit into the surrounding architectural context created early innovation for the Indiana University Innovation Center in Bloomington. The insulated panels also helped the two-story project achieve LEED silver certification.
The building, which represents the first phase of an information-technology and technology-transfer economic-development zone, consists of an innovation center that provides modular labs and offices to emerging companies. By the time the university awarded the project, three months of its available 15-month inception-to-occupancy time frame had been used. To expedite its aggressive schedule, university officials included a precast concrete option in its RFP, which the team used.
Buff-colored precast concrete walls emulate the Indiana limestone of nearby buildings and counterbalance the structure’s glass curtain wall and dark brown metal panels. Reveals break up the precast concrete panels. Curtain-wall mullions bleed across to continue the line established in the precast concrete panel spacing. In one vestibule, the precast concrete is turned inside to provide visual continuation and also a durable surface in a high-traffic area.
The precast concrete sandwich panels feature a 3 in. (75 mm) layer of rigid extruded polystyrene foam insulation and carbon-fiber wythe ties to deliver an R-value of 15 with extremely low thermal conductivity. The insulated panels were applied heavily to the north and south elevations, while metal panels and continuous glass curtain walls were used on the upper portions of the east and west façades.
A canopy over the entrance was mounted using outriggers attached to embeds in the precast concrete panels. The canopy implies the continuation of other metal elements on the façade, with a second metal panel on the east elevation serving as a visual connector.