An all–precast concrete structural system, along with architectural precast concrete panels in varying shapes, finishes, and colors, created a dynamic exterior appearance for the Résidence Le Saint-Jude retirement facility in Alma, QC, Canada. Designers chose total–precast concrete construction for its aesthetic possibilities; durability; resistance to fire, earthquakes, and high winds; and its speed of erection.
The structural frame for the project, a six-story residential center with 126 units, consists of precast concrete columns, beams, floor slabs, insulated wall panels,stairs, and balconies. The precast concrete frame created large open spaces while maintaining excellent sound insulation between floors. It also sped construction; electrical and plumbing work began as each section of the frame was completed. Precast concrete stairs also allowed quick access between floors, ensuring a clean and safe working area.
The exterior wall design juxtaposes a red hammered finish on balconies with a sandblasted beige finish at the apartment levels. At the ground floor, a mosaicintegrates cast stone in large sections of the precast concrete walls with false joints and several abrasive treatments. In the corridors, the panels were given a slight sandblast finish, reducing maintenance requirements.
The precast concrete walls also are part of a seismic- and wind-forces recovery system that was spread across several structural elements. This system reduced the number of connections between panels, which enhanced construction speed.
The panels were transported to the site using special trailers, which allowed all windows and other glass areas to be installed at the precaster’s plant in advance. This saved time and money by reducing the number of components that had to be installed on-site. The panels’ textures and shapes were highlighted further after erection with a special exterior lighting system.