This mixed-use office building and parking garage are part of a group of buildings that includes an existing one-story retail building, an existing church building, and a parking lot surfaced with brick pavers. These buildings, located in a historic downtown area on an entire block, had to be renovated with a consistent aesthetic. Textured thin brick in a highly upscale architectural precast façade was the unifying factor that tied the tower building to the adjacent garage and more importantly, fostered a visual connection with the rest of the historic district in which it is located.
Artisan Brick Texture:
The architect selected an Artisan brick with a heavy sculpted texture. The rough texture of this brick provided a unique visual differentiation from other office buildings in the area. It also provided an appearance of quality and craftsmanship that reinforced the scale of this old suburban downtown mixed-use district. But this heavy brick texture had not been before set in standard thin-brick precast formliners, so several test samples were mocked up to verify that this would work. A flawless finished product was made possible because of a thorough quality control approach during the forming and casting process.
Precast Color Quality:
The design architect required the lintels at the artisanal brick areas to be a very white finish. The mix formula to achieve this white finish is expensive. To keep costs within the given budget, the precaster arrived at a two-step casting process that minimized the exposed lintels and trim areas to an acceptable area size. Once these high quality white precast mix areas were placed, a less expensive grey concrete could be used to offset costs. Without this creative solution either the panels would have to be cast solely in the expensive mix, or cast entirely in the greyer mix, and neither option would have been acceptable.
To assure the three brick colors, four precast mix colors, and the detailing of design features were compatible and of the required quality, mockups had to be prepared and delivered on site. The architect and precaster worked together to develop four sample panels that included all critical aesthetic details and conditions. These sample panels gave the architect and building owner confidence in in the final constructed products. Window systems and sealants could also be installed on these sample panels to assure that other attached systems were compatible with the precast elements.
By embedding thin brick into the precast panels, considerable time was saved over a conventional brick wall system. The steps required for hand setting each masonry unit was avoided, and the additional time needed to set sheathing and waterproofing was not needed. The architect estimates that two to three months’ time was saved by using the precast system.