When Glen Ellyn, Ill., was facing a parking shortage, the village identified a possible solution to this problem in an unused plot of land that couldn’t be transitioned for retail because it was located behind the civic center. The plot of land had potential as a location for a parking garage, but only if it could accommodate several unique constraints.
The site had a zero lot line and was banked by multiple structures. Along with the civic center, it abutted residential dwellings, restaurants, hair salons, government buildings, and a dance studio, so disruption during the project would have to be kept to a minimum. The site also had only one access point, and the owner wanted whatever was built on the site to match the local architecture without exceeding a limited budget.
“Precast concrete lent itself really well to this project to help address all of these issues,” says Victor Ritter, principal, Shive-Hattery. Choosing precast concrete minimized the challenges of working on the small jobsite and helped accelerate the schedule while mitigating the risks of working through the winter months
Turn of the century design
The designers chose an architectural precast concrete wall panel system that served double duty as both the facade and the bearing wall system. The panels feature thin-set brick in horizontal running bonds with dramatic cornices and floral leaf patterns that mimic the adjacent civic center architecture.
The forms were constructed to be modular, with the floral leaf pattern moving across the design, thus accommodating nuances among the different types of architectural wall panels. The panels also feature a basket-weave brick pattern rotated 45 degrees in the lower portions to complement the running bond in the upper part of the panel. Being able to reuse the forms made the detailed design cost effective to achieve.
On the interior of the structure, 15-ft precast concrete double tees span between wall panels and the internal vertical ramp walls, with long-span inverted tee beams providing unobstructed sightlines for two-way turning movements and end-bay parking. The horizontal pattern and decorative grills over punched windows conceal the sloping ramps within the structure while drawing natural light into the space. “It makes it look like just any other building featuring turn-of-the-century architecture,” says Ritter.
The designer added overhead trellises and soft lighting to make the narrow passages around the building more inviting and human scaled. “We wanted to make the walkways nice to travel down for easy transitions,” Ritter explains.
Each precast concrete piece was architecturally finished in the plant and then shipped to the construction site in a carefully timed sequence of trucks and cranes that was coordinated around the needs of the village. The entire precast concrete erection process was completed in just six weeks in the winter of 2020, and the village is thrilled with the result, Ritter says. “It met the budget and schedule and everyone is extremely happy with the result.”