Deep Ellum is a neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, known for its live music and theater, vibrant street murals, quirky art galleries, and lots of pubs and restaurants. The area draws big crowds on the weekends—and those crowds need a place to park.
The Stack at Deep Ellum was built to solve that problem. The structure features 15,000 ft2 of retail stores at ground level, topped by eight stories of parking and work space.
The designers used precast concrete on the parking structure’s facade to reflect Deep Ellum’s quirky vibe, so the structure would be seen as a valuable addition to the neighborhood. “Precast concrete was chosen to meet the aesthetic, constructability, and budget goals for the lower volume’s brick facade,” says Yen Ong, Partner with 5G Studio Collaborative.
The building is broken into two distinctly different sections. The ground-level facade is handset brick, and levels 2 through 10 feature architectural precast concrete panels that mimic Deep Ellum’s historic brick-and-mortar architecture. In stark contrast, the floors above the parking garage express a modern facade, with goal of creating an innovative office model for the future with modern aesthetic and outdoor amenity spaces. “The ornate traditional architectural detailing at the lower levels contrasts against the modernist box that appears to float over it, creating an architectural representation of the district’s past and future,” says Ong.
One unexpected benefit of choosing precast concrete for this project was the easy social distancing it allowed as construction proceeded during the COVID-19 pandemic. “While the decision to use precast concrete panels were made pre-COVID, it was a fortunate decision as it simplified the logistic relating to the installation during the pandemic, as the number of overlapping trades present and interaction on-site could be minimized,” Ong says.
The architectural precast concrete panels range in size, with the largest reaching 16 ft by 25 ft and weighing slightly over 31,000 lb. Each panel is cast with arched windows featuring detailed cornice work that reflects the skill and craftsmanship of the precast concrete producer. Three distinct colors of brick were used on the north elevation along with three differing window patterns to give the impression of three different buildings on this facade.
To assemble the pieces, the erector relied on carefully coordinated deliveries, and a Tadano 1400 crane that fit into a single alley closure tucked strategically along the Stack’s facade. “The crane allowed us to draw the tracks closer to the body of the crane to fit in the alley,” says Kevin Oates, project manager for Derr & Isbell Construction. “The narrowness of the alley limited the tail swing of the crane to 25 degrees, which meant that they had to erect the structure vertically by moving tools and equipment up a level for each panel.”
The unprecedented location and cutting-edge design have created an exciting new addition to Dallas’s most energetic and authentic neighborhood. The use of precast concrete and the innovative combinations of colors, textures, and design contribute to a novel architectural interpretation that blends perfectly with Deep Ellum’s iconic personality, Ong concludes. “It is intricately detailed, beautiful, durable, and able to capture the depth and character of traditional masonry while satisfying the construction site constraints, construction schedule, and budget.”