When a Korean automaker, Hyundai, established roots in the United States more than 30 years ago, it chose Fountain Valley in Southern California as its headquarters. In 2012, the automaker made a long-term commitment to the region by demolishing its old offices and rebuilding a new headquarters.
The new headquarters sits on an 18-acre campus, boasts 475,000 sq. ft. of office, reception, and showroom space, and is more than double the size of the original headquarters. The automaker's headquarters comprises a six-story, contemporary steel-framed glass and aluminum-clad building with a 150' x 150' center courtyard. "A diamond on a pedestal", is how the project architect describes the LEED Gold Structure. Precast concrete panels form the base of the headquarters, creating the pedestal.
The two-story high entrance is the main focal point of the building, leading to a public courtyard atrium in the building's center that is entirely empty, reminiscent of a traditional Korean courtyard house. The structure also features inner North and South atriums, two open atrium stairs, a one-story 69,000 sq. ft. technical services wing, and a full-service kitchen and cafeteria. Additionally, there are four floors of offices and a 10,000 sq. ft. reception room, which like the interior courtyard, is minimalist, allowing automobile models to be driven right in, creating an instant showroom.
The massive, striking headquarters sits atop a precast concrete base, which produces the illusion that the structure is floating. Clark Pacific manufactured and erected a total of 173 varying precast panels, including wall panels, architectural precast panels, and Clark Composite Architectural Panels (C-CAPP) for the headquarters' pedestal. Precast panels 6½" thick and as large as 15' tall and 35' long and weighing as much as 44,000 pounds provided the base for the headquarters.
In the field, erecting the precast panels to accommodate the glass structure above and provide the "floating" effect proved challenging. The precast erection of the "pedestal" portion of the building was installed over a 6-month period and ultimately supported 4,516 tons of structural steel that would "float" above the precast "pedestal".
To meet these performance demands, precast installation crews erected 47 precast panels as large as 15' tall and 35' long and weighing as much as 44,000 pounds under the third-floor slab with 12' of headroom. Typically panels are erected without floors above, so the 12' of headroom needed to install panels 15' tall and 35' wide proved challenging.
Even harder was placing the panels on the first and second-floors under the third-floor slab extending beyond the face of the panel. In this case, five CCAPP wall panels within the employee lobby area were erected using a Gradall with only 4'-6" headroom to the second-floor slab. Panels were erected in five phases, with three phases using a crane and two phases using a Gradall. Free-standing site wall panels were erected and braced back with pipe braces until the footing was poured and cured. A total of 1,300 pieces of pre-welded braces and stiffeners were installed to carry the heavy structural loads.
While other corporations may choose more expensive or scarce building materials, Hyundai's headquarters reflects the Korean culture from whence the company originated, and the design was "about the power of space, not lavish materials," according to the architect. Precast concrete enabled the architect and Hyundai to achieve this vision.