One Willoughby Square (1WSQ) in Brooklyn, New York, is a thirty-four-story tower crafted to meet the ethos of modern creative enterprises. The building is organized to promote social and natural connectivity with a strategically located side core and column-free, exposed structure that allows for wide-open work environments without obstruction. Rejecting the conventional, all-glass formulation and aiming to create a distinct identity among the Brooklyn skyline, designers for One Willoughby Square devised a contemporary take on the famed New York industrial loft with gridded, oversized windows, distinctive glazed brick spandrels, and an exposed concrete structure.
One Willoughby Square was designed by its anchor tenant, the architecture, interiors, and planning firm FXCollaborative. Designers chose a unique cobalt blue brick from the Elgin-Butler Brick Company in Austin, Texas, as a key component of the building’s façade. This necessitated close collaboration with the precast producer to monitor the glazed-brick design, formliner design, and transportation of the spandrels. The volume of bricks required for thirty-four floors could not be produced upfront, so the trade teams organized shipments throughout fabrication and scheduled precast panel erection to maintain an accelerated timeline with minimal disturbance to the surrounding area. Each column-free floor plan supported space efficiency and created a fluid connection to the outside with oversized windows that showcase natural light. Although they may appear to be standard precast connections, the brick façade was fragile and required significant coordination to perfect the connection details.
“Providence Engineering actively coordinated with Architectural Precast Innovations, Inc., the architect, structural engineer, façade consultant, curtain wall manufacturer, precast erector, and the general contractor to ensure our connection designs met various requirements. The resulting connection designs successfully avoided interferences with curtain wall embeds, window shades, radiant fin tube heating elements, and various other items to provide a safe and economical solution.” – Mike Hopple Senior Project Engineer, Providence Engineering Corporation
Meeting ambitious design goals, precast concrete’s aesthetic versatility not only turned a vision into reality, but also mitigated high expenses and lengthy construction times that would’ve accompanied hand laying this brick pattern on-site in Downtown Brooklyn. With precast, the team was able to complete this impressive project on an accelerated timeline, while remaining cost-effective. This structure exemplifies how construction professionals involved in precast projects take effective project collaboration to a new level from design through successful completion. The careful coordination required of teams during the work gave rise to thirty-four soaring stories with 500,000 square feet of office space and ceiling heights up to 14,500 feet.
“The precast panels allowed us to create a much more expressive facade by allowing a crafted, intricate glazed brick coursing pattern, which gives the building its distinct identity. It would have been prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to achieve this brick pattern by hand laying brick on-site. The design expression also required careful coordination between the precast and metal column covers and other unique solutions to ensure the high-performance standards of the enclosure.” - Gustavo Rodriguez Design Director, FXCollaborative