A short half-hour drive from our nation’s capital is the Hyatt Regency at Tysons Corner Center, part of a major mixed-use expansion by architect CallisonRTKL. The master development plan includes the 18-story, 300-key hotel in addition to an office tower, residential complex, and outdoor public plaza, all centered around the renowned Tysons Corner Center shopping mall.
While the Hyatt Regency is conveniently located near downtown Washington D.C., it is also in close proximity to the area’s technology and medical corridors, making it a popular hospitality option for both leisure and business. The hotel was designed to offer all visitors an upscale experience, so it was important that this premium quality be reflected in the look of the building’s façade.
The façade of the Hyatt Regency at Tysons Corner is a combination of glass and precast terra cotta cladding, which consists of a terra cotta veneer embedded as a finishing material into precast concrete units. Boston Valley Terra Cotta provided installer Gate Precast with the clay used to fabricate approximately 22,800 SF of dovetail veneer panels in five profile variations.
Guest rooms line the east and west faces of the Hyatt Regency; their exteriors are clad with modular terra cotta panels in gray, stacked vertically to create double-height window expressions. On the north face, panels in a mix of three through-body colors (Slate, Charcoal, and Gravel) cover the façade to create visual interest. Unlike glazed terra cotta, through-body color is achieved through a combination of clays, minerals, and stains, which are then mixed with water and fired to a high temperature. This forms permanent bonds that will make sure the building experiences no color fade from UV exposure.
A precast concrete solution was proposed early in the design process as a way of addressing a tight construction site with minimal laydown and storage space and the owner’s hard opening date, while still meeting important energy performance and sustainability goals. Different facing materials were studied before terra cotta was selected for aesthetic reasons.
From the beginning of the project, Boston Valley worked closely with Gate Precast to rationalize the custom profile dies for the hotel, specifically making sure the large shiplap joints could meet manufacturing limitations. The two fabricators also collaborated with CallisonRTKL and the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute to develop and apply new standards for terra cotta precast, which was still a new and innovative construction technique at the time. Once the panels had been cast, Boston Valley ran testing on the assembly to confirm these new specifications.
The Hyatt Regency project benefited by balancing of the multiple benefits of architectural precast system – economy, accelerated schedule and thermal efficiency – with the aesthetics of handset terra cotta. This innovative use of terra cotta tiles expands precast’s versatility giving architects a new way to use a longstanding material. Terra cotta offers an endless number of profile and color options, making it easy for the architect to achieve their design intent.