SEW-Eurodrive, a global manufacturer and producer of electric gear motors, expanded their U.S. corporate headquarters in South Carolina with two new precast concrete structures, a smart factory and a showroom. The 250,000 ft² smart assembly factory has manufacturing and assembly areas for the gear motors. It features a production and assembly area, warehouse space, shipping and receiving zones, and product development laboratories. Open-concept offices, conference rooms, break rooms, and collaboration spaces are located on a second-floor mezzanine overlooking the production area.
The double-height lobby is a focal point of the factory building, creating a dramatic entrance to the facility. The lobby also serves as meeting space, exhibition space, and teaching space for customers and employees. It brings in natural light and lends a fresh, clean look to the facility. The building envelope consists of precast concrete wall panels with sandblasted, pigmented, and textured finishes. Wood accents at the entrance create warmth and add character to the large building. To provide continuity and brand identity, the same wood accents are incorporated in the building interior.
The MAXOLUTION showroom was designed in conjunction with the smart factory. The interior showroom introduces customers to emerging technologies such as the MAXOLUTION system for factory and machine automation. An open and flexible multifunction display area occupies most of the 22,500 ft² building. Aluminum louvers attached at a 45-degree angle represent the fins on gear motors and imply dynamic movement and motion—two core principles of the SEW-Eurodrive.
The campus where these two new buildings were constructed already included several precast concrete buildings, so SEW-Eurodrive selected precast concrete for the factory and showroom to make a connection between the new and existing buildings despite their varied scales and aesthetics. On the new buildings, the concrete panels were left raw to distinguish them from the other precast concrete structures on the property, which are painted . Angled openings, rotated panels, formliners, pigmented concrete, and light- to medium-sandblasted finishes also contribute to the special aesthetics of the new buildings. The precast concrete materials and production/finishing methods were chosen for their cost-efficiency and flexibility, but they also helped the project team create unique structures with industrial aesthetics that add value to the corporate campus.
“The insulated precast concrete wall panels provided a building enclosure that was ready to go,” says Claudia McAninch, project architect, McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. There was no need for additional finishes on the interior or exterior. That reduced construction time and will minimize future maintenance. Reveals break up the large panels, and the fluted rib formliner created a horizontal accent band between the windows. A dark pigment was used to distinguish the office area panels while the remaining sides of the building are produced from a standard gray concrete mixture. The red accents inside and outside appear in stark contrast against the industrial gray.
“The sandblasted precast concrete panels sparkle in the sun,” says McAninch. “The building becomes part of the environment and connects with the elements. The precast concrete panels can age without losing their aesthetic appeal,” she adds.
To ensure that the pigmented and sandblasted finishes were consistent with the design goals for the project, the precast concrete producer was involved at an early stage. Several iterations of mock-ups were created, and the entire project team visited the precast concrete producers plant to establish the parameters. A water-repellant admixture was used in the sandblasted panels to minimize the potential for efflorescence.
Both of the new industrial buildings have simple geometric shapes, and the use of repetitive panels made it easy to assembly the structures, which saved time and money. Through the use of formliners, wood tiles, and other accents, the precast concrete panels come to life.
Each building has its own unique character. The MAXOLUTION building is distinguished by the aluminum screen at the entrance, whereas the assembly building features red and wood accents, the linear formliner, and red sun sails. The buildings are each recognizable, so employees can identify with them and develop a place of belonging. At the same time, because both buildings are constructed of precast concrete panels, they are aesthetically connected to each other and to the other precast concrete structures on the corporate campus.