Long-lasting, high-performance architectural precast concrete panels were critical in the construction of Tamiami Hall at Florida International University (FIU). The 13-story, 300,000 ft² residence hall has 160 four-bedroom, two-bathroom apartments and is situated adjacent to FIU’s football stadium. The building, which provides stunning views of the campus through its floor-to-ceiling windows, ensures the safety and security of students residing within thanks to resilient precast concrete panels.
Despite a series of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at GATE Precast Company of Kissimmee, Fla., successfully navigated a tight construction timeline to deliver a world-class solution for FIU. Construction on the project took place on an active campus in what is typically a high-traffic area. Throughout the project, the nearby stadium and football fields remained in use thanks to the use of precast concrete. Namely, the just-in-time method of delivering the precast components suited the traffic and safety plans put into place by general contractor Moss Construction and the university.
While considering the design of Tamiami Hall, university officials sought durable building materials that would protect the structure, which is located in a hurricane-prone area, for the long haul. Precast concrete was the only solution that could satisfy the aesthetic needs of the project while also ensuring resilience against extreme weather events. The project team also took advantage of the innovative tunnel-form method of construction. This highly systematic approach expertly uses precast concrete products and cast-in-place concrete to rapidly build a structure with enhanced thermal qualities, reduce ambient sound, and the capability to withstand 160 mph, hurricane-force winds.
The use of nearly 800 architectural precast concrete panels help Tamiami Hall achieve a seamless appearance. The building design called for a “random” arrangement of windows. This design concept was aesthetically pleasing, but it would affect the gravity supports of the precast concrete facade. Therefore, the structural engineer of record, contractor, and precast concrete specialty engineer had to work together on a solution that would preserve the project schedule and mitigate any cost increases. Collectively, the team decided to reduce the length of the panels and increase the total quantity installed. While panel sizes and joists had to be rearranged to accommodate weight, the team was still able to generate some repetition in the components, allowing the residence hall to fulfill the original design intentions in a cost-effective manner.
Tamiami Hall stands as a testament to the quality, durability, and sustainability of architectural precast concrete panels. Ultimately, the use of precast concrete was key in the construction of a long-lasting, energy-efficient residence hall that is both resilient and pleasing to the eye.
Mason Nichols is a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based writer and editor who has covered the precast concrete industry since 2013.