The new Health & Wellness Center at Suffolk County Community College in Long Island, N.Y., was planned to be an open, welcoming facility in which to conduct physical education classes and encourage students to take part in recreational activities, including swimming and sports activities. The center also was to be available to local residents.
The 43,250-square-foot facility (including a mezzanine for HVAC and mechanical equipment) includes an eight-lane swimming pool, basketball/volleyball courts, weight-training room, and rock-climbing wall as well as two classrooms, faculty offices, and locker rooms with adjacent toilet/shower facilities.
A key goal was to create a distinctive exterior appearance that related to the college’s location in the Central Pine Barrens while also providing a design that would be economical over its service life.
To help achieve these goals, designers at iKon.5 used precast concrete insulated sandwich panels to clad the building (on a steel frame) along with interior solid panels. The exterior panels feature 4 inches of insulation sandwiched between two wythes of concrete. In all, 108 precast concrete panels, encompassing 24,000 square feet were cast and erected by Coreslab Structures (CONN) Inc.
The architects created a vertical appearance, with the tall panels separated by narrow windows. To emphasize the verticality, 2-inch vertical reveals along with fins that protrude from the face were cast into the panels.
Replicating Pine Trees
“The architects’ vision for the building was to complement its location in the pine barrens,” explains Jon DeMaio, administrative director of education facilities at the College. “The goal was to replicate the look of the bark of pine trees, and to accomplish that as economically as possible.” The interior panel faces feature a lightly sandblasted finish, matching that of the solid panels used on interior spaces.
The precast concrete also aided with scheduling, he notes. “Once the large panels were erected, the exterior shell is virtually complete, except for curtain wall.” Designers ran cost comparisons against other materials, including stud framing and concrete block, too. “All of the parameters led to the decision to use precast concrete.”
Close Attention to Details
While there were few challenges in erecting the panels, those that arose fell into two categories, DeMaio says. The first was coordinating the shop drawings and confirming all details to ensure interior runs of conduit and mechanical services aligned in the field. “Interior wiring needed to penetrate the panels, and we wanted to conceal everything, so we had to ensure everything was located precisely. That added time to plot out specifics and confirm them.”
The second type focused on ensuring any field adjustments could conceal patches. “It can be difficult to make changes and match the finish exactly, even with the necessary shipping hooks,” he says. “Once the panels are removed from the molds, we wanted the least amount of handling or changes so the fewest patches were needed.”
Those changes were minimal, he says, creating a dramatic design. “The vertical panels with their dimensional design make the exterior very dramatic.”
Panel erection was completed in December 2017, with the center planned to open in the fall of 2018.