Hollowcore Aids Housing Boom

| May 17, 2017

Major growth spurt for Massachusetts residential housing has been helped by the speed of construction, economy, and easy finishing of precast concrete hollowcore.

The recent boom in residential housing options in the greater Massachusetts area, especially multifamily units such as apartments, condominiums, and university dormitories, has led developers and designers to find economical options that are quick to construct. Many have turned to precast concrete hollowcore for floor/ceiling units

The units are extruded with various-shaped voids that run the length of the pieces, which are typically 6 to 16 inches thick and 2 to 12 feet in width. The voids help lighten the structural load while retaining strength. In some cases, the cores can be used as mechanical or electrical runs.

The pieces offer a variety of benefits, including speed of construction, especially when used with precast concrete load-bearing wall panels or columns. Their long spans provide interior design flexibility, while their controlled production ensures consistent, high quality. This production method allows the underside (ceiling side) to be painted or have a light finish applied and provide an attractive, fast finish.

The benefits these components provide can be seen in a range of apartment and condominium projects completed in recent years. At the Alloy Residences, part of the large Assembly Row mixed-use community in Somerville, for instance, hollowcore is being used to help create 122 high-end condominiums to be completed in 2018. The hollowcore, erected in five months in 2016, helped speed up construction and provided quicker floor turnover, according to designers at PROCON Inc., the design-builder.

Alloy Residences (part of the large Assembly Row in Somerville, Mass.)

Hotels also benefit, such as the Fenway Residence Inn by Marriott in Boston. The 120,000sf, eight-story building features 175 guest rooms. Hollowcore was chosen in part due to the speed with which it could be erected, which began about two weeks after drawings were approved. Its low profile allowed an additional story to be included in the building, and its inherent fire rating and sound dampening also were factors, say designers at Group One Partners.

Fenway Residence Inn by Marriott in Boston

Other multiresidence projects incorporating hollowcore include Avalon Natick and Cloverleaf Apartments in Natick.; Homewood Suites by Hilton and Gateway Boston in Brookline; and Troy Boston Apartments, 1350 Boyleston Street, the Envoy Hotel, Waterside Place, the Yotel Hotel all in Boston.

Designers on college dormitories, which often have tight schedules, also have found benefits. Hollowcore has been installed in dormitories at the University of Mass., Bridgewater State College, and Worcester State College.

To learn more about the benefits hollowcore can provide for your projects through a personal program, sign up for PCINE’s Hollowcore Box Lunch Program in the Education drop-down menu at www.pcine.org.

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