Precast Aids Educational Facilities

| August 2, 2017

Boston, MA – Continuing growth in the university and college educational markets throughout the New England area has been aided by the speed of construction, economy, and aesthetic versatility of precast concrete.

Higher-education facilities must meet more demands than ever, often combining functions by blending state-of-the-art classrooms with laboratories, offices, lecture halls, and other needs. In many cases, dormitories include retail space and other amenities to add activity. Administrators and designers are learning that precast concrete structural and architectural components can help meet these diverse needs while providing attractive, efficient, and resilient designs.

At Suffolk University in Boston, administrators wanted to announce the shift of their campus to Boston’s downtown area by creating a flagship academic building with state-of-the-art classrooms, laboratories, a cafeteria, and indoor and outdoor gathering areas. To achieve that, designers clad the building with precast concrete architectural panels featuring four textures that provide a moving, 3D effect across the façade.

Suffolk University, Boston

Precast concrete provided an economical approach that met the tightened budget that resulted after the Great Recession, according to NBBJ, the architect of record. The building’s design is expected to achieve LEED Silver certification.

Several types of precast concrete components helped the Pendleton West classroom building on the Wellesley College campus in Wellesley, Mass., achieve its goals of upgrading the facility while bringing it in line with the campus’ aesthetic language. After evaluating options, designers at Kieran Timberlake in Philadelphia value-engineered the plan to feature architectural precast concrete panels with a distinctive board-form finish. It was created with molds using actual hemlock boards.

Precast concrete stair treads and landings also were used to quickly create stairways during construction. Erection of all the components took less than three weeks using one crane, helping the building meets its deadline for the fall 2016 semester.

At Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Conn., the school’s one-story precision manufacturing building was built rapidly using insulated precast concrete panels. The warehouse-sized building used 20,105sf of panels with preinstalled granite water tables, sills, embedments for canopy and sunshade attachments, and recessed areas to support anodized aluminum panels.

Asnuntuck Community College

Speed of construction was a key consideration, according to architectural firm Moser Pilon Nelson Architects. The panels also provided a high-tech appearance and added points toward the building’s Silver LEED certification, with their 3 inches of polyisocyanurate ISOGlass insulation.

Precast concrete’s capabilities in aiding aesthetics, energy efficiency, speed of construction, durability, site safety, and other benefits makes it a top choice for educational facilities of all types.

To learn more about the benefits precast concrete can provide for your projects through a personal program, sign up for PCINE’s Box Lunch Program in the Education drop-down menu at

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