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Building a Village and Breaking New Ground: Precast Concrete at Camp Lejeune

Sep24

Precast concrete is a very versatile material. It’s been proven to be an excellent choice for architectural projects, renovations, environmental efforts and even Olympic stadiums! As if those purposes weren’t varied enough, precast is even being used for military situations. Smith-Midland Corporation was awarded an honorable mention in the 2011 NPCA Creative Use of Precast competition. What was Smith-Midland nominated for? Its work at the Camp Lejeune Marine Base — a simulated Afghan village. The village was actually built to train Marines for real-life battles in the future!

Smith-Midland Corporation’s project was officially called the Military Infantry Immersion Training Village, located in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. In total, 23 different-sized, prefabricated buildings were created using precast concrete. These buildings were designed to make up a simulated Afghan village and included a mosque, sheik’s home, hardware store, police station and even a café. The buildings were constructed within a warehouse. The biggest building was the mosque at two stories tall, and the smallest was the sheik’s house (11’x11’).

Warehouse Construction

The project is noteworthy already, but a few more innovations are worth mention. First, the buildings were all constructed within an old warehouse (constructed in the 1940’s). The builders had to use a specially designed forklift to avoid getting caught up in the electrical wiring and mechanical equipment descending from the ceiling.

Forklifts

More interestingly, the mock village was made as realistic as possible to give the Marines the best simulation they could manage. So, all sorts of atmospheric elements were included: aromas of meat and cider were floated into the area. The concrete was tinted in a ruddy, earthy pigment to look similar to “mud huts” in Afghanistan. The floors were made of dirt. Videos inside the school building projected a scene of children in a classroom, and there were roadside bomb obstacles to be dealt with.

Precast VillageIt’s amazing to see how much can be done with a little precast concrete and a lot of creativity! And it’s great to know that precast is helping our nation’s soldiers prepare for dangerous situations. Hopefully with this extra bit of training, more of our Marines will return unharmed, and more missions will be completed successfully!

Brandon Duffel Joins Precast as Senior Project Manager

Aug14

Brandon Duffel

Precast Specialties Corp. is pleased to announce that Brandon Duffel has accepted the position of Senior Project Manager. Brandon’s responsibilities will include managing and supporting projects for Precast Specialties Corp’s rapidly growing Architectural Group.

Brandon brings many years of experience and a proven track record as a Project Engineer and Project Manager to Precast Specialties Corp. Most recently, Brandon was the Engineering Manager for Coreslab Structures (CONN.), Brandon’s extensive knowledge and expertise with both architectural and structural precast will undoubtedly benefit Precast Specialties Corp’s Architectural Group. Brandon received his B.S. in Engineering from The Cooper Union.

For nearly 30 years, Precast Specialties Corp. has focused on the versatility of precast concrete as a smart and sustainable building material that delivers energy-saving benefits. Our precast concrete panels and concrete curbing are chosen by architects, engineers, contractors and environmental planners throughout New England.

Located in Abington, MA, our manufacturing facility is accessible to all New England states. We are proud to be a United States manufacturer of precast concrete components who helps our customers achieve their design vision while respecting the environment.

For more information on Precast Specialties Corp., follow us on Twitter or visit our site to find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351
Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464
info@precastspecialtiescorp.com

London Olympics: The Future of Sustainability

Jul26

The 2012 Olympics are now underway, and everyone is tuning in to watch world-tier athletes compete for fame, glory, and personal fulfillment. Team USA stars like Michael Phelps, Lolo Jones, Alexander Massialas, Natalie Coughlin and Gabrielle Douglas are filling headlines and capturing the rapt attention of American audiences (and fans worldwide!).  But among the many Olympics categories, such as synchronized swimming, fencing and sprinting, there is one other “event” that is four years in the making: Olympic Architecture!

When a city is declared the official location for the next Olympic Games, local designers and construction workers immediately get to work. They need to create venues that will both match the majesty of the occasion and dazzle tourists. These stadiums stand as a symbol of national pride and are often massive revenue sources for local government, so their designs are definitely not taken lightly! And this year, sustainability and eco-conscious design were very important. The Olympic Stadium was built as a landmark achievement in eco-friendly design.

stadium

London’s Olympic Stadium is located in Olympic Park, Stratford, London, U.K. For the building, the London Olympics created a Sustainability Plan which includes 5 major tenets.

  1. Climate change — greenhouse gas emissions were reduced and facilities were designed to be adaptable to climate change.
  2. Waste – there was clear focus on minimizing it every step of the way in the construction of the project, preventing any landfill use during the actual games,
    and utilization of new East London waste processing methods.
  3. Biodiversity – protecting the local wildlife and their habitats was critical.
  4. Inclusion – attendance was encouraged by all peoples at the Games, and new employment and business opportunities for citizens of the UK were created.
  5. Healthy Living — an obvious and inherent part of the Olympic Games, the building and events are meant to encourage and inspire sports and the adoption of
    healthy, sustainable lifestyles.

To these ends, the stadium’s composition is over 30% recycled, and it uses 60% less potable water than similar contemporary stadia. A special cold foam process was used for the access roads, which reduces the energy needed to lay them and adds to the total recycled content.

Another important feature of the stadium facilities? They’re “temporary” designs, meaning that they can be reduced in size once Olympics 2012 are over. This way, they won’t simply become ghost towns using up valuable space and wasting precious resources. During the games the stadium seats 80,000, but after the closing ceremonies it can be reduced in size to a 60,000-seat permanent stadium in legacy when the upper tiers are removed. In addition, this stadium uses half the steel of most modern stadiums, which makes it the lightest Olympic Stadium ever constructed.

The Aquatics Centre, home to the legendary Olympic water sports and designed by Zaha Hadid, is also temporary in design. Seating 17,500 people for the Games, it can be reduced dramatically to a 2,500-seater when the two wings are removed. Ammonia-based chillers were used instead of traditional HFC chillers, reducing the climate change impact. The post-games design for the Centre was built to the BREEAM excellent standard.

aquatics centre

Sustainability is a big concern in the world today. John D’Amelio, President of Precast Specialties Corp., has always emphasized the value of precast and its role in a project’s LEED certification. Precast concrete wall panels can often be reused because they are so durable. It also minimizes waste on the job site, and it’s partially composed of recycled materials like fly ash and recycled steel. Precast concrete is inherently sustainable, and a great choice for eco-friendly construction.

The Olympic Stadium facilities were recently nominated for the 2012 Stirling Prize, the top award for architecture in Britain. And you bet precast concrete has something to do with it! Precast seating tiers and plinth, combined with the white main structural elements and the secondary ones colored black, make quite the flashy ensemble that is also quite friendly to the environment! All in all, the facilities will provide an impressive and cutting edge stage for some of the greatest athletes in the world, and should inform and inspire building design for years to come.

Photo Credit: Times Live, Architecture List, Web Designer Depot

 

Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351
Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464
 

info@precastspecialtiescorp.com

Concrete Solutions for a Dickinson Public School

Jul16

Dickenson School
A Prairie Rose class in session

This week’s precast news comes to us from Bismarck, North Dakota. The Dickinson Public School system recently granted local company Wells Concrete a precast concrete package for a new construction project on an elementary school. There has been significant population growth in western North Dakota, forcing the Dickinson Public School system to restructure based on additions and size limitations.

The full team working on the project is Hulsing & Associates Architects, Comstock Construction and Advanced Engineering and Environmental Services (AE2S). Wells Concrete provides the team with precast wall panels (with exposed precast interiors that can be painted) in a mix of thin brick and sandblast. Electrical components are imbedded in the panels. Ground was broken on the project in May.

Dickenson School - Bismarck, North Dakota

This is not the first time the school was expanded. Prairie Rose K-5 Elementary was built in April, 1977. Filled to capacity, a year later Prairie Rose was restructured, gaining 3949 square feet of new land to accommodate 71 more students, as well as new office areas, library sections and toilet areas.

The advantage of using precast here is in the speed and integrity of the materials. Precast can be quickly erected and placed, which also has the benefit of reducing labor costs. It’s also very sturdy and dependable for a construction material. These are important perks, as the school needs to be ready for the 2013-2014 school year.

Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351

Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464
info@precastspecialtiescorp.com

Photo Credit: The Official Website for North Dakota State Government, Prairie Rose Elementary

FM Global Office Project Completed

Jun13

FM Global

Precast Specialties Corp. is happy to share this finished Norwood, Massachusetts building. We touched on the project in an earlier post last fall, but it has recently been completed. Hobbs Brook Management LLC, a pioneer in the development of office space in Boston-area suburbs, managed progress on this building, which should soon receive LEED certification. It’s located at 1175 Boston/Providence Highway in Norwood, Massachusetts. The office building houses two companies: Dedham Medical Associates and FM Global, a worldwide force in business property insurers. Ground was first broken for the project on October 21st, 2011.

FM Global 2

It was designed by Margulies Perruzzi Architects and constructed by the Columbia Construction Company. The panels were erected by American Steel & Precast Erectors of Greenfield, NH. Precast Specialties Corp. provided this project with ninety-five dark-buff colored precast panels with ribbed features and a monolithic sun shade.

Hobbs Brook Management LLC has emphasized energy efficiency and green building practices for over thirty years. This office building was no different. Constructed as a high-performance green building, the project has a laundry list of efficiency features, including irrigation-water-reducing indigenous and drought-resistant plant materials, a high reflection roof to disperse sunlight, and solar shaded windows. It all adds up to one impressive, eco-friendly office building for Dedham Medical and FM Global, and hopefully some new job positions for Norwood, MA residents. The 200 FM Global employees relocating to this building certainly have something to look forward to!

 FM Global 3

Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. We are dedicated to helping construct LEED certified buildings that are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351
Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464
info@precastspecialtiescorp.com

Precast Concrete Harnessing Solar Power

May21

Chalk another one up for precast concrete and environmental support! Concentrated solar power, also known as CSP, is a renewable energy source that is quickly gaining momentum around the world. Using giant mirrors or lenses, CPS systems concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a smaller area. The solar thermal energy powers a heat engine, which powers an electrical generator. Swiss firm Airlight Energy is a major player in the CPS game, and they have been using precast concrete to build the parabolic troughs.

Solar Precast

The troughs are built with precast concrete in the reinforced frame. The frame tilts to follow the sun’s position throughout the day. Precast was used because it reinforces the stiffness under the wind pressure, allowing the trough to be larger and support a greater concentration of solar power. It’s also useful because it reduces material and construction costs associated with using metallic structures.

Solar Precast

The mirrors, which magnify the sun’s rays, are super light pneumonic air pillow systems. These patented mirrors are much cheaper than traditional mirror technology but still get higher solar concentration. Win-win!

We think these mirrors are very cool, like something out of science-fiction. Well… they do say truth is often stranger than fiction.

Mirrors

Precast Specialties Corp. specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351

Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464

info@precastspecialtiescorp.com
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Peaceful Precast in San Francisco

May9

The San Francisco Peace Pagoda

 

If you’ve ever lived in Japantown, went on one of the many San Francisco tours, or studied Buddhism, this picture might ring a bell. The building is called the Peace Pagoda, though it’s certainly not the only structure to bear that name. Built under Nichidatsu Fujii, a Japanese monk who founded the Ni­­­­­­­­pponzan-­Myōhōji order of Buddhism, most Peace Pagoda buildings are stupas , or structures that contain Buddhist relics (often the remains of Buddha himself). Buddhists typically use stupas as places of worship.

However, the Peace Pagodas serve a different purpose — they stand to gather people of all races and creeds with the aim of achieving world peace. The original Peace Pagodas were symbols of peace built in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in the wake of the nuclear bombings. By the year 2000, eighty Pagodas had been built in cities and countries the world over, San Francisco included.This particular Peace Pagoda isn’t actually tied to the Nipponzan-Myōhōji order, however. It was designed in 1968 by the late Yoshiro Taniguchi and presented to the city as a gift from Osaka – San Francisco’s sister city. The stupa is a five-tiered structure made mainly of precast concrete. The design, despite being based on traditional Japanese structures, is surprisingly modern for its time, so it’s still an attractive architectural project in the 21st century (and one of the more popular San Francisco attractions for photos).

Still… something about the pagoda’s design always reminds us of Italian Italian pizelle cookies. And that is by no means a bad thing (except for our waistlines).

Precast Specialties Corp specializes in architectural concrete panels, concrete roadway products and exceptional custom precast products including seawall panels, boat ramps and large support piers. All of our custom products are cast in our factory utilizing 5,000 psi, super-plasticized, air-entrained concrete. We can produce virtually any color, finish or texture to meet your project needs. Find out what our clients and contractors have to say about our work, or see for yourself by contacting us for your next project at:

Precast Specialties Corp.
999 Adams Street
P.O. Box 86
Abington, MA 02351

Tel: (781)878-7220
Fax: (781)878-7464
info@precastspecialtiescorp.com

 

Salvador Dali Does Precast

Apr27

At Precast Specialties Corp., we know that concrete is the foundation of many artistic projects and buildings. But one building, an artistic precast concrete project in every sense of the word, takes the cake: the recently-opened Salvador Dalí museum in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Housing the largest collection of the artist’s work would be amazing enough, but the actual design of the building is fantastic. Designed by architectural firm HOK, the museum was created to reflect Dali’s artistic genius. The almost gooey exterior is a reflection of Dalí’s interest in the tension between rationality and surrealism, with the fluid glass shapes flowing around and through the blocky, no-nonsense concrete walls. The organic blue structure is also inspired by the geodesic domes of Buckminster Fuller, another creative force who greatly influenced Dalí.

Built to withstand Florida’s turbulent hurricane season, the precast concrete walls are 18 inches thick. The art pieces are all stored on the third floor, leaving the 75-foot-tall atrium an open space. Filling up that atrium and guiding visitors up is the most striking part of the museum: the spiral staircase!

The concrete staircase is inspired both by the Fibonacci sequence and the DNA double-helix pattern, both things that Dalí expressed great interest in. The staircase isn’t suspended either– it floats down from the ceiling, supported at the top and bottom but not by the walls. All the elements combine to form one very cool architectural project, and an excellent tribute to Salvador Dalí and his legendary art.