Tag architecture

Peaceful Precast in San Francisco


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


Precast House: Dublin Bay, Ireland


precast house

Precast Specialties Corp. in Abington, Massachusetts has a long history of contributing to unique and stylish architectural projects. Precast concrete has long been the backbone of impressive designs – both domestic and worldwide. Although we don’t focus on residential projects, we at Precast can still appreciate a great work of architecture. One stunning example can be found in Howth, Ireland. There, overlooking the Dublin Bay, Irish practice FKL Architects constructed a residence, using precast materials exclusively, that was designed to be an extension of the land around it. The building, which is called, appropriately enough, Precast House, is comprised of three separate areas: the swimming pool, the house and the garage.

The site is long, sloping, falling towards cliffs and the sea. Entering the site, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the horizon, the viewer is pulled towards the abstracted line. The project is defined in conceptual terms as three discrete forms – garage, house and swimming pool – each emerging from the landscape, their respective heights being determined by the use of each form. The relationship between the three elements is a casual one, slipping past each other, sliding towards the sea. The three forms are detailed in the same manner and use the same material, polished precast concrete.

precast house 2

At first floor level (entry level) the plan is open with the primary living spaces and entrance having an overlapping relationship. Within the field of the first floor a number of walnut clad timber elements are slipped between floor and ceiling planes, defining the flow of the space and adding richness to the interior. At ground floor level (sleeping level) the situation is more introverted.

The figure ground relationship is the reverse of the first floor, the plan is treated as a solid mass that has been carved out to make a cruciform circulation space with the bathrooms and bedrooms retained inside the remaining form.
– From Dezeen Magazine – November 16, 2009

For more about FKL  Architects and their diverse portfolio, please visit their website.

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

Architecture Spotlight: Cannon Design


Innovation in Architecture, Engineering and Interior Design

Canisus CollegeCanisius College – Montante Cultural Center – Photo Property of Cannon Design

At Precast Specialties Corp., innovation is a core part of our business culture. Far beyond precast concrete, our custom capabilities and product line expansions including the new Solar Products Group and TX Active Photocatalytic cement mean that we constantly strive to offer the very best products to serve the ever-changing needs of clients. We applaud firms that share our passion for innovation and today, we are featuring multifaceted architecture firm Cannon Design.

Boston UniversityBoston University – Fitness and Recreation Center – Photo Property of Cannon Design

A quick glance over Cannon Design’s work and it’s clear that this architecture, engineering and interior design firm creates projects that are not only functional but also stretch the imagination and break boundaries.

Hauptman-Woodward Research InstituteHauptman-Woodward Research Institute – Structural Biology Research Center – Photo Property of Cannon Design

Self-proclaimed as an “Ideas Based Practice,” Cannon is ranked among the leading international firms in planning and design for an impressive array of clients from healthcare, science and technology, education, sports and recreation, commercial and government. Bank of America, Brigham and Women’s, Cornell University, Fenway Park, Herman Miller and West Point are all clients of Cannon, along with many others.

Architecture Firm Spotlight: Gensler


With locations worldwide, from Abu Dhabi to Atlanta to Tokyo, Gensler & Associates influence design on an impressive scale. Working with clients for architecture, interior design, planning and urban development, sustainability and even product design, Precast Specialties Corp. applauds the innovative, multi-faceted work Gensler produces.

UC Tower
UC Tower - Shanghai

At 100 meters tall and with 59,000 square meters of office space, this 25-story Grade “A” building responds to the growing demand for high-end commercial real estate in Pudong’s Zhuyuang District in Shanghai.

One Thousand Steps
One Thousand Steps - Laguna Beach

One Thousand Steps in Laguna Beach, CA offers an edited selection of denim friendly, fashion-forward merchandise within a modern and sophisticated store design featuring an innovative on-the-sales-floor storage system.

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza

For the third phase in the makeover of the ground-floor common areas of the legendary Century Plaza hotel, Gensler updated the lobby, imbuing it with a taste of Hollywood glamour.

Precast Specialties Corp. works with regional architectural firms and national architectural firms like Gensler & Associates to produce custom designed precast wall panels that are available in a virtually unlimited palette of colors, textures and design elements. We never forget that architects expect us to deliver an innovative product that is a key component in making their vision a reality. Precast wall panels are an aesthetically pleasing and economical construction choice for office buildings, hotels, commercial, civic and institutional projects.

Visit Precast Specialties Corp at www.precastspecialtiescorp.com, call 781-878-7220 or email info@precastspecialtiescorp for more information about our Architectural Group.

*All photos are property of Gensler & Associates

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year from Precast Specialties Corp.


Happy Holidays from Precast Specialties Corp
At Precast Specialties Corp., we want to thank everyone for making 2011 a successful year. During the past year, we expanded our operations to include the new Solar Products Group and welcomed a new VP of Sales, Tim Breen, to the team. We had the opportunity to work with numerous great local architecture and construction firms to complete innovative and sustainable projects. We are looking forward to continued growth in 2012 and wish everyone safe and happy holidays and a great New Year!

Architecture Firm Spotlight: Sheskey Architects


Sheskey Architects is a full service architecture and interior design firm located in Quincy, MA. Sheskey provides fully coordinate design and construction services, customized to meet the needs of each individual client and each specific project.

From Pre-Design Services include site analysis and goal definition to Building Design with code research and coordination of consulting disciplines to Interior Design with materials selection and space planning, Precast respects the comprehensive, thorough dedication Sheskey gives to every project.

In 2006, Precast Specialties Corp. teamed up with Sheskey and engineering firm Veitas and Veitas Engineers to create the Kimball Woods apartment complex in Burlington. “Two ten-story steel framed structures were designed adjacent to a five-story precast parking garage. The project includes a total of 262 luxury apartments. Architectural precast was used as the exterior skin of the structure.” (Veitas and Veitas)

The use of precast concrete along with a number of other energy efficiency features made Kimball Woods one of the first Energy Star Homes rated rental properties in the region (Mullins).

We look forward to working with Sheskey Architects again in the future and applaud their work in architecture and interior design.


A Staggering Work of Concrete and Steel


One World Trade Center, New York City

As many know, the National September 11 Memorial opened to the public on Monday. Alongside the memorial, also located at Ground Zero, is another new American landmark, One World Trade Center. While the newest addition to the New York City skyline is still under-construction, not only is the building an architectural wonder, “a constant dance between concrete and steel,” but it is also arguably the most secure building in America.

At its base, the first three floors are made of a “super tough three-foot-thick blend of concrete.” Port Authority Executive Chris Ward explains that this “blast wall” is made from 18,000 lbs per square inch concrete. This special concrete blend will also make up the building’s core. Two-to-six-foot walls of this concrete will protect the vital elements – communications systems, ventilation systems, sprinklers, elevators, etc, making them essentially “fireproof.” Blast-resistant glass encases 20 floors for further protection.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

One World Trade Center is a staggering work of architecture and represents both hope and rebirth. Thanks to innovative uses of steel and concrete, this tower has risen majestically to an iconic 1776 feet tall with unparalleled strength.

Precast Specialties Corp. and Becker Structural Engineers Join Forces

Photo from Becker Structural Engineers, by Paul Warchol
Photo by Paul Warchol, Becker Structural Engineers Website

Precast Specialties Corp. President John D’Amelio talks with Becker Structural Engineers Vice President Todd M. Neal about the evolution of precast in the world of architecture and trends for the future.

John: Tell us a little bit about your firm, Becker Structural Engineers.
Todd: Becker Structural Engineers was founded in 1995. We have built a successful practice by providing practical, cost-effective and innovative solutions on a wide range of challenging projects. We serve a diverse clientele including architects, developers, industry, contractors, fabricators and government. Our project involvement includes a mix of new and existing buildings and parking structures. Our substantial experience with contemporary building design is complemented by an extensive background renovating and restoring historic structures.
We credit our success to the outstanding architect consultants, fabricators and contractors who collaborate with us and to our dedicated staff who maintain the highest standards and integrity, which are essential in structural engineering.

John: What would you say has been your firm’s most challenging project?
Todd: Every project has its own set of challenges from the renovation of a residence to the construction of a multi-story office building. Time is a constant challenge on all our projects. Technology and perception has really shortened the design process and the challenge is to put together a set of quality documents in three months for a project that several years ago would have taken a year.
One of the most challenging projects that our office has worked on was 84 Marginal Way in Portland, Maine. This project consisted of four levels of precast/prestressed concrete parking that supported six stories of structural steel office above. It was a challenging marriage of two building products that have quite different optimal spans. This project won the ACEC 2009 Honor Award for Engineering Excellence.

John: Tell us about your AIA New England 2009 Award winning project, House on the Ledge (pictured above).
Todd: The house was designed by the architecture firm of Elliott & Elliott Architecture of Blue Hill, Maine and re-defines how we think of a waterfront home on the coast of Maine. It is a steel and concrete frame structure that feels modern while it reaches out of the landscape. Use of high quality door and window components as well as glass bock walls create a home filled with light and lightness that provides clear, sweeping views. Structure was highly integrated into the design and becomes architecture. We are very proud of this project.

John: It has been a great partnership between Precast Specialties Corp. and Becker. For readers who aren’t aware of our work together, can you talk a little about services you have provided for us?
Todd: We provide engineering and detailing services to Precast Specialties Corp. (PSC) for architectural precast concrete projects. In the construction documents the architectural precast panels are typically specified as a performance based design which means that PSC is responsible for the engineering of the panels and connections. This delivery system allows the precaster to fabricate the panels with a process that is most beneficial to their individual plant and generally provides the most economical option.
We have been working with Precast Specialties Corp. since 2006 and have completed 24 projects together over the past 4 years. Each precaster is different and there is a steep learning curve to understand their fabrication process, preferred details, and drafting preferences in order to produce a submittal that meets their standards. We invest a lot of effort in the early projects with the hope that we can develop a long term relationship.

Does Becker do a lot of work with precast concrete and if so, what are some of your upcoming projects?
Todd: Approximately one quarter of our business comes from precast projects. The downturn in the economy certainly took its toll on the precast industry but we saw some positive indication of a recovery of the architectural precast industry since last fall and through the start of this year projects have been steady. Our precast work includes architectural and structural precast projects and we are optimistic that the structural side will start to recover this spring. We have been watching several new parking garage projects in the area.

John: What do you see as the emerging engineering and architecture trends for 2011?
Todd: From our perspective we see the continued growth of Building Information Modeling (BIM) to be the biggest challenge. Many firms have grasped the modeling portion of these programs and we feel the next step is to use the information portion to fully realize the potential of this system. We also see the request for these types of drawings files working down to the subcontractors and suppliers so that the general contractors can have complete models of the buildings.
Another important trend we see is the push for energy efficient buildings and “net zero” building. We feel this is going to have a significant impact on the design and construction community as we have to revise the way we think about facades. This may prove to be a significant adjustment to the precast industry as we have to develop new and innovative ways to connect precast facades with minimal impact on the building envelope.