Tag John D’Amelio

Sustainability: A Building Block of Precast Specialties Corp.


Sustainable Precast

Sustainable is a word and a concept that John D’Amelio, President of Precast Specialties Corp., wants you to think of when you think about precast concrete as a building material. Precast concrete is a sustainable building material and an excellent green building material choice because it is energy efficient, durable and eco-friendly. Because of the versatile application of precast concrete, the use of precast can contribute to the LEED points of a final project. Precast Specialties Corp. thanks all of the builders and contractors we’ve had the opportunity to work with who share our focus on sustainability and look forward to working on even more local and sustainable projects in the future for New England’s built environment. Stay tuned for more information about precast’s sustainable properties.

Precast Specialties Corp. Teams Up with a Top Regional Architectural Firm


Precast Specialties Corp. has worked with respected architectural, engineering and interior design firm Symmes, Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA) on several projects including the new medical office buildings at Falmouth Hospital on Cape Cod and an addition to the regional headquarters of Nokia in Burlington, MA.

Founded in 1955, Symmes, Maini & McKee Associates has earned its reputation in the industry through numerous accolades including the Excellence in Design Award 2010 from Environmental Design and Construction Magazine for planning and designing the Blue Cross Blue Shield Rhode Island Headquarters. The firm was also ranked as one of the top 500 Design Firms by Engineering News Record in 2010. Today, the company has grown to include 180 professionals with offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island.

ISO-certified, SMMA also boasts a team of LEED-accredited professionals and is a member of the US Green Building Council. As a signatory of the Architecture 2030 initiative to design carbon-neutral buildings by the year 2030, “SMMA is committed to practices such as HVAC systems with heat recovery of exhaust air, 100% fresh air supply, high efficiency chillers and boilers, and energy management systems, and their understanding of the construction process and history of effective working relationships with builders facilitates effective sustainable practice partnerships on projects” (SMMA website).

John D’Amelio, president of Precast Specialties Corp. enjoys working with SMMA. He says, “From their innovative use of precast concrete to their focus on green practices and promotion of sustainable design, we see SMMA as a leader in today’s eco-friendly design industry and look forward to teaming up with them on many more projects in the future.”

Completed work from Precast Specialties Corp. and SMMA

Falmouth Hospital

Falmouth, Massachusetts
The medical office building includes hospital ambulatory care functions, medical center, and private physician offices. The project secured a Massachusetts Technology Collaborative Grant to study renewable energy sources and green design approaches.
Contractor: Columbia Construction
Precast Components: Grey Cement, Light Sandblast Finish / Summitville Blend Thin Brick

Nokia Addition

Burlington, Massachusetts
Photo by Edward Jacoby via Symmes, Maini & McKee Associates

Regional headquarters facility that would attract top-notch telecom professionals. SMMA provided full design services for the new 270,000 sf facility, including technology labs, a conference center, A/V demonstration area, software testing labs, cafeteria, and fitness center.
Contractor: Gutierrez Construction Co. Inc.
Precast Components: White Cement with Local Aggregates, Light Sandblast Finish

A View From The Top


Interview with Precast’s President John D’Amelio

Precast Specialties Corp. Works on BU Project

Could you tell us about the project you are currently working on at Boston University?
“The addition of this on-campus residence hall has been something that the Boston University Medical School has talked about for decades. We are happy to be on the team that is making it a reality. For the nine-story, $40 million structure, designed by Beacon Architectural Associates, we created 120 architectural precast panels and 300 architectural precast trim units. The general contractor for the project is Walsh Brothers Inc.

Were there any other custom aspects of the job?
“Yes. The architect wanted the facade to have a smooth, sleek appearance. Our manufacturing team applied a light sand-blast finish to the panels to achieve the aesthetic objective. The panels are a custom blend of white and grey Portland cement with fine white sand and a DSC ‘Autumn Leaves’ tint.”

How do you think this building will impact the neighborhood?

“The new residence hall will replace a presently vacant structure and existing surface parking/storage uses along with substantial open space that will contribute to the character of the surrounding neighborhood. The project will also reduce pressure on local affordable housing, and increase foot traffic and commercial activity in the area.”

What else makes this project special?

“It is a project that has a design and manufacturing team that is based in the US. As the economy continues to recover, I think it’s important for educational institutions like BU to support American made products. Boston’s Mayor Menino echoes D’Amelio’s sentiment. ‘I’m proud to support this project because it will create graduate student housing for more than 200 students who will be the next doctors, researchers, and public health leaders,’ Mayor Menino said. ‘Additionally, this project creates 250 much needed construction jobs, allowing more men and women to go back to work.’”

Precast Specialties Corp. Applauds Eco-Friendly Initiatives in Massachusetts


Sustainable Solar Field Efforts on Martha's Vineyard
Precast Specialties Corp. wants to recognize both American Capital Energy and Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative for their recent agreement to reuse ten capped landfills for the production of solar energy. Projected to power 3,132 Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard homes, the solar field is expected to produce around 22,500 MWh every year.

The federal government has estimated that there are close to 425,000 industrial or contaminated sites known as “brownfields” throughout the United States. The EPA and various other alternative energy companies are actively working to transform these deserted landfills into solar energy producing areas.

As a member of the NPCA (National Precast Concrete Association), APA (Architectural Precast Association) certified Precast Specialties Corp. President John D’Amelio is a strong believer in sustainability. PSC ensures that each piece of precast concrete manufactured meets the current need of any customer and also offers eco-friendly features that provide for the future.

Precast Specialties Corp.maintains its sustainable focus through efficient service and production of products that are both durable and good for the environment. Although a small step in the alternative energy movement, Precast Specialties Corp. alongside American Capital Energy and Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative are continually striving to create and improve the future of New England’s built environment.

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.