Tag precast

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


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.


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


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

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.

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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.

Up Next at Precast Specialties Corp.


Fresh off our Barnstable Municipal Airport project, Precast is beginning fabrication for a new control tower for the Rhode Island Air National Guard 143rd Airlift Wing at Quonset State Airport in N. Kingstown, Rhode Island. Lead by General Contractor Cutter Enterprises and Architecture Firm Burns & McDonnell, Precast will team up again with Precast Erector American Steel & Precast Erectors on the project.

Featuring sixty-two buff-colored architectural precast concrete panels with a light sandblast finish, the 90 foot tall control tower will replace an aging structure built by the U.S. Navy. According to the R.I. Airport Corporation, “last year, 31,183 private and military aircraft flew to or from the two-runway airport, making it the busiest general aviation airport in the state” (Providence Business News).

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.

Local Massachusetts Businesses Join Forces


Precast Specialties Corp. at Institute of Homeland Security

Pairing up again with architecture firm Spagnolo Gisness & Associates, Inc. and erectors American Steel and Precast Erectors, Precast Specialties Corp. embarks on its next project, the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at Northeastern University’s Burlington, MA campus. Alongside general contractor Gilbane Building Corp., Precast will supply thirty-nine white architectural precast panels with a light sand-blast finish for the building’s exterior.

Precast President John John D’Amelio explains, “At Precast Specialties Corp, we strongly believe in strengthening the economy through projects that benefit New England businesses. We appreciate the opportunity to work for Gilbane Building Corp. and are pleased that the precast for this distinguished project will be manufactured locally”.

The entire project is funded by a $12 million gift from alumni George J. Kostas, the largest financial gift in Northeastern’s history. “The new facility will be an important asset to existing programs at Northeastern, and it is also expected to bolster the university’s capacity to secure new federal investments and corporate partnerships in the future”. The multi-story building will be designed in accordance with Department of Defense standards and will give Northeastern the capacity and clearances to conduct secure research in a restricted environment. To learn more about the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security, visit http://www.northeastern.edu/news/stories/2010/09/kostas.html.

Events and Appearances: Precast Specialties Corp. Sponsors 2010 Construction Specifications Institute’s Winter Social

Precast Specialties Corp. is proud to be a sponsor of the Rhode Island and Boston CSI Chapters Winter Social. This annual event will be held Friday, December 3rd at Showcase Live in Patriot Place (Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, MA) from 6:00pm to 11:00pm.

The mission of CSI is to advance building information management and education of project teams to improve facility performance. As a national association comprised of specifiers, architects, engineers, contractors, facility managers, product representatives, manufacturers, owners and other experts in building construction and construction materials, CSI strives to improve the communication of construction information. Precast Specialties Corp. is honored to be involved in The Winter Social, an annual opportunity to bring together the diversified membership base to celebrate the continuous development of building standards and the education and certification opportunities offered to professionals through CSI.