Material Explorations: Precast Concrete
Typically, people think of precast concrete as a material solution for large, nondescript industrial buildings. However, architects can use precast to create a high level of design customization and visual appeal on a modest budget.
For its new maintenance facility, the College of DuPage (COD) wanted the non-academic building to achieve the same aesthetic expression of other student-focused facilities, but on a tighter budget.
Precast concrete turned out to be the perfect choice for the Campus Maintenance Center (CMC). It saved materials costs and sped up construction. The precast panels offer both a distinctive exterior wall and a durable interior skin.
The use of precast concrete panels enabled a maintenance-free, cost-effective facility that is aesthetically compatible with the award-winning contemporary sustainable buildings that dot the campus. Additionally, large precast concrete walls conceal formerly exposed outdoor materials. The facility has a large heated vehicle storage area with mechanics bays and a wash bay, as well as shops, offices, and storage space.
The Right Look on a Modest Budget
One misconception about precast is that it has very limited flexibility in terms of appearance. The COD CMC demonstrates how attractive a precast building can be. The mustard-colored walls around the facility resemble wood planks, but a closer look reveals the reality: these highly textured walls are actually made of locally-sourced precast concrete.
Walls facing east and west feature the wood grain look and the mustard color, while walls facing north and south are composed of non-textured mocha-colored panels to accentuate other planes.
The precast responds to the college’s goal of creating a durable facility with high level of visual interest on a tight budget.
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