- Project DC West Elementary School
- Location Valley, Nebraska
- Type of Precast CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels
- Project Size 82,000 sf
- CarbonCast Surface Area 43,500 sf
- Architect DLR Group
- Engineer DLR Group
- Contractor Boyd Jones Construction
- Precaster Enterprise Precast Concrete
This 82,000 square foot elementary school was designed to house pre-school through 5th grade students for a growing school district. The school features 30 classrooms, a state-of-the-art media center, gymnasium, and administration spaces.
The architect’s design concept of water washing up on a sandy shore was a nod to a river and the many lakes that form the western boundary of the school district. Additionally, the school district wanted a design that would give the new elementary a strong identity given it is adjacent to two other school district buildings. The project incorporated the use of load-bearing CarbonCast High Performance Insulated Wall Panels at both the interior and exterior of the building.
Early in the design process, the architect targeted precast for this project because of its speed of construction and its flexibility of exterior finishes. The architect’s prior experience using precast also played a factor in making an early determination to use precast. The project was delivered using the construction manager at-risk delivery method which allowed the precaster to be brought on early in the design process to work with the design team. This early involvement ensured the panel design and layout maximized efficiencies and reduced costs related to precast fabrication, helping keep the project on budget.
The project’s overall design and construction schedule was extremely tight at just 20 months from the start of design to the completion of construction. With the precaster on-board during the design process, it afforded the design team the opportunity to get best practices input regarding the panel’s exterior design and panel details. This collaborative process ensured the precast panel’s design achieved the owner and architect’s goals and met the project’s schedule and budget.
One of the key aesthetic challenges was developing an architectural language with a random pattern appearance to support the architect’s design concept while limiting the number of formliners that had to be fabricated in order to keep precast a cost effective solution. To overcome this challenge, the architect, formliner manufacturer and precaster worked closely together to create two different vanishing brick formliners that would be used to fabricate the CarbonCast panels. For the formliner’s design, the group essentially went brick by brick identifying the cells that were to have brick as they explored potential patterns. As concepts were developed, the architect developed a model for the team to review to ensure a random pattern was being created.
The project included 215 pieces of insulated sandwich panels that totaled 43,500 square feet. The typical panel varied, but was typically 12 feet wide and varying in height from 13’-0” feet to 34’-0”.
Another challenge for the project was an exceptionally aggressive schedule which required the school to be open in time for the start of school the following fall. The advantage precast panels afforded the project’s schedule was the fact that the panels could fabricated while the site and foundation work was being constructed. This allowed erection of the wall panels to begin immediately after the foundations were installed and got the building enclosed more quickly than traditional masonry.
The school’s exterior precast panels incorporated the use of thin brick with an acid etched buff precast and a light grey panel with a retarder finish. The interior panels are an acid etch buff with a repeating retarder linear pattern on each panel.