Precast Concrete Producer Plays Key Role in Construction of the New Museum of the American Revolution

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The Mid-Atlantic Precast Association (MAPA) is pleased to announce that one of its members was a key partner in the recent construction of the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, PA. Universal Concrete Products Corporation, located in Stowe, PA, was selected as the precast concrete producer for the new history museum which opened to the general public in April.

Museum of the American Revolution. Philadelphia, PA.

With the Museum of the American Revolution project, architectural precast concrete not only offered design flexibility for architectural expression, but it also contributes to the durability, sustainability, energy efficiency and safety of the building.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM

The Museum of the American Revolution is situated at the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets, among buildings of historical significance. Some of the neighboring buildings, including the First Bank of the United States and William Strickland’s Merchant Exchange, date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. The new museum replaced the Independence Living History Center, which was built in the 1970s. The center was torn down to make way for the museum, except for a small portion of the building which was preserved to maintain office space that is occupied by the Parks Department.

Visitors to the museum will find an impressive collection of relics that pay homage to the American Revolution and our nation’s independence. The museum houses a collection of several thousand objects, works of art, manuscripts and printed works from the revolutionary period. Special exhibits, galleries and films also brings this historic period to life. While the museum’s interior has much for visitors to see, the museum’s exterior is an equally-impressive sight. The use of architectural precast concrete in the building’s construction contributes to its visually-inspiring façade.

THE PRECAST SOLUTION

Bill Hydock, Preconstruction Manager at Universal Concrete Products, says the conversation about using precast concrete as a key component of museum construction started in 2012. It was determined very early on that architectural precast panels would be a very viable solution for achieving the unique features that were planned for the building’s exterior.

“Because the new building had to architecturally align with the historical nature of the surrounding buildings, the museum was originally conceived as a hand-laid brick and limestone structure. But, because of our early involvement in the conceptual design stage of the project, we were able to explore the possibility of converting the entire façade from conventional laid masonry to precast concrete panels.”

Given the building design, the use of precast panels was significantly more economical than conventional masonry. Part of the reason was due to the large, ornate limestone clad alcoves and arches in the building design. These design elements would require significant steel framing support if conventional laid masonry were to be used. By switching to precast panels, the same unique architectural features could be achieved without the need for supplemental structural steel support.

After a lengthy two-year review process involving various design changes and architectural reviews with the city of Philadelphia and the museum’s board of directors, the use of precast panels was approved for museum construction.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Universal Concrete Products erected approximately 320 precast wall panels for the exterior of the museum, totaling 50,500 square feet. The panels are brick and limestone clad. Features of the building’s exterior include several large recessed, brick arches and unique limestone cornices and accents.

Because of the size and ornate nature of the limestone cornices, Universal had to use specialized pin connections that could support the weight of the large cornices, which were also precast.

“With the Museum of the American Revolution project, architectural precast concrete not only offered design flexibility for architectural expression, but it also contributes to the durability, sustainability, energy efficiency and safety of the building. At the same time, the plasticity of precast concrete allowed us to achieve a high level of design detail and character for the building that couldn’t be matched by other materials due to cost,” shared Hydock.

For many projects, particularly the museum project, the use of precast panels over conventional masonry also contributes to the speed of construction. Hand-laid materials typically require scaffolding and bracing for installation and project completion. Because of the recessed arches on the museum exterior, an even longer amount of time would have been required to complete hand-laid stonework. Precast panels allowed the work to be done much more efficiently without the need for scaffolding and bracing.

“Simply put, using precast concrete allowed this project to run more efficiently. It was a small site to work within. The less construction elements you need to get the project done – especially on a small site – the faster the job will get completed. That was certainly the case with the museum project. And working very early on and in a collaborative fashion with the owner, architect and engineer helped make this project a great success,” shared Hydock.

Click here to view the Museum of the American Revolution project profile on the MAPA website.

PROJECT AT-A-GLANCE

Location: 101 South Third Street (Philadelphia, PA)
Precaster: Universal Concrete Products Corporation (Stowe, PA)
Owner: Museum of the American Revolution (Philadelphia, PA)
Architect: Robert A.M. Stern Architects (New York, NY)
Engineer of Record: Keast and Hood Co. (Philadelphia, PA)
Contractor: INTECH Construction, Inc. (Philadelphia, PA)
Building Square Footage: 118,000 SF
Architectural Precast Elements: 320 brick and limestone-clad precast panels totaling 50,500 SF

ABOUT MID-ATLANTIC PRECAST ASSOCIATION

The Mid-Atlantic Precast Association (MAPA) is a professional marketing organization committed to the growth and greater profitability of the Precast Industry in the Mid-Atlantic region. Founded in 1978, MAPA is comprised of 13 prestressed/precast producer member firms located throughout the Mid-Atlantic States, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C. The organization is closely associated with the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) and has over 50 associate member companies that produce a variety of concrete industry related products. For more information, visit http://www.mapaprecast.org.

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Kae G. Wagner
kgwagner@northstar-m.com
+1 (717) 392-6982 Ext: 1
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Tom Holmes
MAPA
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