Unity Christian High School
State: Michigan Completed: 2015
When this project was conceived the goal was to achieve a thermally efficient, durable, functional and attractive structure that would also provide a high level of safety to the local community. We worked with Unity Christian staff with plant visits over many years. We also worked with GMB Architecture and Engineering on design ideas and products that were available and with Lakewood Construction on budgeting and scheduling. Many of our subcontractors helped to make this happen, and as a result the team was able to find savings in cost and schedule versus other materials.
Precast prestressed concrete wall panels provided the solution to meeting the project goals. Largely the walls are constructed of precast prestressed insulated sandwich wall panels that bear the gravity and lateral loads imposed on the structure. The wall panels were cast exterior face down on rubber liners that formed their exterior finish. The electrical conduit and boxes were also cast into the wall panels. Prestressed hollowcore plank was used as floors and ceilings in the classrooms. These precast prestressed walls and floors provide protection against fire and also perform well in noisy environments due to their high STC ratings.
Since this is a school that needed to be completed by the start of the new school year, schedule was a major concern to the project team as well as the owner. This meant that the project delivery system of choice had to be design-build. This approach to construction typically means that the architectural and structural design coincide with the actual construction of the building. To pull off such a feat there must be open lines of communication across the project team. All members of the project team did just that. The result is a beautiful school delivered on time that serves the community.
“The precast panels at the new Unity Christian High School allow it to stand out in the K-12 market. One of the building’s most unique design elements is the application of the woodgrain formliner panels. Although it was left raw, the texture gives the concrete a sense of warmth that is carried throughout the building, including the interior. It is a durable and sophisticated product that really anchored the material palette. Working with Kerkstra early on in the planning led to a smooth and integrated design process and we look forward to our next project together.”
Benjamin Scholten, Architect at GMB Architecture & Engineering
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