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All-Precast-Concrete Solution for University of Hawaii School of Medicine Buildings

Bennett Fung, P.E.

Principal SSFM International Inc. Honolulu, Hawaii

Kathleen Wong, P.E.

Structural Engineer SSFM International Inc. Honolulu, Hawaii

Les Kempers, P.E.

Vice President, Marketing & Sales Hawai i GPRM Prestress (affiliated with Rocky Mountain Prestress, Hawaii Branch) Kapolei, Hawaii

An all-precast/prestressed-concrete system proved idea I for constructing both the Medical Education Building and the Biomedical Sciences Building for the University of Hawaiis John A. Burns School of Medicine in Honolulu, Hawaii. Built with loadbearing, architectural precast con crete window-box panels, these components along the perimeter of the building provide the primary lateral and vertical load-resisting system to with-S stand gravity, wind, and seismic loads. The panels also serve as the main architectural facade, featur ing several attractive Hawaiian nature motifs. The internal precast concrete frame, comprising double tees, inverted tees, and columns, furnishes large, unobstructed, column-free spaces and flex ibility for future changes inside the buildings. The precast concrete double tees were designed to the stringent vibration criteria of the research laborato ries. This article presents design features and pro duction and construction highlights of the two new buildings at the Kakaako campus of the University of Hawaiis School of Medicine.

uilt along the scenic Kakaako waterfront in Honolu lu, Hawaii, the newly completed Medical Education Building and Biomedical Sciences Building are the two primary facilities on the new Kakaako campus of the Uni versity of Hawaii (UH) John A. Bums School of Medicine (Fig. 14). With a construction cost of $150 million, these two buildings represent an important basis for expansion of


the UH School of Medicine. This ar ticle presents design features and pro duction and construction highlights of these two new buildings. The medical school campus is built on a 9.9 acre (4 ha) site overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the middle of a former industrial district undergoing redevelopment. The purpose of the new facilities is to fulfill the schools primary mission, namely, to foster both education and research. Founded in 1965, the UH School of Medicine was envisioned by and named after John A. Burns, the governor of Hawaii at that time, The schools ultimate objective is to be the best medical school in the world with an Asia-Pacific focus (see John A. Bums School of Medicine: A Center of Learning Serving the Hawaii Community, p. 26). In addition to revitalizing the univer sity s medical school program, the new facilities will function as an economic engine for the state of Hawaii and will create quality jobs, increase biomedi cal research activity, and be a stimulus for a strong biotechnical industry in the state. The medical school campus com prises the Medical Education Building and the Biomedical Sciences Building, both of which were built predominantly with precast/prestressed concrete. The Medical Education Building is four stories high and has a floor area of 2 (10,600 m ). It houses the 2 114,000 ft educational and office/administrative facilities, a medical library, a multime dia auditorium, and an indoor/outdoor cafe. Figures 9 and 10 show interior views of the building. The Biomedical Sciences Build ing is also four stories high and has a ). 2 2 (17,100 m floor area of 184,000 ft It houses the main laboratories, level 3 biosafety areas, and vibration-sensitive laboratory equipment.

Fig. 1. Northwest elevation of the Medical Education Building.

Fig. 2. An aerial view of the overall project.


Commissioned to plan and design the new medical school campus was architect of record Architects Hawaii Ltd., an architectural firm with wide experience in planning and designing institutional and commercial buildings. Joining the architect was structural enJulyAugust 2007

Fig. 3. North elevation of the Medical Education Building.


Fig. 4. Closer view of the north elevation of the Medical Education Building.

gineer of record SSFM International Inc., which is also well known for its expertise in the structural design of low-rise institutional and commercial buildings. In this project, SSFM pro vided structural engineering and con struction administration services for the new facilities under a design-assist project delivery method with the gen eral contractor. The project was awarded to Hawai ian Dredging/Kajima Construction, the general contactor. The precaster on the project was GPR]V1 Prestress LLC. It played a major role in converting the project from a cast-in-place concrete/steel structure to a precastlprestressed con crete system. In addition, GPRM Pre stress contributed several cost-saving ideas and fabricated and delivered the precast concrete components. Hawai ian Dredging/Kajima Construction per formed the precast concrete erection. Finally, this project could not have been constructed without the valuable input and final approval of the owner, the UH John A. Burns School of Medicine.


Original plans for the Medical Edu cation Building were to use structural steel framing and to enclose the build ing with cold-formed metal stud exteri or walls covered with exterior insulated finishing systems (EIFS). The Biomedi cal Sciences Building was to have been built using a cast-in-place, reinforced concrete system to accommodate the laboratory vibration requirements and a similar EIFS enclosure. Even though the design team had a basic building system in mind, it was still looking for more efficient and eco nomical methods to improve the con struction and aesthetics of the facility. This was especially pertinent to the Biomedical Sciences Building, which had some challenging design criteria regarding vibration. The advantage of working in a design-assist method was having input from the general contractor early in the design phase. The general contractor suggested the use of precast concrete slabs in lieu of a structural steel floor and brought in

Fig. 5. Northeast elevation of the Biomedical Sciences Building.

ig. 6. Plaza courtyard looking north at the Medical Education Building.

precaster GPRM Prestress to provide some budgeting input for an option that used prestressed concrete floor slabs in the Biomedical Sciences Building with cast-in-place concrete construction. With a set of plans in hand, the pre caster provided the requested floor slab pricing but also asked if the design team would consider a budget for an all-precast-concrete system. Further more, the precaster offered to frame out both buildings from the existing drawings and provide a firm budget. Initially, there were some concerns about whether precast concrete walls could achieve the desired look, but when shown samples of finishes available in architectural precast concrete that the precaster had developed, the design architects interest was piqued. After a few meetings to work out the jointing of the facade, articulation options incor porating Hawaiian motif patterns, and color schemes, the design architect was persuaded to seriously consider precast concrete as a viable option, provided the budget was favorable. The structural engineer was open to the idea of using precast concrete as the primary building material pro vided that some of the structural is sues could be resolved with a precast concrete system and it met the budget constraints. In particular, the struc tural engineer was concerned about the vibration requirements in the labo ratories and how precast/prestressed concrete could resolve that challenge. The vibration requirement was satis fied by using a stiff structural system incorporating short, semirestrained, precast concrete double tees. The engineer was also pleased that the entire exterior facade would be utilized as a shear frame for the lateral requirements instead of needing many shear walls inside the structure or a heavily reinforced concrete moment frame that would be difficult to provide the stiffness required for the Biomedi cal Sciences Building. Ultimately, the buildings structural issues were re solved with a precastlprestressed con crete system. The general contractor (Hawaiian Dredging/Kajima Construction) was shown some of the advantages of using an all-precast-concrete system, such as single-source responsibility for the
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Fig. 7. Plaza courtyard looking west at the Biomedical Sciences Building.

Fig. 8. Exterior view of the atrium lobby of the Medical Education Building.

Table 1. Number and Dimensions of Precast/Prestressed Concrete Components

Precast/Prestressed Component

Medical Education Building Niuutnber or Amount Dimensions

24in.deepx7ft 4 in. wide x 60 ft long l8in.deepx7ft ft 4 in. wide x long 156

Biomedical Sciences Building

Dimensions 24in.deepx7ft4 in. wide x 35 ft long 24in.deepx7ft4 in. wide x 32 ft long 24in.deepx7ft4 in. wide x 50 ft long 32in.deepx7ft4 in. widex 39ftlong

Number or Amount 186

Double tees

165 93 60

Inverted-tee beams and rectangular beams Columns Stair core walls and stair units

28 in. wide x 36 in. deep 12 in. wide x 24 in. deep 20 in. square Three-floor stairs Four-floor stairs 16 in. thick octagonal piles, 60 ft long 8 in. thick x 14 ft highx22ftlong 8in.thickxl4ft highx 30 ft long

1037 linear ft

28 in. wide x 36 in. deep 12 in. wide x 24 in. deep 20 in. square
Three-floor stairs

4151 linear ft

633 linear ft 2 1 22,000 linear ft 76 56

1904 linear ft 2 1 22,000 linear ft 105 12 40 12 6 6 11 2 6085 ft 880 linear ft

Four-floor stairs 16 in. thick octagonal piles, 60 ft long 8 in. thick x 17 ft highx22ftlong 8in.thickxl7ft highx 3oftlong 8in.thickxl7ft high x 11 ft long


Wall panels

l6in.thickxl7ft high x 29 ft long l6in.thickxl7ft high x 19 ft long l6in.thickxl7ft highx l6ftlong Healing plants panel, 12 in. thick x 9 ft high x 21 ft long

Slabs Soffit girders

Note: I in.


6 in. thick 28 in. wide x 12 in. deep

2 total were used in the Biomedical Sciences Building. About 47,000 ft 2 total of wall panels were used in the Medical Education Building and about 64,500 ft

. 2 2 = 0.093 m 25.4 mm; 1 ft = 0.3048 m; I ft

Building Code with a 2A seismic zone, a site coefficient SD, an 80 mph design wind velocity, and an exposure category D. Figures 11 and 12 show floor plans and elevations of the Medical Educa tion Building and Biomedical Sciences Building. Both the Medical Education Build ing and Biomedical Sciences Build ing used a similar structural building frame, namely, loadbearing precast concrete window-box panel units on the perimeter combined with a doubleJulyAugust 2007

tee flooring system on the interior of the building. The double tees are sup ported along the interior with inverted tees, which in turn rest on columns. Because the buildings are situated on compressible lagoon (marsh) deposits, a deep pile foundation was required. The Medical Education Building is made up of two separate wings joined by a 12-ft-wide (3.7 m) bridge. The floor framing consists of 7 ft 4 in.wide (2.2 m) x 24-in.-deep (610 mm) double tees spanning 60 ft (18 m), with a 3-in.thick (75 mm) topping of cast-in-place

concrete. The double tees are support ed along the interior by 28-in.-wide x 36-in.-deep (710 mm x 914 mm) in verted tees, which sit on 20-in.-square (510 mm) columns. The bridge is constructed of 1 8-in.-deep (460 mm) double tees with a 3-in.-thick (75 mm) topping of cast-in-place concrete. The 8-in.-thick (200 mm), archi tectural precast concrete, loadbearing window-box panels along the perim eter provide bearing support for the precast concrete floors and steel roof framing, and are designed as frame

Fig. 11. Floor plan and elevation of the Medical Education Building.

topping to meet the vibration require ments of the laboratory equipment. The vibration challenge is further dis cussed in the following section. Similar to the Medical Education Building, the loadbearing architectural precast con crete window-box panels provide the main bearing and lateral support for the structure. The thickness of the panels used in the Medical Education BuildJulyAugust 2007

ing ranges from 8 in. to 24 in. thick (200 mm and 610 mm).

One of the challenges faced early in the design stages of the project was to provide an open floor area that could accommodate modular work and office

spaces and also be flexible enough to accommodate future changes in staff space and research requirements. For example, in the case of the Medical Education Building, the original steelframed building would have required columns every 30 ft (9.1 m) at the in tenor bays as well as around the entire perimeter. The architectural facade would then be fabricated with metal


;ig. 12. Floor plan and elevation of the Biomedical Sciences Building.

framing and EIFS to fit between the steel supports. Inmiediately, concerns arose regard ing the durability of such a structure because of its proximity to the ocean. The steel, metal framing, and EIFS would be exposed to possible corrosion and/or moisture problems. Concerns were also raised regarding limitations of available floor space as governed by the column locations. Therefore, to provide a more open and flexible floor space, it became logi cal to use a precast, prestressed concrete system that could provide longer spans. For example, the double tees could span twice as far as the steel beams, from 30 ft to 60 ft (9.1 m to 18.3 m). Also, the number of column lines could be reduced from three rows to one row down the center, thereby reducing the number of columns and column foot ings by nearly half. Following this scheme, the loadbear ing architectural precast concrete pan els would provide the structural vertical gravity support system, the lateral loadresisting system, and the primary ar chitectural facade for the building. The detailed patterns cast into the precast concrete panels are further discussed in Distinguishable Building Features. Another advantage of using precast concrete is that most of the components needed for its manufacture are readily available and that it is also manufac tured locally. This is a more desirable option for the contractor instead of hav ing to import materials from the main land United States or another country. A further challenge the design ers faced was the floor system at the Biomedical Sciences Building, which was originally intended to use a castin-place concrete structure. The floor system in this building was required to meet the strict vibration limitations (2000 micro-in, per sec) of the labo ratory equipment. Consequently, the floor system had to be stiff enough to dampen the vibrations generated from people walking along the corridor and between laboratory stations. A vibra tion amplitude of a 185 lb (84 kg) per son walking 85 paces per minute was used to investigate various concrete topping thicknesses, double-tee depths at various spans, various end restraints, and various concrete strengths.
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Fig. 13. Precast concrete panels with kapa motif,

Fig. 14. Precast concrete panels with

healing plant motif.

Fig. 15. Closeup of precast concrete panel with healing plant motif.

Fig. 16. Viewing of first window-box panels in precasters plant by owner-design team.

cast concrete walls. However, because of weight restrictions of the crane and hauling the panels, the panels were cast with large typical window openings to keep the weight in line with shipping limits and crane capacities and then were infilled with a separate precast concrete panel once the window-box panels were in place.

Planning of the project started in Jan uary 2001 (for a time line, see Table 3). The design of the buildings took about two and a half years, partially because the initial design was converted to a precastJprestressed concrete system but



Fig. 19. First set of all panel types erected at project site. This picture shows the classic loadbearing panel system in place.

also because of the many and varied challenges of a complex project such as this. Clearance of the site and foun dation work began in January 2003. As mentioned previously, because of the poor, marshy site, piles needed to be driven to bedrock. The precaster prepared precast-con crete-component shop drawings from September 2002 to October 2003. Fab rication of the precast concrete compo nents took place at the GPRM Prestress plant in Kapolei from January 2003 to April 2004. Figure 16 shows a win dow-box panel unit being inspected at the plant. The pieces were transported to the project site by tractor-trailer with the special tilt-up arrangement to meet lane width and bridge clearance limita tions (see Fig. 17). Erection of the precast concrete for the Medical Education Building took place from June 2003 to November 2003, fol lowed by erection of the Biomedical Sci ences Building from November 2003 to May 2004. Erection occurred smoothly and with minimal problems. Figures 18 through 21 show vari ous phases of the erection. Figure 22 shows the completed Medical Educa tion Building. The total time of construction of the project was two and a half years from foundation work to landscaping. The Medical Education Building was oc cupied by October 2004, and the Bio medical Sciences Building was opened a year later. The total construction cost for the entire project was about $150 million. This included decorative artwork, land scaping, and other ancillary work. The owner and design-construction team are pleased that they switched the design from structural steel/rein forced concrete to precastlprestressed concrete in order to build the two new medical buildings. The buildings are not only functionally efficient but are also aesthetically beautiful.

The authors acknowledge the archi tect of record, Architects Hawaii Ltd. (AHL), for the planning and design of this project, and in particular Walter H. Muraoka, AlA, ACHA, AHLs princi pal-in-charge; David Bylund, AlA; and

Fig. 20. Erection of double tees at Biomedical Sciences Building.




t. 4 .



Fig. 21. Erection of floor system showing columns, inverted tees, and double tees in place.

Jeff Nakamura, AlA, for their valuable input to this article and project. In addition, the authors thank Gregg Takayama of the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine for permission to publish this article.

Owner: University of Hawai i John A. Burns School of Medicine; Honolulu, Hawaii Architect of Record: Architects Hawaii Ltd.; Honolulu, Hawaii Engineer of Record: SSFM International Inc.; Honolulu, Hawaii General Contractor: Hawaiian Dredging/Kajima Construction; Honolulu, Hawaii Precaster: GPRM Prestress LLC (affiliated with Rocky Mountain Prestress, Hawaii branch); Kapolei, Hawai i Photographer of Finished Buildings: Ed Gross/The Image Group Inc.; Honolulu, Hawai i Photographer of Buildings during Construction: SSFM International Inc., GPRM Prestress LLC, and
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Fig. 22. Northeast elevation of the completed Medical Education Building showing exterior artwork.

Hawaiian Dredging/Kajima Construction Other Awards: 2006 Concrete Achievement Award, sponsored by Hawaiian Cement; New Public!

Government, Project of the Year, NAIOP-Hawaii; GCA Build Hawaii Award of Excellence; and ASID Award of Merit.