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new two-story, 50,000 ft2 (4600 m2) commercial office

building that captured the essence of Neo-French

Classical architecture while staying within a fixed market
rate cost for this type of structure. The precaster
was brought in at an early design stage to work with
the architect and owner
to develop a very
detailed, typical selfsupporting
wall panel
10 ft (3 m) wide x
34 ft (10.4 m) high.
Great care was taken
to build a mold that
could be used over
and over again, but
would give the project
a wonderful sense
of detail and richness
(Fig. 2.1.5[b] and [c]).
Because of the repetitive
nature of the panels
and their ease of
installation, the precast
concrete system
ended up costing less
than brick and steel
construction. The result of using this architectural precast
concrete system was a beautifully detailed Class
A office building that was 90% leased within four
Coordinated design, complete dimensioning, and clear
specifications (see Chapter 6) are also important factors in
obtaining optimum quality and economy using architectural
precast concrete. In the preparation of the contract
documents, the selection and description of materials
and performance requirements should be clearly stated.
They should not be left open to variable interpretations,
however nor should they be overly restrictive.
The contract documents should make reference
to the PCI Manual for Quality Control for Plants and
Production of Architectural Precast Concrete Products
(MNL-117), which includes Category A-1 certification
of the production facility, as the industry guideline for
production of architectural precast concrete elements.
Exceptions to this standard or specific requirements
should be clearly set forth in the contract documents.
Understanding architectural precast costs is essential
to designing affordable faades that enhance the
overall building design while meeting the owner s budget.
Understanding the architectural precast concrete
manufacturing process can help achieve design goals
and control costs.
During a project s conceptual stage, the designer has
many variables to consider that affect precast concrete
cost. A local precaster can assist with preliminary design
and budget estimating early in the project s design
phase. Piece size and repetition typically have the most
significant cost impacts. In addition, material selection,
textures, surface geometry, cross-section, erection details,

jobsite access conditions, and connections can

affect cost. The custom, sculptured designs that are
possible with precast concrete may be achieved within
a limited budget by selecting appropriate aggregates
and textures combined with repetitive units and efficient
production and erection details. Input from the
precaster can be beneficial in developing options for
creating an economical design that also satisfies the
designer s aesthetic requirements.
During preliminary design, a precast concrete project
can be preliminarly budgeted on a square-foot (m2) basis.
Although this provides a starting point, it is recommended
that the designer seek additional estimating
assistance from a precaster. Working with a precaster
on a specific project will help determine a final budget
that is more accurate than a ballpark price per square
foot (m2). A cost per square foot (m2) can be misleading
to general contractors and architects because
square foot (m2) quantities are calculated differently
from precaster to precaster depending on the take-off
procedures. Also, total work scope requirements such
as site restrictions, work scope inclusions, and detail
manufacturing requirements are initially unknown.
Budget pricing from local precasters, submitted in
writing and including assumptions, will aid design efforts
from schematic design through final contract documents.
As a project evolves from preliminary sketches
through working drawings, the precaster(s) should be
informed of all changes.
Pricing accuracy depends on the information provided
to the precaster s estimator. This discussion on design
economy uses square foot (m2) prices to describe a designer s
precast concrete options. All prices are for relative
comparison only and should not be used to make
decisions for individual projects.
The design and detailing of the precast concrete units
should reflect good production concepts. Consultation
with a precaster at an early stage will be helpful. The
designer needs to define the shape of the units and
their appearance.
2.2.1 Repetition
A key element to cost-effective production is minimizing
the number of molds and mold changes, and maximizing
the number of castings from each mold, particularly
if the molds have shape. Efficiency and economy
are achieved by making it possible for similar, if not
identical, shapes to be produced from the same basic
(master) mold, and by minimizing the time required to
disassemble a mold and reassemble it for the manufacture
of the next piece. Figure 2.2.1(a) shows the master
mold for the production of the arch member panels for
the project in Fig. 3.3.18(a), page 121. The largest segment
of the arch is shown in Fig. 2.2.1(b).
Careful planning is necessary to achieve good repetition
in the design without sacrificing design freedom.
For example, many design variations may be developed
by incorporating two basic architectural panel
types (spandrel panels and floor-to-floor panels with