Minnesota Veterans Home
In 2011, the Minnesota Veterans Home began planning the design of a 100-bed skilled nursing care replacement facility on their 53-acre campus on the banks of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. The initial design concept developed included a conventional masonry wall system which was selected specifically to meet the State’s requirement to be compatible with the historic civil war era architecture found on the campus. Five of the buildings on campus are designated on the National Register of Historic Places and are under the jurisdiction of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Another guiding requirement set forth by the State of MN and the Department of Veterans Affairs was that the interior concept be developed using a patient centered care model which would offer amenities and conveniences that had not currently been provided to Veterans, but that they certainly deserved.
As the design concept progressed, it became evident that some design compromises would need to be made in order for the project to remain in budget. Therefore, the design team sought a more economical exterior building design solution with the goal of utilizing building materials that were less field labor intensive than a masonry wall system, while also being sensitive to the historic aesthetic goals of the project.
The design team contacted Wells Concrete to consult with them to find an alternative for architectural precast insulated wall panels with cast-in masonry thin brick and integrally cast-on architectural features, such as projecting window sills, bands and lintels. The team quickly determined that architectural precast was a more than acceptable solution that would keep the project within budget and on schedule during the winter months of construction.
However, having limited familiarity with the complicated architectural precast insulated wall panel product desired, the design team required some convincing in order to have confidence that precast could meet the stringent design requirements.
The Wells Concrete sales and drafting departments combined efforts to provide the design team with early panel layout drawings, 3D wall sections, and brick and precast samples. Together the design team and the vendor carefully worked through every detail. Eventually it became apparent that the architectural precast was indeed the right choice for this project.
“One of the great successes of this project was the way we were able to retain the finer design details that really tied the building to the campus. The collaboration between the design team, general contractor and precast provider was critical in developing the traditional brick look with the headers and banding that referenced other historical buildings on the campus. The precast fabricator helped the design team understand how best to leverage the fabrication and erection process to get the most out of the budget. The final detailing and panelization strategies made all the difference.”
–Steve Oliver, Mohagen Hansen
In early 2016, the Minnesota Veterans Home campus opened the doors to the newly named Building #21 to deserving and respected Veterans. The entire design team and representatives from Wells Concrete are proud to have played a part in providing an honorable residential environment for many of our nation’s heroes.
“The decision to use a precast panel was originally driven by the projects’ budgetary requirements. The design team soon learned of the aesthetic and structural versatility the product offered. Along with enabling the team to develop a solution that fit the vernacular of the historic surroundings, the construction schedule was shortened by at least 4 months.”
–Mike Jandro, PMP, State Program Administrative Manager, Principal, Minnesota Dept. of Veterans Affairs, Central Office
Total production was 110 days on multiple forms, plus 25 days of setup. However, production duration was only 35 days including setups. Wells Concrete erected this in early September into late December of the same year, with a two week holiday break. It was below freezing during erection, and CMU/CIP and brick requires tenting. If masonry would have been used for this project, it would have taken 3,500 hours or four months for just the brick and another three months for block.
These numbers are based on a five man crew working at a rate of 1,300 brick per day. Not factoring in their work off of scaffold four stories in the air. With this in mind, total masonry would have taken eight months, however the masonry would not have been able to support the loads from the steel that the precaster carried, which would have incurred added cost. Finally, there would have been added cost for temp heat and enclosure for the masonry.
One of the key design challenges associated with this project was tailoring the precast architectural insulated wall panel system to a masonry design, while maintaining all of the masonry historic features.
Along with this challenge was developing a precast building system design that had the appearance of a historic masonry building with the expected three dimensional details in order for the building to blend in with the adjacent masonry buildings on the campus. A balance had to be achieved that provided three-dimensional quality of historic buildings with the fiscal economy required in face down precast form.
The steel framing and coordination for all precast embeds was a challenge as well, even with the complexity of the challenge, there were no mistakes or fixes were required. Each floor is structural steel framing, with a topping poured on decking.
Utilizing a precast panel building design system not only allowed the design team to achieve the aesthetic the client was seeking, it proved to be an economical selection as well. This solution also offered a great deal of design features through physical, texture, and color relief on the walls and the banding of the precast panels. Broad areas of thin brick covered the upper floors while smooth precast was used at the base, on horizontal bands, and on window lintels and arches.
The precast architectural insulated wall panel system improved the over-all project schedule by 6 months.
The decision to use a precast panel was originally driven by the projects’ budgetary requirements. The design team soon learned of the aesthetic and structural versatility the product offered. Along with enabling the team to develop a solution that fit the vernacular of the historic surroundings, the construction schedule was shortened by at least 4 months as there was no waiting for individual trades to be coordinated on site.
This project was constructed during winter conditions that would have required an elaborate heated temporary enclosure if this would have been traditional masonry construction. A construction crane was shared by both the steel erectors and the precast erectors who seamlessly provided both structure and bracing.
The precast product also offered many long-term cost benefits in its ability to improve thermal performance, reduce long term life cycle costs and increase the service life and durability of the building shell. The strength of this product will be extremely beneficial given Minnesota’s climate and temperature range. Lastly, the precast architectural insulated wall panel system provided a 25% cost savings over the original masonry cavity wall design.
The precast architectural insulated wall panel system provided a 25% cost savings over the original masonry cavity wall design, while also improving on the project schedule.