25 Channel Center
Architectural precast concrete panels with inset brick 92,000 pieces of brick in all have been used to clad the exterior of 25 Channel Center in Boston, a 12-story condominium building. Part of the $400-million Channel Center mixed-use development, the building is wedged between two existing old-brick factory buildings, creating a tight site and the need to blend the new with the old.
The development's plan calls for renovating 14 historic buildings and replacing four others, requiring a sensitive approach to the new construction so it blends with the existing structures. The 76-unit 25 Channel Center project, costing approximately $17 million, features a cast-in-place frame with glass curtain wall and the inset-brick precast panels on its façade. Bruner/Cott & Associates is the architectural firm on the project, with R.F. Walsh serving as program manager and A.J. Martini Inc. serving as construction manager.
The precast concrete components, fabricated and erected by Strescon Limited in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, encompass 9,400 square feet in 175 pieces, including flat panels, spandrels and column covers with brick returns. Precast was selected for a number of reasons, particularly the speed with which the panels could be erected versus typical masonry construction. The amount of thin-brick precast panels that can be erected in one day would take approximately 33 days for traditional masons to complete, according to a spokesman for Strescon Limited.
Thin-brick panels offer additional benefits, including minimizing moisture problems by eliminating most of the joints and setting the brick into hard concrete instead of mortar. That results in fewer maintenance needs as well. Job safety during erection is improved due to the speed and ease of handling, and few weather conditions will stop construction as can happen with brick.