Ninth Square Garage
Blending two new apartment and retail properties and their parking decks with existing historic buildings in a major rehabilitation project takes the proper mix of art and science. That was the key challenge facing the designers of the Ninth Square multi use complex in New Haven, Connecticut, on a site that was part of a historic redevelopment neighborhood.
"The intent was to unify the neighborhood and match the existing scale and materials," notes Carl Wies, project architect at Herbert S. Newman & Partners in New Haven. The Developer also wanted to attract pedestrian traffic by adding the first-floor retail spaces. All of the designs had to be approved by the State Historic Commission, creating a strong need to balance commercial and historic success.
The design incorporates precast concrete bearing walls, shear walls, and floor planks, combining those with a brick exterior that meets the locale's historic needs. A key advantage offered by this design was the speed with which the project could be erected, cutting down on loan payments and interest. In all, some 779 precast components were erected in 59 days. This includes structures for a five-story apartment building with 24 units and 4,000 square feet of retail space, a towered building with seven- and nine-story levels containing 188 apartment and 17,500 square feet of retail, plus two all-precast parking garages offering space for 628 cars.
"Precast concrete provided much-needed economy and time savings," Wies notes. "It also offered enhanced durability, quality, and uniformity over cast-in-place concrete. Because precast can be erected in any weather, work continued through a very harsh winter with virtually no problems." He estimated that a cast-in-place design would have added three months to the schedule.
The precast components used some distinctive shapes to achieve the design goals, including casting some wall units in sections and bolting them together at the site to avoid additional casting and shipping costs, notes Robert Vitelli, senior vice president at the Blakeslee Prestress in Branford, CT, the precaster. In addition, some pieces have slotted inserts cast into them to pick up relieving angles that support the brick facing.
"Although precast concrete has made its biggest impact in parking structures and other non-residential structures," says Weis, "this project demonstrates that it can provide compelling economic, structural and aesthetic advantages in multi-unit residential construction."
Structural Precast Elements:
• Shear Walls
• Hollowcore Floor Planks
• 779 Precast Components Total