College of the Holy Cross Parking Facility
The proposed site for this new parking facility was adjacent to the front entrance and main gateway of a traditional college, creating a major concern for its appearance. This prominent position on campus demanded adherence to strict aesthetic standards while maintaining cost effectiveness and meeting a firm completion deadline. In addition to these conditions a maximum level of passive security was required to ensure the safety of the students, faculty and staff patrons, as well as to provide a strong connection between the upper and lower parts of a hillside campus. Another restrictive element to the site is that it is sandwiched between a stadium structure and roadway on one side, and a steep and wooded hillside on the other, from the top of which a vehicular bridge was requested.
The parking structure is set at the base of the hillside and respects the existing grading in order to minimize excavation work, with cut and fill being relatively balanced. In order to limit the structure's impact on the stately main campus above, its height was restricted to diminish its visibility above the upper roadway where an arched bridge to the top level is positioned. The generous main stair and elevator tower acts as a strong link connecting the lower campus, stadium, and neighboring parts of the city with the academic quad and dormitories of the upper campus.
The project team quickly arrived at the decision to utilize an economical precast, prestressed concrete frame. It was only in this manner that the design could incorporate long-span members to achieve a great degree of openness while at the same time providing an architectural facade that could take on the nature and appearance of classic limestone. The ability to articulate load-bearing precast concrete components with refined architectural forms and to easily accommodate brick veneer was a great advantage when blending into the older community of buildings on campus. Pre-topped double tees with corrosion inhibiting admixture were selected as the floor structure for long term durability, cost- effectiveness, and speed of erection.
Due to the fact that a somewhat traditional design was desired, the appearance of a ramped structure on the exterior wall was discouraged. Therefore a system for layering the elements of the facade was developed through alternating the positions of the spandrels from interior to exterior. In addition, and in order to break down the massing of the long-span parking structure module, a layer of grille work was added to the openings between the brick piers and under the arching spandrels at the roof tier. The careful integration of all of these elements gives the building a sophisticated hierarchy of forms and patterns that is a significant aspect of the traditional architecture on campus. Articulation of the masonry work included limestone-like precast concrete banding, lintels, sills, and caps which further blended with the collegiate style of the adjacent brick and limestone campus buildings.
This parking structure is an example of the versatility and advantages available to the designer when using precast concrete. Its strength and durability was effectively combined with the ability to provide structural elements that can incorporate fine architectural features. The result is a complex project that was efficiently constructed and precise in its detailing. The appropriate choice to utilize precast, prestressed concrete for this parking facility afforded the college a building that blends successfully with its historic surroundings, provides a safe secure environment for patrons, and can be easily maintained for many years into the future.