When R. D. Scinto, Inc., sought to create a noteworthy structure that would become the centerpiece of an existing development in Shelton, CT, the commercial real estate development company turned to precast concrete.
The decision resulted in The Renaissance, a 17-story luxury residence that employs 138,800 square feet of architectural precast cladding. Coreslab Structures (Conn.) Inc., of Thomaston, Connecticut, produced the precast elements.
The Renaissance, which opens in 2008, includes 10 stories of rental units, six stories of condominiums, a rooftop pool, fitness center and other amenities. In fact, the high-profile building has already become the focal point of Corporate Park, a large, mixed-use development includes seven commercial buildings, parking structures, restaurants, a highly regarded sculpture garden, and more.
R. D. Scinto, Inc., a $200 million organization, operates a portfolio of more than 2.5 million square feet of space. Robert D. Scinto, the company's chairman, believes The Renaissance will come to be known as a landmark.
Designing a “showcase” Scinto said he wanted to create a showcase for Corporate Park - what he called a “generational type of investment.” Because The Renaissance was designed to be the focal point of a large development and to house upscale tenants, the building's aesthetics were critical.
“Class ‘A’ tenants only go to class ‘A’ buildings, so we needed to create a design that appealed to those tenants, ”Scinto said. “With precast, we were able to achieve a very sharp design architecturally and to maintain a degree of flexibility.”
Scinto said he envisioned an exterior that would give the appearance of limestone. He also wanted to create sharpness at the building's corners by incorporating elements designed to create shadow-play that would result from the building's southern exposure.
In fact, the project architect for The Renaissance, Stephen Forneris, AIA, said the developer came to the project with a very strong understanding of precast systems. Forneris said the choice of precast enhances the building's performance over time without forfeiting aesthetics.
“Why would you go with limestone when you can have something like this that will function much better?” Forneris said.
Forneris, of TPG Architecture in New York, said he was amazed at the flexibility that precast offered during the design process. Architectural precast panels offered an almost endless number of textures, colors, patterns and finishes.
The inherent flexibility of precast enabled the project management team to achieve a number of aesthetic effects. In addition, precast concrete offered benefits during construction. For example, Scinto called the construction time “phenomenal,” noting that the building contractors were able to finish putting the “skin” on a nearly 140,000-sq-ft structure in five weeks.
In addition, Scinto noted that precast offers a cost benefit when compared to some alternatives like glass, which is more expensive and involves a longer construction period. He also said that precast enables the developer to avoid the staging and waterproofing necessary with other systems.
“When you can put the skin on a 150,000-sq-ft building in five or six weeks, like we did with The Renaissance, there's nothing that compares to that,” Scinto said.
He noted that precast also offers “single-source accountability.” Because the producer is so integrally involved with the project, that producer bears responsibility for any challenges that arise - an important benefit to the developer. Scinto said Coreslab's performance on The Renaissance and on other R.D. Scinto projects has been excellent.