Science Park Parking Garage
The 2010, 14th Annual Connecticut Building Congress recently presented the Science Park parking structure with an Award of Merit and it is no wonder, its more then a parking structure, it is the shining light in the redevelopment of a tough neighborhood. The area had once held 18,000 jobs in and around the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. Now, mostly abandoned, the area is beginning to see the twinkle of new development as Science Park is taking shape. This project is instrumental to the development of this area right now and well into the future.
Located on the border between existing residential and new business development, this parking structure would have to incorporate an urban feeling that would increase pedestrian activity and nurture a safe and secure feeling. “Positioning the footprint of the garage on the site was a big challenge” according to Ken Russo, Director of Preconstruction at KBE Building Corporation. It would need to accommodate green space as well as sidewalk requirements set by the community. The final design, gracefully bridges the visual gap between residential and business without being overwhelming and Russo attributed the design and meeting the deadline to the careful planning of the team whose motto was “lets just do it once.”
This 431,453 sq. ft., five level parking structure not only addresses the parking need with 1,199 spaces, but the first level includes 25,000 sq. ft. of retail space while on the south end is a beautiful park adding to the friendly atmosphere. This multi-use project is designed to engage and encourage consumers and businesses alike.
BL Companies of Meriden, Connecticut is both architect and engineer on the project and when asked “Why precast concrete?”, Rainer Muhlbauer, AIA, LEED AP, and Principal Architect replied that, “precast concrete is a natural choice for parking garages due to its modular nature, corrosion resistance, and efficiency of erection...”. Other advantages include unequaled structural capabilities and design flexibility. Exterior panels on the store fronts have the look and feel of brick providing a durable solution effectively camouflaging the first 2 of the 5 levels of the parking, making the entire building less imposing and more inviting.
Russo believes that bringing Blakeslee Prestress, the precast concrete producer, to the project early on, aided in the design process and their cost impact analysis as the plans came together kept the project within budget. Erection started December 25, 2008 and was completed May 8, 2009. In less then 4-1/2 months (mostly winter), 1,149 precast concrete members were produced, delivered, and erected, on time, within budget and with no surprises. Design flexibility, cost control and scheduling are just some of the reasons Russo believes precast concrete was the best solution for this project.
Muhlbauer also adds that precast concrete address parking structure security concerns by “...allowing for long spans, which create open visibility...”. Long lines of sight with fewer obstructions means better visibility for people. The addition of glass stair towers dissipates the feeling of being closed in or isolated when using stairs or waiting for an elevator. Being able to see out as well as be seen makes occupants feel less isolated.
Sustainable building design is not a new concept, but an evolving one that engages concern for the environment with a focus on use now and years from now. With that in mind, parking structures usually don’t have roofs, but this one does creating a sunny, two-acre platform for future installment of photovoltaics and includes a separate electrical room. There are even parking spaces with junction boxes ready for the future installation of charging stations for electric cars. To top it off, if you have bike paths, you expect bikers and this parking structure has two indoor bike parking areas. “The building will survive 100+ years of use and serve this neighborhood proudly” according to Russo.
Times change and needs change... parking structure design must change. Precast concrete offers the design flexibility to embrace aesthetics, enhance function, while incorporating sustainability right now as well as for the future.
New Haven, CT
Structural Precast Elements:
• 584 Double Tees
• 33 Girders
• 40 Columns
• 46 Shear walls
• 52 Wall columns
• 124 Spandrels
• 36 Stairs
• 51 Solid Slabs
• 183 Wall Panels