Nordstrom at Natick Mall

Nordstrom Uses Precast Concrete System For New Boston Area Stores
Officials at Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. have been using a high-performance architectural precast concrete insulated wall system for its new stores for several years, owing to the benefits it offers. Customers in the Northeast will be able to see that style at the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts, which will see the region’s first Nordstrom’s opening in 2007. The store is the first of four planned for the area.

“We use a standard prototype for our stores across the country, and it includes insulated precast concrete panels,” says Mike Creighton, project manager for Nordstrom. “It’s been done on all coasts and in the Midwest. It’s very successful for us.” Strescon Limited in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, supplied the precast components for this project.

The prototype features cast-in thin brick that is applied during the casting process using form liners, he explains. “The brick is the biggest challenge for us, because we need to get the correct color out of the kiln. It can be difficult to ensure it is uniform.”

The designs vary slightly based on the region of the country and the type of mall in which the store will be located, notes Jim Phillips, project manager for Callison Architects in Seattle, which works with the client and local precasters to specify components for each project. “We may modify the brick color or pattern to help it complement its environment,” he says.

The Natick project features panels that are 9 inches thick, including 2 inches of extruded polystyrene insulation that provides an R-10 insulating value. Two types of panels were used to create the façade, which features #105 Field Stone with Nordstrom White accent brick surrounded by precast concrete accent pieces. The brick is set into a reveal pattern cast into the panels, creating a picture-frame format around the brick. The accent panels feature local sand and aggregates, finished with a light sandblast.

In all, 143 precast panels were supplied to the project, consisting of 101 pieces encompassing 21,800 square feet with inlaid brick and 42 additional panels totaling 5,200 square feet of panels with the sandblast finish.

Nordstrom uses the panels for a variety of reasons, Creighton says. “It’s an economical system, particularly when you consider that it provides a quicker installation. We can complete the exterior on this type of store in six weeks, which cuts down our construction period extensively, saving us money. In addition, it lets us be watertight quicker to protect the interior. It works really well, particularly in cold-climate stores like this.”

The high-performance architectural precast concrete insulated wall system is used in stores around the country, he notes, including Florida, where he has been supervising a number of new-store openings. “We’ve used this system in all of those stores, even though there are fewer worries about the temperature range. The system helps even in warm-weather locations to keep out heat gain.”

The project is on a fast-track schedule, with precast components to be erected by November, with the store to open in September 2007. The speed of erecting the store’s façade will help ensure the store meets its goals.

Additional Nordstrom stores are planned for the area in coming years, Creighton notes. The Burlington Mall in Burlington, Massachusetts, will open in 2008, while two more will open in the following years. “By 2010, we’ll have four stores in the Boston area,” he says. All of them will feature the high-performance architectural precast concrete insulated wall system.

A total precast parking structure is also being built adjacent to the store. The garage was engineered by Capoabianco & Associates, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts, the architect was Add, Inc., Boston, and Dimeo Construction Company, Providence, Rhode Island was the Construction Manager. Unistress Corporation, Pittsfield, Massachusetts was the fabricator. The project was built on a fast track schedule.

Project Details










Nordstrom at Natick Mall


Callison Architects, Inc., Seattle, WA


Coffman Engineers, Inc., Seattle, WA


IBEX Construction, New York, NY

Sq. Footage:




Architectural Precast Elements:

• 143 high-performance architectural insulated precast wall panels
• 101 high-performance architectural insulated precast wall panels feature cast-in thin brick
• 42 high-performance architectural insulated precast wall panels incorporating local sand and aggregates, finished with a light sandblast


#105 Field Stone


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