Hartford Hospital - Hudson Street Employee Parking Garage
When the architects at Perkins+Will began brainstorming design ideas for the new nine-story employee parking structure at Hartford Hospital, they started by asking themselves how to create an evolutionary transformation of a modern, late-1940s hospital into a definable campus image that can also be a beacon of safety and excellence in service to its community.
Precast Concrete Creates Textural Surface Facade
“While traditional garages have a flat concrete panel, the design team was interested in introducing a sense of scale and texture into the system,” says Anthony Caputo, senior project designer with Perkins+Will in New York. They also wanted to incorporate shingling concepts usually found in systems of slate roof and wood cladding to achieve perceived dynamic texture which changes over the course of the day through shadow.
Precast concrete allowed them to achieve these design goals in an economical and versatile package, says Mark DiPietro at Unistress Corporation, the precast concrete producer located in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. “Precast concrete provided the opportunity to develop a unique look and still get some economy in the plant by way of repetition,” DiPietro says. “The wide choice of colors and texture allows the building to blend with the existing neighborhood.”
The designers used white modular precast concrete as its primary cladding system, taking advantage of the panels’ ability to span long distances, which was crucial for the lengthy facades on the east and west sides of the structure, Caputo says. “It effectively economizes the concrete structural system of the garage.”
Ribbed charcoal precast concrete panels are positioned between expanses of white precast concrete to further mitigate the broad scale of the facade. Other areas were treated with a terracotta-colored metal panel, to permit airflow and to reference the color and pattern of nearby brick buildings.
“The white precast both evokes and evolves the existing hospital’s white brick material by introducing exposed aggregates that create a textural surface and reacts to daylight by subtly shifting in shadow, shade and texture,” Caputo says.
A three-dimensional fold was added to further enhance the play of shadows on the facade and to create channels for rain water that will mitigate the unsightly streaking that typically occurs on flat panel systems. The roof surface is a similarly light color, to reduce the heat island effect that can deteriorate natural habitats for wildlife and insects.
“The building’s unique facade raised the sense of accomplishment in our manufacturing department,” DiPietro says. “Though most of the product is structural 6000 psi, it’s also architectural, and because precast requires very little maintenance it can be washed or sand blasted years later and returned to its original state.”