Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Load-bearing Architectural Precast Concrete

It's Not Just for Parking Garages

Marshall Bassett, PE
Gate Precast Engineering & Sales

Did you know that architectural precast can be designed as a structural component and can become an integral part of the building structure? Utilizing architectural precast concrete allows the designer to take advantage of the unmatched design freedom that precast concrete affords.  And due to the inherent strength of the material, many designers are surprised to learn that we can incorporate the design freedom they desire into a key building component.

Load-bearing precast concrete wall panels, window units and spandrel panels work as the building structure to take the structural loads without the need for perimeter columns, and in many cases also act as shear walls, simplifying the lateral load analysis.

Load-bearing precast concrete can also be designed to take advantage of the exceptional thermal performance of insulated concrete sandwich panels.  By incorporating insulation and conduit in the precast wall system, many times the need for interior build out (steel studs, insulation and drywall) is eliminated. As with “sandwich” panel cladding the load-bearing precast exterior wythe is produced with an architectural precast mix and finish and the exposed interior wythe is steel troweled, which creates a smooth, durable finish ready for paint.  If designed correctly in the schematic design, this can create more leasable space.

Finally, using load-bearing architectural precast wall panels speeds construction considerably.  In the interest of economic design, panels should be made as large as practical.  By making large panels, the number of pieces is reduced which means fewer joints, erection costs are lower and the number of connections are reduced as well. This means the building can be occupied quicker and also eliminates several other trades that are needed for a complete package with other systems. Get involved with Gate early to see if these integrated solution design benefits can help you on your next project.

Contact GATE –

For more details, visit
NAS Aviation and Rescue Center
Woodlawn Elementary School

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PCI Unveils Two Innovative Products Beneficial to High Speed Rail Projects

US Transportation Department announced last week that 54 high-speed rail projects in 23 states will share $2.4 billion to continue the development of America’s first high-speed intercity passenger rail service.  $800 Million is dedicated to Florida’s Tampa to Orlando High-Speed Rail Corridor.

On the heels of this announcement, Florida’s Department of Transportation is hosting a HSR Industry and Developer Forum today, Nov. 9, at Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando, FL. The forum provides an opportunity to showcase to business groups, economic development organizations and federal, state and local officials highlights on the project and the economic opportunities which could take place surrounding the stations.
Following today's FDOT’s Industry Forum, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) will unveil two new, innovative products -- a precast/prestressed curved tub girder and a crash barrier wall system. These products are especially beneficial to high-speed rail projects, providing speed of construction, durability, and design flexibility while minimizing environmental impact. 

Florida is on tract to open America’s first HSR express service between Tampa and Orlando in 2015. Gate, a leader in prestressed/precast concrete manufacturing, is available to discuss any early design questions you might have regarding the innovative crash barrier wall system and curved tub girder. Feel free to email us at

For more information:

Interactive Maps of the Florida High Speed Rail: Tampa to Orlando

US Transportation Announces $2.4 Billion for High Speed Rail Projects
receives $800 million for the Tampa to Orlando High-Speed Rail Corridor

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Insulated Precast Wall Systems Rise in Popularity to Meet Higher Green Building Standards

It is clear that Sustainable Design and Construction of buildings is a growing priority in our country. GSA recently upgraded its requirement for LEED certification in all new federal building construction and substantial renovation projects to GOLD.

Many Municipalities and Universities are following suit with similar requirements and large corporations are also embracing LEED to reduce energy, and real estate costs while showing environmental responsibility.

Over the past five years, Gate Precast has seen an increase in the use of its High Performance Pre-Insulated Architectural Precast Wall Systems at Universities, Health-care Facilities and in Governmental structures. The market demand for this exterior system, which optimizes energy efficiency offering the thermal mass effect in both the exterior and interior wythes of concrete, will no doubt increase as more owners invest in higher green building standards.

There are several LEED-recognized strategies in this system including Recycling (cement reduction through supplementary cementitious materials), minimization of construction waste and the use of regional materials. In addition, the wythe of insulation means less concrete which reduces weight, lessens crane and shipping costs and reduces superstructure and foundation.

Precast Concrete Systems inherently offer unlimited color and texture options, quality controlled production offsite, speed of construction and blast design capabilities.

Check out these Case Studies at see why pre-insulated precast concrete wall systems are growing in popularity.

CUA Opus Hall, Washington, DC

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN

Centralia High School, Illinois

NAS Aviation and Rescue Facility, Pensacola, FL

UK Patient Care Facility, Lexington, KY