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Concrete Technical Brochure

Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute

The Canadian Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute is proud to provide you
with this brochure and trust you will find it beneficial in assisting you with the
design of all future Architectural Precast Concrete projects.

This brochure illustrates the wide range of products available from the precast
producers across Canada, and their product capabilities and diversity. The focus
of this literature illustrates the use and design of Architectural Precast Concrete.

Architectural Precast is the cladding material of choice whenever superior

aesthetics or construction economy is required. Precast cladding combines the
benefits of high durability, low maintenance, excellent fire resistance and
energy efficiency. All precast is factory manufactured ensuring consistent

The versatility provided by Architectural Precast is appropriate for use on high-

rise office buildings, where the emphasis is on prestige and aesthetic appeal,
low-rise industrial structures, where economy and durability are paramount.

Aesthetic Versatility
The true benefit of Architectural Precast is found in the virtually limitless
architectural effects that can be achieved with its use.

Custom made forms are used to create precast panels in the exact size and
shape utilizing reveals, joint patterns and other architectural detailing specified
by the Designer.

Specific colour effects can be achieved by using various coloured sands,

cements and aggregates.

Granite, marble, stone, tile or brick veneers can be cast into the panels at the
time of fabrication, allowing the designer to achieve prestigious visual effects
at minimal costs.

Textures can be customized through the use of chemical retarders, acid washes
and sandblasting.

Combinations of the above finishes can be realized within individual panels.

The Economical Choice

Architectural Precast wall panels are economical to produce, erect and
maintain. Early consultation with a precast producer will assure the most cost-
effective approach.

Rain Screen & Modified Rain Screen Principles
Architectural precast cladding when combined with a properly designed joint is an effective
barrier for both the infiltration of air and rain, and the exfiltration of air and moisture.

The concrete panel itself will not permit the passage of water by the forces that cause it (ie.
momentum of the rain drop, capillarity, gravity and air pressure). Hence, although concrete
provides a completely impervious outer skin, it is essential that these same forces be
controlled at joints between precast components and precast and other interfacing building
materials such as windows, curtain walls, masonry, etc.

This can be done most readily by providing an air chamber behind the wetted face and
ensuring that the air pressure in this chamber is always equal to that of the face of the wall.
For this balance of pressures to occur it is essential that there be a good air seal on the
building side of the chamber and suitable openings to the outside.

The better approach to wall construction is the TOTAL PRECAST WALL which combines all
the essentials of the rain screen principle but none of the draw backs. This total wall is
comprised of an outer wythe (precast concrete or stone veneer), a vented and pressure
equalized cavity, rigid insulation (to provide the necessary thermal resistance) and an inner
concrete wythe which fulfills the structural and the air vapour barrier requirements for the
performance of a complete wall system.

An effective rain-screen and modified rain screen design relies on three factors:
- an interior airtight seal
- a vented air chamber or vented air space
- an exterior rain barrier, properly vented

Rain Screen System

With a true rain screen system, the non-insulated precast wall panels merely act as a veneer
providing a “rain screen” for those materials behind which comprise the air/vapour barrier,
insulation component and structural support system of the wall assembly. The exterior of the
precast joints are caulked and vented to act as an initial moisture block and provide a finished
appearance. The cavity between the back face of the precast and exterior face of the
insulation is flashed and vented to drain any moisture to the exterior of the system and to
encourage the exchange of air in the cavity to dissipate any condensation. The major problem
with a single face precast rain screen panel system is the fact that the precast concrete is
installed after the completion of the building envelope. The connectors must penetrate the
insulated air/vapour assembly in order to connect to the structural supports. Due care must
be taken to ensure these connection pockets are properly sealed and made weather tight after
precast installation.

Total precast rain screen panels are manufactured with a facing of precast or stone veneer,
an air gap, insulation and a structural concrete backing panel.

Modified Rain Screen
Modified rain screen assemblies have been successfully used for many years. Simply put,
modified rain screen is the development of the previously mentioned rain screen principles,
but within the confines of the precast joints. The back face of the precast joints are caulked
tight, developing the air/vapour barrier and the exterior joints are caulked but allow for the
exchange of air through the introduction of weep holes and breather openings. The result is
an air chamber within the precast joint, vented to the outside. With air chamber pressure
equalization to the exterior pressure, there is no force to drive rain into the joint. Any
moisture entering the joint will cling to the joint walls and then be drained out by the
transverse seal. Insulation is applied to the back surface of the precast, along with an air
vapour barrier and the finished interior surface which then completes the wall assembly.

Stone, Granite or Marble Faced

Precast Wall Assemblies
In addition to providing weather tight caulked joints at precast to precast real joints,
consideration must be given to the proper caulking of veneer panels. Only one properly
vented exterior bead is required between veneer panels. At precast panel joints the following
beads of caulking are all required to complete the assembly: an interior seal (precast to
precast), a vented exterior transverse seal (precast to precast), and a vented bead of caulking,
veneer panel to veneer panel.

Modification of the panel profile, panel edges, knowledgeable use of panel connectors, proper
joint widths, and the correct use/application of sealant materials are all essential for the
proper performance of a rain screen or a modified rain screen joint system.

Please contact your local precast manufacturer, joint sealant supplier and professional precast
sealant applicator who have proven expertise in the above applications, for more specific
details, or for information about fire rated joint assemblies.

1. Use of three aggregates on a white

1 background matrix. “Deep exposure”

using a form retarder.

2. Use of two aggregates on a white

background matrix. “Deep exposure”
using a form retarder.

3. Limestone aggregate on a grey

background matrix. “Deep exposure”

using a form retarder.

4. Alabama aggregate on a white

background matrix. “Deep exposure”
using a form retarder.

5. Use of two aggregates on a white

background matrix. “Light exposure”.
Light sandblast finish.

3 6. Use of two aggregates on a white

background matrix. “Medium
exposure”. Medium sandblast finish.

7. Use of two aggregates on a white

background matrix. “Deep exposure”.
Heavy sandblast finish.

5 6 7
8 9 11

8. Flamingo quartz aggregate on a

white background matrix. “Deep
exposure”. Heavy sandblast finish. 10
9. Flamingo quartz aggregate on a white
background matrix. “Deep exposure”.
Using a form retarder.
10. Use of two aggregates on a white
background matrix. “Light exposure”.
Light sandblast finish.

11. Use of two aggregates on a white

background matrix. “Medium

exposure”. Medium sandblast finish.

12. Calcite aggregate on a white

background matrix. “Light exposure”.
Light sandblast finish.

13. Calcite aggregate on a white

background matrix. “Medium
exposure”. Medium sandblast finish.

14. Calcite aggregate on a white

background matrix. “Deep exposure”. 14
Using a form retarder.

15. Use of aggregates and coarse sand on

a white background matrix. “Light
exposure”. Acid etched finish.

Precast Concrete Finishes
Architectural Precast Concrete flat panels are often composed of two concrete mixes (face
concrete and back-up concrete).

The face concrete contains special decorative aggregates, coloured sand, and grey or white
cement. These natural materials are used in combination to achieve the desired colour and
surface texture. It should be noted that natural materials vary in colour and texture and,
therefore, may cause minor colour variation. The back-up concrete is composed of
conventional aggregates, sands, and grey cement. This reduces material costs by eliminating
the need for a full depth of decorative face concrete.

Face Concrete Finishing

Exposed Aggregate:
Exposed aggregate finishes are achieved by coating the form into which the concrete will be
poured with a concrete retarder. The retarder arrests the hardening of the concrete which
comes in contact with it, to a depth determined by the strength of the retarder, normally 1/3
the depth of the coarse aggregate. Once the panel has cured and is stripped from the mould,
the panel is moved to a wash area where high pressure water removes the uncured matrix
(cement and sand) leaving the coarse aggregates in place and embedded in hardened

Light Exposure: Only the surface skin of cement and sand is removed, exposing the
edges of the coarse sand or aggregate closest to the surface.

Medium Exposure: A further removal of cement and sand causes coarse aggregates to
appear approximately equal to the matrix in area.

Deep Exposure: Cement and fine aggregates are removed from the surface so that
coarse aggregate becomes the major surface feature.

Sandblasting removes the cement sand matrix by abrasion, a result of the impact of sand on
the panel surface. Coarse aggregate exposure will not be as pronounced, with a greater
percentage of matrix showing than that found in exposed aggregate finishes.

Light Exposure: Only the surface skin of cement and sand is removed, exposing the
edges of the closest coarse sand or aggregate. It is difficult to get a uniform texture using
this method.

Medium Exposure: A further removal of cement and sand causes coarse aggregates to
appear approximately equal to the matrix in area.

Deep Exposure: Cement and fine aggregates are removed from the surface so that
coarse aggregate becomes the major surface feature.

Acid Etching:
Acid etching of precast panels removes the cement film
by chemical action to expose the sand. The resulting
finish can look like many of the natural stone finishes.

Light Exposure: Only the surface skin of cement

and sand is removed, exposing the edges of the
coarse sand or aggregate closest to the surface.

Medium Exposure: A further removal of cement

and sand causes coarse aggregates to appear
approximately equal to the matrix in area.

Deep Exposure: Cement and fine aggregates are

removed from the surface so that coarse aggregate
becomes the major surface feature.

The use of natural sands and aggregates is desired for
long term colour stability, and to achieve the desired
colour. Special circumstances might dictate the need to
use pigment in the face concrete.

Form Liners:
Interesting patterns can be achieved in precast concrete panels through the use of form liners.
These liners are fabricated with a variety of textures such as sandblasted wood, rough sawn
lumber, both small and large ribbed patterns, and running
course brick.

Veneer Faced Panels

The finishes described above achieve the desired aesthetics
through the actual finishing of the precast concrete panels.
Granite, stone and brick faced precast concrete panels allow
architects to incorporate the natural beauty of these materials
economically onto the face of one large precast panel.

Panel Sizes
Generally the bigger the better, less cost, fewer joints.

• Panel thickness increases with longer, wider panels.
• Panel crane capacity at precast plant.
• Shipping constraints and availability of A-frame trailers.
• Type and size of cranes to be used at jobsite.
Consult your local manufacturer for advice.

Section 03450 - Architectural Precast Concrete

1.1 Description
.1 The General conditions of the Contract and Supplementary General Conditions apply to
this Division, except as qualified herein and/or excluded.
.2 Refer to all available drawings and specifications.

1.2 Work Included

.1 Design, supply, delivery and installation of:
.1 Precast concrete architectural wall panels.
.2 Field sealing and sealant of all precast concrete wall panels inside and outside
between precast panels, between precast and foundation walls.
.3 Take delivery and cast into precast work boxes/inserts/openings required by other
.2 Review of shop drawings of structural steel supplier. Supply information required for
installation of bracing, supports, inserts and similar accessories required for work under
this contract supplied and installed by others.

1.3 Related Work

.1 Section 03300 - Cast-in-Place Concrete
.2 Section 03300 - Cast-in-Place Concrete: Setting only of insert or Anchors unless
otherwise noted on Structural Drawings
.3 Section 07200 - Thermal Protection
.4 Section 07900 - Joint Sealers
.5 Section 08400 - Entrances & Storefronts
.6 Section 08500 - Windows
.7 Section 07800 - Fire and Smoke Protection
.8 Supply and installation of:
.1 Hollow metal frames: Section 08100 - Metal Doors & Frames.
.2 Structural steel framing except around door openings: Section 05100
- Structural Metal Framing.
.3 Field caulking between precast concrete and masonry.

1.4 Reference Standards

S pec N :ote
Latest Standards are listed.
Specifier to update specification to latest CSA Standard.
.1 CSA A23.1-94, Concrete Materials and Methods of Concrete Construction
.2 CSA A23.2-94, Methods of Test for Concrete
.3 CSA A23.3-94, Design of Concrete Structures
.4 CSA A23.4-94, Precast Concrete-Materials and Construction
.5 ASTM C494, Guidelines for the Use of Admixtures in Concrete
.6 ASTM C494, Guidelines for the Use of Superplasticizing Admixtures in Concrete.
.7 CSA A283-1980, Qualification Code for Concrete Testing Laboratories
.8 CAN/CSA-G164-M92, Hot Dip Galvanizing of Irregularly Shaped Articles
.9 CSA W186-M1997, Welding of Reinforcing Bars in Reinforced Concrete Construction
.10 W47.1-97, Certification of Companies for Fusion Welding of Steel Structures

Specification continued...
1.5 Qualifications of Manufacturer
.1 Fabricated precast concrete elements shall be supplied by manufacturers certified by the
Canadian Standards Association in the appropriate category(ies) according to CSA
Standard A23.4-94 “Precast Concrete - Materials and Construction”. The precast
concrete manufacturer shall be certified in accordance with the CSA Certification
program for Architectural and Structural Precast Concrete prior to submitting a tender
and must specifically verify as part of his tender that he is currently certified in the
appropriate category(ies):
(A) Precast Concrete Products - Architectural
(I) Non-Prestressed or (II) Prestressed S pec N : ote
(B) Precast Concrete Products - Structural
Delete categories
(I) Non-Prestressed or (II) Prestressed
that are not applicable.
(C) Precast Concrete Products - Speciality
(I) Non-Prestressed or (II) Prestressed
Only precast concrete elements fabricated by certified manufacturers are acceptable to the
Owner. Certification must be maintained for the duration of the fabrication and erection for
the project.
.2 The precast concrete manufacturer shall have a proven record and satisfactory
experience in the design, manufacture and erection of precast concrete facing units of
the type specified. The company shall have adequate financing, equipment, plant and
skilled personnel to detail, fabricate and erect the work of this Section as required by
the Specification and Drawings. The size of the plant shall be adequate to maintain the
required delivery schedule.

1.6 By-Laws and Codes

.1 Conform with applicable requirements of ___________________(Provincial) Building Code,
National Building Code and local authorities having jurisdiction.
.2 Design and provide reinforcement, anchors and supports as required by codes and to
Consultant’s approval. Submit relevant design data prepared by a qualified structural
engineer for approval if so requested by the Consultant.

1.7 Allowable Tolerances

.1 Conform with requirements of CSA A23.4-Section 10, except as noted herein.
.2 Refer to related Sections of this Specification and fabricate work to accommodate
specified tolerances.

1.8 Source Quality Control

.1 In addition to quality control test specified above, an independent inspection and testing
company may be appointed by the Owner to verify compliance with this Specification.
.2 Cooperate with Inspector to facilitate his work.
.3 Cost to be paid from cash allowance specified under Section 01210

1.9 Shop Drawings

Spec Note: It is not the Precast Manufacturer’s responsibility to confirm and correlate
dimensions at the job site. Precast concrete is a prefabricated material. Site dimensioning
would require the structure to be complete before fabrication could commence.

Specification 1.9 Shop Drawings continued...
.1 Prepare and submit shop drawings in accordance with the General Conditions of the
contract, CSA-A23.4 and CSA-A23.3, and as specified below. Submit in accordance
with Section 01330.
.2 Submit fully detailed and dimensioned drawings showing method of fastening and
sealing and provisions made to receive work of other Sections. Indicate type of finish
and other pertinent information on each shop drawing.
.3 Consult reviewed shop drawings relating to interface elements and show exact location
of inserts and anchors required to be cast in precast units for interface elements.
.4 Show system of identifying units for erection purposes on shop drawings and apply
similar mark on units at time of manufacture.
.5 Provide Shop Drawings to and obtain approvals from the Authorities having jurisdiction
prior to fabrication of the precast panels.
.6 Each drawing submitted shall bear stamp and signature of qualified professional
engineer registered in [Canada] [Province of_______________].

1.10 Samples
Spec Note: See CSA A23.4-94 Re: Variation
.1 Provide samples of precast cladding for approval. Unless otherwise noted, minimum
size 300 x 300 x 25 mm. Finish exposed face as described under “finishes” elsewhere in
this Section. Make samples until final unconditional Consultant’s approval is obtained.
All work shall match approved production run samples.

1.11 Warranty
.1 Provide standard CPCI Chapter warranty with a duration of _____ year(s) in accordance
with General Conditions. Warranty shall be in writing and shall warrant work under
this Section to be free from defects for the period stipulated.

1.12 Delivery, Storage and Protection

.1 Accept full responsibility for delivery, handling and storage of units.
.2 Deliver, handle and store precast units in a near vertical plane at all times, and by
methods approved by the manufacturer. Do not permit units to contact earth or
staining influences or to rest on corners. Do not stockpile defective units but remove
from site.
.3 Construct easel for stacking units and place non-staining spacers between each unit. If
wood is used it shall be wrapped with polyethylene.
.4 Protect holes and reglets from water and ice during freezing weather.

1.13 Design
.1 Requirements: Design and fabricate panels, brackets and anchorage devices
so that when installed they will:
.1 Compensate for unevenness and dimensional differences in structure to which they
are secured.
.2 Tolerate structural deflection of span/360 due to live load and distortion of
structure, under design criteria conditions, without imposing load on panel
.3 Adequately sustain themselves, and superimposed wind, snow and rain loads, and
seismic loads, without exceeding deflection of 1/360.

Specification continued...
.4 Permit no water infiltration into the building under design loads.
.2 Design loads shall be as calculated from the Provincial Building Code based on 30 year
.3 Panels to be non-composite insulated panels providing a R______wall assembly.

2.0 Products
2.1 Materials
.1 Cement, [white cement] [ colouring material], aggregates, water admixture: to CSA-
A23.4 and CSA-A23.1. Supplementary cementing materials: to CSA-A23.5-98

S pec N :ote Re 2.1.2: Due to large variety of exposed aggregate finishes for precast concrete
and lack of standards, it is necessary to preselect finish texture and colour in cooperation with
precast concrete manufacturers. Ensure that this is done before specification is written and
include the generic name of the selected aggregate, sizes of aggregate and proportions of
different colours or sizes.
.2 Exposed aggregate [and special facing materials]: [quartz] [dolomite] [granite] [marble]
[river stone] to match selected finish sample.
.3 Use same brand and source of cement and aggregate for entire project to ensure
uniformity of coloration and other mix characteristics.
.4 Reinforcing steel: to CSA-A23.1.
.5 Forms: to CSA3-A23.4.
.6 Hardware and miscellaneous materials: to CSA-A23.1.

S pec N :
ote Re 2.1.7: Type 400W is weldable structural grade steel having a yield strength
of 400 MPa. Refer to CSA-G40.21 for other grades and yield strengths available.

.7 Anchors and supports: to CSA-G40.21, Type [400W].

.8 Welding materials: to CSA W47.1-97 and CSA W186-[M1997].
.9 Steel primer: to CGSB 1-GP-40M.
.10 Air entrainment admixture: to ASTM C260.
.11 Bearing pads: smooth, [high impact plastic] [steel].
.12 Bearing pads: neoprene, [60] durometer hardness to ASTM D2240, and [17] MPa
minimum tensile strength to ASTM D412, moulded to size or cut from moulded sheet.
,13 Shims: [plastic] [steel].
.14 Zinc-rich primer: to CGSB 1-GP-181M.
.15 Surface retardant: to ASTM C494.
.16 Insulation: extruded polystyrene to CAN/CGSB - 51.20 - M87 Type 2 OR expanded
polystyrene to CAN/CGSB-51.20, Type 1.

2.2 Concrete Mixes

.1 Unless otherwise noted or specified, use concrete mix designed to produce a minimum
of 35 MPa compressive cylinder strength at 28 days, with a maximum water/cement
ratio to CSA A23.4.
.2 Use white or grey cement in facing matrix.
.3 Air Entrainment of Concrete Mix: Refer to CSA-A23.1
.4 Use of calcium chloride is not permitted.

2.3 Reinforcement and Anchors

.1 Attach reinforcement at intersections and weld anchors securely to reinforcement, all in
accordance with CSA W.186.70.
Specification continued...
.2 (Prime, galvanize, epoxy paint) anchors after fabrication and touch up anchors with
(zinc rich primer, epoxy paint) after welding.
.3 Reinforcing Steel: To CSA G30.18.

2.4 Fabrication
.1 Production of Architectural Concrete, Fabricate units to CSA - A23.4.
.2 Mark each precast unit to correspond to identification mark on shop drawings for
.3 Mark each precast unit with date cast.
.4 Ensure that surfaces to receive sealant are smooth and free of laitance to provide a
suitable base for adhesion. Ensure that release agents do not deleteriously affect the
sealing of the joints.
.5 Cast panels face down in accurate rigid moulds designed to withstand high frequency
vibration. Set reinforcing anchors and auxiliary items to detail. Cast in anchors,
blocking and inserts supplied by other Sections as required to accommodate their work.
Where possible, permanently attach anchors and inserts to the reinforcing. Vibrate
concrete continuously during casting until full thickness is reached. Provide necessary
holes and sinkages for flashings, anchors, cramps, etc. as indicated and/or required.
Separately and accurately batch cement and aggregates uniformly by weight to ensure
maintenance of even and uniform appearance.
.6 Reinforce panels with steel reinforcing bars sufficient to withstand handling stresses,
temperature changes, wind loads as specified in P.B.C. based on 30 year probability and
deadloads. If requested, provide justifying calculations for approval of reinforcing.
.7 Anchors, lifting hooks, shear bars, spacers and other inserts or fittings required shall be
as recommended and/or designed by manufacturer for a complete and rigid
installation. Each shall conform to requirements of local building By-Laws and be of
type satisfactory to Consultant. Lift hooks shall be adequately sized to safely handle
panels according to panel dimension and weight. Anchors/inserts shall be concealed
where practical.
.8 Burn off lift cables paint and fill in where required if unit is damaged due to burn off.

2.5 Finish

Spec Note: Select from 2.5.1 to 2.5.8 for type finish required and delete remainder.

.1 Finish and colour of precast units to match sample in [Consultant’s] office.

.2 Fluted finish: achieve finish using trapezoidal form liners.
.3 Smooth finish: as cast using smooth [plastic] [steel] form liners.
.4 Exposed aggregate finish:
.1 Apply even coat of retardant to inside face of forms.
.2 Remove panels from forms after concrete hardens.
.3 Expose coarse aggregate by washing and brushing away surface mortar.
.4 Expose aggregate to depth required.
.5 Sandblasted finish: in order to expose aggregate face, sandblast surface to depth of
[1.5] [6] mm.

S pec N :ote Re 2.5.8: Specify other finishes, broomed, bushhammered rib,

textured form material, as required.

Specification continued...
3.0 Execution
3.1 General
.1 Erect precast work in accordance with CSA-A23.4.
.2 Supply anchors for precast units required to be cast into the concrete frame to Concrete
Subtrade for installation. Provide such items in ample time to meet construction
programme. Supply layout drawings locating accurately the position of all cast in items
to be installed by other Sections.

S pec N :
ote It is not the Precast Manufacturer’s responsibility to confirm and correlate
dimensions at the job site. Precast concrete is a prefabricated material. Site dimensioning
would require the structure to be complete before fabrication could commence.

3.2 Installation
.1 Set precast concrete units, straight, level and square.
.2 Non-cumulative Erection Tolerances
.1 Joint dimension - Nominal 15 mm - to vary not more than +/- 6 mm.
.2 Joint taper - unit edges at joint not out of parallel over 0.6 mm in 300 mm (1/40”
per 1 ft.) but not more than 2.9 mm total.
.3 Edge alignment - alignment of panel edges not to exceed 6 mm.
.4 Faces of adjacent panels, offset not more than 3 mm.
.5 Bowed panels, within allowable bowing tolerances, arranged so offset between
adjacent panels does not exceed 6 mm.
.3 Fasten units in place by welding where possible. Protect work from damage by weld
.4 Provide temporary erection anchorage for welded anchorage system.
.5 Where bolts used for installation, tighten with equal torque. Secure bolts with
lockwashers or tack-weld nut to bolt.
.6 Clean field welds with wire brush and touch up with galvafroid paint or zinc rich primer.
.7 Remove shims and spacers from joints of non-load bearing panels after fastening but
before sealant is applied.
.8 Provide and install sufficient temporary bracing to brace precast units adequately, at all
stages of construction, so that units will safely withstand loads to which they may be
subjected. This temporary bracing shall remain in position until all connections have
been completed.
.9 Apply sealant and joint backing to exterior and interior joints to provide a complete
weathertight installation in accordance with Section 07900. All exterior joints are to be

3.3 Cleaning
.1 Clean exposed face work by washing and brushing only, as precast is erected, if
required. Use approved masonry cleaner if washing and brushing fails to achieve
required finish. Remove immediately materials which set up or harden.

End of Section

Note: Specification available in French. Contact CPCI for copies.

Caulking Detail
Rain Screen

Caulking Detail
Modified Rain Screen

Precast Concrete
Caulking Details

Part Typical Elevation
of Granite Veneer Precast Panels

1 Granite Veneer
Typical Vertical Joint

2 Granite Veneer
Typical Horizontal Joint

2a Granite Veneer
Vertical Seal at Horizontal Joint
3 Granite Veneer
Detail at Flashing

3a Granite Veneer
Vertical Seal at Flashing

Precast Concrete
4 Granite Veneer
Plan Detail at Corners Caulking Details

Part Floor Plan

South Elevation

Plan Detail 3


Suggested Features

Section - 1

Architectural Precast Panels

Connected to a Steel Structure

Section Plan

Load Bearing and Lateral Connection Panel to Panel Connection

Conn D-1 Conn D-2
(Column & Sill Gravity) (Sill Lateral)

Section A
Back View

Conn D-5 Load Bearing

(Spandrel Gravity)


Panel to Panel Connection Section

Conn D-3
(Spandrel Lateral) Conn D-4
(Top Lateral)

All connections shown

are to be used for
concept design only.

Panel connections
will be heavier
in seismic regions.

Conn D-6 Connection Details for

(Mid-Span Lateral) Architectural Precast Panels
Connected to a Steel Structure

Part Floor Plan

North Elevation

Plan-Detail 3 Plan-Detail 4 Section 5

Section 2

Section 1
Single Storey
Insulated Precast Panels

Section Section

Load Bearing and Lateral Top Lateral

Conn D-1 Conn D-2

Panel to Panel Conn
Panel to Panel Conn
Conn D-5
Conn D-4

Back Elevation

Top View

Load Bearing at O.H. Doors

Conn D-3

All connections shown are

to be used for concept only.
Panel connections will be
heavier in seismic regions.

Connection Details for

Insulated Precast Panels

Part Plan
Typical Corner Detail

Part South Elevation


Section 1 Section 2 Multistory Wall

Panel Connected
to a Concrete Structure

Section Section

Load Bearing & Lateral Lateral Connection

Conn D-1 Conn D-2


Load Bearing Connection

Conn D-5

Plan Section

Panel to Panel Conn Panel to Panel Conn

Conn D-3 Conn D-4

Note: All connections shown

are to be used for concept design only
Panel connections will be
heavier in seismic regions.

Connection Details for

Multistory Wall Panels
Connected to a Concrete Structure

Part Elevation - Alternate 1 Part Elevation - Alternate 2

Plan A Plan at Joint

Detail C

Section 1 Detail B

Typical Anchor Details Section

Granite Face Rain Screen

Panel Detail (Insulated)

Maintenance of Precast Concrete Building Products
Precast Concrete is a durable and long lasting building product. If properly maintained it will
stand the test of time.

The beauty of precast concrete with its variety of colours and textures, together with its
versatility and function, is an integral component of the building envelope. By following a
simple program of inspection and maintenance precast concrete can guarantee the designed
service life of a building.

To ensure the continued performance of the wall system and to maintain the warranty, visual
inspections should be carried out at regular intervals. It is recommended that these
inspections be carried out annually. Attention should be paid to the caulked joints, surface
appearance and connections.

Any signs of deterioration should be documented at once with a copy of the written report
sent to the manufacturer. Any applicable defects reported within the warranty period shall be
remedied by the manufacturer.

The owner is urged to maintain this annual inspection program past the warranty period in
order to optimize the life of the structure.

Maintenance & Protection Recommendations

1. After a building or structure is erected, it should be cleaned as required.
2. Precast expands and contracts. Ensure the precast joints are properly sealed.
3. The precast structure should be power washed every four to six years (based on the
effects of the environment such as acid rain), to maintain its original appearance.
4. If pigment is used in the manufacture of the precast units, a non-acid cleaning treatment
is recommended.
5. Damaged (i.e. split or cracked) caulking should be replaced by:
(a) Removing damaged caulking,
(b) Cleaning area with solvent to remove oil debris,
(c) Applying primer as required,
(d) Re-caulk with matching caulking as per manufacturer’s instructions.
6. Follow applicable by-laws regarding use of sandblasting or acid cleaning procedures.
7. If using acid to clean surfaces, pretest a sample to ensure units will not be damaged by
the treatment.
8. Precautions should be taken to avoid damaging or staining precast units by:
(a) Ensuring access equipment does not scratch or chip precast surfaces
(b) Ensuring window cleaning solution (“run-off”) is cleaned from precast units to
prevent staining

Removing Stains From Precast Concrete Surfaces
Note: Graffiti
It is recommended that trained professionals be Commercially available products are
used to perform the required procedures. Appro- available for removing spray paint, felt-tip
priate public protection should be maintained at all markings, crayon, chalk and lipstick from
times. concrete surfaces. Follow manufacturer’s
directions and repeat if necessary - try using
Oil Stains other products. A single product may not
Lubricating or petroleum oils readily remove all substances. Effective cleaning
penetrate into concrete surfaces. Remove can also be accomplished with waterblasting
free oil promptly by soaking it up with paper and sandblasting.
towels or clean cloths. Cover the spot with
dry powdered cement absorbent for a day. After the graffiti is removed or before a
Remove and repeat if necessary. structure is in service, an anti-graffiti sealer
coating can be applied to prevent graffiti
If the oil has penetrated the concrete, scrub from entering the pores of the concrete (to
the area with strong soap, scouring powder, facilitate any future removal).
trisodium phosphate or proprietary deter-
gents specially made for removing oil from Smoke
concrete. Carefully apply a trichloroethylene poultice
after making sure the area is well ventilated.
Tar Brush off when dry and repeat if necessary.
Molten bitumen can be satisfactorily Then scrub thoroughly with clear water.
removed because it does not penetrate the
concrete. Cool the bitumen with ordinary ice Alternately, scour the surface with pumice to
until it is brittle and chip off with a chisel. remove surface deposits and wash with
Scrub the surface with scouring powder to clear water. Follow this with a poultice of
remove the residue and rinse with clear commercial sodium or potassium hypo-
water. chlorite solution (Javex). Hold poultice firmly
against the stain. Resaturate the poultice as
Paint necessary.
Soak up freshly spilled paint with paper
towels or clean cloths. Scrub the stained Rust
area with scouring powder and water until Mild rust stains can be completely removed
no further improvement is noted. Wait 3 by mopping with a solution containing 0.12
days for the paint to harden before removing Kg of oxalic acid powder per litre of water.
further. After 2 hours, rinse with clear water and
scrub with a stiff brush.
Scrape off any hardened paint. Apply a
poultice impregnated with commercial paint Dirt
remover. Let stand for ½ hour. Scrub the Some dirt can be removed by scrubbing with
stain gently and wash off with water. Scrub detergent and water or with 1 part
off any remaining residue with scouring hydrochloric acid in 20 parts water.
powder. Proprietary cleaners can remove dirt with
minimal attack of the concrete. Do not use
Colour that has penetrated the surface can acid on white surfaces. Steam cleaning, light
be washed out with dilute hydrochloric or sandblasting and waterblasting are also
phosphoric acid. effective.

Reference: “Removing Stains and Cleaning Concrete Surfaces”, IS214TC, Portland Cement Association,
latest edition, 16 pages, (complete and detailed information for concrete cleaning and stain removal).

Standard Form of Warranty

The company, being a member in good standing of the Canadian Precast/Prestressed

Concrete Institute, has completed the work under Section No. 3450 on the building
described as follows:

Owner: ____________________________________________________________________________

Building: __________________________________________________________________________

Location: __________________________________________________________________________




Date of completion: ________________________________________________________________

Date of expiration: ________________________________________________________________

We hereby warrant that all precast components have been designed, manufactured
and installed in accordance with the specifications and the contract documents for the
above referenced project for a period of ........years, commencing on the date of the
owner, or the owner’s representative, certificate of completion of the precast work.

This warranty shall not apply to damage caused by normal wear and tear,
maltreatment of materials, negligence, and acts of God.


Date Authorized Officer

We confirm the precast described is in good condition, as of the date below, and
accept this warranty as the full extent of the precast contractor’s liability.


Date Authorized Officer

Photographs courtesy of the following companies:
• Architectural Precast Systems Inc. • Global Precast •
• Res Precast Inc. • Tri-Krete Limited •
Sponsored by:
• Canadian Portland Cement Association (CPCA) •

196 Bronson Avenue, Suite 100, Ottawa, Ontario K1R 6H4
Telephone (613) 232-2619 Fax: (613) 232-5139
Toll Free: 1-877-YES-CPCI (1-877-937-2724)
E-mail: Web:
DISCLAIMER: Substantial effort has been made to ensure that all data and information in this publication is accurate. CPCI cannot accept
responsibility of any errors or oversights in the use of material or in the preparation of engineering plans. The designer must recognize that no
design guide can substitute for experienced engineering judgment. This publication is intended for use by professional personnel competent to
evaluate the significance and limitations of its contents and able to accept responsibility for the application of the material it contains. Users are
encouraged to offer comments to CPCI on the content and suggestions for improvement. Questions concerning the source and derivation of any
material in the design guide should be directed to CPCI.

D e s i g n e r ’s
Fig. 1
Sound transmission class as a function of wall weight.



Sound Transmission Class (STC)

The basic purpose of architectural acoustics is to provide a satisfactory
Flat or Ribbed Panels
environment in which the desired sounds are clearly heard by the intended
listeners and the unwanted sounds (noise) are isolated or absorbed. The
sound-reduction needs of a building are determined based on location,
environmental ambiance, and the degree of sound reduction necessary for 50
occupants to function effectively. STC = 0.1304 W + 43.48
Under most conditions, the architect can design the building to satisfy Statistical Tolerance ± 2.5 STC
the acoustical needs of the tenant. Good acoustical design uses reflective 45
and absorptive surfaces, sound barriers, and vibration isolators. Some
surfaces must reflect sound so that the loudness will be adequate in all
areas where listeners are located. Other surfaces must absorb sound 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
to avoid echoes, sound distortion, and long reverberation times. Sound is Weight Per Unit Area - (W) - psf
isolated from rooms where it is not wanted by selected wall and floor/ceiling
constructions. Vibrations generated by mechanical equipment are isolated
from the structural frame of the building by means of mechanical isolators
or compressible materials.
Fig. 2
Most acoustical situations can be described in terms of: (1) sound Acoustical test data of solid flat concrete panels –
source, strength, and path; (2) sound transmission path; and (3) sound normalweight concrete.
Sound Transmission Loss

Sound Levels
The problems of sound insulation are usually considerably more 70
complicated than those of sound absorption. Sound insulation involves
greater reductions in sound level than can be achieved by absorption. These 8 in. Flat Panel, STC-58
Sound Transmission Loss dB

large reductions can only be achieved by continuous, impervious barriers. If

the problem also involves structure-borne sound, it may be necessary to 6 in. Flat Panel, STC-55
introduce resilient layers or discontinuities into the barrier.
Sound absorbing materials and sound insulating materials are used for
two different purposes. There is not much sound absorption from an 8 in. 50
(200 mm) concrete wall; similarly, low sound transmission is not available
from a porous, lightweight material that may be applied to room surfaces for
sound absorption. It is important to recognize that the basic mechanisms 4 in. Flat Panel, STC-49
of sound absorption and sound insulation are quite different.

Sound Transmission Loss 30


Sound transmission loss measurements are made at 16 frequencies at

one-third octave intervals covering the range from 125 to 4000 Hz. The
testing procedure is described in ASTM E 90, Laboratory Measurement of Frequency, HZ
Airborne Sound Transmission Loss of Building Partitions. Measurements
can also be made in buildings by following ASTM E 336, Measurement of
Airborne Sound Insulation in Buildings. To simplify specification of desired Precast concrete walls usually do not need additional treatments in order to
performance characteristics the single number Sound Transmission Class provide adequate sound insulation. If desired, greater sound insulation can
(STC) (see ASTM E 413) was developed. It was originally designed to assess be obtained by using a resiliently attached layer(s) of gypsum board or other
sound (human speech) privacy for interior walls, but its use has expanded to building material. The increased transmission loss occurs because the energy
cover virtually all types of partitions and partition elements. flow path is increased to include a dissipative air column and additional mass.
Airborne sound reaching a wall, floor, or ceiling produces vibrations in the The acoustical test results of airborne sound transmission loss of 4, 6,
wall that are radiated with reduced intensity on the other side. Airborne sound and 8 in. (100, 150, and 200 mm) solid flat panels are shown in Fig. 2. Table 1
transmission loss in wall assemblies is a function of their weight, stiffness, presents the ratings for various precast concrete assemblies. The effects of
and vibration damping characteristics. various assembly treatments on sound transmission can also be predicted
Weight is concrete’s greatest asset when it is used as a sound insulator. from results of previous tests shown in Table 2. The improvements are additive,
For sections of similar design, but different weights, the STC increases but in some cases the total effect may be slightly less than the sum.
approximately 6 units for each doubling of weight (Fig. 1). This figure describes The mass of the precast/prestressed concrete loadbearing sandwich wall
sound transmission class as a function of weight based on experimental data. panels prevented outside noises from entering the building in Fig. 3. The design
Table 1–Airborne Sound Transmission Class Ratings from
Tests of Precast Concrete Assemblies.

Assembly STC1
No. Description (OITC)
1 4 in. flat panel, 54 psf 49 (43)
2 5 in. flat panel, 60 psf 522 Acceptable Noise Criteria
As a rule, a certain amount of continuous sound can be tolerated before
3 6 in. flat panel, 75 psf 55 (46)
it becomes noise. An “acceptable” level neither disturbs room occupants nor
Assembly 2 with “Z” furring interferes with the communication of wanted sound.
4 channels, 1 in. insulation and 1/2 in. 62
gypsum board, 75.5 psf The most generally accepted noise criteria (NC) used today are expressed as
the Noise Criteria or the Room Criteria (RC) curves (Fig. 4, Table 3 and Fig. 5).
Assembly 2 with wood furring, 1 /2 1

5 in. insulation and 1/2 in. gypsum 63 The figures in Table 4 represent general acoustical goals. They can also be
board, 73 psf compared with anticipated noise levels in specific rooms to assist in evaluating
Assembly 2 with 1/2 in. space, noise-reduction problems.
6 15/8 in. metal stud row, 11/2 in. 632 The main criticism of NC curves is that they are too permissive when the
insulation and 1/2 in. gypsum board control of low or high frequency noise is of concern. For this reason, room
7 8 in. flat panel, 95 psf 58 (50) criteria (RC) curves were developed (Fig. 5). RC curves are the result of extensive
studies based on the human response to both sound-pressure level and
8 10 in. flat panel, 120 psf 592
frequency and take into account the requirements for speech intelligibility.
1 The STC of sandwich panels is about the same as the STC of the thickness of A low background level obviously is necessary where listening and speech
the two concrete wythes (ignoring the insulation thickness). intelligibility is important. Conversely, higher ambient levels can persist in
2 Estimated values. large business offices or factories where speech communication is limited to
short distances. Often, the minimum target levels are just as important as
the maximum permissible levels listed in Table 4. In an office or residence, it is
Table 2–Typical Improvements for Wall Treatments Used with desirable to have a certain ambient sound level to assure adequate acoustical
Precast Concrete Elements. privacy between spaces and minimize the transmission loss requirements of
unwanted sound (noise).
These undesirable sounds may be from exterior sources such as automobiles
Airborne and aircraft, or they may be generated as speech in an adjacent classroom or
Treatment STC music in an adjacent apartment. They may also be direct impact-induced sound
Wall furring, 3/4 in. insulation and 1/2 in. gypsum such as footfalls on the floor above, rain on a lightweight roof construction, or
3 vibrating mechanical equipment. Thus, the designer must always be ready to
board attached to concrete wall
accept the task of analyzing the many potential sources of intruding sound as
Separate metal stud system, 11/2 in. insulation in
stud cavity and 1/2 in. gypsum board attached to 5 to 10 related to their frequency characteristics and the rates at which they occur.
concrete wall The level of toleration that is to be expected by those who will occupy the space
must also be established. Figures 6 and 7 are the spectral characteristics of
Plaster direct to concrete 0 common noise sources.
With these criteria, the problem of sound isolation now must be solved,
of this auditorium required selected areas of high resolution and reflectivity, namely the reduction process between the high, unwanted noise source and the
which was achieved by using the 8 in.-thick (200 mm) curved interior wall panels desired ambient level. Once the objectives are established, the designer then
to distribute sound throughout the hall in a geometrically controlled fashion. should refer to available data (for example in Fig. 1 or Table 1) and select the
They also serve as structural members. Some 200 curved, sandblasted panels, system that best meets these requirements. In this respect, precast concrete
employing eight different radii, were created to meet all of the acoustical systems have superior properties and can, with minimal effort, comply with
requirements. They were given a staining sealer for aesthetic effects. these criteria. When the insulation value has not been specified, selection of
the necessary barrier can be determined analytically by (a) identifying exterior
and /or interior noise sources, and (b) by establishing acceptable interior noise
Absorption of Sound criteria.
A sound wave always loses part of its energy as it is reflected by a surface. Example: Sound Insulation Criteria
This loss of energy is called sound absorption. It appears as a decrease in Assume a precast concrete office building is to be erected adjacent to a
sound pressure of the reflected wave. The sound absorption coefficient is the major highway. Private and semiprivate offices will run along the perimeter of the
fraction of energy incident but not reflected per unit of surface area. Sound structure. The first step is to determine the degree of insulation required of the
absorption can be specified at individual frequencies or as an average of exterior wall system (see Sound Pressure Level 1, page 44). The NC data is used
absorption coefficients (NRC). A dense, non-porous concrete surface typically because it is more familar to and preferred by designers.
absorbs 1 to 2% of incident sound and has an NRC of 0.015. In cases where
additional sound absorption is desired, a coating of acoustical material can The 500 Hz requirement, 38 dB, can be used as the first approximation of
be spray-applied, acoustical tile can be applied with adhesive, or an acoustical the wall STC category. However, if windows are planned for the wall, a system of
ceiling can be suspended. Most of the spray-applied fire-retardant materials about 50–55 STC should be selected (see following composite wall discussion).
used to increase the fire resistance of precast concrete and other floor-ceiling Individual transmission loss performance values of this system are then
systems can also be used to absorb sound. The NRC of the sprayed fiber types compared to the calculated need (see Sound Pressure Level 2).
range from 0.25 to 0.75. Most cementitious types have an NRC from 0.25 to The selected wall should meet or exceed the insulation needs at all
0.50. frequencies. However, to achieve the most efficient design conditions, certain

Precast concrete controls the acoustics.

Table 3–Data for noise criteria curves.

Noise Criteria Octave Band Center Frequency, Hz

Curves 63 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 8000
NC-151 47 36 29 22 17 14 12 11
NC-20 1
51 40 33 26 22 19 17 16
NC-25 1
54 44 37 31 27 24 22 21
NC-30 57 48 41 35 31 29 28 27 Fig. 3
NC-35 60 52 45 40 36 34 33 32 The Juanita K. Hammons Hall for the
Performing Arts, Springfield, Missouri;
NC-40 64 56 50 45 41 39 38 37 Architect: Pellham-Phillips-Hagerman
NC-45 67 60 54 49 46 44 43 42 and Butler, Rosenbury & Partners
(joint venture);
NC-50 71 64 58 54 51 49 48 47 Photos: Pellham-Phillips-Hagerman.
NC-55 74 67 62 58 56 54 53 52
NC-60 77 71 67 63 61 59 58 57
NC-65 80 75 71 68 66 64 63 62

1 The

applications requiring background levels less than NC-25 are special pur- Fig. 4 Noise criteria (NC) curves.
pose spaces in which an acoustical consultant should set the criteria. 90

limited deficiencies can be tolerated. Experience has shown that the maximum
deficiencies are 3 dB at two frequencies or 5 dB on one frequency point.
Octave Band Sound Pressure Level, dB re 20 micropascals

Composite Wall Considerations
An acoustically composite wall is made up of elements of varying acoustical NC-65
properties. Windows and doors are often the weak link in an otherwise NC-60
effective sound barrier. Minimal effects on sound transmission loss will be NC-55
achieved in most cases by proper selection of glass (Table 5). The control of 50
sound transmission through windows requires large cavities between layers
(multiple glazing), heavy layers (thicker glass), laminated glass, and reduction NC-45

of the structural connection between layers (separate frames and sashes 40 NC-40
for inner and outer layers). Also, mounting of glass lites with soft neoprene NC-35
edge gaskets may not be as effective at reducing sound transmission as 30 NC-30
systems that use wet seals (gunable sealants). The combination of wet seals
with butyl tape or open cell foam dramatically reduces the potential for air Approximate NC-25
infiltration, and therefore, flanking sound transmission. They certainly have to 20 threshold of
hearing for NC-20
be as airtight as possible; usually fixed windows provide much better sound
continuous NC-15
transmission control than operable windows.
10 noise
Sound pressure impinging on the window framing will cause it to vibrate, 16 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 8000
transmitting sound to the building interior. Consequently, the window-glass Octave Band Center Frequencies, Hz
performance cannot solely be relied on to reduce sound transmission to the
building interior. The sound transmission of the window framing will result in such as mechanical system or transportation noise. The OITC (Outdoor-
higher levels of sound transmission through the glass and wall. Also, window- Indoor Transmission Class) rating system based on ASTM E 1332 is relatively
framing systems that allow greater amounts of air infiltration also allow new, and it was designed to assess a building façade element, such as a
greater sound transmission. window, when exposed to a standard spectrum of low frequency air and truck
STC is not necessarily the best performance specification for windows transportation noise ranging from 80 to 4000 Hz (see ASTM Guide E 966).
as it is often a poor predictor of sound insulation for low frequency sources, Therefore, it is a better measure of a window system’s performance than
Table 4–Recommended Category Classification and
Suggested Noise Criteria Range for Steady Background Fig. 5 Room criteria (RC) curves.
Noise as Heard in Various Indoor Functional Activity Areas.1
NC or RC

Octave Band Sound Pressure Level, dB re 20 micropascals

Type of Space Curve 80
1. Private residence 25 to 30 B
2. Apartments 30 to 35
3. Hotels/motels 60
a. Individual rooms or suites 30 to 35
b. Meeting/banquet rooms 30 to 35 50
c. Halls, corridors, lobbies 35 to 40 50
C 45
d. Services/support areas 40 to 45
4. Offices 30
a. Executive 25 to 30 30
b. Conference rooms 25 to 30 25
c. Private 30 to 35 10
16 31.5 63 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000
d. Open-Plan areas 35 to 40
Octave Band Center Frequencies, Hz
e. Computer/business machine areas 40 to 45 Region A: High probability that noise-induced vibration levels in
lightweight wall/ceiling constructions will be clearly
f. Public circulation 40 to 45 perceptible; anticipate audible rattles in low mass
fixtures, doors, windows, etc.
5. Hospitals and clinics
Region B: Noise-induced vibration levels in lightweight wall/
a. Private rooms 25 to 30 ceiling constructions may be moderately perceptible;
slight possibility of rattles in low mass fixtures,
b. Wards 30 to 35 doors, windows, etc.
Region C: Below threshold of hearing for continuous noise.
c. Operating rooms 25 to 30
d. Laboratories 30 to 35
e. Corridors 30 to 35 The sound-transmission loss through a door depends on the material and
construction of the door and the effectiveness of the seal between the door
f. Public areas 35 to 40
and its frame. There is a mass law dependence of STC on weight (psf) for both
6. Churches 25 to 302 wood and steel doors. The approximate relationships are:
7. Schools For steel doors: STC = 15 + 27 log W

a. Lecture and classrooms 25 to 30 For wood doors: STC = 12 + 32 log W

where W = weight of the door, psf.
b. Open-Plan classrooms 30 to 352
These relationships are purely empirical and a large deviation can be
8. Libraries 30 to 35 expected for any given door. ASTM E 1408 can be used to determine the
9. Concert halls2 acoustical performance of doors.
10. Legitimate theaters2 For best results, the distances between adjacent door and/or window
openings should be maximized, staggered when possible, and held to a
11. Recording studios2 minimum area. Minimizing openings allows the wall to retain the acoustical
12. Movie theaters 30 to 35 properties of the precast concrete. The design characteristics of the door or
window systems must be analyzed prior to specification. Such qualities as
1 Design goals can be increased by 5dB when dictated by budget constraints or
frame design, door construction, and glazing thickness are vital performance
when noise intrusion from other sources represents a limiting condition. criteria. Installation procedures must be exact and care should be given to the
2 An acoustical expert should be consulted for guidance on these critical spaces. framing of each opening. Gaskets, weatherstripping, and raised thresholds
serve as both thermal and acoustical seals and are recommended.
STC, especially when traffic noise is the principal concern. The numeric value Figure 8 can be used to calculate the effective acoustic isolation of a wall
representation of OITC tends to be lower than the STC rating. system that contains a composite of elements, each with known individual
There are many options available for acoustical glazing, so it is important transmission loss data (TL). (For purposes of approximation, STC values can
to make the right choice—especially if the building is exposed to significant be used in place of TL values.)
exterior noise and the interior spaces are noise sensitive. The use of double-
pane insulating glass is not adequate for many projects. Even single- or Example: Composite Wall Insulation Criteria
double-laminated insulating glass may not be adequate, especially at To complete the office building wall acoustical design from page 41 assume
low outside temperatures, where regular PVB-laminated glass will yield a the following:
performance similar to that of non-laminated glass. 1. The glazing area represents 10% of the exterior wall area.
Fig. 6 Sound pressure levels — exterior noise sources. Fig. 7 Sound pressure levels — interior noise sources.

Jet Aircraft Takeoff 120
500 ft
Bus Stereo Phnograph,
Propeller Aircraft Teenager Lever Typical Office
Sound Pressure Level, dB

Sound Pressure Level, dB

80 Takeoff 500 ft
Heavy Truck – 20 ft 80

60 Business Machine
Automobiles – 20 ft 60
Tabulating Room

40 Bed or Dining Room



0 0
63 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 8000 63 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 8000
Frequency, Hz Frequency, Hz

Sound Pressure Level 1. 2. The windows will be double glazed with a 40 STC acoustical
Sound Pressure Level – (dB) insulation rating.

Frequency (Hz) 63 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 8000 The problem now becomes the test of determining the combined
effect of the concrete-glass combination and a re-determination of
Bus traffic source criteria compliance (see Sound Pressure Level 3).
80 83 85 78 74 68 62 58
noise (Fig. 6)
The maximum deficiency is 3 dB and occurs at only one frequency
Private office noise point. The 6 in. (150 mm) precast concrete wall with double-glazed
criteria – NC 35 60 52 45 40 36 34 33 32 windows will provide the required acoustical insulation.
(Fig. 4) Floor-ceiling assembly acoustical insulation requirements are
Required insulation 20 31 40 38 38 34 29 26 determined in the same manner as walls by using Fig. 2 and 8.

Leaks and Flanking

Sound Pressure Level – (dB) Performance of a building section with an otherwise adequate STC can be
Frequency (Hz) 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 seriously reduced by a relatively small hole (or any other path) that allows
sound to bypass the acoustical barrier. All noise that reaches a space
Required insulation 31 40 38 38 34 29
by paths other than through the primary barrier is called flanking noise.
6 in. precast Common flanking paths are openings around doors or windows, electrical
concrete solid 38 43 52 59 67 72 outlets, telephone and television connections, and pipe and duct penetrations.
concrete wall (Fig. 2) Suspended ceilings in rooms where walls do not extend from the ceiling to the
Deficiencies - - - - - - roof or floor above also allow sound to travel to adjacent rooms by flanking.
Anticipation and prevention of leaks begins at the design stage. Flanking
Sound Pressure Level 2. paths (gaps) at the perimeters of interior precast concrete walls and floors
Sound Pressure Level 3.
are generally sealed during construction with grout or drypack. All openings
Sound Pressure Level – (dB) around penetrations through walls or floors should be as small as possible and
Frequency (Hz) 125 250 500 1000 2000 4000 must be sealed airtight. The higher the required STC of the barrier, the greater
the importance of sealing all openings.
6 in. precast solid concrete
wall (Fig. 2) 38 43 52 59 67 72 Perimeter leakage commonly occurs at the intersection between an exterior
cladding panel and a floor slab. It is of vital importance to seal this gap to
Double-glazed windows retain the acoustical integrity of the system and provide the required fire
(Table 5) 17 33 40 41 40 54
stop between floors. One way to seal the gap is to place a 4 pcf (64 kg/m3)
Correction (Fig. 8) 10 3 4 9 16 9 density mineral wool blanket between the floor slab and the exterior wall.
Combined transmission loss 28 40 48 50 51 63 Figure 9 demonstrates the acoustical isolation effects of this treatment. An
enhancement to Fig. 9 would be to recess the insulation below the floor plane
Insulation requirements 31 40 38 38 34 29
and fill the recess with smoke stop elastomeric sealant. Thereby improving not
Deficiencies -3 — — — — — only the sound but the smoke resistance of the assembly.
Flanking paths can be minimized by:
Note: 1 in. = 25.4 mm
1. Interrupting the continuous flow of energy with dissimilar materials, that
Table 5–Acoustical Properties of Glass.
Sound Transmission Class (STC)
Type and Overall Thickness, Construction Space,
in. Inside Lite, in. in. Outside Lite, in. STC OITC
/8 Insulated Glass 1
/8 3
/8 1
/8 31 26
/4 Plate or Float — — 1
/4 31 29
/2 Plate or Float — — 1
/2 36 32
1 Insulated glass 1
/4 1
/2 Air space 1
/4 35 28-30
/4 Laminated 1
/8 0.030 Vinyl 1
/8 35 —
1 /2 Insulated glass
1 1
/4 9
/16 Air space /16
37 28-30
/4 Plate or Float — — 3
/4 36 —
1 Insulated glass /4 Laminated
1 1
/2 Air space 1
/4 39 31
1 Plate or Float — — 1 37 —
2 /4 Insulated glass
3 1
/4 2 Air space 1
/2 39 —
1 Laminated Insulated glass 1
/4 1
/2 Air space 1
/8 plus 1/8 41 32
Transmission loss (dB)
Frequency (Hz)
125 160 200 250 315 400 500 630 800 1000 1250 1600 2000 2500 3150 4000
/4 in. plate glass – 31 STC; 29 OITC
25 25 24 28 26 29 31 33 34 34 35 34 30 27 32 37
1 in. insulating glass with /2 in. air space – 35 STC; 28 OITC

24 29 22 22 25 30 33 35 38 40 42 42 37 37 43 46
1 in. insulating glass laminated with /2 in. air space – 39 STC; 31 OITC

17 28 29 33 34 38 40 40 41 41 41 41 40 43 49 54

Fig. 8 Chart for calculating the effective transmission Fig. 9 Effect of safing insulation seals.
loss of a composite barrier.
6 in. Concrete Floor 55 STC
Sealant Inorganic Mineral
1 Wool Insulation
TL (Wall) – TL (Door, Window or Opening)

Percent of total area of ≥ 1/8 in. Steel Bent Plate
wall occupied by door, Exterior Wall
10 window or opening
5 50

10 Combined
10 Trasmission Loss
15 2 No closure 14 STC
20 1
0.5 With steel bent plate closure 28 STC
30 0.1 With 4 in. thick safing insulation 30 STC
40 steel bent plate added 42 STC
60 With 6 in. thick safing insulation 38 STC
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 15 20 30 40 50 60
steel bent plate added 45 STC
Decibels to be Subtracted from TL of Wall for
Effective TL of Composite Barrier
propensity to transmit flanking sound. In other words, the probability of
existing flanking paths in a concrete structure is much less than in a
is, expansion or control joints or air gaps. structure with steel or wood framing.
2. Increasing the resistance to energy flow with floating floor systems, full If the acoustical design is balanced, the maximum amount of acoustic
height and/or double partitions, and suspended ceilings. energy reaching a space via flanking should not equal the energy transmitted
3. Using primary barriers, which are less subject to the creation of flanking through the primary barriers. In exterior walls, the proper application of
paths. Although not easily quantified, an inverse relationship exists sealant and backup materials in the joints between units will not allow sound
between the performance of an element as a primary barrier and its to flank the wall.
PCI’s Architectural Designer’s Notebook: Benefits and Advantages – Article XIII
Precast Concrete
Services Committee
explains key benefits
to be gained by Design considerations must balance a variety of needs, including aesthetics, function and financing.
owners, designers Each plays a role in achieving success with the finished project. Architectural precast concrete not
and contractors
by specifying only can ensure these general goals are met, but it provides a myriad of life-cycle and ancillary
architectural benefits that are difficult to match with other materials.
precast panels

Durability Architectural precast concrete offers the building owner peace of mind that results from the
certain knowledge that the building’s walls have long-term durability and require little or no
maintenance to preserve their original look. Economical precasting is based on achieving high strength
to allow units to be stripped from the mold at an early age.
This requires high cement contents and low water-cement ratios. Combined with good compaction
and curing in a controlled factory environment, these factors ensure a dense, highly durable concrete.
A low water-cement ratio has been proven to increase resistance to weathering and corrosion.
Entrained air may be used to improve freeze-thaw resistance in particularly severe environments.

Aesthetics Architectural precast concrete panels provide the designer with an unlimited architectural
vocabulary of expression. Whether the project’s aesthetic intent is traditional or contemporary,
precast concrete can be shaped in a cost effective manner. The material is incredibly responsive to
the designer’s needs. The only limits are imagination and creativity.
Visual interest in the building’s façade can be enhanced with architectural devices such as ribs,
bullnoses, reveals, chamfers or casting against various types of formliners. Precast may be designed
with a combination of concave, convex and flat sectional shapes.
Taking advantage of precast’s initial plasticity can economically create these shapes, adding
considerable aesthetic appeal to a project. Design flexibility is possible in both color and texture by
varying aggregate and matrix colors, size of aggregates, finishing processes and depth of exposure.
Combining different finishes using the same or different concrete mixes within a single precast
concrete unit can provide additional flexibility. A highly articulated pattern of color and texture
develops a richness of architectural expression.

Commitment to Quality Architectural precast concrete units produced by PCI-certified plants are produced under strict,
factory-controlled conditions to ensure a high quality façade in the desired shapes, colors and
textures along with close tolerances. Every PCI member must undergo two stringent unannounced
inspections each year by independent auditors to maintain PCI certification. The inspections focus on
the process by which the unit is produced, as well as the plant’s general operation.
Certification pays off for owners and designers because it produces fewer worries about on-site
discovery of units out of tolerance, connection details that aren’t cast precisely or finishes that
aren’t matched from panel to panel. It also minimizes the need for continuous inspections.

Life Cycle Cost When comparing the cost of alternative façade systems, the cost throughout the design life of the
building needs to be evaluated. A precast façade can be designed to match the intended life of a
building with minimal maintenance, providing substantial long-term savings. Precast concrete panels
present a durable aesthetically pleasing exterior surface that is virtually air- and watertight and
does not require painting. This helps the building remain in first class condition long after the
mortgage is repaid, ensuring its desirability to future tenants or owners. It also means attractive
refinancing can be accomplished more advantageously, too.

Initial Cost Precast’s speed of erection and its ability to be cast and erected in all kinds of weather aid the
entire construction team. Since the casting process does not rely on other critical-path activities to
begin, units can be produced as soon as drawings are approved, ensuring units are ready for erection
as soon as foundation work and other site preparation is completed (see Fig. 1). These advantages
allow the building’s shell, whether load-bearing or cladding, to be enclosed quickly. This, in turn, lets
interior trades begin work earlier and reduces overall construction time.
Faster completion reduces interim financing costs, results in earlier cash flows, and produces other
economic benefits. This ultimately lowers the building’s long-term overall cost and can make the use
of precast concrete more economical than other façade materials.
Load-bearing panels can reduce framing costs by providing a column-free perimeter. Depending on
the floor plan, there also is potential for reducing the number and/or size of interior columns, adding
layout flexibility. This results in a more efficient and less costly construction. Cost savings are
greatest for low-to mid-rise structures of three to 10 stories with a large ratio of wall-to-floor area.

Energy Efficiency Precast concrete panels can be designed to provide a high degree of energy efficiency for the
buildings they enclose. Recessed window walls, vertical fins and various other sculptured shapes
facilitate the design of many types of shading devices for window areas to reduce glare and solar
gain. This provides economies in the cost of the air-conditioning system by reducing thermal load.
Specific wall thermal characteristics can be designed for each face of the structure to suit its sun
To obtain a range of R values, precast concrete walls may have insulation applied to the back, or
the insulation may be incorporated into a sandwich wall panel to reduce heating and cooling costs.
The thermal mass inertia of concrete, which is recognized in ASHRAE standards, also reduces peak
heating and cooling loads, thus saving energy year-round by reducing large daily temperature swings.

Other Inherent Benefits Architectural precast concrete is non-combustible with inherent fire-resistant capability, creating
a safe envelope that helps protect personnel, equipment and the building itself. That in turn reduces
insurance rates. It also eliminates the need and cost of additional fireproofing measures, except on
structural-steel frames.
Environmental Impact In addition, the inherent sound attenuation properties due to precast concrete’s mass provide an
economical acoustical barrier to exterior or interior noise penetration. These attributes enhance the
cost effectiveness of precast panels. The life-safety and tenant benefits provide a potent marketing
asset when attracting long-term occupants.
Precast concrete is an environmentally sound material. It is produced from natural materials. No
toxic substances are produced in its production or use. Also, the production energy consumption of
the concrete is quite small. The thermal mass of concrete saves energy year-round by reducing
temperature swings.
Concrete’s high albedo (or ratio of light reflected) has the added quality of reflecting heat as well
as light, thus reducing the “heat island” effect and higher temperatures endemic to urban areas. The
resulting lower overall temperatures can make a difference in the amount of electricity consumed in
air conditioning and can reduce smog formation, potentially improving air quality in urban areas.
Precast wall panels can be reused when buildings are expanded. Nonload-bearing panels on the end
simply are disconnected from the framing and additional panels and framing are added on each side.
With the new addition in place, the end panels can be replaced. Concrete measures up well in regards
to sustainability. It strikes a perfect balance between meeting today’s needs and natural resources
for tomorrow.

Single-Source Provider As a single unit, precast panels provide one source for supplying the entire exterior wall system.
When load-bearing precast structural floors along with panels are specified, it concentrates the
complete shell with one certified and reliable producer.
This approach ensures complete responsibility and accuracy for meeting design specifications
rests with only one supplier. The precaster is responsible for all manufacturing and constructability
issues. This reduces the number of subcontractors and minimizes trade coordination. Also, the
producer’s competent staff of plant engineers is available to assist the design team.

Supplier Assistance PCI member precasters can offer detailed expertise that allows the development of design
techniques, engineering innovations and scheduling improvements that save time and money from
conceptual design to project completion. To maximize these benefits, the design team should interact
with the precaster early in the project’s development stage. This ensures each element is as cost
effective as possible and will take full advantage of precast’s inherent performance characteristics.
The result will be a functionally efficient, aesthetically pleasing structure produced on time and on
budget that meets all programmatic needs.

Jim Van Duys, How SRSS&A Uses Architectural Precast Concrete
associate with
Smallwood, Reynolds,
Stewart, Stewart &
Associates Inc., in For the past 22 years, Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates Inc. has used
Atlanta explains how architectural precast concrete as a cladding material and as a structural component in millions of
the architectural firm
uses precast square feet of commercial, institutional and hospitality buildings. We consistently rely on
architectural precast to execute our design ideas in a cost-effective manner while maintaining high
quality standards.

Design Flexibility For the designer, the first and most significant advantage of architectural precast concrete is
its tremendous flexibility. The material offers limitless potential for the development and
manipulation of massing, form, color, texture and detail. The material can be used to execute
design ideas in a broad range of architectural styles.
Current fabrication techniques allow the designer to realize virtually any shape. Numerous
finishing techniques, combined with a wide variety of aggregates and matrix coloring agents, give
the designer an enormous palette of colors and textures with which to work. As a backing material
for tile, masonry and stone veneers, precast also provides a cost-effective vehicle for realizing
architectural visions using those materials.
The ability to manipulate color, texture and form make precast concrete an excellent material to
consider in situations where the relationship of a building to its existing context is an important
design consideration. Precast finishing techniques allow the designer to replicate the color and
finish of existing stone, masonry or terra cotta. Precast mold-building techniques allow the
designer to economically incorporate details such as cornices, quoins, arches and decorative relief
panels, to create buildings incorporating classical architectural detailing, or to otherwise
coordinate the design of a new building with adjacent structures.
In our design for an addition to the Jefferson-Pilot Corporate Headquarters in Greensboro, N.C.,
Fig. 1: At the Jefferson Pilot
Corporate Headquarters we used heavily molded, sandblasted precast concrete panels to integrate the finish and detailing
addition in Greensboro, N.C.,
sandblasted precast panels of the new building with an existing terra cotta clad structure dating from 1924. Details such as
were used in the design of
the new structure to reflect bas-relief molded spandrel panels, arch sections, dentil moldings and deep cornice sections were
the scale and character of
the terra cotta cladding of
developed from measured drawings to coordinate with the detailing of the original building. Deep
the original building. reveals in the vertical panels helped to modulate the precast
panels to the scale of the original terra cotta blocks. (See Fig. 1
and 2.)
The Peachtree Office Condominium in Atlanta features buff-
colored precast panels in conjunction with hand set brick to

Fig. 2: Molding profiles for the Jefferson Pilot Corporate

Headquarters were developed from field measurements and original
drawings of the existing building. Deep reveals in the precast panels
reflect the scale and detailing of the original structure. Careful
layout of panels and reuse of formwork profiles allowed the design of
the new building to match the level of detailing of the existing
structure while meeting the owner’s budget requirements.
emulate the detailing and color of limestone accent
trim on an adjacent historic apartment building that
was designed by Atlanta architect Neal Reed. (See
Fig. 3 and 4.)
Precast is a natural choice for projects
incorporating curved profiles, such as radial walls
and spandrel panels or bullnosed trim sections. At Fig. 4: Color and detailing of the precast
members at the Peachtree Office Condominium
the Chick-fil-A corporate headquarters building in were developed to complement adjacent
historical structures constructed of brick and
Atlanta, (see Fig. 5), vertically ribbed and bush- limestone.
hammered precast panels were used to clad the
radial end of the structure and to provide the interior spandrel trim for this atrium building.

Fig. 3: Buff-colored precast was

used for cornices, trim members,
sills and belt courses in
conjunction with hand set brick A second important advantage of precast concrete is the manufacturing process itself, and the
to compose the classically
proportioned façade of the high level of expertise and craftsmanship available in the industry. The southeast region is well
Peachtree Office Condominium in
Atlanta. supplied with qualified precast manufacturers, and SRSS&A has developed long-standing
relationships with many of them. We work closely with the manufacturers, particularly in the early
stages of the design process, to coordinate the architectural design with the supplier’s resources
and abilities.
Involving the precaster early in the process allows us to take advantage of the inherent
economies available to the precaster’s
production methods, which can vary
Fig. 5: The Chick-fil-A
corporate headquarters in significantly among manufacturers and
Atlanta has added an
annex, constructed 15 regions of the country. By using this
years after the original,
that is clad with the same
technique, we have been able to realize bold
precast mix design and design concepts and complex details at
panel detailing, seamlessly
blending the two favorable cost to our clients. In addition,
structures into a
corporate campus. highly developed engineering, management
and factory production techniques within the precast industry help to ensure a high-quality
finished product, which meets the project’s requirements for cost and schedule.

Repetition Helps
There are a number of factors that make precast concrete an excellent choice for cladding high-
rise structures. The economic benefits of the precasting process are greatest on large repetitive
projects, where cost premiums such as special mold construction and shipping of special
aggregates can be spread over a large quantity of material.
Compared with other cladding systems, precast concrete can often shorten the overall
construction schedule on high-rise projects. Engineering and construction of the cladding panels
can begin during site excavation and construction of the building’s foundations. With proper
planning, panels can be produced and stored in sequence so their installation closely follows
construction of the superstructure.
In many cases, the relatively large size of most precast panels allows the building to be enclosed
faster than is possible with other materials, so interior construction can begin earlier. These factors
can significantly impact overall project cost, since shortening the project schedule will reduce
overhead expenses and interim financing costs and can move the project’s revenue stream forward.
In designing the IJL Financial Center, a 30-story office tower across the street from the 60-story
Bank of America Corporate Headquarters in Charlotte, NC., the project designers specified two colors
of sandblasted precast concrete along with granite clad precast panels to coordinate the tower
palate with its granite curtain wall-clad neighbor, and to maintain an aggressive construction
schedule on a tight urban site (See Fig. 6).
Fig. 6: The IJL Corporate
Headquarters in downtown
Charlotte, N.C., features two Durability
colors of sandblasted precast
concrete along with granite clad Durability, strength and inherent weather resistance represent additional advantages of
precast panels.
precast concrete. The material stands up well to most environmental conditions, retains its
appearance over time, and is relatively easy to maintain. Because precast concrete panels are
normally large, the quantity of joints in the building cladding is reduced. The fewer number of joints
produces fewer locations for leaks to develop due to joint failure. Fewer joints also reduce the life-
cycle cost of replacing joint sealants and add value to the project for the client.
In some cases, durability and strength are significant factors in
a client’s program. In designing a data-processing center for a
major financial institution in North Carolina, we decided on an all-
precast concrete structure, using 14-inch-thick, load-bearing
precast concrete wall panels to meet the owner’s aggressive
construction schedule and stringent performance criteria (see
Fig. 7). Due to the sensitive nature of the building’s operations,
the owner’s criteria required the building to withstand high wind
loads as well as enhanced seismic loads.
Flexibility, economy and durability are three of the most
Fig. 7: Designed to withstand important qualities a designer looks for in selecting any building material. Architectural precast
extreme wind and seismic loads
without resembling a bunker, this concrete embodies these characteristics better than any other material we have found. For this
data-processing center uses
load-bearing precast concrete reason, we will continue to make precast concrete a major part of our designs for years to come.
wall panels and structural
precast floor and roof slabs.
Jim Van Duys, associate, Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart & Associates Inc.

Design Considerations for Blast Resistance of Architectural
Precast Concrete Façades

PCI’s Architectural In today’s environment of enhanced risk some facilities require protective design and the
Precast Concrete management of risk. There are many design options available to reduce the risk to any building.
Services Committee
discusses items The goal of protective design against the effects of blast is the protection of the building
to consider in occupants and the reduction of casualties. Economically feasible design for antiterrorism/
designing for blast
force protection (AT/FP) requires an integrated approach to facility siting, operation
programming of interior spaces, employment of active and passive security measures
employing both technological security provisions and human security provisions. This paper
addresses the important element of design of the architectural façade as one element of the
protective design chain.
Designing a structure that could face a threat from a terrorist bombing which could
originate either external or internal to the structure requires finding the most effective way
to meet the standards for enhanced safety that currently exist. This article only addresses
external blasts. When considering protection for a building, owners and architects must work
with structural engineers and blast consultants to determine the blast forces to protect
against, considering the risk and vulnerability assessments and protection levels. Optimally,
blast mitigation provisions for a new building should be addressed in the early stages of
project design to minimize the impact on architecture and cost. Defensive design often
affects aesthetics, accessibility, fire safety regulations, and budgetary constraints.
The building’s exterior is its first real defense against the effects of a bomb. How the
façade responds to this loading will significantly affect the behavior of the structure.
Although this article is primarily concerned with the façade, some design concepts for the
structure are discussed. The comprehensive protection of occupants within the structure
is likely to cause window sizes to decrease in height and width, yet increase in thickness,
and attachments to become more substantial. Considering the extent of surface area
enclosing a building, even modest levels of protection will be expensive. As a result, the design
philosophy might best be served by concentrating on the improvement of the post-damaged
behavior of the façade. In order to protect the occupants to the highest degree, the aim
should be for the building and its cladding components to remain standing or attached long
enough to evacuate every person and to protect occupants from injury or death resulting
from flying debris.
Several types of hazards can affect building systems (structural or architectural). These
hazards can be subdivided into two general categories: man-made (blast) and natural
(earthquakes, wind, etc). For a successful approach to any system design, it is essential to
understand the nature of the hazard. Dynamic hazards can be described by their relative
amplitudes and relative time (frequency) attributes. Fig. 1 shows a schematic representation
of the amplitude-frequency relationships of several dynamic hazards.
It is important to
emphasize the principal
differences between static,
dynamic and short-duration
dynamic loads. Typically,
static loads do not produce
inertia effects in the
structural response, are
Fig. 1 – Qualitative amplitude-frequency distribution for different hazards.
not time dependent, and SOURCE: Ettouney, M., “Is Seismic Design Adequate for Blast?”
are assumed to act on the Society of American Military Engineers National Symposium on
Comprehensive Force Protection, Charleston, S.C., November 2001.
structure for long periods of
time (e.g. gravity loads). Dynamic loads, such as induced by earthquake or wind gusts, have strong
time dependencies and their typical durations are measured in tenths of seconds. Short-duration
dynamic loads, such as those induced by explosions or debris impact, are nonoscillatory pulse
loads, and their duration is about 1,000 times shorter than the duration of typical earthquakes.
Structural response under short-duration dynamic effects could be significantly different than the
much slower loading cases, requiring the designer to provide suitable structural details. Therefore,
the designer must explicitly address the effects related to such severe loading environments,
besides the general principles used for structural design to resist conventional loads. As a starting
point, the reader should review background material on structural considerations and design in the
references in the Blast Analyses Standards section of this article.
There are conflicting hazard demands on cladding relating to the weight or mass of a
typical wall. For a seismic hazard, the forces on the wall are directly proportional to its
mass. Forces that are produced from a blast hazard are inversely proportionate to the
mass of the cladding. In some panel configurations, increasing the mass of the panel can
provide improvements in the response of the panel to a defined level of blast loading. Wind-
produced internal forces are independent of the wall mass. This produces a dilemma for the
designer: higher mass would be beneficial in a blast condition, but be harmful in an earthquake
condition. Obviously, an optimization or balanced design is needed in such a situation, with the
understanding that both hazards require ductile behavior from the cladding and connections.
However, the manner the cladding-structure interacts when subjected to each of the two
hazards is completely different. During earthquakes, the movement of the structure will
impose forces on the cladding. During a blast event, the cladding would impose reactions
(through the connections) on the structure.

Blast Basics An explosion is a very rapid release of stored energy characterized by an audible blast.
Part of the energy is released as thermal radiation, and part is coupled into the air (air-
blast) and soil (ground-shock) as radially expanding shock waves. Air-blast is the principal damage
mechanism. Air-blast phenomena occur within milliseconds and the local effects of the blast are
often over before the building structure can globally react to the effects of the blast. Also, initial
peak pressure intensity (referred to as overpressure) may be several orders of magnitude higher than
ambient atmospheric pressure. The overpressure radiates from the point of detonation but decays
exponentially with distance from the source and time and eventually becomes negative (outward-
rushing force) subjecting the building surfaces to suction forces as a vacuum is created by the shock
wave, see Fig. 2. In many cases, the effect of the negative phase is ignored because
it usually has little effect on the maximum response. The maximum impulse delivered
to the structure is the area under the positive phase of the reflected pressure-time
curve. Both the pressure and impulse (or duration time) are required to define the
blast loading.
The shape of the building can affect the overall damage to the structure. For
example, “U”- or “L-shaped” buildings may trap the shock wave, which may increase
blast pressure locally because of the complex reflections created. Large or gradual
re-entrant corners have less effect than small or sharp re-entrant corners. In
Fig. 2 – Qualitative
pressure-time history. general, convex rather than concave shapes are preferred for the exterior of the building. The
SOURCE: “Structures reflected pressure on the surface of a circular building is less intense than on a flat building. The
to Resist the Effects
of Accidental extent of damage depends on the yield or charge weight (measured in equivalent lbs. of TNT), the
Explosions,” TM5-1300,
November, 1990. relative position of the explosive device, and the design details. The shock waves compress air
molecules in its path, producing overpressure. When the shock waves encounter the building surfaces,
they are reflected, amplifying the overpressure so that it is higher than the initial peak pressure.
These blast load pressures can greatly exceed wind and seismic design loads. Therefore, it is typically
costly for most buildings to be designed to withstand a large explosion in, or very near the building.
A secondary effect of the air-blast is dynamic pressure or drag loading, which is a very high velocity wind.
It propels the debris generated by the air-blast, creating secondary projectiles. Also, the building is subject
to the ground-shock, which produces ground motions sometimes similar to a short duration earthquake.
The response of a building to a large explosion occurs in distinct phases. Initially, as the blast
wave contacts the nearest exterior wall of the building, windows are shattered, and the walls and
columns deflect under the reflected pressure. If the blast intensity is sufficient, the wall eventually
deforms inelastically and suffers permanent displacement or collapse. The internal pressure exerts
a downward and upward pressure on the floor slabs, depending upon the expected performance of
the façade in the blast. If the façade remains intact during a blast event this limits the propagation
of the blast pressures within the building. The upward pressure is important because columns and
slabs are not ordinarily designed for such loads. As the blast wave expands and diffracts around
the building, it exerts an overpressure on the roof, side walls and, finally, on the walls of the far side,
see Fig. 3. Although the pressure levels on the three sides facing away from the blast are smaller
than those on the front, they are significant. Since the location
of the explosion cannot be anticipated, each building face must be
designed for the worst case, i.e., an explosion normal to that face.
Internal pressure may be reduced by decreasing the size and number of
openings or by using blast resistant glazing and doors.
Blast characteristics are very different in open air versus confined
spaces. Parking structures have varying degrees of openness or vent
area and the blast response will be very structure specific. Confined
and contained explosions produce very complex pressures within and
Fig. 3 – Blast loading
on buildings. exiting from the structure. Confined explosions include a reflected shock wave phase and a
SOURCE: “Concrete and
gas-loading phase. The reflected shock wave phase is similar to an open-air blast except that
Blast Effects,” ACI SP
175, American Concrete they are much more complex due to reverberation off various surfaces in the structure. The
Institute, Farmington
Hills, Mich., 1998. gas-loading phase is due to the confined space not being able to vent the gases from the
explosion. The result is a much longer lasting and potentially more damaging pressure being
applied to the structure.

Blast Analyses All building components requiring blast resistance should meet the criteria required for GSA
Standards or DOD facilities and be designed using established methods and approaches for determining
dynamic loads and dynamic structural response. Design and analysis approaches should be
consistent with those in the technical manuals below:
1) U.S. Departments of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, “Structures to Resist the Effects
of Accidental Explosions,” Revision 1, (Department of the Army Technical Manual TM 5-1300,
Department of the Navy Publication NAVFAC P-397, Department of the Air Force Manual
AFM 88-22), Washington, DC, November, 1990. (This reference in combination with Con Wep
software guides designer in the calculation of the pressure and related information necessary
to perform an analysis for the structure.) Contact David Hyde, U.S. Army Engineer Research
and Development Center, 3909 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg, Mississippi 39180 or via e-mail to
2) DAHSCWEMAN, “Technical Manual - Design and Analysis of Hardened Structures to
Conventional Weapon Effects; PSADS (Protective Structures Automated Design System),
Version 1.0” (incorporating Army TM 5-855-1, Air Force AFJMAN32-1055, Navy NAVFAC P-
1080, and Defense Special Weapons Agency DAHSCWEMAN-97), Headquarters, U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (CEMP-ET), Washington, DC, September, 1998.
3) Unified Facilities Criteria, “Design and Analysis of Hardened Structures to Conventional
Weapons Effects,” U.S. Department of Defense, UFC 3-340-01, June 2002. [For Official Use
Only] [Formerly Army TM 5-855-1].
4) Hyde, D., “ConWep - Application of TM 5-855-1,” U.S. Army Engineer Waterways
Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS, August, 1992. Con Wep is a collection of conventional
weapon effects calculations from the equations and curves of TM 5-855-1.
5) U.S. Department of the Army, Security Engineering, TM 5-853 and Air Force AFMAN 32-1071,
Volumes 1, 2, 3, and 4. Washington, D.C., Departments of the Army and Air Force. (1994).
6) Air Force Engineering and Services Center, “Protective Construction Design Manual,” ESL-TR-87-
57. Prepared for Engineering and Services Laboratory, Tyndall Air Force Base, FL., November 1989.
7) U.S. Department of Energy, “A Manual for the Prediction of Blast and Fragment
Loadings on Structures,” Revision 1, DOE/TIC 11268. Washington, DC, Headquarters U.S.
Department of Energy, July, 1992.
8) Unified Facilities Criteria, DoD Minimum Antiterrorism Standards for Buildings, UFC 4-
010-01. U.S. Department of Defense, July, 2002.
9) Interim Antiterrorism/Force Protection Construction Standards – Guidance on
Structural Requirements (DRAFT), U.S. Department of Defense, March 5, 2001.
It is likely that to design against blast will require a comprehensive knowledge of explosive
effects and fortification sciences, such as described in the DAHSCWEMAN (1998), in Technical
Manual (TM) 5-855-1 (U.S. Department of the Army 1998), and in the Tri-Service manual (TM
5-1300, U.S. Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force 1990). The electronic version of the
DAHSCWEMAN manual will greatly assist designers in applying blast design concepts.
Also the report “Structural Design for Physical Security: State of the Practice,” prepared by the
Structural Engineering Institute Task Committee, Edward J. Conrath, et al, American Society of Civil
Engineers, (1999) addresses the design of structures to resist the effects of terrorist bombings. It
provides guidance for structural engineers charged with designing for blast resistance of civil facilities.

Determination of Currently there are no formal blast performance criteria for civilian buildings. The U.S.
Blast Loading Department of Defense, Department of State, and General Services Administration have
developed specific antiterrorism requirements for military, embassy, and federal buildings,
respectively. However, for security reasons key portions of these criteria are only available to
designers of specific projects to which they apply. Table 1 provides some recommendations
for private-sector facilities. In all cases the designer’s goal is to balance the nature and
probability of each threat with the additional costs of protecting against it.
The key aspect of structural design to resist blast effects and progressive collapse is
determining the nature and magnitude of the blast loading. This involves assessing the
amount and type of explosive as well as its distance from the building. Another factor is the
level of security that can be placed around the building.
The design vehicle weapon size that is considered will usually be much smaller than the
largest credible threat, measured say in the hundreds of pounds rather than the thousands
of pounds of TNT equivalent. The decision is usually based on a trade off between the largest
credible attack directed against the building and the design constraints of the project.
Further, the design pressures and impulses may be less than the actual peak pressures and
impulses may be less than the actual peak pressures and impulses acting on the building. This
is the approach that the federal government has taken in their design criteria for federally
owned domestic office buildings.
The total dynamic pressure (in psi) and the positive phase duration (in milliseconds) are
found using TNT equivalents (the equivalent weight of the explosive in TNT = W) and the
distance from the blast = R. To calculate blast loads, the blast must be scaled. Similar
blast waves are produced at identical scaled distances when two explosive charges of similar
geometry and of the same explosive, but of different sizes, are detonated in the same
atmosphere. The scaled distance parameter Z (ft per lb TNT equivalent) is: Z = —
W 1/3

Table 1. Recommended Antiterrorism Design Criteria

(Conrath et. al.)
Estimated Likelihood of Terrorist Attack
Measurement of
Tactic Parameter Very
Low Medium High Standoff Distance R

Vehicle Size*
4,000 4,000 5,000 12,000 Controlled Perimeter,
Vehicle (lbs GVW)
Vehicle Barrier, Or
Unsecured Parking/Road
Charge Size
50 100 500 2,000
W (lbs TNT)
Placed Charge Size Unobstructed Space or
0 2 100 100
Bomb W (lbs TNT) Unsecured Parking/Road
Standoff Charge Size Neighboring
2 2 50 50
Weapon W (lbs TNT) Structure
*For barrier design, with maximum velocity based on site configuration.
SOURCE: Schmidt, Jon A., “Structural Design for External Terrorist Bomb Attacks,” NCSEA,
Structure magazine (, March, 2003.

With the scaled distance in the correct units, published curves can be used to find the total
dynamic pressure and the positive phase duration.
Although the angle of incidence at which a blast wave strikes the building surface also
influences these parameters, it is usually conservative to neglect this adjustment. Either
way, in order to obtain the blast load, a number of different tools can be used. Tables of pre-
determined values may be used (see GSA Security Reference Manual: Part 3 – Blast Design &
Assessment Guidelines, July 31, 2001) or computer programs can perform these calculations
and provide much greater accuracy. One such software product, AT Blast, is available for
downloading free of charge from the U.S. General Services Administration (www.oca.gsa.
gov). Designers of government projects may request Con Wep, another software product,
through the agency that they have a contract with. Con Wep is a collection of conventional
weapons effects calculations from the equations and curves of TM 5-855-1. Users should be
thoroughly familiar with TM 5-855-1 before using this program as a design tool.
Although the actual blast load on an exposed element will vary over its tributary area, for
design the maximum dynamic load is typically taken as the product of this area and either
the maximum pressure or a spatially averaged value. This is analogous to the manner in which
design wind loads for components and cladding are routinely calculated. Blast loads need not
be factored since they already represent an ultimate design condition.

Blast Effects Predictions After the blast load has been predicted, damage levels may be evaluated by explosive testing,
engineering analysis, or both. Often, testing is too expensive an option for the design community
and an engineering analysis is performed instead. To accurately represent the response of an
explosive event, the analysis needs to be time dependent and account for non-linear behavior.
Non-linear dynamic analysis techniques are similar to those currently used in advanced
seismic analysis. Analytical models range from equivalent single-degree-of-freedom (SDOF)
models to finite element (FEM) representation. In either case, numerical computation requires
adequate resolution in space and time to account for the high-intensity, short-duration loading
and non-linear response. The main problems are the selection of the model, the appropriate
failure modes, and finally, the interpretation of the results for structural design details.
Whenever possible, results are checked against data from tests and experiments on similar
structures and loadings. Available computer programs include:
• AT Planner (U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center)
• BEEM (Technical Support Working Group)
• BLASTFX (Federal Aviation Administration)
Components such as beams, slabs, or walls can often be modeled by a SDOF system and the
governing equation of motion solved by using numerical methods. There are also charts developed
by J.M. Biggs in "Introduction to Structural Dynamics," McGraw-Hill Publishing Company,
1964, and military handbooks for linearly decaying loads, which provide the peak response and
circumvent the need to solve differential equations. These charts require only knowledge of the
fundamental period of the element, its ultimate resistance force, the peak pressure applied to
the element, and the equivalent linear decay time to evaluate the peak displacement response
of the system. The design of the anchorage and supporting structural system can be evaluated
by using the ultimate flexural capacity obtained from the dynamic analysis. Other charts are
available which provide damage estimates for various types of construction based on peak
pressure and peak impulse based on analysis or empirical data. Military design handbooks
typically provide this type of design information.
For SDOF systems, material behavior can be modeled using idealized elastic, perfectly-plastic
stress-deformation functions, based on actual structural support conditions and strain-
rate-enhanced material properties. The model properties selected to provide the same peak
displacement and fundamental period as the actual structural system in flexure. Furthermore,
the mass and the resistance functions are multiplied by mass and load factors, which estimate
the actual portion of the mass or load participating in the deflection of the member along its
For more complex elements, the blast consultant must resort to finite-element numerical
time integration techniques. The time and cost of the analysis cannot be ignored when choosing
design procedures. SDOF models are suitable for numerical analysis on PCs, but the most
sophisticated FEM systems (with non-linear material models and options for explicit modeling of
reinforcing bars) may have to be carried out on servers. Because the design analysis process is
a sequence of iteration, the cost of analysis must be justified in terms of benefits to the project
and increased confidence in the reliability of the results. In some cases, an SDOF approach will be
used for the preliminary design and a more sophisticated approach, using finite elements, will be
used for the final verification of the design.
A dynamic non-linear approach is more likely than a static approach to provide a section
that meets the design constraints of the project. Elastic static calculations are likely to give
overly conservative design solutions if the peak pressure is considered without the effect of
load duration. By using dynamic calculations instead of static, it is possible to account for the
very short duration of the loading. Because the peak pressure levels are so high, it is important
to account for the short duration of the loading to properly model the structural response. In
addition, the inertial effect included in dynamic computations greatly improves response. This is
because by the time the mass is mobilized; the loading is greatly diminished, enhancing response.
Furthermore, by accepting that damage occurs it is possible to account for the energy absorbed
by ductile systems through plastic deformation. Finally, because the loading is so rapid, it is
possible to enhance the material strength to account for strain-rate effects.
Both concrete and reinforcing steel subjected to the very short duration impulse type loading
caused by a blast exhibit a higher strength than similar elements subjected to a static loading.
The stiffness and strength of both steel reinforcement and concrete are likely to increase
with the higher rate of loading under blast conditions. This obviously increases the strength of
reinforced concrete members which translates into higher dynamic resistance. But the high rate
of loading expected during blasts is also likely to significantly reduce the deformation capacity
and the fracture energy of reinforced concrete. This translates into reduction of ductility of
reinforced concrete in blast loading situations.
In dynamic non-linear analysis, response is evaluated by comparing the ductility (i.e., the peak
displacement divided by the elastic limit displacement) and/or support rotation (the angle
between the support and the point of peak deflection) to empirically established maximum values
that have been established by the military through explosive testing. Not that these values
are typically based on limited testing and are not well defined within the industry at this time.
Maximum permissible values vary, depending on the material and the acceptable damage level.
If static design methods are used, it is recommended that an equivalent static pressure be
used rather than the peak air-blast pressure. The peak air-blast pressure generally leads to
over-designed sections that are not cost effective, add weight to the structure, and are difficult
to construct.
Specifications for precast elements can be either in the form of a performance requirement,
with the air-blast pressures and required performance provided, or as a prescriptive
specification with equivalent static pressures provided. The equivalent static pressures
are computed based on the peak dynamic response of the panel for the defined threat. The
performance specifications give the precaster more flexibility to provide the systems with which
they are most familiar. However, it requires that the precaster either have in-house dynamic
analysis capability or have a relationship with a blast engineer who can work with them to
customize the most cost-effective system.
On the other hand, as static equivalent pressures are based on the specific panel’s response
to the air-blast load, changing dimensions, reinforcement, or supported elements would require
recalculation of the static equivalent load. However, when using the static equivalent loads, the
designer may proceed normally with the lateral design process, using a load factor of one.
Note that equivalent static values are different from quasi-static values which assume a
displacement ductility less than one. The equivalent static values are based on computations
that are non-linear, with ductilities in excess of one.
Levels of damage computed by means of analysis may be described by the terms minor,
moderate, or major, depending on the peak ductility, support rotation and collateral effects. A
brief description of each damage level is given below.
Minor: Nonstructural failure of building elements such as windows, doors, curtain walls, and
false ceilings. Injuries may be expected, and possible fatalities are possible but unlikely.
Moderate: Structural damage is confined to a localized area and is usually repairable.
Structural failure is limited to secondary structural members such as beams, slabs, and
non-loadbearing walls. However, if the building has been designed for loss of primary members,
localized loss of columns may be accommodated. Injuries and some fatalities are expected.
Major: Loss of primary structural components such as columns or transfer girders
precipitates loss of additional adjacent members that are adjacent to or above the lost
member. In this case, extensive fatalities are expected. Building is usually not repairable.
Generally, moderate damage at the design threat level is a reasonable design goal for new
Table 2 provides estimates of incident pressures at which damage may occur.
Table 2 Damage Approximations

Damage Incident Overpressure (psi)

Typical window glass breakage 0.15 – 0.22

Minor damage to some buildings 0.5 – 1.1
Panels of sheet metal buckled 1.1 – 1.8
Failure of concrete block walls 1.8 – 2.9
Collapse of wood framed buildings Over 5.0
Serious damage to steel framed buildings 4–7
Severe damage to reinforced concrete structures 6–9
Probable total destruction of most buildings 10 – 12
SOURCE: Explosive Shocks in Air, Kinney & Grahm, 1985; Facility Damage and Personnel Injury from
Explosive Blast, Montgomery & Ward, 1993; and The Effects of Nuclear Weapons, 3rd Edition,
Glasstone & Dolan, 1977


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Fig. 4 – Incident overpressure measured in pounds per square inch, as a function of stand-off distance and
net explosive weight (pounds-TNT).
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency. Reference Manual to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks.
FEMA 426 (Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency, December 2003).

Fig. 4 provides a quick method for predicting the expected overpressure (expressed in psi) on a
building for a specific explosive weight and stand-off distance. Enter the x-axis with the estimated
explosive weight a terrorist might use and the y-axis with a known stand-off distance from a
building. By correlating the resultant effects of overpressure with other data, the degree of
damage that the various components of a building might receive can be estimated. The vehicle
icons in Figs. 4 and 5 indicate the relative size of the vehicles that might be used to transport
various quantities of explosives.
Fig. 5 shows an example of a range-to-effect chart that indicates the distance or stand-off
to which a given size bomb will produce a given effect. This type of chart can be used to display
the blast response of a building component or window at different levels of protection. It can also
be used to consolidate all building response information to assess needed actions if the threat
weapon-yield changes. For example, an amount of explosives are stolen and indications are that
they may be used against a specific building. A building-specific range-to-effect chart will allow
quick determination of the needed stand-off for the amount of explosives in question, after the
explosive weight is converted to TNT equivalence.


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Fig. 5 – Explosives environments – blast range to effects.

Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency. Reference Manual to Mitigate Potential Terrorist Attacks.
FEMA 426 (Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency, December 2003).
Standoff Distance Protection for a commercial building, which comes in active and passive forms, will impact
the damage sustained by the building and the rescue efforts of the emergency workers. The
primary approach is to create a standoff distance that ensures a minimum guaranteed
distance between the blast source and the target structure. The standoff distance is vital
in the design of blast resistant structures since it is the key parameter that determines, for
a given bomb size or charge weight, the blast overpressures that load the building cladding
and its structural elements. The blast pressure is inversely proportional to the cube of the
distance from the blast to the point in question. For example, if the standoff distance is
doubled the peak blast pressure is decreased by a factor of eight, see Fig. 6. Furthermore,
for a similar charge weight, the greater standoff distance results in a longer loading duration
than the shorter standoff distance, and the blast wave is more uniformly distributed across
the building face. Currently design standoff distances for blast protection vary from 33 to
148 feet depending on the function of the building. This standoff distance, or setback zone,
is achieved by placing at the site perimeter anti-ram bollards, large planters, low level walls,
fountains and other barriers that cannot be compromised by vehicular ramming. In urban
areas, the setback choices are limited. In suburban or rural areas, large setbacks around a
building can be used.

Pressure vs. Range

Hemispherical Surface Burst

Incident Pressure, psi
Reflected Pressure, psi


Pressure, psi



Charge weight 2,000 pounds C-4

1 Eqv. weight of TNT 2,560 pounds

2 5 10 50 100 500 1,000 2,000
Range, feet

Fig. 6 – Pressure vs. Range-Hemispherical Surface Burst.*

*Bridge and Tunnel Vulnerability Workshop, U.S. Army Engineer
Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, May 13-15, 2003

The maximum vehicle speeds attainable will be determined by the site conditions; therefore,
the site conditions will determine the vehicle kinetic energy resulting from an impact that
must be resisted by the standoff barriers. Both the bollard and its slab connection must be
designed to resist the impact loading at the maximum speed attainable. Conversely, if design
restrictions limit the capacity of the bollard or its slab connection, then site restrictions will
be required to limit the maximum speed attainable by the potential bomb delivery vehicle.
While the setback zone is the most effective and efficient measure to lessen the effect of a
terrorist vehicle bomb attack, it also can work against rescue teams since the barriers could
deter access to the rescue and firefighting vehicles. In most urban settings, the typical setback
distance from the street to the building façade is typically 10 to 25 feet, which does not pose
any access problems for emergency vehicles. However, when designing prestigious buildings,
including landmark office towers, hospitals and museums, the setback is often increased to
100 feet or more to create a grand public space. Details to allow emergency access should
be included in the design of operational bollards or fences. If plaza or monumental stairs were
used, some secondary access must be incorporated to similarly allow entry. Furthermore, public
parking lots abutting the building must be secured or eliminated, and street parking should not
be permitted adjacent to the building. Additional standoff distance can be gained by removing
one lane of traffic and turning it into an extended sidewalk or plaza. However, the practical
benefit of increasing the standoff depends on the charge weight. If the charge weight is small,
this measure will significantly reduce the forces to a more manageable level. If the threat is a
large charge weight, the blast forces may overwhelm the structure despite the addition of nine
or ten feet to the standoff distance, and the measure may not significantly improve survivability
of the occupants or the structure.
Figures 6 and 7 (next Page) illustrate the effect of increased standoff distances on the
pressures that would be created on the structure.
Even where the minimum standoff distances are achieved, many aspects of building layout
and other architectural design issues must be incorporated to improve overall protection of
personnel inside buildings.

Design Concepts Several important concepts should be kept in mind while designing buildings for blast
resistance. These concepts include energy absorption, safety factors, limit states, load
combinations, resistance functions, structural performance considerations, and most
importantly, structural redundancy to prevent progressive collapse of the building. A design
satisfying all required strength and performance criteria would be unsatisfactory without

Reflected Pressure
Hemispherical Surface Burst
55 440

50 400
45 360
Incident Pressure
40 320 Hemispherical Surface Burst
20 15 0

35 280
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30 240

Charge weight 2,000 pounds C-4 16 12 0

25 Eqv. weight of TNT 2,560 pounds 200
Range 100 feet

Pressure, psi
Peak pressure 52.54 psi 14 10 5

Impulse, psi-msec
20 Impulse 355.7 psi-msec 160
Time of arrival 35.09 msec
Duration 28.88 msec
Decay coefficient 10.1 12 90
15 120

10 75
10 80 Charge weight 2,000 pounds C-4
Eqv. weight of TNT 2,560 pounds
Range 100 feet

Pressure, psi
5 ������� 40 8 Peak pressure 1 8. 0 3 ps i 60
Impulse, psi-msec

Impulse 145.7 psi-msec

Time of arrival 35.09 msec
Incident Pressure Duration 28.88 msec
0 0 6 Decay coefficient 14.02 45
Hemispherical Surface Burst 33 36 39 42 45 48 51 54 57 60 63 66
600 300 Time, milliseconds
4 30
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2 ������� 15
500 250

450 225 0 0
33 36 39 42 45 48 51 54 57 60 63 66

400 200
Time, milliseconds

350 175

300 150
Charge weight 2,000 pounds C-4
Eqv. weight of TNT 2,560 pounds
Range 20 feet

Pressure, psi
250 125
Peak pressure 555.1 psi

Impulse, psi-msec
Impulse 257.8 psi-mse c
Time of arrival 1.915 msec
200 100
Duration 3.728 msec
Decay coefficient 0.5436
150 75
100 50

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1.6 2 2.4 2.8 3.2 3.6 4 4.4 4.8 5.2 5.6 6
Time, milliseconds
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*Bridge and Tunnel Vulnerability Workshop, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS, May 13-15, 2003.
Fig. 7 – Explosive Airblast Loadings from Vehicle Bombs.*
Structures with three or more stories are more likely to be subject to significant damage
as a result of progressive collapse. The Engineer of Record needs to design the structure to
sustain local damage with the structural system as a whole remaining stable and not being
damaged to an extent disproportionate to the original localized damage. This is achieved
through structural elements that provide stability to the entire structural system by
transferring loads from any locally damaged region to adjacent regions capable of resisting
those loads without collapse. Transfer girders and the columns supporting them are
particularly vulnerable to blast loading. Unless specially designed, this form of construction
poses a significant impediment to the safe redistribution of the load in the event the girder or
the columns supporting it are damaged.
To limit the extent of collapse of adjacent components: (1) highly redundant structural
systems are designed; (2) the structure is analyzed to ensure it can withstand removal of one
primary exterior vertical or horizontal load-carrying element (i.e., a connection, column, beam
or a portion of a loadbearing/shear wall system) without progressive collapse; (3) connections
are detailed to provide continuity across joints equal to the full structural capacity of
connected members (see Article 16.5-Structural Integrity in ACI 318); (4) floors are designed
to withstand load reversals due to explosive effects; and (5) exterior walls employ one-way
wall elements spanning vertically to minimize blast loads on columns.
Strength and ductility (energy-dissipating capacity) are necessary to achieve high energy
absorption. High energy absorption is achieved through the use of appropriate structural
materials and details. These details must accommodate relatively large deflections and
rotation in order to provide redundancy in the load path. Elements with low ductility are
undesirable for blast resistant design.
Margins of safety against structural failure are achieved through the use of allowable
deformation criteria. Structures subjected to blast load are typically allowed to undergo
plastic (permanent) deformation to absorb the explosion energy, whereas response to
conventional loads is normally required to remain in the elastic range. The more deformation
the structure or member is able to undergo, the more blast energy that can be absorbed. As
member stresses exceed the yield limit, stress level is not appropriate for judging member
response as is done for static elastic analysis. In dynamic design, the adequacy of the
structure is judged on maximum deformations. Limits on displacements are selected based on
test data or other empirical evidence as well as blast probability and potential consequences.
A degree of conservatism is included to ensure adequate capacity because the applied loads
are not “factored up” to provide a factor of safety.
As long as the calculated deformations do not exceed the allowable values, a margin of safety
against failure exists. Since the actual weight of the explosive charge is unknown, the engineer
cannot increase the design blast pressure loading to achieve a margin of safety. Blast resistant
design requires that the loads from blasts be quantified by risk analysis and that the structural
performance requirements be established for buildings subjected to these derived loads. Methods
to determine the blast loading and structural performance limits are established in TM 5-1300 for
buildings exposed to explosions from TNT or other high-yield explosives in military applications and
munitions plants. Typical threats for civilian structures vary from suitcase and backpack bombs (20
to 50 lbs TNT equivalent) to van or small truck bombs (3,000 to 5,000 lbs TNT equivalent). Generally
the smaller charge sizes are associated with vehicles that can be kept further from the building (60
to 100 ft) by appropriately designed vehicle barriers.
Design codes contain special provisions for high seismic conditions, which may be used to address
the requirements to design against progressive collapse associated with design for blast resistance.
However, these provisions are not sufficient for blast design. These provisions are intended to protect
against nonductile failure modes, such as buckling or premature crushing of brittle materials, through
use of special detailing and design requirements. The desirable features of earthquake-resistant
design (ductility, redundancy, and load redistribution) are equally desirable in blast design. The
provision for seismic detailing, which maintains the capacity of the section despite development of
plastic hinges, is also desirable for resisting the effects of blast. However, the highly localized loading
from a blast and the potential for different mechanisms/failure modes requires some additional
considerations. The engineer should design the panels so that the full capacity of the section will be
realized and that no premature failure will occur.
Building codes define the load factors and combinations of loads to be used for conventional loading
conditions such as dead, live, wind and earthquake. However, no current building codes cover blast
loading conditions. Blast loads are combined with only those loads that are expected to be present at
the time of the explosion. Therefore, blast loads are not combined with earthquake or wind loads.
The Strength Design Method of ACI 318 may be used to extend standard concrete strength
and ductility requirements to the design of blast resistant structures. The resistance of concrete
elements because of high strain rates is computed using dynamic material strengths, which are 10 to
30% greater than static load strengths. Strength reduction or resistance factors are not applied (i.e.
φ = 1.0) to load cases involving blast. The plastic response used in blast design is similar in concept to
the moment redistribution provisions in ACI 318, Section 8.4 and the seismic criteria provided in ACI
318, Chapter 21. The seismic detailing provisions are applied to provide the necessary ductile response.
In addition to ACI 318 requirements, the following items should be considered for blast
resistant design.
a. The minimum reinforcing provisions of ACI 318 apply, however the option to use one third
more reinforcing than computed should not be taken. The moment capacity of under-reinforced
concrete members is controlled by the uncracked strength of the member. To prevent a premature
ductile failure, reinforcing in excess of the cracking moment should be provided. Two-way, sym-
metric reinforcement is reconnended to accommodate large deformations and rebound loads.
For panels, the minimum reinforcement ratio (percentage of reinforcing steel cross sectional
area to the panel cross sectional area) of vertical reinforcing steel should be equal to or
greater than Building Code ACI 318 minimums required for Seismic Design Categories D, E,
or F. If the risk potential for a blast is high, the minimum reinforcement ratio required for
blast-resistant design (TM 5-855-1; DAHSCWEMAN 1998) should be used as a basis for
design. Generally, for concrete walls 8 in. or greater in thickness, the recommended minimum
reinforcing should be 0.25% each face. For concrete walls less than 8 in. thick, 0.5% as a
single row (on center line) of reinforcing should be the minimum specified.
b. Code provisions for maximum allowable reinforcing are included to prevent crushing of
concrete prior to yielding of steel. Code provisions also allow compression reinforcing to offset
maximum tension reinforcing requirements. Because blast resistant precast concrete panels
typically have the same reinforcing on each face to resist rebound loads, maximum reinforcing
provisions should not be a problem.
c. The substitution of higher grades of reinforcing should not be allowed. Grade 60 reinforcing
bars (No. 11 and smaller) have sufficient ductility for dynamic loading. Bars with high yield
strength may not have the necessary ductility for flexural resistance and shop bending, thus
straight bars should be used when possible for these materials. Welding of reinforcement is
generally discouraged for blast design applications; however, it may be required for anchorage.
In these cases, ASTM A706 bars may be used.
d. Development lengths should not be reduced for excessive reinforcement. Because plastic
hinges will cause over-designed reinforcing to yield, the full actual strength of reinforcing
should be used in computing section capacities. The development of reinforcing should be
computed accordingly.
e. Criteria intended to reduce cracking at service load levels need not be applied to load
combinations including blast. Cracking, as well as permanent deformations resulting from a
plastic range response, are an expected result of such an unusual type of load.
f. Some concrete elements are simultaneously subjected to out-of-plane bending loads in
combinations with in-plane shear loads. For example, side walls must resist side overpressures
acting into the plane of the side wall. Additionally, reactions from the roof diaphragm acting in
the plane of the side shear wall must also be resisted.

Façade Considerations A major structural consideration is the construction of the exterior façade. Second only
to the impact the standoff distance has on the effects of the blast, the façade remains
the occupant’s last form of true protection. Not only does the building’s skin protect the
occupants from the weather, but it also has the potential to limit the blast pressure that can
actually enter the workspace.

For a surface blast, the most directly affected building elements are the façade and
structural members on the lower four stories. Although the walls can be designed to protect
the occupants, a very large vehicle bomb at small standoffs will likely breach any reasonably
sized wall at the lower levels. There is a decrease in reflected pressure with height due to the
increase in distance and angle of incidence of the air blast. Chunks of concrete dislodged by
blast forces move at high speeds and are capable of causing injuries. Additional protection
from fragment impact can be provided by steel backing plates, carbon fiber materials or
KEVLAR lining the interior of the wall; however, these are extreme measures that should be
reserved for localized protection of high value assets.
The building structure, architectural precast cladding, and the window, window wall, and
any curtain wall framing systems may be designed to adhere to the blast criteria within
the Interagency Security Committee (ISC) ‘Security Design Criteria for New Federal Office
Buildings and Major Renovation Projects,’ dated May 28, 2001 for the appropriate Hazard
Level as determined by a threat consultant. By combining the criteria of the ISC with the
applicable blast analysis standards mentioned earlier, the architectural precast cladding
systems should be sufficiently sized, reinforced, detailed, and installed to resist the required
blast loading criteria on the panels if they were tested in accordance with the General
Services Administration’s (GSA’s) ‘Standard Test Method for Glazing and Window Systems
Subject to Dynamic Overpressure Loadings’ (GSA – TS01-2003). In addition to transferring
the blast pressures safely into the supporting structure, the panels must also be checked for
their capacity to transfer the additional loading caused by the specified window framing and
blast resistant glass units.

Architectural Precast Architectural precast concrete can be designed to mitigate the effects of a bomb blast and
Concrete Cladding thereby satisfy GSA and DOD requirements. Rigid façades, such as precast concrete, provide
needed strength to the building through in-plane shear strength and arching action. However,
these potential sources of strength are not usually taken into consideration in conventional
design as design requirements do not need those strength measures. Panels are designed
for dynamic blast loading rather than the static loading that is more typical. Precast walls,
being relatively thin flexural elements, should be designed for a ductile response (eliminating
brittle modes of failure). There are tradeoffs in panel stiffness and the forces that must be
reacted to by the panel connections that must be evaluated by the engineer. Typically, the
panels should have increased section thickness or ribs on the back and have as much as 75
percent additional reinforcement. However, the amount of flexural reinforcing should be limited
to assure that the tensile reinforcing yields before concrete crushing can occur. Shear steel
may be used to increase shear resistance, confine the flexural reinforcing, and prevent buckling
of bars in compression.
For precast panels, consider a minimum thickness of five inches exclusive of reveals, with
two-way, reinforcing bars spaced not greater than the thickness of the panel to increase
ductility and reduce the chance of flying concrete fragments, or use the thinnest panel
thickness that is acceptable for conventional loads. The objective is to reduce the loads
transmitted into the connections, which need to be designed to resist the ultimate flexural
resistance of the panels.
Precast concrete panels are subject to horizontal loadings due to wind, earthquake and
blast and in plane loads due to earthquakes. As a means of addressing these loads, they
may be analyzed separately. This is a satisfactory design approach based on the 2000
International Building Code (IBC) load combinations.
Deep surface profiling should be minimized; such features can enhance blast effects by
causing complex reflections and lead to a greater level of damage than would be produced with
a plane façade.
To accommodate blast loading, the following features are commonly incorporated into
precast panel systems:
1. Increase panel size to at least two stories tall or one bay wide to increase their ductility.
Panels can then absorb a larger portion of the blast energy and transfer less through
connections to the main structure. Typically, the largest panel is analyzed for wind,
seismic and dead-loading and connections are based on those results. But with bomb
blast criteria, the goal is to provide panels with the flexibility to bend, break, or crush
while remaining essentially intact. As a result, in many instances, the smaller, less flexible
panels in each group may be the critical components, and these are analyzed for loading
2. Panels should be connected to floor diaphragms, rather than to columns, in order to
prevent stressing of the columns. The panels would then fail individually. When panels are
connected to the floors rather than the columns, movement of any panel causes the
previously set and tied-back panel to lose alignment. The amount of deflection of the floor
or beam varies with the panel’s position on the floor or beam, requiring field estimates to
determine how high to set each panel to allow for deflection caused by the adjacent panel.
3. Panels may be designed with integrally cast and reinforced vertical pilasters or ribs on the
back to provide additional support and act as beams that span floor-to-floor to take loads,
see Fig. 8. This rib system would make the panels more ductile and better able to withstand
an external blast, but force the window fenestration into a “punched” opening symmetry.
Fig. 8 – The 6 in. thick x 22 ft. tall
panels were reinforced with ribs Load-bearing precast panels need to be designed to span over failed areas by means of
spaced 6 ft. apart.
arching action, strengthened gravity connections, secondary support systems or other
means of providing an alternate load path. The precast concrete structure must satisfy the
requirements of ACI 318, Sections 7.13.3 and 16.5.
For load-bearing wall structures, the following detailing recommendations on connections/ties will
help resist progressive collapse:
• Horizontal and vertical ties in vertical joints between adjacent or intersecting bearing walls.
• Panels must be connected across horizontal joints by a minimum of two connections per panel.
• All members must be connected to the lateral force resisting system and their supporting
members. Tension ties must be provided in the transverse, longitudinal, and vertical directions and
around the perimeter of the structure.
• Ties between transverse bearing walls and connecting floor panels.
• Connection details that rely solely on friction caused by gravity loads are not to be used.

Connection Concepts Architectural precast construction relies on mechanical connectors at discrete locations
and Details that may be damaged in a blast event, posing specific design problems to the engineer. These
problems can be overcome with proper detailing. The governing connection forces are based on the
maximum percentage of reinforcement for wind, seismic or blast loading, since the amount of steel is
proportional to panel stiffness. The reaction forces for the design of the anchorages and connections
should be based on panel width and be considered factored loads. The wind load reactions are based
on elastic deformations of the panels.
Precast concrete cladding wall panel connection details may be strengthened versions of
conventional connections with a likely significant increase in connection hardware, see Figs. 9-11 or
connection details emulating cast-in-place concrete to provide a building which provides building
continuity. For a panel to absorb blast energy (and provide ductility) while being structurally efficient,
it must develop its full plastic flexural capacity which assumes the development of a collapse
mechanism. The failure mode should be yielding of the steel and not splitting, spalling or pulling out of
the concrete. This requires that connections are designed for at least 20% in excess of the member’s
bending capacity. Also, the shear capacity of the connections should be at least 20% greater than
the member’s shear capacity, steel-to-steel connections should be designed such that the weld is
never the weak link in the connection. Coordination with interior finishes needs to be considered due
to the larger connection hardware required to resist the increased forces generated from the blast
Where possible, connection details should provide for redundant load paths, since connections
designed for blast may be stressed to near their ultimate capacity, the possibility of single
connection failures must be considered. Consideration should be given to the number of components
in the load path and the consequences of a failure of any one of them. The key concept in the
development of these details is to trace the load or reaction through the connection. This is much
more critical in blast design than in conventionally loaded structures. Connections to the structure
should have as direct a load transmission path as practical, using as few connecting pieces as
Rebound forces (load reversal) can be quite high. These forces are a function of the
mass and stiffness of the member as well as the ratio of blast load to peak resistance. A
connection that provides adequate support during a positive phase load could allow a member
to become dislodged during rebound. Therefore, connections should be checked for rebound
loads (even if the panel is not designed for rebound). It is conservative to use the same load
in rebound as for the inward pressure. More accurate values may be obtained through dynamic
analysis and military handbooks.
It is also important that connections for blast loaded members have sufficient rotational
capacity. A connection may have sufficient strength to resist the applied load; however, when
significant deformation of the member occurs this capacity may be reduced due to buckling of
stiffeners, flanges, or changes in nominal connection geometry, etc.
The capacity of a panel to deform significantly and absorb energy is dependent on the
ability of its connections to maintain integrity throughout the blast response. If connections
become unstable at large displacements, failure can occur. The overall resistance of the panel
assembly will reduce, thereby increasing deflections or otherwise impairing panel performance.
Both bolted and welded connections can perform well in a blast environment, if they can
develop strength at least equal to that of the connected elements (or at least the weakest
of the connected elements).

Figs. 9-11 –
Connection details

9a 9b

Fig. 9a through 9b – Panel to panel or alignment connections





Fig. 10a through 10f – Bearing connections


11a 11b

Fig. 11a through 11b – Push/pull or tie-back connections

Fig. 12 – Column cover connection

Design Considerations for Blast Resistance of Architectural
Part IV Precast Concrete Façades

PCI’s Architectural Glazing

Precast Concrete The façade is comprised of the transparent glazing and opaque exterior wall elements. The
Services Committee
discusses items glazing, a blast sensitive element, is the first building component likely to fail in response
to consider in to the initial blast pressure that engulfs the building. Although the opaque wall elements
designing for blast
may be designed to resist the loading, the options available for the glass are much more
limited. These options include selecting an appropriate type of glass, applying security window
(fragment retention) film, installing blast curtains/shields, and / or using laminated glass.
Due to the extreme intensity of the blast pressures, all glazing on the blast side of the
target structure will fail for most car bomb threats. There is a direct correlation between the
degree of fenestration and the amount of debris that enters the occupied space. Historically,
failed window glazing due to the direct pressures produced by an explosion has resulted in a
considerable proportion of injuries, casualties and loss of use of the facility.
The two keys to protecting the workspace are attempting to prevent the windows from
failing and then ensuring that the windows fail properly if overloaded. While a great number of
injuries are related to flying glass shards, it is not the only significant source of injury though
usually a more visible one. The other visible cause of injury is falling debris. One of the less
visible causes of injuries is blast pressure, which can rupture the ear drum, collapse the lung,
or even crush the skull. These injuries, which begin at pressures near 15 pounds per square
inch (psi), can be reduced if the level of blast pressures entering the space is curtailed. The
amount of blast pressure that enters the space is directly proportional to the amount of
openings on the façade of a structure. Also, smaller windows will generally break at higher
pressures than larger windows, making them less prone to breakage. Consideration should be
given to designing narrow recessed windows with sloped sills because they are less vulnerable
to blast (see Fig. 13) .To the extent
that nonfrangible glass isolates a
building’s interior from blast shock
waves, it can also reduce damage
to interior framing elements (e.g.,
supported floor slabs could be made
to be less likely to fail due to uplift
Fig. 13 – Narrow and recessed windows with sloped sills.
forces) for exterior blasts. Source: U.S. Air Force, Installation Force Protection Guide

In embassies, the earliest type of civilian building designed to resist blast events, fenestration
is limited to 15 percent of the effective wall area (calculated using the floor-to-floor height and
width of a single bay). While this helps in the protective design, it does not provide the proper
lighting or open feeling that is desired in modern office buildings; therefore, the fenestration
limitations may be increased to 40 percent for commercial buildings.
The second design aspect for windows is to ensure that they fail properly if overloaded.
Special blast resistant windows can be designed not to fail for the small to mid-sized opening
described above, provided that the loading is limited. Annealed plate glass, the most common
form of architectural glass, behaves poorly when loaded dynamically.
While typical annealed plate glass is only capable of resisting, at most, 2 psi (14 kPa)
of blast pressure, there exist several other types of glazing that can resist moderately
larger blast pressures. Thermally Tempered Glass (TTG) (ANSI Z97.1 or ASTM C1048)
and Polycarbonate glazing, also known as bullet-resistant glass, can be made in sheets
up to about 1-in. thick and can resist pressures up to about 30 to 40 psi (200 to 275
kPa). Laminated (60 mil interlayer thickness) annealed glass with a 1/4-in (6mm) bead of
structural sealant around the inside perimeter exhibits the best post-damage behavior and
provides the highest degree of safety to occupants. The lamination holds the shards of glass
together in explosive events, reducing its potential to cause laceration injuries. The structural
sealant helps to hold the pane in the frame for higher loads. For insulated units, only the
inner pane needs to be laminated. Associated with each of these upgrades is a considerable
increase in cost for the glazing material. Also, the window bite (i.e., the depth of window
captured by the frame) needs to be at least 1/2-in.
Equally important to the design of the glass is the design of the glazing system and the
framing to which the glazing is attached. Glazing, frames, and attachments must be treated
as an integrated system and be capable of resisting blast pressures and transferring the
loads to the cladding to which the frame is attached. To fail as predicted, a window must be
held in place long enough to develop the proper stresses that cause failure. Otherwise, the
window may disengage from its frame intact and pose a post-event threat or cause serious
damage or injury. Therefore, the frame and anchorage should be designed to develop the full
loading anticipated for the chosen glazing type. Depending on the façade, the cladding panels
to which the windows are attached must be able to support the reaction forces of a window
loaded to failure.
Window frames and mullions of steel, steel reinforced aluminum, and heavy walled aluminum
are common for blast resistant framing components. Frames, mullions, and window hardware
should be designed to resist a minimum static load of 1 psi (7 kPa) applied to the surface
of the glazing or a dynamic load may be applied using the peak pressure and impulse values.
However, designing for 1 psi static loading will not necessarily ensure that the window frames,
mullions and anchorages are capable of developing the full strength of the laminate interlayer.
The equivalent static value is dependent on the type of glass, thickness of glass, size of
window unit, and thickness of laminate interlayer utilized. Also, a static approach may lead to
a design that is not practical, as the mullion can become very deep and heavy, driving up the
weight and cost of the window system.
The loading of the frame will depend on the design blast pressure and the size of the window.
As a minimum, frame connections to surrounding walls should be designed to resist a combined
ultimate loading consisting of a tension force of 200 lbs/in (35 kN/m) and a shear force of 75 lbs/
in (13 kN/m). Typically, this requires a plate with anchors rather than a simple bolted connection.
Frame supporting elements and their connections should be designed based on their ultimate
capacities. In addition, because the resulting dynamic loads are likely to be dissipated through
multiple mechanisms, it is not necessary to account for reactions from the supporting elements in
the design of the remainder of the structure. Additional reinforcement should be provided at window
openings. Vertical and horizontal reinforcement that would have occupied the opening width should be
evenly distributed on each side. Also, shear reinforcement should be provided as required around the

Fig. 14 – Generic blast window glazing and frame detail.

Source: Structural Design for Physical Security: State of the Practice, Structural Engineering
Institute of American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA, 1999.

Fig. 14 shows a typical section through a frame containing a blast window. The primary elements
include an inner frame holding the glazing and an outer frame anchored to the structure. The inner
frame consists of a frame angle and glazing stop. The frame angle is typically an A36 angle cut
to the desired dimensions. The glazing stop is fabricated from a structural angle, a structural
tube (as shown), or an A36 bar with countersunk holes. The entire inner frame is designed to allow
replacement of the glazing. Windows are typically factory-glazed and mounted in the window openings
as a complete unit.
The window is held and supported by continuous gaskets on the inside and outside faces of the
glazing. Neoprene gaskets are used for glass and santoprene is used for polycarbonate/glass
lay-ups. Setting blocks provide a cushion for the glazing and clearance for thermal expansion and
rotation of the glazing during blast loading.
The outer frame, referred to as an embed, is fabricated from A36 plate, channel, or angle
depending upon the particular geometry of the concrete wall and architectural treatment. The
embed shown in Fig. 14 consists of a 1/2 in. x by 6 in. (1 cm x 15 cm) steel plate. The inner frame
is connected to the embed using high-strength bolts in drilled and tapped holes in the embed
plate. Shim space should not be greater than 1/4 in. to minimize the length of the frame
bolts. Corrosion resistant, usually stainless, shims are placed at each bolt when required. The
frames may be cantilevered out from the edge of the wall to reduce the recessed distance
when a thick architectural façade is used. This cantilevered distance is usually not greater
than 1.5 in. (4 cm).
The blast-resistant glazing for the Lloyd D. George Federal Building and United States
Courthouse, Las Vegas is a 1 inch (24 mm) thick insulating unit composed of an annealed
exterior light, a 1/2 inch (12 mm) air space, and a laminated interior lite held in place by an
aluminum frame, Fig. 15. The inboard lite is composed of a polyvinyl-butral layer between two
sheets of 1/8 inch (3 mm) thick annealed glass. This design uses annealed glass in lieu of the
stronger tempered glass because it has more flexible properties, which absorb the impact of
the explosion.

1 Concrete panel with embedded

steel channel
2 Screw fastener
3 Gasket with silicone sealant above
4 Sacrificial light
5 Blast-resistant glass
6 Steel plate
7 Bolt

Fig. 15 – Blast-resistant glazing detail.

Window glazing assessments and designs for blast response may be performed using
one of the government produced and sponsored computer programs such as WINGARD
(WINdow Glazing Analysis Response & Design). This computer program was developed by
the US General Services Administration and is available to Government Agencies and their
contractors. WINGARD may be downloaded from the GSA’s Office of the Chief Architect
web site ( or obtained from the developer (Applied Research Associates, 119
Monument Place, Vicksburg, MS 39180). The engineer should define the structural design
criteria and coordinate with the building’s architect to assure the window manufacturer’s
correct interpretation.
Drawbacks of high-performance glazing systems include cost and high maintenance. When
the cost for installing blast-resistant windows is significant relative to the total cost of the
building, resources allocated to protective design may be better applied toward upgrading the
structural frame to be blast resistant. This is because the blast pressures from a close in
car or truck bomb can far exceed the allowable pressures any window system can resist. As a
point of reference, façade blast pressures in the Oklahoma City bombing were on the order of
4,000 psi - 100 times higher than the design pressures described above.
Atriums incorporating large vertical glazed openings on the building façade, common in
prestigious office buildings, cannot be designed to withstand blast pressures from a close-
in explosion. It is not reasonable to harden the exterior walls of the structure and leave an
atrium’s exterior wall of this type as an inviting target. Atrium balcony parapets, spandrel
beams, and exposed slabs must be strengthened to withstand loads that are transmitted
through exterior glass or framing. Another approach is to use an internal atrium with no
outward facing windows or an atrium with clerestory windows that are close to the ceiling and
angling the windows away from the curb to reduce the pressure levels.

Initial Costs The initial construction cost of protection has two components; fixed and variable. Fixed
costs include such items as security hardware and space requirements. These costs do not
depend on the level of an attack; that is, it costs the same to keep a truck away from a
building whether the truck contains 500 or 5000 lbs. of TNT. Blast protection, on the other
hand, is a variable cost. It depends on the threat level, which is a function of the explosive
charge weight and the stand-off distance.
The optimal stand-off distance is determined by defining the total cost of protection as
the sum of the cost of protection (construction cost) and the cost of stand-off (land cost).
These two costs are considered as a function of the stand-off for a given explosive charge
weight. The cost of protection is assumed to be proportional to the peak pressure at the
building envelope, and the cost of land is a function of the square of the stand-off distance.
The optimal stand-off is the one that minimizes the sum of these costs.
If additional land is not available to move the secured perimeter farther from the building,
the required floor area of the building can be distributed among additional floors. As the
number of floors is increased, the footprint decreases, providing an increased stand-off
distance. Balancing the increasing cost of the structure (due to the added floors) and the
corresponding decrease in protection cost (due to added stand-off), it is possible to find the
optimal number of floors to minimize the cost of protection.
Though it is difficult to assign costs to various upgrade measures because they vary
based on the site specific design, some generalizations can be made (see Fig. 16). In some
cases, the owner may decide to prioritize enhancements, based on their effectiveness in
saving lives and reducing injuries. For instance, measures against progressive collapse are
perhaps the most effective actions that can be implemented to save lives and should be



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Fig. 16 – Plots showing relationship between cost of upgrading various building components,
standoff distance, and risk.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency. Primer for Design of Commercial Buildings
to Mitigate Terrorist Attacks. FEMA 427 (Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management
Agency, December 2003).

considered above any other upgrades. Laminated glass is perhaps the single most effective
measure to reduce extensive non-fatal injuries.
An awareness of a blast threat from the beginning of a project helps to decide early what
the priorities are for the facility. Including protective measures as part of the discussion
regarding trade-offs early in the design process often helps to clarify the issues.
Ultimately the willingness to pay the additional cost for protection against blast hazards
is a function of the “probability of regrets” in the event a sizable incident occurs. In some
situations, the small probability of an incident may not be compelling enough to institute
the design enhancements. Using this type of logic, it is likely to lead to a selection process
in which buildings stratify into two groups: those that incorporate no measures at all or only
the most minimal provisions and those that incorporate high levels of protection. It also
leads to the conclusion that it may not be appropriate to consider any but the most minimal
measures for most buildings.

Series Enhances This article presents the first in a series that serves as a sequel to the Architectural Precast Concrete Color & Texture Selection Guide. The series is
Selection Guide designed to cover additional techniques affecting the design aspects of panel geometry or shape details (form). Its purpose is to broaden the architect’s
design repertoire by providing an understanding of concrete’s plasticity and sculptural qualities.
Upcoming articles in the series, which will continue through 1998, will focus on cornices, reveals, sculptures, liners, veneers, lettering, returns and other
architectural details.

PCI’s Architectural Precast’s Plasticity Enhances Design Options - Articles I & II

Precast Concrete
Precast concrete can replicate traditional shapes from the classical architectural vocabulary
Services Committee
outlines the potential of or produce the sleek contemporary look of today. To achieve these goals cost-effectively, however,
precast’s moldability, requires working with the precaster and understanding the inherent advantages of the material
repetition and use of
bullnoses in the first of a so its use can be maximized. A key ingredient in that recipe comes in exploiting precast’s low-
series focusing on panel cost repetition and its ability to cast many pieces from the same mold.
details Costs naturally increase on a design as surface features become more extensive or intricate,
as well as when the panel cross-section becomes more complex. However, the ability to cast
many pieces from the same basic mold has made complex shapes economically feasible with
precast concrete.

Repetition and Mold Concept - Article I

Advantages Since molds typically are an expensive item, tooling costs should be spread over as many
Of Repetition units as possible. The more elements that can be cast with any one given mold, the more
economical the project becomes. Although every project will have some atypical conditions, the
most successful and cost-effective projects maximize the repetition of elements. This means
that careful planning is necessary to achieve good repetition without sacrificing design
Prior to designing wall panels, the architect should visit precasters who produce architectural
precast concrete. If possible, the designer should visit the manufacturing plants, as well as
projects underway. This way the designer can become familiar with the manufacturing process.
Such elements as the fabrication of molds, challenges to casting and finishing specific designs or
shapes, handling methods at the plant and jobsite, and approaches for connecting panels to a
structure are important to fully understand in order to maximize precast’s potential.

Master Mold Efficiency The architect can make a significant contribution to economic
production by designing precast concrete panels with a
knowledge of the “master mold” concept. This involves
fabricating one master mold (with its appropriate additional
tooling) that allows a maximum number of reuses per project.
Units cast in this mold need not be identical, provided the
changes in the units can be accomplished through pre-
engineered mold modifications.
These modifications should be achieved with a minimum
change-over time and without jeopardizing the usefulness or
Fig. 1A—Typical applications
of the master mold concept. quality of the original mold. Typical applications are shown in
Fig. 1A. It is relatively easy to alter a mold if the variations can be contained within the total
mold envelope by using bulkheads or blockouts rather than by cutting into the mold surface.
When a large number of precast concrete units can be produced in each mold, the cost per
square foot will be more affordable.
The master mold concept is illustrated in Figs. 1B and 1C. In these examples, a large number
of panels (if not all of them) can be produced from
a single mold built to accommodate the largest
piece and then subdivided as needed to produce
the other required sizes. Whenever possible, the
largest pieces should be produced first to avoid
casting on areas that have become worn and
damaged by placing and fastening side-form
The number of forms required for a job is
Fig. 1B—Several versions
of a master mold. determined by the time allowed for completing the
Fig. 1C—Three views of a master mold. job and the facilities available. Casting may proceed
during the early part of the erection process if the panels have been manufactured in the
correct sequence. However, this format may not coincide with the needs of the master mold
concept. The number of forms also is affected by the original planning of the master mold.
Fewer forms will be required if most conditions can be covered by modifying the master mold
with bulkheads or blockouts.

The Larger The Better Most precasters, for reason of economy, prefer to make precast units as large as possible
within normal handling and shipping limitations. This is because the smaller the panel, the
greater the number of pieces required for enclosure. Handling precast components
constitutes a significant portion of the expense involved. The cost difference in handling a
large rather than a small unit is insignificant compared to the increased square footage of
the large unit.
In addition to providing cost savings during erection, larger panels provide secondary
benefits by reducing the amount of caulking needed, offering better dimensional controls and
requiring fewer connections. Thus, large units are preferable unless they lack adequate
repetition or incur cost premiums for transporting and erecting.

Moldability Advantages In addition to considering maximum form reuse, the final design should take into account
ease of removal from forms. This allows the precaster to most efficiently meet schedules and
budgets without impacting the design aesthetics.
Architectural concrete units normally are cast indoors in a horizontal or flat position with
the exposed, textured or sculptured face down (Fig. 1D).
Where the shape requires it, the form may be made in
parts with removable sections (such as side rails
and top forms) that must be assembled and
disassembled with each day’s pour (Fig. 1E
and Fig. 1F).
The optimum economy in
production is attained if the
panel can be separated from
Fig. 1D—A sculptured panel as cast in a face-down position.
the mold without disassembling
the mold (Fig. 1G). This is done by providing slope (draft) on the sides of all openings and
edges. Drafts are a function both
of shape and production
Generally, the minimum positive
draft that will allow the unit to be
stripped from the mold easily is one
inch in one foot (1:12), but 1:8 is
Fig. 1F—An envelope mold with
haunches on the back. preferred. This draft should be
increased for narrow or delicate
units where the suction between the
Fig. 1E—Removable sections within a master mold. unit and the mold becomes a major
factor in both strength requirements and reinforcement of unit. The draft should be increased to
1:6 for units pierced with many openings, for narrow ribbed panels and for smooth concrete and
delicate units (Fig. 1H). Drafts for ribbed panels should be related to the depth, width and spacing
of the ribs.
At areas where negative draft is required, it may be necessary to incorporate slip blocks
(i.e., removable plugs) to aid in stripping the precast concrete panel from the mold (Fig. 1H).
Reverse or negative draft will create entrapped air voids that, if exposed, may be
objectionable. Minimizing these surface blemishes will incur extra cost. In general, the greater
the draft, the more economical and uniform the finish.

Fig. 1G—Economy is achieved if

the panel can be removed
from the mold without
disassembling the mold.

Fig. 1H—Draft should be increased from 1:12 to 1:6 for panels with special needs.
Bullnoses/Arrises - Article II
Bullnoses Add Interest The bullnose offers a useful tool with which architects can increase interest by adding
dimensionality and allowing the design to avoid simple concrete planes. The light-and-shadow
effect achieved with a bullnose produces a major visual impact when a building is viewed from a
distance. Also, shadows cast by a horizontal bullnose profile create strong lines that reduce
Typical flat mold. the apparent height of the structure.
Here are some key points to remember when designing bullnose components. For each item,
the number corresponds to a Figure that shows the discussed aspect (e.g., 1.=Fig. B-1):
1. Bullnoses range in size from less than one inch to
Typical bullnose.
Additional forming cost. a total-radius panel. As the bullnose increases in
size, it adds weight and cost to the panel,
primarily due to the expense of the mold.
2. The basic bullnose is 180 degrees, or a half-circle.
Fig. B-2—A Fig. B-3—A Fig. B-4—An
3. Multiple bullnoses can be used within a panel. typical bullnose. double bullnose. elliptical bullnose.
4. The bullnose can be elliptical.
5. A rustication (i.e., reveal) may be placed at the
Total round bullnose. intersection of the bullnose and the panel field to
Complex basic mold plus
backpan to be removed and accentuate the bullnose. The reveal may also be
replaced daily.
used to separate dissimilar mixes and/or finishes.
Fig. B-1—As the bullnose Fig. B-5—A Fig. B-6—A half Fig. B-7—A
6. The bullnose may be halved. bullnose with bullnose. bullnose featuring
becomes more complex, the
mold expense increases. reveals at top a return.
7. A return may be incorporated with the bullnose. and bottom.
8. The bullnose may be concave.
9. The bullnose may be convex.
10. The bullnose may be partial.
Fig. B-8— Fig. B-9— Fig. B-10—
11. The bullnose may be A concave bullnose. A convex bullnose. A partial bullnose.
interrupted, but this may have an impact on schedule and price due to form changes.
12. Arrises (i.e, shapes) may be rectilinear or pointed. They may protrude or be inverted similar
to items 1 through 11 above. They also
may be combined with bullnoses.
Fig. B-11—A bullnose featuring
an interrupt.

Fig. B-12—Arrises can take many shapes.

In all instances, the most effective design, along with efficient connection details, can be
achieved by discussing these aspects with the precaster prior to finalizing the plans. They will
be able to supply suggestions and designs that ensure that the maximum design efficiency is
achieved at the lowest erected cost.
—PCI Architectural Precast Concrete Services Committee
Great Potential In Precast Bullnoses

Architect Anthony J. Many of the buildings I’ve designed as principal for design at DMJM and now as principal for
Lumsden explains a Anthony J. Lumsden & Associates have incorporated precast linear elements that are rounded
variety of ways he has
in section. Often, these precast pieces are designed with combinations of concave, convex and
used precast concrete
bullnose components to flat sectional shapes. Taking advantage of precast’s plasticity in creating these shapes can add
give projects more considerable aesthetic appeal to a project.
aesthetic appeal
Bullnoses help add interest to many flat surfaces, especially those with no functional need or a
minimal need for fenestration. These flat areas often lack scale and visual interest, and the
introduction of bullnose precast sections can enliven them.

Bullnoses Add Dimension Their key advantage comes from the fact that three dimensional pieces that extend from a flat
surface change the reading and proportion of that surface. Rectilinear shapes added to a flat
plane may make the flat plane appear irregular and be visually disruptive. Curved surfaces, such
as bullnoses, won’t confuse the
organization of the total form. Their
curved form offers a basically different
shape in the geometry that is easily
distinguished from the flat plane. The
plane and the bullnose can modify each
other without confusion.
Curved surfaces change direction in
relationship to sunlight and the viewer. Adding bullnoses along each window ledge of the
Terminal Services Building at the Hyperion Wastewater
Surfaces which change directions in plan or Treatment Facility added variety to the design,
improved the proportions of the facade, and created
section relative to any light source, even changing light patterns during the day.
reflective light, express variations in illumination, reflectivity, shading and brightness. These light
and shade variations produce visual interest and contrast. The sun’s movement during the day
introduces additional modification to this light and shading further changing the building’s
appearance. The fundamental appeal of the bullnose form in precast concrete design comes from
its ability to visually reproportion an uninteresting, flat surface.

The bullnose can also be used to develop more complex forms in combination with bullnose
shapes of different radii or in combination of convex, concave or flat surfaces. Some
architectural forms that are not flat can be difficult to achieve. However, forms which are
The use of the bullnose sections
on various support buildings at cylindrical in nature, forms that have surfaces generated from a sectional shape which are
the Hyperion Wastewater consistent throughout the length of the form, are simple to form. These forms that are
Treatment Facility broke up the
flat-panel facade and created a consistent sectionally allow multiple castings. These forms are economical to fabricate since
distinctive look.
attached pieces are identical and easy to install. Molded shapes that have curvatures about
both axes are very difficult to fabricate, difficult to install and have limited repetitive
applications. Forms which vary in radii in both axes, such as a warped plane, are
extraordinarily expensive in fabrication and virtually impossible to install and
maintain. This difference in reuse of the mold and ease of fabrication and
installation is what distinguishes the bullnose form from many other nonlinear
type forms.
The essence of the barrel form, which is basically a sliced extrusion, is that it
can be fabricated and attached to a similar precast element simply and
economically. Concrete allows for the economic use of three-dimensional forms
Large bullnose components added to the parking
structure at the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment that would be prohibitively expensive if they were cut from stone. Precasting
Facility provided a distinctive visual element that
tied it to the other buildings in the project without
allows these forms to be precisely controlled in accuracy of surface, shape and
mimicking their exact look. line and in consistency of color and texture.

Facility Offers Examples This combination of sectional geometries that extends horizontally to develop linear forms can
be seen extensively on the Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Facility in Los Angeles. Bullnoses
were designed under the windows at each floor level of the Technical Services Building. This
changed the proportion of the opaque section of the facade, adding highlights on the upper
curvature, shadows on the lower portions of the curved bullnose and shading on the flat spandrel
The inclusion of bullnoses in the design illustrates how a surface can be modified to become
better proportioned, more interesting and more visually organized. The bullnose design was used
on a variety of other buildings in this project, including the Switchyard Building, the parking
structure and several smaller support buildings on the Hyperion campus. This not only added
visual interest but offered a continuity element that tied the separate structures together
without mimicking one style.
On the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, the bullnose was used at the entry lobby
interspersed with glazing and for the terraced garden
on the 3rd Street facade. It was used to cap the
planters and modify the proportion of the opaque
service node.
These examples show only a few of the ways that
bullnoses can provide design interest on a project. Its
ability to break up the flat plane without disrupting its
The lobby facade of the Moscone
flow makes the bullnose a valuable weapon in the Convention Center makes ample use of
bullnose sections, tying in with planters
designer’s arsenal of precast concrete design and adding visual interest to the center.
(For another view of this project, see the
techniques. Designer’s Notebook cover, page 13.)

— Anthony J. Lumsden, Principal, Anthony J. Lumsden & Associates, Los Angeles, Calif.
Corners And Returns Create Design Challenges — Article VII
PCI’s Architectural Each project requires special attention to the design and detailing of its corners to create the
Precast Concrete optimum appearance, jointing and economy. For this reason, corner detailing should be decided early.
Services Committee
explains that designing Economy results when the building elevations are designed from the corners inward, using typical
corner details requires panels, thus avoiding specially sized end or corner pieces.
special attention to
All edges of precast concrete units should be designed with a reasonable radius or chamfer, rather
optimize appearance,
jointing and economy than leaving sharp corners. This is particularly important where the panels are close to pedestrian or
vehicular traffic. When the edge is sharp, only fine aggregate collects in these locations, and this
weakens the edge. Voids also occur due to the interference of larger aggregate. Sharp corners chip
easily, both during handling and during service on the finished building. For typical edge details, see Fig. 1.
The size of the edge’s radius should be discussed with the precaster. Determining the optimum size
depends on the selected aggregate size, mold materials and production techniques. A 3/16- or 5/16-
inch minimum radius should be satisfactory for smooth concrete or a light textured surface. A 1/4- or
5/16-inch rounded edge should be satisfactory for an exposed-aggregate finish with a maximum
aggregate size of 1/2 inch. Above that aggregate size, the edge must be progressively more rounded.

Miters Must Be Concrete at mitered corners cannot be cast to a sharp 45-degree point because of the size of the
Cut Off aggregates. Therefore, this edge must have a cut-off or quirk. Fig. 2 shows the recommended size of
the quirk return for different panel joint sizes. The size of the quirk return should never be less than
3/4 inch nor less than 1.5 times the maximum size of the aggregate used in the concrete mix.
Normally a 3/4- to 1-1/2-inch quirk will read as a well-defined vertical edge on the corner of the building.

Returns In Relation The precast concrete unit’s finish should be considered before its shape is finalized. Many finishes
To Finishes cannot be achieved with equal visual quality on all faces of the unit.
The reasons encompass factors such as mix proportions, variable depths (and pressures) of
concrete, and small differences in consolidation techniques, particularly in the case of intricate
shapes with complex flow of concrete. The effect of gravity during consolidation forces the large
aggregates to the bottom and the smaller aggregates, plus the sand and cement content, upwards.
Consequently, the down-face in the mold nearly always will be more uniform and denser than the
returns or upper radius of curved panels.
Consolidation of concrete results in a more or less uniform orientation of the aggregate, with the
flat, long portion horizontal to the bottom of the mold. On returns and on the upper radius of curved
panels, the sharp angular points of the aggregate will show upon exposure. This can give returns greater
than 12 inches a finished texture distinctly different from that of the down-face, as shown in Fig. 3.
Corner treatments, such as 12-inch corner returns, usually influence all corner pieces for the project.
See Fig. 4 for typical corner and return details.
With deep returns, a more uniform finish is obtained with a retarded, exposed-aggregate finish.
When an exposed-aggregate finish is specified, concrete mixes with aggregates that are reasonably
Fig. 1 Typical Edge Details Fig. 5 Alternate Casting Approaches

Fig. 2 Quirk Miter Dimensions

Fig. 6 Preassembled Corner

quirk miter: A corner formed by two chamfered

panels to eliminate sharp corners
and ease alignment

Fig. 3 Exposure Variances Caused By Aggregate

Fig. 7 Column Covers With Returns

Fig. 4 Typical Corner And Return Details

Fig. 8 Corner - Return Molds

1st cast

butt miter separate Very typical flat form

corner piece little Sequential

mitered corner 2nd cast

both add
corner panel (return) form costs
corner panel included on adjacent panel

return: A projection that is 90 deg.

to or splayed from main face or plane of view
monolithic return 37
spherical or cubical should be chosen to minimize differences between down-faces and returns. For
panels with large returns, or other situations where variations in appearance must be minimized, the
two-stage or sequential production technique should be used, if feasible. Otherwise, concrete mixes
should have a continuous graded coarse aggregate and ASTM C33 sand. Exposure of aggregates
should be medium to deep with minimal color differences between mix ingredients.

Two Stage Or Panels with large or steep returns (such as channel column covers and some spandrels) may be
Sequential Returns cast in separate pieces in order to achieve matching, high-quality finishes on all exposed faces and
then joined with dry joints, as shown in Fig. 5. This method of casting enables all faces to be cast
face-down with the same aggregate orientation and concrete density using conventional precast
concrete forming methods. Also, a combination of face mix and backup mix can be used, rather than
100 percent face mix.
If this is the indicated production method, attention should be paid to suitable corner details and
reinforcement at the dry joints. Although the dry joint may not show with certain mixes and textures,
a groove or quirk should be used to mask the joint. Where desired, the joint can be recessed deeply
enough to allow installation of a small backer rod and placement of a 1/4-inch bead of joint sealant, as
shown in Fig. 5c.

Corner Panels With An alternate to mitering is the use of a separate corner panel to add interest to the façade, see
Returns Fig. 4. Special corner pieces can be cast by using modified standard unit molds, which is part of the
master mold concept. If the size of the project or the available time constraints warrant multiple
molds, a separate corner mold is recommended.
Corner molds are generally small and simple. On a high-rise building, the cost of a small corner mold
and the handling of an extra piece may offset the modification costs of the master mold and/or be
justified by the additional flexibility in erection tolerances. Separate corners also may be
advantageous in providing similar orientation of corner surfaces for matching finishes. Or the corner
pieces may economically be designed and produced as part of one of the adjacent typical panels.
Some precasters occasionally choose to preassemble corner pieces at the plant. This procedure
can be both efficient (eliminating alignment problems) and economical. Fig. 6 shows an example of
such an assembly done in a jig in the precaster’s yard.
Fig. 7 displays some of the various shapes of column covers that can be made with butt or mitered
joints, including (a) two L-shaped units, (b) four L-shaped units, and (c) two U-shaped units. There
are, of course, many other combinations that can be used to accommodate isolated columns, corner
columns and columns in walls.
Sequential and monolithic corner (return) molds are both more costly than mitered molds, see
Fig. 8. A separate corner panel often requires an additional mold.

A Design Approach To Corners
Donald J. Benz, senior Architectural precast concrete has been a mainstay in the palette of building design
associate/technical materials used at Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates for the past 30 years.
resources manager for
Thompson, Ventulett, During this period, several consistent approaches to detailing corners have evolved. How the
Stainback & Associates precast is being used and the type of panel that is turning the corner determines how the
in Atlanta, presents his
building corners and major component edges will be designed.
tips for creating corners
and returns in precast Flat panels, used either to visually define the dimensioned mass of building-block elements
concrete or to create flat or curvilinear planar surfaces, are treated differently than panels with
heavily articulated horizontal treatment using deep relief reveals or profiles. Visual focus at
the corners often is part of a design approach where the wall plane is stopped or interrupted
at the building corner or the corner is emphasized to define the building form.
Quirk miter corners, cast channel shapes with returns and two-stage precasting all have
achieved the desired result, often with modifications contributed by the precaster that
benefit both the finished design and the budget.

Articulating Providing a visible expression of the building panel or unit width as it turns the corner gives
Thickness At The substance and thickness definition to the material. A deeper quirk return, in the range of 3
inches, offers an economical way to create a discernable thickness in the material as it turns
the corner. This is shown in Fig. 1. A similar exaggerated quirk is used in Fig. 8 for both a
return dimension and emphasis on the corner.
When the panel thickness itself is to be expressed, a butt joint around the corner at the
back of the panel is sufficient without a return. In Figs. 2 and 3, shallow and deep returns,
respectively, are used to indicate a building-block element thickness greater than the actual
depth of the precast panel.

Fig. 1: The heavily

rusticated panels used
on 1335 Windward
Concourse in Atlanta are
thickened flat panels
with exaggerated 3-inch
quirks at the corners to
create a return back into
the interior of the Fig. 2: On Chicago’s
building, giving it a McCormick Place Expansion
perceived dimension. project, one-piece channel-
shaped covers with relatively
shallow returns were used to
imply a thickness somewhat Fig. 3: Two-stage cast covers with deep returns were used for the
more than the actual panel solid-block treatments of piers at the Merrill Lynch Campus in
thickness. In this case, well- Denver. The two-stage precasting allows a unique cast-in surface
executed “sharp” corners in texture to be carried around the corners of the blocks to a much
the casting add to the solid deeper dimension. Minimal corner dry joints without quirks
appearance. complete the appearance of a solid unit.
The Wall Plane When the wall surface is treated as a planar surface,
Turning The Corner smooth or articulated, the goal usually is to make the
transition around the corner as smooth and continuous
as possible. This often involves moving the joint from
the prominence of a corner location, especially with
smooth panel faces. Figs. 4, 5 and 6 illustrate
situations where a solid-appearing corner is preferred.
This allows the smooth surface to carry around the
corner uninterrupted and without calling attention to
the corner.

Fig. 5: The returns on these column

enclosures at the McCormick Place
Expansion project in Chicago aren’t
Fig. 4: This flat wall plane intended to imply a material thickness
on the 55 Farmington of panels or blocks but to provide a
building in Hartford, planar wrap of the surfaces forming
Conn., changes direction the corner. The joint is located at the
without corner pier’s center to provide a linear
articulation by using a continuation of the element above the
shallow angle return for pier.
single casting and
placing the joints at the
back angles where they
are de-emphasized. The Fig. 6: (left) In the smaller-scale detail
shallow corner angle provided at the ADP Building, Atlanta,
allows a solid cast edge. a two-stage casting and dry-joint
corner provide an abrupt but continuous
return of the plane of the curvilinear
sweep to the building face.

On the other hand, horizontal spandrel

panels with deep rustication, or a contained
sculptured profile, such as that shown in
Fig. 7, require a miter to carry that panel
profile accurately around the corner.

Fig. 7: The minimal quirk miter corner in the

spandrel panels at the Metropolitan Life
Building in Atlanta provides an uninterrupted
planer return of the profiled wall-panel
surface without corner articulation. A two-
stage casting at the cornice provides a
similar planer wrap around the top. These
sharp corners at the top emphasize the
building corner’s larger-scale articulation.
Details closer to pedestrians use the quirk
corner for more finished detail.
Defining The Special corner treatment often is used to
Corners emphasize the corner to define the intersection of
the wall planes with detail as shown in Figs. 8 and 9.
The degree of detail complexity and richness, which
Fig. 9: Separate corner
pieces are used at relates to budget, determines the casting technique.
BellSouth Campanile in
Atlanta to interrupt the Fig. 10 represents a stronger corner treatment.
wall plane at the corner, Solid precast corner elements are used to define the
emphasizing the corners by
vertically articulating the starting and stopping of the wall plane materials of
larger multistory lobby
space at the base from the glass curtain wall and precast wall panels. At the
typical floors above.
macro scale, these solid pieces have their corners
Fig. 8: The depth and shadowing of
articulated with quirks to add visual interest and to the façade on the Carrillon Building’s
parking structure in Charlotte, N.C.,
facilitate corner quality control. is continued in the detailing of the
pier corners by using deep quirk
miters to accent the corners with the
shadow created by the larger quirk.

Fig. 10: Solid precast

vertical pieces are
used on the Glenridge
Highlands One
project in Atlanta to
define the corners
and the transitions
from curtain wall to
precast at the
corners. Originally
planned as returns
and channel spandrel
covers, they were
cast solid at the
suggestion for
economy and

The Future The treatment of building corners, as well as smaller-scale, building-component corners, is
critical to the final perception of the architecture. The corners are focal points where wall planes
and materials change or continue. The corners outline and define the form of the building and the
corners are where the light falling on the surfaces of the façades transitions dramatically. Use of
architectural precast concrete in corners will continue to challenge existing and evolving
precasting techniques to capitalize on design excellence and economic constructibility.

— Donald J. Benz, senior associate/technical resources manager,

Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, Atlanta

D e s i g n e r ’s

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PUB08-1192DN17.indd 2 5/14/08 10:19:27 AM
Introduction risk for mold growth for several reasons. First,
opportunities for mold growth increase when there is Fig. 1 Appearance of mold on drywall.
Architects and engineers need to consider the
potential for mold growth in all phases of building a high turnover in occupancy, as often is the case in Mold needs four favorable conditions in which to
design, construction, operation, and maintenance. these property classes. These property classes also germinate and grow:
There is potential to develop some mold in any have uses and structural characteristics—many • Temperature range: Temperatures that are best
building and in any geographical area. Because of individually controlled HVAC systems, appliances, and for humans are also ideal for fungi. Because the
the possible health risks of mold and the enormous plumbing systems, for example—that make them comfort range for people is well within the comfort
costs of mold claims and litigation, mold is a hot more susceptible to mold. range for mold, modifying the interior temperature
topic. Claimants have alleged negligent design and In order to reduce energy consumption after the is not an option for controlling mold growth. Ideal
detailing, construction defects, or improper selection oil crisis of the 1970s, buildings were being highly conditions for mold growth are species dependent,
of materials susceptible to water damage or mold. insulated (made airtight but without the benefit of but tend to be in the range of 40 to 100 °F (5 to
The insurance industry generally excludes any adequate ventilation to control humidity). Insulation 38 °C). Little growth occurs below 40 °F (5 °C) or
property damage or bodily injury (health effects) reduces the ability of a wall to dry after a water leak. above 122 °F (50 °C). Mold spores can survive, but
coverage when defective design, construction, or It may also shift the dew point within the wall so mold cannot grow, outside this range. However,
operation of a building results in dampness or mold that, if the condensation is not adequately drained mold can remain dormant and growth can resume
intrusion. The interface between construction defect or vented, mold growth and other water damage when conditions become favorable again.
litigation and insurance policies is complicated and may occur. • Oxygen: Oxygen is required for mold growth. Hence,
highly fact specific, with courts in different states When designing an energy-efficient building mold will not grow underwater, but it can grow if
drawing radically different conclusions from similar targeting longevity and sustainability, moisture and starved of oxygen for only a few hours at a time.
policy language. Design professionals should take mold control should be part of the planning. In all practical cases, the required level of oxygen is
proactive measures to prevent water infiltration, readily available in buildings, even in cases of low-
excessive humidity, and condensation, which are the permeance building materials.
key factors in the development of mold. To this end, Mold in the Environment
design firms need to educate themselves about how, • Food source: While all building materials can act
Mold is a natural part of the environment. Molds as a substrate for mold to grow on, only organic
why, and where mold grows, and what measures can are forms of fungi found year round both indoors
be taken to reduce the threat of mold developing. materials provide a food source (nutrients) to
and outdoors. Mold growth is encouraged by warm sustain mold growth. In buildings the food source
Buildings in hot and humid climates have different and humid conditions, although it can grow during
problems and solutions related to mold from those is generally wood, paper, paper-faced drywall (Fig.
cold weather. There are thousands of specimens 1) or other cellulose- or carbon-based material,
either in cold climates or in areas with seasonal of mold and they can be any color. Most fungi,
swings. carpeting, or batt insulation. Materials such as
including molds, produce microscopic (2 to 10 µm) precast concrete, metal, plastic, and so-called
The owner and its design professionals should reproductive cells called spores. These spores paperless wall board do not provide a ready food
systematically consider the climate, temperature, typically disperse through the air continually and source for mold as they are not organic. Building-
relative humidity, type of envelope, dew points, settle on all building surfaces, where they can remain material samples were tested according to MIL-
outside air requirements, and intended occupancy dormant for years. Given the right circumstances, STD 810E (same as ASTM C1338) by Bodycote
of a structure when determining the probability of they may begin growing and digesting whatever they Materials Testing Canada Inc. to determine fungal
mold. With respect to building occupancy or type, are growing on in order to survive. There is no feasible resistance.
single and multifamily housing, hospitality facilities, or cost-effective method to completely eliminate
healthcare facilities, and schools pose the highest fungal spores from the indoor environment. Five fungal cultures were used:
• Aspergillus niger
(American Type Culture Collection ATCC 9642)
Table 1 – Microbial Test Evaluation Criteria
• Aspergillus flavus (ATCC 9643)
% of Area
Amount Component • Aspergillus versicolor (ATCC 11730)
of Growth Covered Grade Organic Substrates • Penicillium funiculosum (ATCC 11797), and
None 0 0 Substrate is devoid of microbial growth. • Chaetomium globosum (ATCC 6205).
Sparse or very restricted microbial growth The samples were examined at the end of a
and reproduction. Substrate utilization minor 28-day incubation period for the presence of
Trace 1–10 1
or inhibited. Little or no chemical, physical, or fungal growth. The amount of fungal growth was
structural change detectable. rated according to the microbial test evaluation
Intermittent infestations or loosely spread criteria in Table 1. The results of fungal-resistance
Slight 11–30 2 microbial colonies on substrate surface and testing are presented in Table 2.
moderate reproduction.
Dirt and dust of an organic nature that
Substantial amount of microbial growth and accumulates on the surface of mold-resistive
Moderate 31–70 3 reproduction. Substrate exhibiting chemical, materials can sustain mold growth when the right
physical, or structural change. temperature and humidity conditions prevail.
Massive microbial growth or reproduction. However, dirt and dust can easily be removed
Severe 71–100 4
Substrate decomposed or rapidly deteriorating. from precast concrete through pressure washing

PUB08-1192DN17.indd Sec1:1 5/14/08 10:19:27 AM

Table 2 – Microbial Test Evaluation
Amount of
Description of Sample Grade Growth
Drywall with white paint on one side 1 Trace
Water-resistant drywall 3 Moderate
Piece of 3 ¼ in. (83 mm) tongue & groove wood 3 Moderate
10 in. (250 mm) clay brick 0 None
Concrete block - unsealed 0 None
Concrete block with white primer paint 0 None
Concrete piece - broken/uneven 0 None
Source: Masonry Canada. 2004. Fungal Mould Resistance Testing (FMRT) of Common Building
Materials According to MIL-STD 810E. Technical bulletin. Ontario, Canada: Masonry Canada.

before shipment, making it an ideal substrate for inhibiting mold formation. The
dust that collects in buildings is primarily paper dust, skin flakes, and fibers
from carpeting and clothing. Basically, the food sources for mold are ubiquitous Fig. 2 Mean dew-point temperature isoclines for July and
August (1946–1965) from the Climatic Atlas of United
and attempts to control microbiological growth by limiting the food source are
States. Source: National Climatic Data Center 2003.
generally not successful. The alkalinity of the surface also plays a role in the
viability of mold growth. Most fungi require the pH of the substrate to remain
within the bounds of about 5 to 8 (neutral to slightly acidic). Concrete has a high
pH (10 to 13) and can control fungal growth. problems. Design strategies for moisture control under heating conditions often
differ from those for cooling conditions, even though the basic principles of
• Moisture: Moisture control is the most important strategy for reducing mold
moisture transfer are the same. Recommendations for positioning air and vapor
growth. Mold growth requires a certain level of moisture on the surface of the
retarders relative to insulation and relative to each other depend on whether the
food source. Sources of moisture include wet building materials; plumbing; wall,
building requires predominantly heating, cooling, or both. See Designer’s Notebook
roof, and window leaks; condensation associated with high humidity or cold spots
(DN-15), “Energy Conservation and Condensation Control,” at
in the building; infiltration of humid air through walls; and improperly operating
publications for a complete discussion on condensation control and air and vapor
heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) or humidification systems. In
retarders in precast concrete systems.
some cases, mold growth generates moisture itself to help the process proceed.
Mold control is primarily about controlling moisture to levels and durations
Fungi typically require a surface relative humidity (RH) to 70 to 80%. Some
appropriate for the material used. The general strategy is to construct and
molds can grown at 20 to 40% RH levels, but these species are less important
operate buildings in such a way that materials do not get wet enough to support
in building problems, and their growth is slow, even on nutrient-rich surfaces. The
mold growth, or to ensure that those materials that get wet will dry quickly, and
design objective should be RH levels below 40% during the heating season and in
to not provide sufficient food value to support mold growth. Usually, if moisture
the range of 50 to 60% during the cooling season for indoor comfort during all
or high humidity is not addressed within 24 to 48 hours, mold can begin to
load conditions, both occupied and unoccupied. These levels constitute a safe
grow exponentially. Precast concrete does not exhibit structural damage or
margin below the minimum values of RH that would initiate mold growth.
deterioration from moisture. In addition, the site’s natural ventilation will normally
Condensation can occur within the walls or roof of a building as well as on dry out concrete, eliminating moisture as a source of mold growth.
interior surfaces. To prevent condensation, surface temperatures must be kept
Without all of these four elements, mold cannot grow and spread. And of these,
above the air’s dew-point temperature. Mold growth can be reduced where RH
moisture is the easiest and only practical way to control mold growth because
near surfaces can be maintained below the dew point. This can be accomplished
of the pervasive nature of nutrients and a temperature range suitable for mold
by reducing the moisture content (vapor pressure) of the air, increasing air
growth. It is also the only one that can be controlled while maintaining comfortable
movement at the surface, or increasing the air temperature—either the general
operating conditions for humans.
space temperature or the temperature at a building surface. The dew-point
temperature increases as the air’s RH increases, that is, humid air will condense
at warmer temperatures than will drier air. Therefore, controlling indoor humidity Health Effects of Mold Exposure
levels helps prevent condensation. Molds release microbial volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which cause mold's
Condensation control focuses on preventing air flow (which can carry musty smell, and produce allergens and, under certain conditions, toxins. The
significant amounts of water vapor) through the building envelope; interrupting allergens and toxins are not airborne themselves but can be carried in flight with
water-vapor diffusion, typically by using a vapor retarder; and maintaining the mold spores. It is these allergens and toxins that have the potential to cause
temperatures above the dew point for surfaces exposed to moisture, typically medical issues for occupants.
by installing insulation or increasing circulation of warmer air. The first place Most building occupants experience no health effects from the presence of
condensation occurs is near a room’s coldest surface. For example, a gap in mold. However, some individuals with underlying health conditions may be more
insulation at the wall/ceiling interface results in a cold area where condensation sensitive to molds. For example, individuals who have allergies or respiratory
is more likely to occur. Hence, ensuring the continuity of insulation and air and conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, or other lung diseases may be more easily
vapor retarders, if used, also helps prevent condensation. affected. Similarly, persons who have a weakened immune system tend to be more
Condensation can occur in either summer or winter, depending on climate sensitive to mold.
and moisture conditions. A correlation exists between high outdoor dew-point With mold growth, occupants may begin to report odors, and some may
temperatures (but not precipitation amounts) and incidences of mold. High complain of a variety of health problems. The most common health effects
mean dew-point temperatures (Fig. 2) are characteristic of most of the eastern associated with mold exposure include allergic reactions. Symptoms include
United States, thus making these areas more susceptible to moisture-intrusion sneezing, runny nose, skin and eye irritation, coughing, congestion, and aggravation

PUB08-1192DN17.indd Sec1:2 5/14/08 10:19:27 AM

of asthma symptoms. The types and severity of symptoms depend, in part, on temporary control of space conditions, and diligent testing and monitoring to
the types of mold present, the extent of an individual’s exposure, the ages of identify problems before extensive damage has occurred. Typically, the most
the individuals, and their existing sensitivities or allergies. Therefore, for people serious weather-related construction moisture problems result when the final
in general, it is not possible to determine safe or unsafe levels for airborne stages of construction are completed in the summer or early fall. Because
concentrations of mold or mold spores. ambient humidity levels are higher during these times, materials are less likely to
Even without substantial scientific data to establish a direct link between dry naturally before being enclosed in a structure.
mold exposure and health effects, those particularly sensitive to certain types of There are three stages of construction: the exposed phase, the partially
mold can react so severely that claimants have litigated and obtain significant enclosed phase, and the controlled phase. If the goal is to achieve the lowest
personal injury and property damage awards. Therefore, as long as there is a level of risk for mold formation, then the single most important point in the
question regarding how mold may affect human health, claims will continue to construction schedule may be the point at which the contractor seals the building
arise and lawsuits will continue to be brought against anyone involved in the envelope.
design or construction of a building that facilitates the growth of mold. During the exposed phase, the foundation, the frame, and everything else are
The building enclosure, the primary barrier to water intrusion, is often exposed to the elements but the natural ventilation of the site will normally dry
implicated in mold problems because it is exposed to a range of moisture sources, out any materials that get wet. To minimize the potential for mold growth, it
including rain and condensation. The decision to use a particular building-envelope is important to develop a proactive plan to minimize the risk of water damage
system does not determine a building’s likelihood of having moisture and mold and wet surfaces due to external factors such as rain, snow, flooding, and high
problems. Many exterior envelopes are time tested (such as precast concrete) RH during the exposed and partially enclosed (contractor will normally begin to
and will perform well when properly designed and installed. rough-in the interior and may install some of the finishes) phases. Appropriate
Designers should evaluate the placement of fenestration, changes in plane, construction sequencing avoids installing moisture-sensitive materials before
and the transition points of each material to determine if the proposed envelope the building is enclosed. The installation of protective barriers or temporary
system can be designed and installed to prevent water intrusion. Using multiple enclosures across building-envelope openings (walls, roof, and basement) and open
materials on the envelope multiplies the risk of water intrusion. Both the building- areas to accommodate construction elevators/hoists and window installation
envelope and HVAC decisions made during the design process affect the amount is recommended. The use of water-resistant materials in areas susceptible to
of moisture and potential for mold. A design change in one system may have a moisture also reduces the risk of mold growth. These decisions affect both the
dramatic effect on the performance of another system. For example, increased construction cost and schedule, and should be fully considered. Wet areas and
thermal insulation may change dew-point location with possible condensation materials should be dried within 24 hours of exposure.
in the wrong location. If both building pressurization and envelope are planned Fireproofing materials for steel are normally installed during either the first
appropriately, future mold problems are unlikely. or second phase of construction, even though this material may have a high
Although the outer portions of precast concrete walls are exposed to wetting, potential for absorbing and retaining moisture and could serve as a substrate for
mold is not a problem. Molds do not require sunlight (because they do not mold. Precast concrete eliminates the need for and cost of additional fireproofing
use photosynthesis) and in fact their growth is limited by sunlight (ultraviolet measures.
radiation [UV]). The UV intensity of bright sunlight typically slows or kills fungal Installation of drywall or other interior finishes on or near cast-in-place
growth both because the light warms (and hence dries) the surface, and because concrete that is being cured, adjacent to spray-on fireproofing or insulation, or
of the high UV intensity. In contrast, the inner portions of an enclosure are within an area of high humidity will result in water damage.
exposed to less wetting but are more prone to mold growth because they are kept The contractor should not close in any areas that are not appropriately dried,
warm year round. Interior finishes are often made of moisture-sensitive materials or that are likely to become wet due to incomplete protection from moisture.
and are more affected by the interior environment. Also, the contractor should take appropriate precautions to protect moisture-
sensitive materials during storage and construction.
Construction Phases If the goal is to minimize the risk of mold formation, then the single most
Moisture problems created by outside-air infiltration and vapor diffusion are important point in the construction schedule may be when the contractor
negligible during construction. Other than rainwater leaks, moisture problems are completes and seals the building envelope. At that point, the construction
generally not introduced until the building’s air-conditioning (AC) system begins process enters the controlled phase and the contractor can begin to install
operating. Significant moisture and mold problems are often attributed to the drywall and other finishes.
so-called drying out of the building. In reality, however, such problems are rarely It is particularly important that the owner and design professionals analyze
associated with moisture being released from new construction materials, unless the construction schedule. The earlier the construction schedule requires a
the materials are not allowed to completely dry without being covered or hidden. contractor to begin work on finishing the interior (before the building is fully
In the process of selecting building materials for a structure, consideration enclosed), the greater the risk of permitting water to enter or accumulate on
should be given to how a material reacts when exposed to free water or water porous or organic materials, or in places that accommodate mold formation. It
vapor. Poorly chosen construction materials, often based on cost considerations also becomes important to pay particularly close attention to selected finishes.
or availability, may affect a building’s integrity. Materials should be compatible Materials that require long lead times or take longer to install will delay the
with the regional environment and installed by knowledgeable workers. Contractors completion of the envelope.
must take the initiative to refuse delivery of damaged, dirty, or moldy materials Prefabrication of precast concrete components allows vital construction
(in the case of timber and drywall). elements to be manufactured early in the construction process as soon as
Reducing the potential for moisture- and mold-related problems during drawings are approved, ensuring that units are ready for erection as soon
construction generally requires a thorough understanding of moisture-related as foundation work or the supporting structure is completed. The speed of
construction problems, proper attention to construction sequencing, effective erection of precast concrete systems also allows for faster completion of

PUB08-1192DN17.indd Sec1:3 5/14/08 10:19:28 AM

the building shell in almost all weather conditions, often cutting weeks and concentration of off-gassed pollutants, it can also inadvertently cause moisture
months from the schedule, allowing construction to get into the dry more problems in buildings in many parts of the country during the summertime.
quickly. This, in turn, allows interior trades to begin work earlier. The fast In a typical 100,000 ft2 (9300 m2) building, the amount of outdoor air required
enclosure results in less weather or material damage during construction to to meet the flush-out portion of this credit is 1,400,000,000 ft3
mold-susceptible materials. (39,620,000 m3). This amount of air volume in the eastern portion of the
Sometimes contractors use drying techniques such as fans, natural ventilation, country during the humid summer months can be equivalent to over 200,000 gal.
indirect fired heaters, dehumidifiers, desiccant dehumidifiers, or the HVAC system (757,000 L) of additional moisture introduced into the building. This moisture is in
(if operational) to dry areas where they are installing or applying certain finishes, addition to the normal moisture load from construction activities, cleaning liquids,
particularly if water is visible in those areas. Drying techniques may not control or construction-related moisture from curing concrete, paint drying, and similar
the temperature or humidity of the interior space. Thus, these techniques should activities.
be reviewed and used appropriately to reduce the potential of mold growth during One of the additional risks with conducting building flush-out (especially in
construction. an occupied building) is that it is usually done in the evening when the heat load
Also, construction moisture should not be trapped in assemblies by the (sensible) is the lowest and the moisture load (latent) is the highest. This can
indiscriminate use of vinyl wall coverings (which may be impermeable). Vinyl wall result in even greater RH levels in the building because the unfavorable ratio of
coverings can cause the water vapor in drywall to condense and encourage mold sensible to latent load can cause overcooling of the building (resulting in flash
to grow in wall cavities or in insulation. Foil-faced fibrous cavity insulation and foil- condensation). This can cause moisture to accumulate in building materials such
backed gypsum sheathing can also keep buildings from drying out when they get as gypsum wallboard, with subsequent material degradation and mold growth. The
wet. additional likelihood that the HVAC system might still be unbalanced at the time
During the final stages of construction, the mechanical systems are usually of the flush-out increases the potential for moisture problems as a result of this
not performing at optimal levels. It is critical that no additional moisture be process. Infiltration of air with a high moisture load may also exceed the ability of
added to the building during this time, especially from the outside. In addition, the HVAC system to remove moisture from the supply air.
any temporary controls of the building HVAC systems must prevent the building Moisture-related problems can be avoided if the building envelope adequately
from achieving negative pressurization. Maintaining positive (or at least neutral) retards moisture, liquid, vapor, or air movement into the building and allows any
pressure will help prevent moisture from intruding from outside air into the roof accumulated moisture to either drain to the exterior or evaporate. Moisture comes
or ceiling and wall cavities. A plan for temporary controls may include statements from four sources, which have different impacts on a building depending on climate:
such as the following: • Vapor diffusion through the building envelope. The vapor-diffusion
• The contractor shall energize, operate, and maintain HVAC equipment before mechanism does not typically induce significant moisture into a building and
the interior finishes are installed. After the building or room is fully weatherized can generally be considered a negligible contributor to potential moisture
and before interior finishes are applied, the HVAC system shall be operated 24 problems. Nevertheless, it is a mechanism to consider in building design and
hours per day for a minimum of three days, until a constant temperature of construction, particularly in cold climates and in hot, humid climates, and
75 °F (plus or minus 2 °F) (24 °C [plus or minus 1 °C]) and a constant humidity especially as it relates to the construction of vapor retarders in walls.
level of less than 60% can be demonstrated to the owner. To control air and moisture flow through the wall, any air barrier or vapor
• Throughout the installation of finishes and until the owner’s final acceptance, retarder must have the proper air resistance or moisture permeability and
the HVAC system will operate 24 hours a day. must be installed at the correct location within the walls. The presence of
• If mechanical systems are not performing at optimal levels when interior fin- multiple vapor retarders within a wall system is a common problem, and many
ishes are installed, the HVAC contractor will provide additional temporary architects do not recognize that common construction materials such as
dehumidifiers (portable units) and heating or cooling units to meet required precast concrete act as effective barriers.
conditions. Instead of temporary dehumidifiers, an increased monitoring Vapor diffusion is difficult to estimate because of microclimatic variables.
program may be acceptable. The building envelope is subject to daily temperature extremes caused by
If the project permits or requires the contractor to operate the permanent shifting sunlight and shade on the walls or roof. However, using worst-case
HVAC system during construction, it must be specified that the equipment be ambient temperatures in a steady-state analysis is usually sufficient for
turned over upon project completion in a clean condition. estimating vapor diffusion, especially if a vapor retarder is properly installed in
the wall system.
During construction, there can be increased pollutant load in a building because
of heavy particulate load and off-gassing of formaldehyde and VOCs from newly A vapor retarder is not required in all situations. Without one, the
installed products. There are various methods of controlling this additional building envelope may still perform as an adequate barrier to vapor
pollutant load, such as additional air filtration, the use of temporary air handlers diffusion. Under many conditions, using an air barrier is more important
for heating and cooling, and flushing out the building with additional amounts of than using a vapor retarder. However, if a vapor retarder is used, factors
outside air. such as permeance, location, and use of multiple retarders become
extremely important.
Precast concrete has no outgassing that can cause deteriorated air quality.
This has become a critical component in recent years as the need to enhance The type and location of the vapor retarder can greatly affect moisture
energy efficiency has tightened the “breathability” of buildings, preventing air from accumulation and mold formation. In hot, humid climates, for example, a vapor
infiltrating and exfiltrating, which retains existing particulates in the air. Precast retarder located between a wall’s thermal insulation and the building’s interior
concrete will not add to outgassing that comes from VOCs and new materials could reach a temperature below the dew point (point of condensation) of
brought into the structure. As proposed by USGBC LEED Credit 3.2, building the outside air. In cooler climates, an exterior vapor retarder could be located
flush-out can occur either late in the construction phase or after the building where the temperature is below the dew point. In both cases, condensation
is occupied. While the use of outside air to flush out the building may reduce the would form on interior surfaces or in interior cavities. To avoid such problems,

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the placement of vapor retarders is best determined early and with an can mask or obscure rainwater leakage because it is often an envelope-
understanding of the local climate. wide problem. This misunderstanding can lead to misdiagnosis, which often
Vapor-diffusion problems are accentuated by cold walls or building spaces, results in expensive, unnecessary repairs to the building envelope when simply
permeable exterior surfaces, and impermeable interior surfaces. For example, modifying the HVAC system would have been less expensive and more effective.
in hot, humid climates, if the exterior portion of the building envelope is In all climates, the building skin must be the primary defense against
porous—moisture absorbing and permeable—and the interior portion is rainwater and be designed to shed water quickly away from the building. The
porous as well as impermeable, the effect of vapor diffusion can be more building envelope plays a vital role in minimizing uncontrolled moisture and air
significant. In cold climates, the opposite condition can cause problems movement into a building and in preventing moisture entrapment within the wall.
(that is, when the exterior portion of the building envelope is porous and Although the building envelope contributes to moisture-related problems
impermeable and the interior portion is porous and permeable). Vapor diffusion in hot, humid climates, infiltration of humid outside air and vapor diffusion
is discussed in chapter 25 of the ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals through the envelope is not usually as great a factor in more temperate
(ASHRAE 2001). climates. However, in temperate climates, the building envelope plays an
One advantage of insulation is that it keeps the primary vapor retarder (if important role in minimizing rainwater intrusion into the building, and in
one exists and is correctly located) from reaching the temperature at which avoiding the subsequent mold growth that can result from such intrusion. In
condensation may occur. In a precast concrete wall system, a closed-cell cold climates, vapor diffusion or exfiltration of humid indoor air during colder
nonhygroscopic insulation is recommended. months can also be a problem in wall cavities.
To avoid moisture problems, the design team must consider how direct • Internally generated moisture. After construction, occupant activities
contact with moisture-laden air affects wall structures. Thermal bridges that and routine housekeeping procedures can generate additional moisture,
allow the structures to cool below the dew point of the ambient air may cause which can contribute to mold. Normally, if no other significant sources
local condensation on the structural materials. For example, metal studs exist, well-designed and properly operating AC systems can adequately
can act as a thermal short circuit or bridge, allowing condensation to occur remove this moisture. Internally generated moisture is more likely to
on interior or exterior portions of the stud even though the wall may be well cause moisture damage inside a wall system in northern climates than in
insulated. hot, humid climates.
Selecting an interior surface finish with the proper permeance is one of • Infiltration of outside moisture-laden air. Whether introduced by wind or
the most critical aspects of an exterior-wall-system design in any climate. negative pressurization caused by the HVAC system, air infiltration can
Typically, the interior finish is selected for aesthetic appeal or ease of cause condensation on interior surfaces, including inside building cavities.
maintenance, with little regard for wall-system performance. An interior finish Condensation and high RH are important factors in creating an environment
should have a high permeance rating in hot, humid climates to allow moisture conducive to mold growth and are primarily a problem in hot, humid climates.
vapor that enters the wall to migrate into the conditioned space, where the No building is hermetically sealed. That is, all buildings have some degree
vapor will eventually be removed by the AC system. The opposite is true in cold of air leakage (openings inherent in the envelope construction) and this
climates. The mechanical engineer will use interior-finish-permeance ratings in leakage carries a certain amount of moisture with it into, or out of, the
performing the dew-point analysis on the wall system. building. Precast concrete construction allows minimal air infiltration or
• Rainwater intrusion. Moisture can be present in building materials and on the exfiltration, reducing the potential for moisture problems due to moist
site during construction, causing moisture problems in a building. Significant air migrating into a wall and building. The most critical areas of envelope
amounts of moisture can also result from water leaks within building systems air leakage are gaps around windows and doors; joint openings at roof,
or through the building envelope. In both hot, humid climates and temperate ceiling, or floor lines; and the intentional installation of soffit or wall vent
climates, rainwater leaks are a major source of building moisture and microbial systems. These areas provide the most likely openings in a building envelope
growth problems. and are convenient pathways for air leakage and moisture intrusion into
the building. Although this air leakage can typically be overcome with
Because of its panelized construction, fewer points of potential moisture
positive building pressurization, a tightly sealed building envelope will
penetration exist with precast concrete. This helps control moisture and
minimize air leakage and reduce the amount of air required to achieve
eliminate the possibility for mold growth from water that penetrates the
good pressurization with the HVAC system. Moisture contributed by air
walls. Maintenance needs for precast concrete panels also are minimal, with
leakage is significant and should be a serious concern in the design of the
panels requiring caulking only every 15 to 20 years to maintain their reliability.
wall system. In fact, the design of the building envelope for minimizing air
This limits the need to budget for repairs in annual maintenance budgets and
leakage is more critical than the design of the vapor barrier.
reduces the potential for lapses to allow a problem to develop.
The potential for infiltrated moisture to be deposited in the building
Rainwater can be drawn into a building by gravity, capillary action, surface
envelope is directly related to the interior temperature of the building, the
tension, air-pressure differentials, or wind loads. The building envelope (exterior
moisture content of the outside air, and the amount of outdoor air infiltrating
walls and roofing) should control water from all of these sources.
the building wall systems.
Weather-related moisture includes rainwater and groundwater, which can
An advantage to precast concrete construction is that an air barrier
severely affect the building envelope. Rainwater rarely causes widespread
is inherent in its construction. Unlike a framed wall, a precast concrete
problems in HVAC systems or building interiors; instead, it concentrates
wall usually provides a solid air barrier that is free from penetrations.
around window penetrations, roof lines, joints, and the base of exterior walls. It
This does not release the design team from designing a properly
is important to understand performance criteria as they relate to moisture
pressurized building envelope. A depressurized interior space will induce
intrusion for fenestration components such as windows.
the intrusion of outside air, even through a precast concrete wall. And
HVAC-induced moisture can equal or sometimes far exceed the amount of most wall systems will have openings for fenestration where possible air-
moisture attributable to rainwater leaks. Additionally, HVAC-induced moisture infiltration pathways exist.

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Nonconditioned air rarely should be the source of makeup air for a building. It is more difficult to maintain a specific RH than a specific temperature,
To preclude its introduction, the system should be designed and installed to which means it is easier to lose humidity control. To fully dehumidify the
eliminate negatively pressurized spaces (with respect to outside conditions) air flow, the HVAC cooling coils must be sized properly to meet the sensible
in the rooms, walls, or ceiling cavities. An exception to this recommendation and latent load. (Latent load is the moisture in outside air that is brought
applies to facilities that have higher internal moisture conditions than into the building and requires removal via dehumidification. Sensible load is
outdoors; forcing the moisture through the exterior envelope may allow the air temperature that is sensed and addressed by the HVAC system,
moisture accumulation in the cavity. For example, natatoriums try to either by heating or cooling the air, to reach the established set point.)
maintain indoor conditions of 82°F (28°C) and 60% RH to minimize pool This air flow, the combination of outside air and return air, must be brought
surface water evaporation. In cold climates, forcing this moisture through the to a temperature that causes the moisture in the air to condense. This is
exterior envelope can cause condensation on cooled surfaces, ice formation, known as latent heat removal (or latent energy removal). Simultaneously,
microbial growth, and degradation of wall or roof materials. the cooling coil is reducing the sensible temperature of the air to offset
• Ventilation. Most buildings will bring in conditioned outside air to replace the sensible energy generated in the space by lights, solar radiation, people,
exhausted air, maintain indoor air quality (IAQ), and provide building equipment, and so on.
pressurization (see ASHRAE 62.1). Providing enough ventilation to positively AC units are typically sized according to the peak design cooling load. The
pressurize the building will reduce uncontrolled air leakage into the building. cooling load is often standardized for a number of areas and sensed by a room
Ventilation moisture loads tend to be one of the highest moisture loads that thermostat. AC unit run time is typically controlled by temperature, instead of by
need to be mitigated. humidity (humidistat). Run time is a critical variable in the ability of the unit to
If the HVAC system introduces moist outside air into the space for dehumidify the space. If the unit is sized properly to match the room sensible load
ventilation, the system must continuously dehumidify the air. Under no and to maximize unit run time, the room will be dehumidified adequately. If the
circumstances should adequate dehumidification be sacrificed for ventilation. unit is improperly sized, however, when the room sensible load falls below the peak
design load, the AC unit will run for a shorter period and could fail to dehumidify
In regions with high ambient dew-point conditions and elevated RH levels the room properly. The system should have control overrides to monitor air
(which include much of the eastern half of the country during portions of the quality and force operation of the system independent of temperature conditions
year), there is a direct correlation between the number of moisture problems to achieve a balance of thermal comfort and RH in the building. Dehumidification
(mold) and increased rates of mechanical building ventilation. This can occur needs to operate efficiently at peak and off-peak loads, and regardless of whether
for obvious reasons, such as the additional moisture load that is introduced the building is occupied or unoccupied.
into the building along with outside air. It is important to bring in the
minimum amount of outdoor air possible (while meeting ASHRAE 62.1 and Chapter 26 of the ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals (ASHRAE 2001)
pressurization requirements) and dehumidify it directly and constantly. contains a complete description of methods of calculating cooling loads from
ventilation and infiltration. The outside humidity during a typical year may be
In ASHRAE 62.1-2004, a number of revisions were made that, on average, quantified to determine annual moisture load before designing and sizing the
reduced the outdoor ventilation rate by about 15 to 20% when compared mechanical system. Annual humidity information can be obtained from weather
with the 2001 version. For designs in humid climates, this is a good design data that report mean frequency of occurrence of dry bulb temperatures
practice. Less air means less moisture. But some don’t like the cut in the with mean coincident wet bulb temperatures for temperature ranges and
rate, which in an office environment reduces the rate from 20 cfm/person to corresponding hours of occurrence per year. One such source is AFM 88 29 (U.S.
an average of about 17 cfm/person. Air Force [USAF] 1978).
The LEED rating system awards an additional credit (Increased The data as presented by ASHRAE work best for sensible load calculations
Ventilation – Eqc2) for an increase in the rate of at least 30% over the but do not always apply for latent calculations. In humid regions, designers
2004 calculated values. LEED went with 30% because the USGBC would should know the highest vapor pressure likely to occur during the year. In most
actually prefer a number 50% higher than the 2004 rate (about 25 cfm/ climates, the highest RHs are found during the morning and evening hours and
person), but a 30% bump was seen as a compromise between indoor air occur at high values even during the winter. Also, the highest latent loads are
quality and energy efficiency. usually found at lower dry bulb temperatures than the ASHRAE design data
This is a catch-22. If designing in a humid climate, you could actually be reflect.
rewarded for increasing the potential for mold and moisture problems by bringing ASHRAE outlines good practices for ductwork design, cooling for
too much moisture inside. If the warm, moist air hits a cooler surface, such as dehumidification, and proper installation of humidification systems to reduce
the interior gypsum board of an air-conditioned room or the cold-water supply moisture in ductwork and the likelihood of mold growth (see the 2001 ASHRAE
pipe in a ceiling plenum, the vapor from the moist air will condense and mold will publication Humidity Control Design Guide for Commercial and Industrial
form on the wallboard or on the ceiling tiles below the pipe. Buildings). In many cases the level of moisture control required to control
A more progressive and safer approach would be to skip the LEED point mold is no more stringent than that required to ensure good performance and
and bring in the code minimum. Then, on projects that merit the added control durability.
complexity, apply a demand-control ventilation strategy to actually cut that In any climate, the normal functioning of standard AC units can result in
quantity down further whenever possible. This might even earn a LEED point under microbial growth. Just downstream of the cooling coils, the air is at or near 100%
the Optimize Energy Performance Credit (EAc1). RH during the cooling season. The interior surfaces of the AC unit and ductwork
Considering both energy conservation and moisture-management goals in immediately downstream of the cooling coils are often lined with insulation,
the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of HVAC systems can generally for acoustical purposes. Dirt and fungal spores are often trapped in
minimize the required energy use and resulting cost. However, the impact of mold the lining. This environment is conducive to microbial growth and can lead to IAQ
proliferation suggests that energy-cost savings should not be achieved at the complaints because the conditioned air (and any microorganisms it carries) is
expense of sound moisture management in a building. distributed inside the building.

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Building Layout Considerations for Proper sometimes difficult because it must overcome any depressurization from
stack, wind, and fan effects.
Building Pressurization
Uncontrolled movement of nonconditioned moist air into a structure is
an important source of unwanted moisture. Moist-air infiltration is often Building Operation and Maintenance
a bigger problem than rainwater leaks because water generally obeys the Operation and maintenance are no less important than design and
laws of gravity. By contrast, air movement can enter a building from any construction to avoid moisture problems in a building. If the HVAC
direction. While making a building watertight is a formidable task, making system is not properly operated, the relative humidity in the building may
it airtight is an impossible one. increase, or condensation may accumulate to the point where mold will
Maintaining proper pressurization in a building is the best way to begin to grow. For the most part, the HVAC system should be kept turned
prevent uncontrolled airflow, but this depends on a building layout that on. Among other things, the costs and benefits of humidistats should be
promotes interior air distribution. The uniformity of the layout from considered.
floor to floor, space usage, and construction style (atrium lobby areas Once construction is complete, designers should encourage the
or continuous slabs between all floors) affect air distribution and the development of a detailed set of written procedures for scheduled
degree of pressurization required. Atriums and a lack of between-floor maintenance and inspection programs for the prevention and early
air barriers provide portals for airflow that affect multiple levels, making detection of mold. The first step in achieving timely and appropriate
pressure relationships more difficult to control. The building layout maintenance is to make sure visual inspections and component service-
should be analyzed both vertically and horizontally for its effects on the life monitoring are conducted regularly of the building envelope, windows,
pressurization. roofing system, HVAC, and drainage systems. Particular attention should
HVAC systems that positively pressurize a building space by be paid to flashings, counter flashings, and sealants. Attention should be
supplying unconditioned or only partially conditioned outside air will paid to all plumbing and piping systems and to any water used to clean
avoid infiltration of outside air through the building envelope. A positive or otherwise maintain the interior of the building. Below grade, water
pressure will cause air to generally flow out of the building through joints infiltration through foundation walls should be avoided.
and cracks such as those found at windows and closed doors. However, Sources of dampness, high humidity, and moisture should be eliminated
even a well-pressurized building cannot prevent infiltration through large and any conditions that could be causes of mold growth should be
openings like door entrances. Unless a rate of air flow of at least 150 feet corrected to prevent future mold formation. Wet or damp spots and wet,
per minute (fpm) [0.8 meters/second (m/s)] can be achieved through non-moldy materials should be cleaned and dried as soon as possible
these large openings, wind-induced air leakage into the building must be (preferably within 24 to 48 hours of discovery).

Mechanical Considerations A comprehensive continuous commissioning program should ensure
If improperly designed, constructed, and operated, building mechanical that the building’s energy-related systems provide optimal design
systems are likely to create moisture and mold problems. Therefore, performance at all times and produce expected comfort, reliability,
particular attention must be paid to their design, equipment selection, and savings, and should analyze the building envelope’s performance. It
installation, and start-up. The key factors to consider are pressurization should also find and correct any equipment-installation mistakes. The
and dehumidification. HVAC designer should provide input on the operation and maintenance
guidelines for the specified systems and equipment, and should actively
participate in the commissioning process to ensure that building
Pressurization operators understand their role and responsibility in mold prevention.
Pressurization of buildings can work in all climates to eliminate uncon-
To reduce the possibility of moisture and mold problems, the following
trolled air flows. In cold climates, pressurization during the winter forces
should be included in building commissioning:
moisture out through the building envelope and may allow moisture to
accumulate if it does not have a pathway out, or if it reaches a vapor • During the design phase, a technical peer review of the contract
retarder that is below dew point. In hot, humid climates, outside air can documents should identify issues that will likely be a major cause
contribute a large moisture load to the wall cavity and conditioned space. of moisture and mold problems in the operating building. This review
If outside air is drawn into the building envelope by negative pressure may need to be accomplished by someone other than the traditional
inside the building, it will travel through the wall and into the interior commissioning agent because they may not have the requisite skill
space, making it very difficult to maintain a set RH. Because airflow will set to conduct this type of analysis. This review needs to specifically
always follow the path of least resistance, outside air can even get into identify which building components and systems have a high potential
any interior walls that intersect with an exterior wall. The potential for for moisture problems and offer alternative solutions to the design
moisture accumulation increases with lower interior temperatures and team.
with higher negative pressures. Proper building pressurization depends • The commissioning process needs to consider the interrelationship
on control of mechanically induced depressurization and the proper of the building envelope and the HVAC system. This area is often
distribution of makeup air within the building spaces. Even a properly overlooked because it involves the dynamic interaction between
designed and installed building envelope cannot compensate for a building two separate technology areas. The building should be properly
under negative pressure. Achieving proper building pressurization is pressurized and the HVAC system dehumidifying properly.

PUB08-1192DN17.indd Sec1:7 5/14/08 10:19:28 AM

• The building envelope needs to be commissioned to ensure avoidance contamination should be based on the extent of visible contamination and
of rainwater leaks, excessive air leakage, and condensation problems. underlying damage. The simplest and most expedient remediation that is
In cases where the envelope is commissioned, both individual envelope reasonable and properly and safely removes mold contamination should be
components (like windows) should be tested as well as assemblies of used.
multiple adjacent components. Testing individual components does Nonporous (for example, metals, glass, and hard plastics) and semi-porous
not address the connection points and intersections between various (for example, precast concrete) materials can be cleaned and reused. Cleaning
envelope components where most failures occur. should be done with a water extraction vacuum and using a damp wipe with
The sequence of commissioning is critical to avoid problems that may water and a high-quality detergent solution, scrubbing as needed until all
occur even with a properly designed and constructed building. For example, visible signs of mold are removed. The process is completed by rinsing the area
during the final stages of construction, a combination of events may occur with clean water, but in some circumstances, a disinfectant such as bleach
that results in depressurization of the building despite the fact that the may be used to complete the rinsing process. If a disinfectant is used, allow
building will eventually operate as a fully pressurized building. the area to dry overnight; otherwise, dry the area immediately. It is suggested
that water not remain on the treated surface more than 24 to 48 hours to
prevent the conditions necessary for mold to redevelop.
Remediation of Mold Porous materials, such as ceiling tiles and insulation, and wallboards
Reliable sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for with more than a small area of contamination (obvious swelling and seams
judging what is and what is not an acceptable or tolerable quantity of not intact), should be removed and discarded. All materials to be reused
mold have not been established. If visible mold is present, then it should should be dry and visibly free from mold. Routine inspections should be
be remediated by removing standing water and drying affected areas conducted to confirm the effectiveness of remediation work.
within 24 to 48 hours regardless of what species are present and
Precast concrete construction supports the scientific community's
whether samples are taken. In specific instances, such as cases where
maxim to prevent or inhibit mold formation rather than attempt
health concerns are an issue, litigation is involved, or the source(s) of
remediation of fungi in indoor environments. This, coupled with durability,
contamination is unclear, sampling may be considered as part of a building
fire safety, and all of the other outstanding attributes of concrete make it
evaluation, or to document that remediation efforts were successful at
an excellent choice as not only an ideal mold-resistant material, but also
removing contamination.
one that mold simply won’t consume.
Repair of the defects that led to moisture accumulation (or elevated
humidity) should be conducted in conjunction with or prior to mold
remediation. Specific methods of assessing and remediating mold

— J. David Odom
Vice President, Senior Building Forensics Consultant
Liberty Building Forensics Group LLC
Orlando, Florida (

1. Mold Litigation Task Force. 2003. Managing the Risk of Mold in the Construction of Buildings: Guidance for Building Owners, Construction
Contractors, and Other Parties to the Construction Process. Constructor, May.
2. Odom, J. David, and George H. DuBose. 1996. Preventing Indoor Air Quality Problems in Hot, Humid Climates: Problem Avoidance Guidelines.
CH2M HILL and the Disney Development Company.
3. Odom, J. David, and George H. DuBose. 1999. Commissioning Buildings in Hot, Humid Climates. Lilburn, GA: Fairmont Press.
4. Odom, J. David, George H. DuBose, Richard Scott, and Norman Nelson. 2005. Mold and Moisture Prevention. Washington, DC: National Council of
Architectural Registration Boards.
5. Odom, J. David, Richard Scott, and George H. DuBose. 2007. The Hidden Risks of Green Buildings: Avoiding Moisture and Mold Problems.
Direct Connection, V. 10, No. 2.
6. Ontario Association of Architects (OAA). 2003. OAA Mould Control Practice Guide. Toronto, Canada: OAA.
7. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). 2001. ASHRAE Handbook—Fundamentals. Atlanta, GA:
8. ANSI/ASHRAE TC 4.3. 2004. Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. (Standard 62.1-2004). Atlanta, GA: ASHRAE.
9. ANSI/ASHRAE TC 7.6. 2004. Energy Standard for Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings. (Standard 90.1-2004). Atlanta, GA: ASHRAE.
10. Harriman, L.; G. Brundrett; and R. Kittler. 2001. Humidity Control Design Guide for Commercial and Institutional Buildings. Atlanta, GA: ASHRAE.
11. U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). 2006. New Construction & Major Renovation version 2.2 Reference Guide. 2nd ed. Washington, DC: USGBC.

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PUB08-1192DN17.indd Sec1:9 5/14/08 10:19:28 AM

DN-17 Reprinted from PCI's Ascent Magazine
Spring 2008

209 West Jackson Boulevard I Suite 500 I Chicago, IL 60606

Phone: 312-786-0300 I Fax: 312-786-0353 I

PUB08-1192DN17.indd Sec1:10 5/14/08 10:19:28 AM

Clay Product-Faced Precast
Offers Beauty, Economy — Article IX
PCI’s Architectural Clay product-faced precast concrete is being used increasingly today to beautify building
Precast Concrete exteriors. It gives the architect the flexibility to combine the pleasing visual appearance of
Services Committee
highlights the traditional clay products with the strength, versatility and economy of precast concrete.
advantages of working Among the types of materials that can be bonded directly to precast concrete are brick,
with clay product-faced ceramic tile and architectural terra cotta. These clay product facings may cover the entire
precast panels
exposed panel surface or only part of the concrete face, creating accents. This combination of
precast concrete and clay products offers several important benefits over site laid-up

A Palette of Styles Architectural precast concrete claddings offer a palette of styles, allowing the designer’s
imagination to soar through the range of possibilities from reproduction of past styles of to
the creation of new patterns for buildings of the future. This freedom of aesthetic expression
could not economically be accommodated with site laid-up masonry.
Precasting techniques allow complex and intricate details such as arches, radii, ornate
corbels and numerous bonding patterns to be incorporated into the finished panel. This
prefabricating approach ensures that high-priced and time-consuming building skills are
transferred to the controlled conditions of the plant and away from the critical path of on-
site activities. Doing so keeps alive the great range of visual design possibilities that
otherwise might be stifled by economic constraints.
Precasting also allows a high level of dimensional precision and quality control. Concrete
mixes and mortar batching, together with curing conditions, can be tightly controlled, whereas
site-laid masonry will have highly variable curing and mortar quality.
Plant production provides for year-round work under controlled temperature conditions,
negating any on-site delays due to inclement weather. In addition, precast panels can be
produced while foundation work progresses and can be erected directly from delivery trucks in
most any weather. This allows the structure to be enclosed earlier, with finishing trades able
to complete their work much sooner.
Clay-product clad precast also eliminates the need for costly on-site scaffolding and
Fig. 1: Radial brick was
cast into radiused precast greatly reduces the masonry cladding time duration.
concrete panels for the
S.C. Johnson Worldwide Panel configurations include a multitude of shapes and sizes: flat panels, C-shaped
Professional Headquarters in
Mt. Pleasant, Wis., to create spandrels, soffits, arches and U-shaped column covers. (See Fig. 1.) Repetitive use of any
the smooth flow around corners. particular shape also lowers costs dramatically. Returns on spandrels or column covers also
Zimmerman Design Group are possible. Panels may serve only as cladding or may be loadbearing, supporting floor and
and Hellmuth, Obata &
Kassabaum Inc. roof loads.

Design Considerations To develop maximum bond to the concrete, the best backside surface of clay-product units
is a keyback or dovetail configuration. Grooved- or ribbed-back units also will provide adequate
bond. With thin-clay products, no metal ties are required to attach them to the concrete
since adequate bond is achieved. In general, clay products that are cast integrally with the
concrete have bond strengths exceeding that obtained when laying units in the conventional
manner (clay product to mortar).
The bond between the facing and the concrete depends on the absorption of the clay
product and the concrete’s water-cement ratio. Either low or high absorption will result in a
poor bond. Bricks with water absorption of 6 to 9 percent obtained by 5-hour boiling provide
good bonding potential.
Unglazed quarry tile and frost-resistant glazed wall tiles generally don’t need to be wetted.
Terra-cotta units should be soaked in water for at least one hour prior to placement to
reduce suction, and they should be damp at the time of concrete placement.

Bowing Considerations Because of the differences in material properties between the facing and concrete, clay
product-faced concrete panels are more susceptible to bowing than homogeneous concrete
units. However, panel manufacturers have developed design and production procedures to
minimize bowing.
Minimum thickness of backup concrete of flat panels to control bowing is usually 5 to 6
inches, but 4 inches can be used where the panel is small or where it has adequate rigidity
obtained through panel shape.
Prestressing of panels has been used on many projects and has been effective in controlling
bowing of long, flat, relatively thin panels. Prestressed panels which are 8 inches thick have
been produced up to 60 feet in length, with a maximum sweep (bowing) of 1/2 inch. It is
recommended that, in non-prestressed concrete panels, a control joint be introduced through
the clay product face thickness when the panel length exceeds 25 feet.

Panel Sizes The overall size and weight of the panels basically are limited only to what can be handled
conveniently and economically by available transportation and erection equipment. Generally,
panels span between columns and usually are spaced 20 to 30 feet on center, although
spandrel panels have been as large as 8 by 60 feet.
The height and length of the panels should be multiples of nominal individual masonry unit
heights and lengths. The actual specified dimensions may be less than the required nominal
dimensions by the thickness of one mortar joint but not by more than 1/2 inch. For economical
production, the precaster should be able to use uniform and even coursing without cutting any
units vertically or horizontally except as necessary for running bond patterns.

Appearance The appearance of clay product-faced precast concrete panels is achieved principally by the
Considerations selected clay product, with type, size and texture contributing to overall color.
Also, the degree to which the clay product units are emphasized will depend upon the profile
and color of the joint between units.
Due to forming requirements, it is preferable that joints between clay products be not less
than 3/8 inch wide. A 1/4-inch joint may be used satisfactorily when the joint faces are smooth
and well defined, as in a wall of flush-pointed, smooth- faced clay products, such as tile.
The joints between panels are usually butt joints. A quirk miter joint is used sometimes with
the thin-brick thickness being the quirk dimension.
Fig. 2: Brick patterns must be Both stack and running bond patterns have been used widely in precast concrete panels.
continuous through adjacent
panels. With running bond, it is less costly and visually much more appealing if courses start and
finish with half or full bricks. (See Fig. 2.) This approach avoids cutting and allows for matching
adjacent spandrels or column covers. Vertical alignment of joints, especially with stack bond,
requires close clay product material tolerances.
Variations in brick or tile color will occur. The clay-product supplier must preblend any color
variations and provide units that fall within the color range selected by the architect. Defects
such as chips, spalls, face score lines and cracks are common with brick, and the defective units
should be culled from the bulk of acceptable units by the supplier or precaster according to the
architect’s requirements and in accordance with ASTM specifications. Should minor damage
occur to the clay product face during shipping, handling or erection, field remedial work can be
accomplished easily, including replacement of individual clay products. Units may be chipped out
and new units installed using an epoxy, dry-set or latex-portland cement mortar.

Selecting A Clay Product Clay-product manufacturers or distributors, along with the precaster, should be consulted
early in the design stage to determine available colors, textures, shapes, sizes and size
deviations, as well as manufacturing capability for special shapes, sizes and tolerances.
In addition to standard facing brick shapes and sizes (conforming to ASTM C216, Type FBX),
thin-brick veneer units 3/8 to 3/4 inch thick are available in various sizes, colors and textures.
Thin-brick units 1 inch thick with smooth backside surfaces also may be available. Thin brick
should be a minimum of 1/2 inch thick to ensure proper location and secure fit in the template
during casting operations and to minimize the tilting of individual units. The thin bricks must
conform to ASTM C1088 Type TBX.

Brick Sizes Stretcher, corner or three-sided corner units are typically available in a variety of color
ranges. (See Fig. 3.) The face sizes normally are the same as conventional brick and therefore,
Fig. 3: Thin brick units.

Stretcher Edge Corner Corner End Edge Corner

when in place, give the appearance of a conventional brick masonry wall.
The most common brick face size is the standard modular, with nominal dimensions of 2-3/8
inches by 8 inches. The actual face dimensions vary slightly among manufacturers, but they
are typically 3/8 to 1/2 inch less than the nominal dimensions. An economy or jumbo size is 50
percent longer and higher.
Table 1: The economy modular face size, 4 by 12
Nominal modular Face Dimensions
Unit inches, is popular for use in large buildings
face sizes of brick. Designation Height Length
(inches) (inches) because productivity is increased, and the
Standard 2-2/3 8 unit’s size decreases the number of visible
Engineer 3-1/5 8
mortar joints, thus giving large walls a
Economy 8 or
jumbo closure 4 8 different visual scale. Other sizes, such as
Norman 2-2/3 12 Norwegian, 3 inch, non-modular and oversize,
Norwegian 3-1/5 12
may be available. Table 1 contains face sizes
Economy 12 or
jumbo utility 4 12 of several modular brick units. However, thin
Fig. 4: These panels have 6-inch-
Triple 5-1/3 12
square glazed white ceramic brick may not be available in each size.
tiles and some additional 10-
inch-square accenting blue tiles. Some bricks (TBS, for example) are too dimensionally inaccurate for applications with
precast concrete panels. They conform to an ASTM specification suitable for site laid-up
applications, but they are not manufactured accurately enough to permit their use in a
preformed grid that positions bricks for a precast concrete panel.
Brick is available from some suppliers to the close tolerances +/- 1/16 inch necessary for
precasting. Close tolerances also can be obtained by saw cutting each brick, but this
increases costs dramatically.
Whole bricks are generally not used in precasting because of the difficulty in adequately

Fig. 5: Spandrels and wall panels grouting the thin joints, plus the need to use mechanical anchors. Extruded cut brick may
on the Sylvan Corporate Center
in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., have
have kerf lines connecting the extruded holes; the purpose of which is to let the opposing brick
integrally cast 8-inch-square faces be split apart by simply tapping the end of the brick with a mason’s hammer.
brick-colored tiles with
pigmented mortar. Architect: Sometimes, both sides of the brick may be used as facing veneer. Special bricks with a sloping
Herbert Beckhard Frank Richlan
& Associates face are used at soldier courses or at the junction with a sloping face.

Ceramic Tile Ceramic tiles should conform to ANSI A137.1 and are typically 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. (See
Figs. 4 and 5.) When several sizes or sources of tile are used to produce a pattern on a panel,
the tiles must be manufactured on a modular sizing system in order to have grout joints of
the same width.
Glazed units may craze from freeze-thaw cycles, or the bond of the glaze may fail on
exposure. The body of a tile (not the glazed coating) must have a water absorption of less
than 3 percent (measured using ASTM C373) to be suitable for exterior applications.
However, low water absorption alone is not sufficient to ensure proper selection of exterior
ceramic tiles. As a result, when ceramic tile is required for exterior use, the manufacturer
should be consulted for frost-resistant materials for exterior exposure.
Glazes are covered by ASTM C126 and are tested in accordance with ASTM C67. Because
glazed units have very low permeance to water vapor, it is recommended that a vapor barrier
be installed on the warm side of the wall.

Terra Cotta No ASTM standards exist for terra cotta, but units should meet the minimum requirements
published by the Architectural Terra Cotta Institute. Architectural terra cotta is a custom-
made product and, within limitations, is produced in sizes for specific jobs. Two thicknesses
are usually manufactured: 11/4- and 21/4-inch-thick units. Sizes range from 20 to 30 inches for
11/4-inch-thick units to 32 by 48 inches for 21/4-inch-thick units. (Longer units available)
Tolerances on length and width are a maximum of +/- 1/16 inch. The use of terra cotta-faced
precast concrete panels for restoration and new construction is illustrated in Figs. 6 and 7.

Fig. 6: Built in 1906, the

architectural landmark 88
Kearney St. in San Francisco
had its terra cotta removed
and reassembled on precast
panels for an all-new structure
of taller height.
Architect: Skidmore Owings &

Fig. 7: One-inch-thick brick cladding on 5-inch-thick concrete panels was used on the first three
floors of the Sacramento County System and Data Processing Building in Sacramento Calif. Terra-
cotta medallions were placed on spandrels and column covers. Architect: Ehrlich-Rominger

Production Methods Clay product-faced units have joint widths controlled by locating the units in a suitable
template or grid system set out accurately on the mold face. (See Fig. 8.) The most popular
grid system consists of an elastometric (or rubber) form liner. Liner ridges are typically
shaped so that joints between units simulate raked (recessed) or tooled joints.
Clay-product units should be checked for tight fit and wedged if not tightly secured,
especially on return sections, to prevent grout leakage to the exposed face of the panel or
tipping of units. Tolerances for brick-faced precast concrete panels are shown in Fig. 9. The
Fig. 8: Thin brick is shown being
placed in an elastomeric form number of bricks that could exhibit these misalignments should be limited to 2 percent of the
bricks on the panel.
Fig. 9: Tolerances for brick-
faced architectural elements. a = Alignment of mortar joints:
Jog in alignment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/8in.
Alignment with panel centerline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ±1/8 in.
b = Variation in width of exposed mortar joints . . . . . ±1/8 in.
c = Tipping of individual bricks from the panel
plane of exposed brick surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1/16 in., -1/4 in., ≤ depth of form liner joint
d = Exposed brick surface parallel to primary
control surface of panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1/4 in., -1/8in.
e = Individual brick step in face from panel
plane of exposed brick surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +1/16 in., -1/4in, ≤ depth of form liner joint

d e The joints are recessed usually by 1/4 inch and

sometimes are filled with either a 1:4 cement-sand
mortar or with concrete. In the latter case,
aggregate in the concrete for the joints should have
a maximum size less than the joint width.
Steel reinforcement is positioned in the form, and
connection hardware and handling inserts are
a A e c located and secured. Then the backup concrete is
placed in a normal manner. Cover depth of un-coated
reinforcement must be a minimum of 11/2 inches to
the back of thin brick units or measured from the exterior surface of half brick units.
Galvanized or epoxy-coated reinforcement is recommended at cover depths of 3/4 inch. Joint
depth and weather exposure affect the cover requirements.
Tiles, measuring 2 by 2 inches or 4 by 2 inches, may be supplied face-mounted on
polyethylene or paper sheets and secured to the mold by means of double-faced tape or
special adhesive. The space between the tiles is filled with a thin grout, and then the backup
concrete is placed prior to initial set of the grout.

Applying Clay Products Thin brick and ceramic tile as well as full brick have been applied to an already cast precast
After Casting panel at the precast concrete plant and at the jobsite. Bricks generally bear on a panel ledge
created by a recess on the precast concrete panel surface or on a projecting ledge.
Thin brick and ceramic tile may be applied to a recessed concrete surface using dry-set or
latex-portland cement mortar once that surface has been properly roughened by
sandblasting. (See Fig. 10.) Installation specifications for both dry-set and latex-portland
cement mortars are contained in ANSI A108.5. When dry-set mortar is used, the necessity of
wetting either the concrete surface or clay product is eliminated. Units should be grouted and
tooled using dry-set or latex-portland cement grouts conforming with material and
Fig. 10: Glazed thin
bricks are tapped installation specifications in ANSI A 118.6 and A 118.10.
into mortar using a
rubber mallet. Full brick, supported on a concrete ledge or steel shelf angle, requires anchors for lateral
support. (See Fig. 11.) The anchors should be flexible to permit slight vertical and horizontal
movement parallel to the plane of the wall. This flexibility allows differential movements
between the precast concrete and the clay product veneer without cracking or distress.
Wire anchors have a dovetailed steel-sheet bent over the wire that fits into a dovetail slot in
the concrete panel. (See Fig. 12.) The dovetail adjusts vertically so the wire anchor can be
placed in the bed joint of the brick. The size and spacing of anchors are based on tensile and
compressive loads induced by wind suction and pressure on the walls.
To avoid anchor buckling, the distance between the inside brick face and the concrete panel
should not be greater than 1 inch nor less than 1/2 inch.
Shelf angles may be used to support the full brick veneer at each floor, or at least every other
floor, in place of a concrete ledge (see Fig. 13.) The shelf should be made of structural steel
conforming to ASTM A36 and properly sized and anchored to carry the imposed loads.
Fig. 11: The perimeter columns
and wall components of the For severe climates and exposures, consideration should be given to galvanized or stainless-
St. Peter’s Ambulatory Surgery
steel shelf angles. When using shelf angles, continuous flashing should be installed over the
and Parking Structure in New
Brunswick, N.J., were cast with angle. Flashing is not required if the masonry is supported on a concrete ledge, if the ledge
dovetail slots to facilitate
quick installation of full brick has a slope of 1/8 inch in 5 inches, but weep holes are necessary in any case.
in the precaster’s yard.
Architect: Desman Associates Horizontal pressure-relieving joints should be placed immediately beneath each shelf angle.
Photo: ©Robert Mueler
Architectural Photography Pressure-relieving joints may be constructed by placing a highly compressible material under
the shelf angle and sealing the joint with an elastic sealant and backer rod. (See Fig. 13.)
4" Brick Wall

Flashing Installed in
Dovetail Continuous Reglet
Weep Holes
Back Face Flashing Extension
3/16" Dia. Face of Concrete
of Brick
(W2.8) Veneer Elastic Sealant
and Backer Rod
3" Min.


Compressible Joint
Material 1/8" (3.2 mm)
No. 12 Ga. Minimum Space
22 Ga. Steel Below Shelf Angle
1" Max.
Dobetail Slot
Air Space
Fig. 12: The anchorage of brick to precast concrete Fig. 13: Shelf angle with flashing and weep holes.
using dovetail anchor and slot is shown here.

Work As A Team Clay product-faced precast concrete panels offer a flexible and economical way to achieve
the desired appearance through prefabrication. The designer must develop a good working
relationship with both the precaster and the clay-product supplier so all parties are aware of
expectations and potential problems with such elements as returns, soldier courses, joints
and window details. The contract documents should define clearly the scope of veneer
patterns. When this occurs as it should, the result is a pleasing combination of aesthetic
beauty and durability.
Case Histories Offer Tips For
Clay-Faced Precast Concrete Panels
Architect David B Clay-Faced Precast Concrete Panels
Richards, A.I.A., of (CFPCP) combine the warmth of hand-laid
Rossetti Architects
uses some of his firm’s masonry with the benefits of precast concrete
recent projects to offer panels. CFPCP have been the economical choice
tips and techniques for for several of our projects. In each of these, we
using clay-faced precast
concrete panels intended the look and feel of a masonry
building but determined the project was
uneconomical to produce with actual masonry
units. CFPCP allowed us to achieve the desired
effect both on time and on budget.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA National

Tennis Center was enclosed early with CFPCP,
allowing other trades to complete their work to
meet a demanding schedule

Why Use Clay? Traditional clay-brick buildings have a unique warmth and texture. Brick allows for the use of
patterns through changes in color, size and texture. It also has an enduring quality. It offers a
human scale and the appearance of solidity, quality, permanence and stability. Rowlocks,
soldier courses and specially shaped brick are among the details that add visual interest and
scale to a brick building. It’s also a flexible material. Its small module adapts well to varying
building shapes and lines. In general, brick has a special appeal.
CFPCP provide an opportunity for the combination of materials including brick, tile and a
variety of colored and textured concrete. They can be an economical means of achieving the
qualities of a brick building.
The patterns created with CFPCP can be grand or subtle. At the Palace of Auburn Hills in
suburban Detroit, the home of the NBA Detroit Pistons, brick textures helped give the building
scale and appeal. Both CFPCP and traditional masonry construction were used on this
project. The upper portions of the building, where there are more repeated sizes of large
At the Palace of Auburn Hills
in suburban Detroit, the home panels, were constructed of CFPCP. Lower portions of the building where there was less
of the NBA Detroit Pistons,
dramatic brick textures help give repetition of panel sizes were later filled in with traditional masonry construction.
the building scale and appeal.
The pattern also allowed the metaphor for a basketball net to be realized.

Economics Several Rossetti Architects projects have used CFPCP because the panels offered a more
economical way to achieve the qualities of traditional masonry construction. Often times,
traditional masonry construction was less expensive than CFPCP based on a direct cost
comparison between brick with CMU back-up and CFPCP. However, cost savings related to
rapidly enclosing the structure, building during winter weather and providing a solid back-up
make a CFPCP an economical selection when the long-term picture is viewed.
Schedule On most projects, a precast concrete panel wall can be erected faster than a traditional
masonry wall. This savings can reduce the overall time required to build a building and provide
an enclosed space earlier. The schedule reduction alone can make the use of CFPCP more
economical than traditional masonry construction.
Some projects, including the Palace in Auburn Hills and The Arthur Ashe Stadium at the
USTA National Tennis Center in New York City, benefited significantly from early enclosure.
Being able to quickly enclose all or part of a large building will allow other trades to begin their
work earlier and reduce the overall construction time.
Sometimes the scaffolding and staging required for traditional masonry construction will
tie up a site, making other operations difficult and extending the schedule. CFPCP are erected
with a crane with minimal disruption. This provides another benefit to the schedule for the
project that often is overlooked in the bottom-line estimates.
Orchestra Place Office Building
in Detroit used precast panels As with most precast concrete panels, CFPCP can be manufactured at the precaster’s
to achieve a traditional, solid
look. plant while other construction operations are on-going at the job site. The panels also are
erected in large sections in less time than traditional masonry construction, which creates a
shorter duration for construction.

The brick surface texture on Orchestra

Place in Detroit produced a subtle
design in keeping with the building’s
Photo: Balthazar Korab Ltd.

Weather Masonry construction is temperature sensitive. Special techniques, methods and handling
are required for masonry construction generally when temperatures fall below 40 degrees F. In
northern climates, the masonry often will need to be heated and kept warm during the winter,
requiring expensive protection such as “cocoons” and heated with portable heaters to
maintain minimum temperatures. Mortar can freeze at low temperatures and lose its bond
and strength. These winter construction techniques add to the cost of the masonry
CFPCP, on the other hand, can be erected during the winter without special protection at
the site. They are manufactured in a controlled environment and protected at the precaster’s
plant, eliminating the need for winter protection at the job site.
Back-up Most clay facings require some type of back-up support. Providing an appropriate back-up
for the brick veneer can be an issue in larger buildings. CMU provides a good back-up for brick
but, because of its weight, it can have a costly impact on the building’s structural system.
CFPCP can be designed to support their own vertical loads to the foundations, minimizing
their impact on the superstructure.
Metal studs are lighter and stronger than brick, but they also are more flexible. The
improper use of metal studs can lead to a wide array of problems and even failure of the wall.

Techniques Several special construction techniques will help make a CFPCP project more successful.
Using the right brick, tuck pointing the brick, using a double seal at panel joints and casting
with cambered forms all contribute to the success of the precast product.

Brick To ensure proper results, specify the use of ASTM C 216 FBX brick. Some brick are too
dimensionally inaccurate for precast panel applications. Type FBX covers brick for general use
where requirements call for a higher degree of precision and lower permissible variation in size.
The tighter tolerances for size and reduced chippage help provide brick more suited to use in
The brick should be made with a dovetail core so that when cast into a concrete panel, it will
have a mechanical bond to the concrete. It also should be kerfed at the core to allow it to be
split by tapping with a mason’s hammer.
The use of an extruded kerf may allow both brick faces to be used in the CFPCP. With some
brick, however, only one face is intended to be exposed to view as a finished product. The other
side may have belt marks or other deformations that will prevent the use of both halves in the
CFPCP. Be sure to know and specify whether both faces of the brick should be used.

Oakland Commons Office Defects such as chips, spalls, face score lines, cracks, and “finger marks” are common, and
Building in Southfield, Mich.
features CFPCP to alternate
the defective bricks have to be culled from the bulk of acceptable units. It also is important to
with bands of glass to create a install brick from at least 2 different pallets in the forms to blend the varying colors of brick.
distinctive, contemporary look
on an economical budget.

Kerfed brick with a dovetail core allows easy splitting of the brick
and a good mechanical bond to the concrete.

Tuck Pointing Tuck pointing the joints between the brick will give the wall a traditional hand-laid brick
appearance. It also will help prevent water from entering the wall between the brick and the

At the USTA National Tennis Center, the brick was

tuck pointed after being cast into panels. The
weight of the precast concrete panels is carried on
the foundations of the building.

Double Seal The joints between precast panels are often made water tight with sealant. Sealant will
deteriorate with exposure to weather and the sun’s ultraviolet rays. An inner seal will not be
exposed to deterioration from the weather and will provide a back-up should any water
penetrate the wall. The inner seal is generally formed from another line of sealant and backer
rod. The cavity between seals should be drained with weep holes.

Panel Flatness The brick and the concrete will cure at different rates. As concrete cures, it loses excess
water and shrinks while the brick has a tendency to expand when exposed to water. It is
important to address this issue during design and manufacturing to ensure flat panels arrive
at the job site.
Many factors can contribute to reducing or eliminating bowing, including the use of
cambered forms. Forms with a reverse camber will compensate for bowing. The amount and
location of reinforcing, the use of prestressing and the amount of water in the mix are all
factors to consider in ensuring flat panels.
These techniques for designing with CFPCP have allowed Rossetti Architects to achieve the
warmth and scale of a brick building while reaping the economic benefits of precast concrete.
Using proper techniques in the design and construction of the panels will help complete the

— David B Richards, A.I.A., Rossetti Architects, Birmingham, Mich.