In 2004, the University of Ottawa began a $56.1 million expansion of Roger Guindon Hall, the campus' state-of-the-art health sciences complex. The 98,000 square-foot, four-storey addition, to be completed in 2007, will house wet lab space to support biological research.
The school wanted the new structure to stand out and add architectural variety to the campus, while complementing existing precast concrete structures and evoking a scholarly purpose.
Beauty of brick, convenience of precast
To achieve the university's goals and stay within budget, David Bull, principal associate of Edward J. Cuhaci Architects Inc., and Andrea Buchsbaum, project manager with the firm, specified brick-faced precast concrete.
"We wanted the appearance of a brick building in order to be in concert with the other new facilities being built on the campus, but we also wanted the speed of construction that precast provides,” Bull said, “would we do it again? Absolutely."
Brick faced precast cladding involved embedding clay brick face slices, onto precast concrete panels, giving an appearance of traditional brick and mortar construction. Integrating brick and precast concrete offers the best of both worlds - the visual interest and beauty of clay brick, combined with the strength, ease and economy of precast concrete.
Building with brick-faced precast panels significantly cut costs and reduced construction time by about one-third compared to traditional site laid-up masonry. Because the panels are prefabricated off-site and in a controlled environment, there are no weather delays and job sites are less cluttered.
Visual design flexibility
More than 58,000 brick face slices were supplied to Central Precast to create the precast panels, primarily Copper Matt (orange-brown) face brick. The architect alternated square Copper Matt and Sunnydale (yellow) face brick to create an accent above each bank of windows.
"The brick was placed very nicely and all the joints are equally spaced," Buchsbaum said. We avoided a lot of problems by going with precast.” The result is an attractive building with a traditional academic character, complementing the university's existing precast structures.
"This was my first project using brick-faced precast panels," said Scott Read of Ron Engineering, the construction manager for this project. "So far I'm impressed with the installation, and feedback from the school has been very positive."
Owner: University of Ottawa
Architect: Edward J. Cuhaci Architects Inc., Ottawa
Structural Engineer: GENIVAR
Construction Manager: Ron Engineering, Ottawa
Precast Contractor: Central Precast Inc., Ottawa
Brick Manufacturer: Hanson Brick