BPDL (Bétons Préfabriqués Du Lac, Alma, Quebec), an Easi-Set licensed producer has won the PCI's 2013 Design Award in the Best Multi-Family Housing category for the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) Student Housing project in Montreal, Quebec.
Schedule is always a top concern on construction projects, but it was particularly important for the team designing and constructing the ETS Student Housing for an engineering university. "The completion date in August had to be respected as the building was fully rented to students for the beginning of their school year," says Serge Jacques, principal architect for Régis Côté et Associés.
To meet the deadline, as well as cost and durability goals, the firm chose a precast concrete panel system, SlenderWall. The composite precast concrete panels are 2 in.-thick architectural precast concrete on a galvanized steel stud frame, weighting only 28 lbs. per sq. ft., which translates into thinner and lighter panels.
"The lighter panels reduce costs, in part by shortening installation time and reducing the need for additional on-site work trades," Jacques says. In spite of the large building footprint, the tower crane was able to lift any panel around the building perimeter, and the lighter loads on the structure translated into overall savings. "It gave us a great advantage during erection. To save additional time, guarantee quality, and enable cold-weather construction, BPDL installed the windows and insulation in the controlled plant so the panels would arrive ready to install at the jobsite.
"We believe this never had been done before and it brought great advantages, as well as high rapidity for installing and finishing the interior," Jacques says. "The design flexibility, the professional approach and cooperation of the precast concrete manufacturer and the overall quality of the panel made our choice the right one for this project."
Aesthetically, the precast concrete panel design reflects the vibrant, busy lives of the students who will call this structure home. The design team saw the building as a beehive, and wanted to complement the activity of the students in the design. That goal is achieved through a series of vertical windows that correspond to the dining areas, and horizontal windows that offer panoramic views in study areas and in some of the bedrooms. Three different tints, in gray, white and black, were used to create an interesting pattern across the facade, while mimicking the color scheme of the existing buildings on the downtown campus. BPDL provided custom-made forms to create the effect.
"The design is sophisticated, but the concrete gives it a somewhat rugged look," Jacques says. "The precast gives the building some weight and one can tell the building is resistant just by looking at it."