Precast concrete systems combine structural and architectural components to create long-lasting buildings and structures. From high-rise office buildings to landmark bridges, parking structures to correctional facilities, stadiums to schools—even in high seismic zones—precast concrete can achieve safe, beautiful, and durable results.
Quality in Manufacturing
Because components are precast at manufacturing facilities, quality control measures ensure that every piece is made to specifications. The components can be cast and transported to the job site while designs are still being finalized, helping to speed construction schedules. Evolutions in self-consolidating concrete also promise to offer new options and challenges for designers using precast.
As with all concrete wall systems, precast offers high durability and strength as well as thermal mass, which contributes to increased energy efficiency. Precast systems use locally derived materials, and can incorporate recycled supplementary cementitious materials like fly ash and slag cement, one of the key reasons why they are often used in sustainable or “green” buildings. In fact, concrete structures can qualify for a high number of points toward certification under the United States Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Green Building Rating System.
Variety, Flexibility, Utility
One of the biggest benefits of precast systems is in their design: tight controls mean more efficient mix designs, resulting in smaller structural members and longer spans. Construction waste is reduced because the exact amount of necessary components is delivered to the site; any spare components can be recycled, and their materials used again in another structure. Precast systems can adopt almost any aesthetic, incorporating a variety of colors and textures, or emulating natural stone. By crafting systems that not only look great, but also act as structural walls and support floor loads, designers can reduce material redundancy—and project costs.
The idea of “total precast” has become a buzzword in recent years, and the practice is common in many metro areas, especially in residential applications. By combining many precast elements to produce a complete structure, concrete’s benefits are maximized.
The Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) offers a broad spectrum of resources for architects and engineers, including design specifications for both architectural and structural applications.
PCA Notes on ACI 318-05 Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete with Design Applications, EB705
The ninth edition of this classic PCA resource reflects code changes introduced in Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete, ACI 318-05. These notes will help users apply code provisions related to the design and construction of concrete structures.