Precast concrete offers a virtually unlimited palette of options for creating unique aesthetic treatments ranging from a historic appearance to blend with nearby landmarks or a contemporary style that makes a strong statement of its own. The material can provide any appearance desired in a cost-efficient way with added benefits no other material can match.
Using thin-brick inset techniques on precast’s panelized systems, Blakeslee can create the masonry appearance that building owners seek while adding benefits masonry can’t provide. Precast’s inset brick eliminates the long scheduling needed for laid-up brick while removing several trades from the site. The process ensures a high-quality, evenly-spaced visual appearance that is difficult to achieve with actual brickwork—while eliminating on-site inspections. Using inset thin-brick with precast panels makes efficient use of materials, minimizes time and construction materials, avoids problems with weep holes from falling mortar and eliminates concerns over inconsistent labor expertise, weak mortar joints, efflorescence and disruptions due to bad weather.
Precast concrete panels offer a plasticity in shapes, curves and geometries that can create any desired look. They interface smoothly with glass and other modern materials.
At Blakeslee Prestress, our capability to tint concrete and provide several tones by using various surface treatments within one panel allow designers to specify any color they want. A wide range of finish combinations and textures can be achieved easily.
Your Single Source
Precast’s plasticity and variety of finishes make it an outstanding choice no matter what style of architecture is desired. Ensuring the proper look is achieved can be made easy with precast concrete. Blakeslee Prestress can provide you with:
Range of samples and large-scale mockups
Ensure design concepts translate into reality
Designers can inspect window interfaces, joint connections and other critical elements to ensure they are visually acceptable and will properly interface between trades. Plant visits to discuss technical and aesthetic concerns provide control without requiring constant site supervision.
Blakeslee Prestress is your single source for so many architectural and structural components, and the source for brickwork or other finishes, We work closely with the construction team to ensure satisfaction. Overlapping trades and gaps in responsibilities are eliminated when Blakeslee Prestress provides the entire exterior design.
Special mixes and finish techniques are used on panels to mimic limestone, sandstone, granite and any other type of stone desired. The finishes are produced far more economically than real stone can be laid, and they can be erected much quicker. Form liners can replicate unusual pieces such as cut stone or slate, limiting options only to the designer’s imagination.
Replicating Existing Styles
With its ability to replicate such a wide range of materials, precast concrete panels ensure new buildings blend with existing ones. This is particularly true if the original building(s) also were made of precast concrete, as previous mixes often can be reproduced. If not, precast can simulate the appearance of surrounding brick structures quite effectively.
An example of being able to blend in harmoniously with one's surrounding can be found in the new Aetna Street Parking Garage (inset photo left). Blakeslee Prestress working with the both the architect and at the owner was able to simulate the original Georgian colonial architecture of Aetna's historic original Headquarters (originally completed in 1930 and located next door), with their precast concrete panels with thin-brick inlays. Blakeslee Prestress also handled the erection the structure.
A wide variety of textures can be created in the concrete to add interest. The most common of these are:
Smooth or off-the-form finishes show the natural look of the concrete without trying to simulate any other building product.
Exposed-aggregate finishes, via chemical retarders or water washing, are achieved with a non-abrasive process that effectively brings out the full color, texture and beauty of the coarse aggregate.
Form liners create unique patterns or textures. The liners can be made of wood, steel, plaster, elastomeric, plastic or foam plastic.
Sand or abrasive blasting provides all three degrees of exposure noted above.
Tooling, usually called bushhammering, mechanically spalls or chips the concrete using any of a number of hand or power tools, exposing the aggregate textures.
Hammered-rib or fractured-fin designs creates a bold, deeply textured surface by casting ribs onto the surface of the panels and then randomly breaking the ribs to expose the aggregate.
Painting is used purely for decorative purposes. The decision to paint should be made early to ensure the finished concrete surface is not so smooth that pain won’t adhere to it easily.
Combination Finishes. Two or more finishes can be readily achieved using the same concrete mix. This procedure will raise the cost of the product, but it will be less expensive than producing a separate unit that must be attached to the primary panel, as with an accent sill.