Understanding Architectural Precast

What Is Architectural Precast?

When someone refers to architectural precast, they are usually talking about concrete that contributes to not only the architectural value but also the aesthetic value of the structure. Some of the most common types of manners in which architectural precast is used include columns, support slabs, signs, sound barriers, ornamental pieces, picnic tables, and large buildings.

The History of Architectural Precast

There are many scholars who believe that the first signs of the architectural precast concrete industry date back to ancient Rome. When looking at the underground tunnels built by the Romans, they seem to employ architectural precast building materials.

At the same time, the first documented use of architectural precast dates back to the 1900s. John Alexander Brodie, an English engineer, discovered and developed architectural precast concrete components.

These components can come together to build a structure in an efficient manner. Later, Brodie would become the first person to earn a patent for the use of architectural precast concrete in paneled buildings.

In 1950, the first architectural precast concrete structure was built in the United States. This is the Walnut Lane Memorial Bridge, located in Philadelphia, PA.

The bridge is noted by many as the beginning of the architectural precast industry in the United States. Shortly after the bridge was finished, the Precast Concrete Institute was formed.

An Overview of Precast Concrete Manufacturing

A mold is used to create architectural precast concrete. In contrast, site-cast concrete does not use a mold and is poured into its final shape on-site.

The process of making architectural precast concrete include:

  • The precast concrete is poured into a steel or wooden mold using rebar or wire mesh
  • The precast concrete is cured in a controlled environment, usually a plant
  • The precast concrete is transported to the construction site

Not all precast concrete is pre-stressed using cable reinforcement. This reinforcement is used if added concrete strength is required. Wire and rebar add tension within the concrete. The tension is released when the curing process is finished.

The Applications of Architectural Precast Concrete

Overall, the architectural precast processing method makes it stronger and more affordable than typical concrete. Some of the advantages of using architectural precast concrete include:

  • It can be recycled or reused if it is removed
  • Architectural precast concrete can be integrated into facades
  • This type of concrete meets the compatibility requirements for historic buildings
  • This concrete can be used for long open spans, small sections, and everything in between
  • Architectural precast concrete comes in numerous forms, textures, and colors

In the end, the versatility of architectural precast concrete is the biggest reason why its applications have grown to include bridges, columns, parking garages, office buildings, houses, retail stores, stadiums, and more.

It is clear that there are numerous types of buildings that can benefit from using architectural precast concrete.

As the industry continues to grow and evolve, it is clear that architectural precast concrete is going to play a role in construction projects for decades to come.

As the technology in the industry continues to evolve, architectural precast concrete is only going to get stronger, more diverse, and more versatile.