By Micah Jacobson
I thought I would take the opportunity to talk about my spring studio project. There is an upcoming need on campus to build a new housing complex for Greek life due to the current building being out of commission soon. The new building will need to hold around 400 people and would need to be adaptable to suit the needs of not only Greek life, but other student. We are using this program to enter a PCI competition, so naturally the structure will use pre-cast concrete. This material is a very good building material for many reasons.
Pre-cast has the advantage of being pre-fabricated in a plant and shipped to the job site. This allows it to be put up fast, and eliminates the need to build forms and wait for the hydration of the concrete. This means there is less on site labor required for the job, and it gets done faster.
Another advantage is the ability to concrete, with precision, the condition of the hydration of the concrete. You can create an environment that is perfectly situated for the strongest concrete. If the weather is to cold, hot, dry or wet the concrete may not gain as much strength.
A great advantage of pre-cast is that you can pre-stress the members. This will do many things to improve the performance of the concrete. A pre-stressed member will come to the job site with the tension side of the beam in compression. As the load is applied it will be at a much smaller strain level on the tension side, where concrete would normally crack. You can design a pre-stressed beam that can carry a higher load with a smaller cross-sectional area than with cast in place concrete. It is possible to pre-stress a cast in place member (post-tensioning), but not as common.
Concrete is a great material, and when teamed up with steel creates an incredible building product. This project provides a great opportunity to improve my knowledge and gain experience in the design of housing; this is my first experience with it.