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St. Armands Circle in Sarasota, Florida has long been a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. Located on St. Armands Key along the Gulf Coast, the bustling open–air market, restaurants, and year–round festivals have kept the area vibrant for many years. Recent upgrades to the main streetscape have kept it modern and inviting. Amidst the holiday season of 2018, the City of Sarasota faced a pressing issue of limited parking options. The City responded with a bold $12 million investment in a four-story, 482-space precast concrete parking structure meant to accommodate the Christmas crowds. This new addition to the area is sure to be a great benefit for years to come. The construction of the new parking garage required careful consideration to ensure it not only provided ample parking options, but also blended in with the surrounding landscape and achieved a Silver Parksmart rating from Green Building Certification – the second–highest rating offered.
The parking structure features a stunning white precast concrete design, with cascading exterior stairs, metal mesh facade that reflects the sunlight, and solar panels on the third level to provide electricity and shaded parking. To maximize durability and reduce noise for the nearby residences, a cast-in-place topping was added to the two main parking bays. To ensure waterproofing in the coastal environment, the precast concrete producer included BASF MasterLife 300D admixture in all panels.
“It reduces concrete permeability, reduces water penetration, and helps seal hairline cracks,” explains Josh Cameron, plant manager for Coreslab Structures. The precast concrete producer recognized that the material, which is commonly used in water treatment plants, would bring added value for this project, he says. “Coreslab found it to be easy to work with, and it had no negative side effects to our pouring or finish of the concrete.”Precast Producer: Tampa, FL
The precast concrete producer recognized that the material, which is commonly used in water treatment plants, would bring added value for this project, he says. “Coreslab found it to be easy to work with, and it had no negative side effects to our pouring or finish of the concrete.” Cameron also notes that the design’s zigzag joints presented a compelling puzzle for his team. “As precasters, we are always challenged to ensure joints and miters are perfectly square,” he says. They knew they had little room for error when casting these panels, so the layout on the forms was triple-checked prior to casting. “We were very happy when these erected and everything matched up so well.”
Once the precast concrete elements were cast, the precast concrete producer worked closely with the design team to coordinate their delivery in a sequential manner. This helped the team avoid the typical construction issues associated with the cast-in-place construction. “The biggest challenge was shipping the 60,000-pound panels to the site,” says Vern Smith, sales manager for Coreslab. Delivery of the precast concrete elements to the island had to be coordinated with the City and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to accommodate both bridge weight limits and traffic patterns. Smith notes that the strong collaboration minimized traffic disruption, with brief partial street closings coordinated well in advance.
Once on site, the contractor was able to rapidly erect and complete the project, meeting often intricate design specifications. “Finishing on time and on budget was truly a success for this team,” Smith says. “This project could not have met the timeline that the owner needed using any other construction system.”