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Opus Hall at Catholic University of America

Washington, DC

The seven-story residential facility blends state-of-the-art amenities with a “collegiate Gothic” architectural design. The insulated brick inlay architectural precast concrete exterior blends seamlessly into the style of this traditional campus. Opus Hall showcases a high quality outcome which is a result of true design-build collaboration. A post-construction thermal imaging comparison of Opus Hall and neighboring campus buildings constructed with masonry products validates the energy efficiency of the precast wall system.

Design Assistance

The design build collaboration of Opus Hall demonstrates the importance and effectiveness of involving Gate Precast early in a project’s design. Catholic University has deep and broad expectations for its building projects and in creating the framework for Opus Hall, they looked to more and different choices for accomplishing these expectations. Gate Precast was challenged to design an exterior system that addressed the following critical points: time of erection, finished interior, credibility of appearance of brick inlay precast and budget.

Case Study - Catholic University Dorm - Summer 2011 Ascent. Compliments of PCI

Precast System Details

65,228 square feet of pre-insulated brick inlay architectural precast concrete with architectural elements including form liners, acid-etched concrete and pigmented concrete

  • 4” of  Exposed Interior Precast Walls, Steel-Trowel Finished, Structural Concrete
  • 2” of Continuous Insulation
  • 3” of Exterior Veneer Concrete and Thin-Brick
  • Panels create edge-to-edge insulation continuity and provide a Performance R-value of 26.

Precast Concrete Advantages

The architectural precast sandwich wall panels were designed to be structural, architectural, exposed interior concrete surface and the sole source for thermal and moisture protection.

  • Acts as Structural Element: Reduced the redundancy of interior shear wall systems
  • Reduction of Embodied Energy: The use of thin brick which reduces the embodied energy it takes to manufacture and transport brick to the project site.
  • Wall System Resistant to Moisture Migration: Integral insulation layer with Perm Rating of 0.03 provides integral vapor retarder and a wall system resistant to the growth of mold/mildew. There is No Cavity for Moisture to Collect.
  • 4+ Hour Fire Endurance Rating: (View REPORT)
  • 54 Sound Transmission Coefficient: (View REPORT)
  • Speed of Construction: The installation of the precast was complete in approximately 35 days. The last panel, which contained over 2,200 bricks, was erected in less than 20 minutes. Precast installation enclosed the structure much faster than hand-laid block and brick and cost less as compared to conventional light gauge framing, sheathing and masonry or un-insulated precast with furred, insulated walls. The 5000 psi concrete walls were manufactured in an enclosed facility while foundations and site work proceeded, allowing delivery and erection to the structure precisely and with almost no weather delays
  • Durable Interior Finish: Exposed interior precast walls eliminated the need for interior furring (steel studs, insulation and drywall) which accelerated the interior finishes and reduced trades and air-borne particulates. Exposed interior precast walls also maximize the Thermal Mass Effect of concrete.

The Proof:

Results from Post Occupancy Thermal Imaging of Opus Hall and neighboring campus buildings constructed with masonry products validates the energy efficiency of the precast concrete wall system.

Digital Design Resources

From the Architect:

"On a traditional campus like Catholic University, we were concerned that brick-covered precast would be obvious and look commercial and artificial. I have to say that our panels are beautiful. They look exactly like hand-set masonry. There are even slight variations in the planes of the individual bricks."

Beth Buffington
AIA, Principal - LEED AP
Little Diversified Architectural Consulting

From the Contractor:

"The R-Value of the precast panels is substantially higher than other options we looked at which helped us sell this system to the owner who looks at long-term operating cost. It also helps us gain LEED points for reduced energy usage."

Barry Max Boyd
Project Manager
Opus East, LLC

General Information

Jacksonville, FL
Opus East, LLC
Catholic University of America

Precast Systems

Project Aesthetics

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