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Vistas on the James

Richmond, VA

Located on the James River, this landmark 18-story mixed use high-rise is Phase Two of a riverfront re-development in a historical district. A brick-inlay architectural precast concrete façade was chosen as an alternative to hand-set brick and cast stone that were used on Phase One. Photos by Advanté Advertising Inc.

Design Assistance

On Phase I of Vistas on the James, the installation of the hand-set brick was difficult and slow because of the adverse winter weather conditions and site restraints due to the close proximity to the James River. The design team was asked to re-evaluate the original design prior to moving to Phase II.  Gate Precast worked with Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio to design a brick inlay architectural precast concrete exterior systems as an alternative to hand-set brick. The owner’s only stipulation regarding a different system was that it must look like traditional modular hand laid brick to match other structures in the historic district. 

Precast System Details

  • 70,325 square feet of Brick Inlay Architectural Precast with Limestone Precast Finish accents
  • Installed in 13 weeks
  • The most unique panels featured two mix designs with embedded brick in the same panel with a return leg 

Precast concrete Advantages

The designers chose precast over hand-set brick for this multi-story, 325,639 sf condominium because of its predictability of quality and an accelerated schedule on a limited-access site.

  • Brick Inlay Precast Offered Predictability of Quality: As It Relates to Waterproof / Envelope Enclosure: many concerns arise with brick cavity wall construction because of the nature of the cavity. This construction method requires careful removal of water within the cavity with thru wall and end dam flashings. Window head/jamb/sill connections and their flashings are very complicated.  In many cases, support steel is required to hold up the brick. Trapped water in the cavity will cause the brick to effloresce. The installation qualities of these different procedures heavily rely on workmanship in the field. With architectural precast, the panels are cast in the plant (in a controlled environment) and once installed, provide excellent simple condition to attach the window wall/curtain wall. The only real concern is providing good panel and material joints and proper sealant installation, which in comparison is much less complicated.

  • Flexibility of Design: Brick Inlay Architectural Precast Concrete exterior panels offered the ability to create the rich look of traditional hand-set brick sought by the historic district, and the owner.

Digital Design Resources

Thin Brick Standard Aids Design Specs
Reinventing Residential Construction with Precast Concrete

From the Architect:

"The results from a cost comparison between hand-set brick and architectural precast with brick inlay determined that precast would be less expensive and shaved two months off the installation time line of hand-set brick. The 60 days saved the owner two months of interest carry which was substantial."

Daniel F. Joy
AIA, Partner
Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, LLC
Architecture + Interior Design

General Information

Jacksonville, FL
Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, LLC Architecture + Interior Design
Manhattan Construction
Dominion Realty Partners

Precast Systems

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Project Aesthetics

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More Information

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