Category: Institutional Buildings
Location: New Britain, CT
Size: 146,000 sf
Masonry Used: 300,000 interior vertical scored CMU, 100,000 utility bricks and 12,000 ground face units (4"x16"x24")
Submitted By: Acranom Masonry

Project Description

This unique state-of-the-art school, designed by Antinozzi Associates Architects and built by Acranom Masonry (General contractor: Fusco Corporation) features all curved radial walls, with over 300,000 interior vertical scored CMU, 100,000 utility bricks and 12,000 ground face units (4”x16”x24).

The CREC Medical Professional and Teacher Preparation Academy is a 146,000 square foot theme-based magnet school designed to accommodate 700 students, grades 6-12 and an Early Childhood Development Program, incorporated with its Teacher Preparation curriculum for 36 children between the ages of 3 and 4. The facility is comprised of a three-story Academic wing which houses its primary instructional spaces and a single story Commons wing containing shared assembly spaces.

The Academy’s exterior walls are derived from the geometries of the site. It’s northern and southern exterior walls are delineated by concentric arcs with progressively increasing southward radial lengths. The northeast corner is located to provide a balance of cut and fill by utilizing the naturally descending grade elevations. The resulting orientation provides a convex south wall exposure that is optimally-oriented to take advantage of sun angles, affording maximum day-lighting during the winter months.

The Academy’s exterior is constructed of a self-supporting masonry assembly composed of utility size brick veneer supported by CMU masonry back-up. The brick veneer projects 8” from the normal plane of the CMU face and 8” beyond wall ends to impart the impression that the thin veneer is “taped” to the wall. Continuous score lines, ¼”in depth, were saw-cut into the brick veneer alluding to dermal lines of the human hand. To accommodate the depth of the score line, the brick veneer was acquired with “pencil cores” to ensure that a minimum ¾” weather side face was maintained after being field-cut. Above and below the projected brick, the CMU back-up converts to a ground face CMU having a common white matrix and aggregate and three progressively smoother texture variations. The multi-texture imparts a subtle and varying complexion the building’s facade.

The brick veneer is penetrated with punched window openings composed of a single-cast architectural concrete surround. Inset glazing assembles flush to the edge of the architectural precast surrounds, flush with the adjacent brick veneer, reinforce the sculptural curve of the north and south facades.

Three elliptically-shaped exterior courtyards bring light to the interior core spaces. Specially shaped multi-textured ground face CMU with knife-edge corners was employed at the courtyard openings to reinforce the monolithic appearance of the masonry back-up. The brick projects beyond the courtyard openings to illustrate the thinness of the veneer.

Achieving this aesthetic requires both a high level of technical proficiency and close coordination with the architect. Freestanding and in-situ masonry mock-ups were constructed to ensure that each component of the wall assembly met the design intent. Before masonry construction began, templates were fashioned for each of the curved walls to ensure that a consistent curve was maintained. Upon completion of the brick veneer, a flexible guide was secured to the mortar joints of the brick to manually saw-cut the score lines. The guide was then removed and the fastener holes in the mortar joints were repaired.

Masonry wall accessories were voluntarily procured, making the exterior wall assembly eligible for an extended product warranty.

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