Openings in Precast

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Credit: Original article published here.

Oftentimes the most difficult design hurdle in a project is accommodating openings in the precast shell.  Doors, windows, mechanical and plumbing penetrations all present challenges that the designer must carefully consider as it relates to handling, shipping, erecting, and ultimately subjecting the panel to service loading conditions.  Wells has created a guideline for efficient layout of not only whole wall panels but also panels with various opening configurations.  It is located here: Helpful Layout Information

The examples shown are meant to be guidelines only.  Panels that fall outside of these guidelines are certainly allowable and achievable but should be reviewed by Wells Engineering prior to finalizing the panel layout.  Wells is capable of producing virtually any shape/size desired by our customers and we have proven so on multiple occasions. Odd shape/size panels have an increased risk of cracking on the architectural face which detract from the aesthetics of the piece and may not be desirable.  Every effort will be made to minimize the cracking.  These efforts may include steel bridges and/or face lifters which, again, may not be desirable.

As you can see, it’s generally our preference to keep the openings contained in the body of a panel.  Several reasons factor into our preference including but not limited to:

  1. Reduces potential for vertical misalignment
  2. Reduces the number of molds required for the project
  3. Reduces bed setup labor costs
  4. Eliminates vertical joint terminating at opening head – potential source of leaking
  5. Allows us to avoid face lifters/patching
  6. Allows for plant installed windows

In closing, a number of factors go into the final layout of the precast shell.  Hopefully, these guidelines offer helpful tips for achieving your desired look and function.

Ryan Garden
VP, Chief Engineer

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