Sharing the Knowledge: Precast and Prestressed Concrete Panel Construction : The Barlew Blog

David Barlew Architects is a Chattanooga-based architecture firm founded in 1978 by David Barlew, Sr. Our diverse practice has experience in the design and renovation of mixed-use developments, schools, offices, commercial centers and medical facilities. Local projects designed by David Barlew Architects in the past 5 years include Renaissance Square, a two story, mixed-use building completed in 2008 on Martin Luther King Boulevard by The 28th Legislative District Community Development Corporation; the Temporary Twelve-Bed Intensive Care Unit at Erlanger Hospital; Sing It Or Wing It, a karaoke bar and restaurant in downtown Chattanooga (interior design by Christi Homar); and the Auditorium Building Renovation and Addition at Cleveland State Community College for the Tennessee Board of Regents. David Barlew Architects has also volunteered time for the Brainerd Road Corridor Master Plan, a nearly three year long community-led initiative to improve the Brainerd Community of Chattanooga.

David Barlew Architects, Inc. is a member of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sharing the Knowledge: Precast and Prestressed Concrete Panel Construction

by David Barlew, Jr. on 04/22/11

One of the goals of The Barlew Blog is to share information about buildings, construction and architecture with our readers. I believe it is important for architects to share what we learn so that the value of our experiences and knowledge can be shared with as many people as possible. For that reason, I intend to post short series of the facts I learn following each continuing education seminar, which I attend on a regular basis--ocassionally more than once a week. These seminars cover everything from zinc roofing to pervious concrete; from fire dampers to silicone sealant; from geothermal HVAC to acrylic resin.

On Wednesday I attended a continuing education seminar on precast and prestressed concrete panel construction. Here are four quick things I learned:

I learned that the primary benefit of using precast and prestressed concrete panel construction is its speed of construction. With the building's exterior finishes, structural system and interior finishes all manufactured together in a series of pre-made panels, the erection of the building can take place in a shorter duration of time.  

I learned that two design strategies can reduce construction costs for this type of construction: (1.) reusing panel molds lowers the unit cost per panel and (2.) using fewer larger panels costs less than using many smaller panels.

I learned that carbon fiber grid reinforcing can be used in lieu of steel reinforcing in precast and prestressed concrete panels and that the use of carbon fiber grid reinforcing can reduce panel weights by 8%.

Finally, I learned that precast and prestressed concrete panels can have R-Values between R-4 and R-35.

Overall, I was impressed by the precast and prestressed concrete panel construction system. I would really like to work on a project using precast and prestressed concrete panel construction.


Spence, George. "The Basics of Precast/Prestressed Concrete." Metromont. Development Resource Center, Chattanooga, Tennessee. 20 April 2011.

Written by David Barlew, Jr. for David Barlew Architects, Inc.

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