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REI Distribution Center 4

Summarize the project's program, features and achievements?

National specialty outdoor retailer REI Co-op selected Lebanon, Tennessee, as the location of its fourth distribution center (REI DC-4) to serve nearly 5.6 million REI members and 60 REI stores. REI partnered with our team to develop, design, and build the 400,000 SF facility that would go on to employ more than 280 people. This project is a prime example of modern industrial development, integrating high standards of sustainability with a commitment to the employee experience and the practical needs of logistics. As intended by REI, DC-4 has become a great case study in weaving a brand's strong commitment to environmental stewardship and prioritizing design decisions for what's best for its employees and the surrounding community, into the fabric of the project's infrastructure.

Working closely with REI, our design-build and development teams ensured that this facility reflected the co-op's values by putting people first and applying a new standard in fighting the climate crisis. It sits on 41 acres and features a 40-foot clear height with industry-leading technology and sustainability efforts, such as a state-of-the-art material handling system and omnichannel fulfillment inventory management. In addition to the warehouse, the facility has a two-story, 20,000 square foot office for administrative support and employee amenities.

Influenced by design and sustainability, we leveraged our extensive expertise to enhance this industrial facility from the outside in. A mountain motif based on the Appalachian regional mountains was formed into the concrete tilt-panels to symbolize REI's connection and commitment to the outdoors. The decorative reveal and formliner layouts, meticulously handcrafted and scaled from drawings, exceed standard practices. The intentional design raises the bar for what's possible in industrial products for the Nashville region. We'd be remiss not to mention that the project has been awarded LEED Platinum, the highest level of achievement for sustainable development. REI's distribution center is the largest LEED Platinum industrial building in the southeast.

The building addresses the entire life cycle of carbon impacts by using 100% renewable, 100% electric energy and operating as a zero-waste facility. The facility's sustainability efforts include solar panels, rainwater harvesting from the roof, carbon cure concrete mix design, electric car charging stations, and harvesting rock and trees from the property to reuse throughout the distribution center.

Unique additions, unheard of in industrial developments, aimed at capturing REI's brand and people include:

  • Interior design elements throughout the interior are wood and metal elements from the barn and trees that stood on the property prior to the development
  • A polished concrete “stream", inspired by the Cumberland River, meanders through the office area leading outdoors to connect the exterior spaces and walking paths
  • An outside courtyard features a patio with recreation areas, a fire pit, and roll-up glass doors in the lunchroom that open toward the courtyard
  • A decorative concrete compass in the automobile parking lot circled with the locations and distances to other REI distribution centers
  • Enhanced landscaping and harvested rocks from site excavation to create dry creek paths

What obstacles were overcome related to the schedule, budget, program, specification, site, etc. on this project?

Building something that matters involves a lot of moving pieces. But there's no project too complicated, no budget or deadline that we can't meet, and no unexpected challenge we can't solve—because we're just as invested in the project as our clients. While meticulous design decisions occasionally impacted the schedule and budget, the resulting quality and functionality of the facility vindicate these choices. Over a third of the building's 100+ panels underwent a complex process to produce a distinctive mountain range motif along the north and partial west elevations. The intricate formliner and reveal process extended beyond the typical pour timeline; however, all were integrated into the original schedule.

Al. Neyer completed the first of eight concrete slab pours for the 400,000 SF warehouse on March 24, 2022, initiating the tilt-wall process. The final panel was set on June 3, exemplifying our ability to manage intricate logistics effectively. Our design-build method facilitated excellent collaboration with subcontractors, ensuring seamless integration of all project components. Our preconstruction team set a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) within 30 days, starting with limited design documents. During site selection, REI toured several properties, ultimately choosing a site previously designed for a different project. We reengineered the site to perfectly align with REI's specific needs and timing.

Despite typical delays, our proactive measures, including the installation of temporary equipment, ensured adherence to the timeline. The warehouse was delivered to the client one month ahead of the revised schedule, significantly exceeding expectations and fulfilling the client's accelerated requirements.

Please communicate any engineering complexities or unique features of the panel design for this project?

In our pursuit to fully embody REI's brand within its new Middle Tennessee facility, our architectural design embraces the natural beauty and essence of the region. To achieve the rolling Tennessee mountains motif, we employed a multifaceted approach using complex techniques and materials that exceed standard practices including:

  • Fractured fin formliners (9,240 SF) and custom-designed reveal patterns (4,352 LF) to mold the motif
  • Multi-tonal painting strategy reflecting the landscape's natural hues
  • Sandblasting over 14,000 SF
  • Precisely mapped and installed PVC reveals for undulating mountain top effect
  • Over 18 diverse concrete mix designs

For the motif panels, the PVC reveal was custom bent with heat and mandrels onsite to create smooth, flowing lines that aligned with detailed layout plans. Supporting sustainability goals, all concrete panels were crafted using a low-carbon mix, aiding in achieving LEED Platinum certification. The mountain motif extends into the building's interior, contributing to a biophilic design that permeates the lobby, training rooms, and gym. We also strategically placed window openings in the formliners for high-traffic warehouse areas. Construction of the two-story office space utilized load-bearing tilt-up panels clad with stone and metal, carefully coordinated to align with REI's branding and the architectural style of the main warehouse. The office area features flag and spandrel panels, requiring intricate coordination among trades for seamless integration.

Through innovative engineering and thoughtful design, we not only met but exceeded the architectural and functional expectations of this project, demonstrating our unwavering dedication to excellence and client satisfaction.

What is the potential for this project's impact on the community and/or environment?

REI Co-op's new state-of-the-art distribution center in Lebanon, Tennessee supports its growth in the Midwest and Southeast, serving over 60 stores and 5.6 million members. This facility significantly impacts the local economy by providing quality jobs and reducing environmental footprints. REI's Lebanon center employs over 280 staff, with plans to increase to 350. The Co-op supports local initiatives and environmental nonprofits through its Cooperative Action Fund and plans to partner with the city on community improvements plans.

The facility addresses carbon impacts by using 100% renewable, 100% electric energy through an onsite solar array, plus an upcoming solar array in eastern Tennessee as part of REI's partnership with Clearloop. It features electric forklifts, EV chargers, and building materials with 30% less embodied carbon, including concrete and steel.

The building uses 30% less energy than required by code, primarily due to efficient lighting and HVAC systems. This focus on energy savings extends to all building systems. Over 90% of both construction and operational waste is diverted from landfill, aiming for USGBC's “zero-waste" certification. REI also partners with Trex to recycle plastic into decking and plans to seek zero-waste certification. The facility is also highly water efficient, designed to use 50% less water in its operations and landscaping than required by industry baseline, through rainwater cisterns and efficient fixtures, complemented by native landscaping.

Key features contributing to LEED Platinum Certification include a low-carbon concrete mix, exterior panels continued inside, and large, tilt-panel windows. This project maximizes sustainability efforts from design to operation.

Main banner image for REI Distribution Center 4

Project Location

Lebanon, TN 37090
United States

Project Images


Project Team (TCA Members)

General Contractor:
Concrete Contractor:

Project Specifics

Project Category:
Building Types:
Distribution Center
Concrete (Exposed Aggregate)
Concrete (Polished)
Concrete (Raw/Sealed)
Exterior insulation and finish system (EIFS)
Paint (Flat)
Paint (Textured)
Cantilevered Panels
Shadow Panels
Stacked Panels
Post Applied (Interior)
LEED Certified - Platinum
Number of Floors:
Number of Panels:
110 panels
Total Floor Area:
455,754 sq ft (42,340 sq m)
Project Footprint:
386,156 sq ft (35,874 sq m)
Tallest Panel:
55 ft 11 in (17.04 m)
Widest Panel:
39 ft 7 in (12.07 m)
Largest Panel:
1,811 sq ft (168.2 sq m)
Heaviest Panel:
202,210 lbs (91,721 kg)
Tallest Cantilever:
38 ft 5 in (11.71 m)
Longest Spandrel:
22 ft 9 in (6.93 m)