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High-Tech Electronics Manufacturing Facility

Summarize the project's program, features and achievements?

From Rendering to Reality: Building a High-Tech Electronics Manufacturing and Research Facility

An Architecture and MEP Engineering firm spearheaded the design of a unique two-story, 140,000+ SF state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Germantown, Maryland. This building, a harmonious blend of design aesthetics and practicality, stands out with its spectral cantilevered wall features and insulated tilt-up concrete panels in a random stone pattern. Situated between a corporate campus, college, and hospital, this facility required an elevated esthetic to keep with its context. With 2 primary facades and no rear to the building, special attention was paid to aesthetics on all 4 sides of the building. Visual depth in the façade is achieved by applying a variety of finishing techniques, including variated patterns and reveals, 3-4 layers of artistically applied stain to achieve a stone texture, thin brick, and specular accent paint features. In addition, this building features a 35,000+ SF 2nd story office component that is accessed by 3 building core stairs and 1 elevator, which goes up to the roof level penthouse for general building systems maintenance and tenant use on a regular basis.

Notably, this facility is not just a building but a transitional gateway between academic and career growth opportunities for the local college campus students in American manufacturing. The new center will offer hands-on training and educational initiatives for students, helping to develop a pipeline of local technical talent. Students will interact with leading engineers at the facility through internships, mentoring, and shadowing opportunities. This 140,000-square-foot space is the first-ever manufacturing facility on a community college campus in the U.S.

The development team was totally satisfied with the entire tilt-up experience. Working closely with the tilt-up contractor, the design team was able to craft an innovative, cost-effective solution for the exterior walls for a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. Over 98 panels, most in excess of 45 feet tall, were cast at the site and expertly lifted into place to create a plumb and tight-fitting exterior wall. Typical panels were constructed in two pours, allowing insulation to be sandwiched between the interior and exterior panel faces. The exterior faces included cast in brick and a complex series of reveals that were perfectly aligned. Panels were then stained using multiple colors and faux stone finish resulting in a beautiful and unique custom façade. The interior faces were troweled smooth, so the panels needed no further finish in the manufacturing and storage areas," said project owner.

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

This project had an aggressive schedule with no flexibility due to tenant move-in requirements. With an eye toward expected material supply chain issues, the design team elected to bring on a General Contractor early in the design process. Working with the GC at these early stages allowed for real-time supply chain information to be considered, and in turn, influence the design of the facility. One of the early examples of this was the utilization of solid steel wide-flanged beams rather than open web joists due to lead times and availability. Column and beam spacing was increased, and a 3" roof deck was employed to offset additional costs. Having the GC onboard also allowed the design team to collaborate with the tilt concrete subcontractor. This early collaboration allowed for the team to simplify complex panel details, maximize panel efficiency, and take maximum advantage of special panel finishing options to achieve the desired aesthetic of the facility.

A particularly unique challenge of this project was the close proximity of the building to a public road and a crowded public utility easement between the road and building pad. The road functioned as the only access point to a hospital located across the street from the building, and the PUE contained essential utilities that serviced this facility, including a 4" gas main. Due to these factors, the streetside panels had to be cast and erected from within the building footprint and bracing had to be engineered so as not to impact the PUE.

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

The manufacturing facility was designed to balance the high level of design in the surrounding innovation park with the cost-effectiveness and practical needs of a manufacturing facility. The building is constructed of a steel-framed roof and load bearing insulated concrete tilt walls. By utilizing the tilt walls for the lateral system, the large building was built without an expansion joint.

Due to the nature of the manufacturing process inside of the building, the interior slab was required to support 4 tiers of racking, achieving a 56.9 FF (floor flatness – 55 min) and 38.9 FL (floor levelness – 35 min) for the AGV (automated guided vehicle) rack picking system. It was coated with high-traffic anti-static epoxy flooring throughout the manufacturing floor within a conductive range between 10^4 to 10^7.

Sustainability was also a core consideration during the design process. One notable measure involved using concrete tilt panels for the perimeter walls. These panels encapsulated insulation within the wall structure, reducing thermal bridging through the exterior walls. This enhanced the building's energy efficiency and reduced the need for additional trades or materials to be introduced. The exposed inner and outer surfaces of these panels serve a practical function and contribute to the facility's aesthetics. The exterior surface is finished in a high-end paint system to fit with the design requirements of the surrounding innovation park. The majority of tilt panels were stamped with a stone formliner pattern and finished with specialty concrete stain for a distinguished look of real stone.

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

The manufacturing facility is located in the Pinkney Innovation Complex for Science and Technology on the Montgomery College campus. As part of the collaboration, the manufacturer and Montgomery College have joined forces on training and educational initiatives, fostering a strong connection between academia and industry in the fields of life sciences and technology. Specifically tailored for the production of satellite and communications equipment, the new center is an integral part of the educational institution's innovation complex.

The new manufacturing center will offer hands-on training and educational initiatives for students, helping to develop a pipeline of local technical talent. Students will interact with leading engineers at the facility through internships, mentoring, and shadowing opportunities. This 140,000-square-foot space is the first-ever manufacturing facility on a community college campus in the U.S.

The project site development package included several raised, structural bioretention planters around the building to provide stormwater management for the new building. The building rooftop was distributed into a half dozen different bioretention cells in various directions. These cells were tiered to blend with the surrounding grade, and each bioretention cell was planted with lush, native plantings. The associated surface parking lot was also outfitted with both surface-graded and structural bioretention cells. Additionally, underground modular wetland systems with vaulted storage were installed beneath some areas of the parking lot. A 20' plus tall and hundreds of feet long retaining wall protects and separates the forest conservation area from the project site.

Main banner image for High-Tech Electronics Manufacturing Facility

Project Location

Germantown, MD 20876
United States

Project Images


Project Team (TCA Members)

General Contractor:
Concrete Contractor:
Alain Jaramillo

Project Specifics

Project Category:
Building Types:
Manufacturing Plant
Brick (Thin)
Concrete (Exposed Aggregate)
Paint (Textured)
Angled Panels (Plan-Orientation/Position)
Cantilevered Panels
Embedded Items
Interlocking Panels
Post Applied (Exterior)
Sandwich Panel (Composite)
Number of Floors:
Number of Panels:
98 panels
Total Floor Area:
143,732 sq ft (13,353 sq m)
Project Footprint:
106,110 sq ft (9,858 sq m)
Tallest Panel:
53 ft 8 in (16.36 m)
Widest Panel:
20 ft 0 in (6.10 m)
Largest Panel:
802 sq ft (74.5 sq m)
Heaviest Panel:
110,500 lbs (50,122 kg)
Tallest Cantilever:
44 ft 2 in (13.46 m)