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High-Performance Tilt-Up

Español | Translation Sponsored by TCA

By Robert Madison

Images by Costea Photography

A ground-up medical office building pushes the envelope of tilt-up construction to create an efficient, cost-effective facility that fits the community.

The healthcare industry’s rapid growth is driving demand for efficient, easily constructed medical office buildings (MOB) that represent the provider’s brand and standards. 

For MemorialCare, a nonprofit health system, LPA designed a replicable model for quickly delivering a high-performance building that serves the needs of tenants and fits into the community. Using traditional tilt-up techniques, the building met the budget requirements, reduced energy use, and created a welcoming environment for people visiting the caregivers.

The site is part of a retail complex in Rancho Mission Viejo, CA, where local guidelines overlie an agrarian theme on all development. The shopping center and surrounding projects all address the farming aesthetic in different ways, with varying degrees of success.

LPA and MemorialCare had worked on several projects together, but this was the first ground-up MOB. Early in the process, LPA designers and MemorialCare settled on tilt-up as the best strategy to address the company’s goals. But there was understandable reluctance because of the boxy, inflexible results of most tilt-up designs. 

“We were able to demonstrate that tilt-up would not only meet their budgetary needs, but also look great and meet the requirements of the architectural review board of this area,” D’Amato says.

The building fits into the agrarian theme with a barn-style roof, wood accents, and a red-metal façade on one wall. Other elements represent MemorialCare’s core-and-shell design and brand, including the welcoming entrance. Mechanicals are hidden from the roof line, and the abstraction of the farmhouse makes it a comfortable neighbor to the retail space and surrounding residential neighborhoods.

“It fits the rural aesthetic they were after,” LPA Managing Director Damon Dusterhoft says.

The form was constructed using concrete tilt-up panels of identical size and proportion. The panels were designed as shear walls and detailed as moment frame, with more openings and light than typical tilt-up designs. The building was simple to construct, required limited formwork, and fit the budget guidelines.

“Because of the shape of the panels, there are a lot of repetitions,” says LPA Director of Structural Engineering Daniel Wang. “The contractor was able to build it faster and easier and reduce costs.”

The structural design also incorporated the gable-style roof, which helped the new building blend well with the surrounding neighborhood. As an added benefit, the shaded entrance creates a connection to the outdoors. Large windows let plenty of natural light into the interior.

“The building has a lot of variation that you wouldn’t normally have in a typical tilt-up,” Dusterhoft says. “It shows the building can be tilt-up and still have style.”

In many ways, the building is a simple project. But it provides an example of LPA’s “every project, every budget, every scale” approach. An integrated team of architects, engineers, and interior designers came together early in the process to address the client’s goals and challenges, developing an innovative answer to construction and budget issues. The building achieved a 54% reduction in energy use through largely passive techniques. 

The final result offers MemorialCare the functionality and efficiency it needed as a MOB, while fitting into the community and creating a welcoming and supportive environment for patients.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.