Rowan University in New Jersey needed housing to accommodate its rapidly expanding student body and partnered with the nearby town of Glassboro (just outside Philadelphia) to construct a six-story residential building.
The proposed structure, called The Penthouse, was a large L-shaped building with 500,000 square feet of floor space and approximately 200,000 SF of exterior wall. While designed mainly for student housing, there was also mixed-use space on the first floor. The project had to go up swiftly in order to house incoming students that same year, so the construction schedule was exceptionally aggressive.
The owner, developer and general contractor, Nexus Properties concluded that the only way they would come close to meeting the desired timeline for completion was by using prefab panels for the walls. Even with that, it was going to be tight.
Having worked with Jersey Panel for over 20 years, they enlisted their help. StoPanel was then brought onto the team. The offsite construction plans called for StoPanel Classic, a lightweight prefabricated panel that is both energy efficient and durable, with continuous insulation and the StoGuard air and moisture barrier forming the core of the system. Sto’s versatile choice of finishes would then allow for almost any design aesthetic that was envisioned.
Nexus ultimately specified StoPanel Brick ci, a lightweight, energy-efficient prefabricated exterior wall panel, incorporating EPS insulation and StoGuard. It weighed a fraction of conventional thick brick and gave the Rowan buildings an updated traditional look. The final touch was Stolit® Lotusan,® a ready-mixed, hydrophobic exterior textured finish designed to resist dirt pick-up and keep the walls clean and attractive. To achieve a very detailed exterior look, three contrasting finish materials were used – brick, cast stone and texture
Essentially the entire outside wall structure was completed in-house, then brought to the jobsite by truck, lifted into place with a crane, then bolted to the structural framing. “The beauty of prefab is that the exterior goes up quickly,” said Art Baruffi Jr, VP Project Management for Jersey Panel, “And the interior can get started at almost the same time.” The average installation, he reports, was 10 panels a day, with each building requiring an average of about 65 panels. “We didn’t need carpenters, plasterers and other related trades in the field since the walls were ready to go up when they arrived, and we worked with a crew of just five or six people to install them.”
The owners were so pleased with the new building, including the quality panels and the waterproofing details, they engaged the same StoPanel Technology team and their affiliate, Jersey Panel Corp. for the next six buildings they constructed. Between 2014 and 2018, seven buildings comprising more than 450,000 square feet and 1,500 wall panels were constructed in three phases.
Everyone involved in the process understood that panelization as a construction methodology offered distinct advantages: The buildings could be enclosed before it got cold, and the interior could then be finished. Working on the final six buildings almost simultaneously, they were able to make the panels ahead of time and the installation got faster and easier with each structure. In this case, speed meant cost savings and added value.
Sto panels were the right choice for these projects and served the needs of the university and ultimately the city, by creating aesthetically-pleasing buildings with high energy efficiency and superior performance characteristics. The new buildings are a showcase on the campus that Rowan can now use to help attract more students.