“Precast concrete brought durability, reduction in maintenance costs, and the ability to match the existing building material to this project. It demonstrates what a high-performance material precast concrete is.”

David Baker, Gate Precast


Best Religious Structure

First United Methodist Church, Orlando, Fla.

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When designing the addition for the First United Methodist Church in Orlando, Fla., the architect chose a precast concrete design to mimic the color, style and texture of the existing structure with a modern, cost-effective, and sustainable solution.

“This was an urban project in downtown Orlando, and the owner of the church wanted a building that would last 100 years,” says Tim Black, architect with CDH Partners in Marietta, Ga. “That was the main driver for using precast concrete.”

Initially Black’s team had considered using natural stone and metal panels, but they realized that a precast concrete design was a better choice. “Overall, precast concrete is less expensive and still provides the long life and ease of maintenance that were looking for.”

To be sure the project went off without a hitch, the designers built a 3D model that they shared with the precast concrete producer, the engineers, and the contractor to identify any challenges or conflicts that could occur during construction.

“The 3D modeling gave us a tremendous advantage,” says David Baker, plant manager for Gate Precast in Kissimmee, Fla. “We were able to identify issues from an engineering and a production standpoint that helped us avoid delays and speed construction.”

For example, as a result of those conversations, the team was able to identify the need to prioritize production of the precast concrete elements that were used for the entrance ramp to the underground parking garage. “This part of the project needed to be completed before the structure above it had to be built,” he says.

Hourly deliveries

Choosing precast concrete also helped the erection team address the tight footprint and active neighborhood during construction. “The building site was right up to the property line, and they had to keep the streets open during construction,” Black says. “The precast concrete panels were maneuvered into place with cranes, which made for easier constructability, and required fewer trades on site.”
And because the precast concrete plant was so close to the job site, just 20 mi. (32 km) away, they were able to ship the elements on an as-needed basis during non-peak traffic hours. This further minimized disruption and eliminated the need for storage or extra trailers on site, Baker adds. “We were able to off-load pieces on an hourly basis, which meant the job site never filled up.”


Jacque Brund; Timothy J. Black, CDH Partners


Owner: First United Methodist Church, Orlando, Fla.
Architect: CDH Partners, Inc., Marietta, Ga. 
Precaster: Gate Precast Company, Kissimmee, Fla.
Precast Specialty Engineer: InfraStructure, LLC Omaha, Neb.
Engineer of Record TLC Engineering of Architecture, Orlando, Fla.
Contractor: Jack Jennings & Sons, Orlando, Fla.
Project cost: $20,697,000
Project Size: 121,500 ft2 (11,300 m2)