“This facility is all about trucking and we used precast concrete panels to tie that into the identity of the structure.”

Bill Baxley of
Leo Daly architects in Minneapolis, Minn.


Best Warehouse/Storage/Distribution Center Facility

Dollar General Distribution Center - Employee Hub in Bessemer, Ala.

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Pull up to the Dollar General Distribution Center in Bessemer, Ala., and you can’t help but be struck by the unusual facade.

Most warehouses are big gray boxes with little detail or style, but Dollar General wanted something different for its facility, which also serves as a hub for more than 600 employees, says Bill Baxley of Leo Daly architects in Minneapolis, Minn. They wanted a space where employees felt valued and connected to the Dollar General brand. But it had to be accomplished within a tight budget.
So when Baxley team began designing the site, they came up with a unique idea – create a facade that represents what the employees do. “We looked beyond basic white, to find a way to brand the facility,” he says. “Precast concrete helped us do that.”

Metromont Corporation in Hiram, Ga., created a custom formliner replicating an enlarged tire tread pattern that could be embedded into each of the facade’s precast concrete panels. Because the formliner was reusable, the precaster was able to maximize the value of the design choice while still creating something unique, Baxley says. “The formliner allowed endless design possibilities not possible with other construction methodologies.”

The treads run up the entire facade of the employee hub, creating differentiation and ownership for this portion of the building while also reinforcing a symbolic authority of the architecture, Baxley says.

Linking the pattern in each panel was a challenge, but through precise design and construction, the pattern is seamless. “Every edge is crisp and the quality is exceptional,” Baxley says. “Once you see it you want to go up and run your fingers over it.”

Because the formliners were reusable, adding the tread pattern to the precast concrete panels did not significantly affect the cost, yet it transformed what could have been a basic, formulaic structure into something special, he says. And that was just one of the many reasons Baxley chose precast concrete for this project.

“Precast concrete panels are high performance, cost effective, and allow fast erection times,” he says. “The fact that we could create that stunning tire tread pattern was icing on the cake.”


Bill Baxley


Owner: Dollar General, Goodlettsville, Tenn.
Architect: Leo A Daly, Minneapolis, Minn.
Precaster: Metromont Corporation, Hiram, Ga.
Precast Specialty Engineer: Architectural Polymers, Palmerton, Pa.
Engineer of Record: Leo A Daly, Minneapolis, Minn.
Contractor: Clayco Construction, St. Louis, Mo,