The Orchard, a luxury condominium project in Chicago, was honored with the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute’s 2022 Sidney Freedman Craftsmanship Award. The prestigious annual award recognizes PCI-certified plants for excellence in manufacturing and craftsmanship of architectural precast concrete and glass fiber-reinforced concrete (GFRC) structures and individual components.

Lombard Architectural Precast Products Company’s plant in Alsip, Ill., was selected by judges for manufacturing the project’s exterior precast concrete panels with a limestone-like finish. The structure’s intricate balcony design, roof-level cornices, door and window trim, and various lineal reveals required unique formwork with highly complex build-ups and precise detailing. Lombard Architectural Precast cast more than 400 precast concret panels to realize the architect’s design and detailing goals.

“The color, texture, and finishes of the precast were consistent throughout the entire project. Overall, it was very impressive,” said Mike Mourad, vice president of customer service at International Precast Solutions, of River Rouge, Mich, who was a member of the award jury. “All of the different components consisting of 400 panels came together beautifully and elegantly to showcase the architect’s intent.”

“Our greatest accomplishment on this project was how the team overcame the design challenges,” said Adam Lombard, estimator at Lombard Architectural Precast. “This project challenged the team here at all levels, from estimating and production to quality control, trucking, and project management.

“With precast concrete, repetition is the name of the game. When a manufacturer can produce many similar panels, the job can be quickly engineered and produced without a lot of interruption.  However, this project had little-to-no repetition. Each separate piece required unique formwork; our production team was constantly adjusting siderails and formwork while trying to stay within the constraints of the basic molds.”

The award is named after retired PCI Director of Architectural Systems Sidney Freedman, who was a leading voice in precast concrete architectural design for more than 43 years with the organization.