The Long View

Breaking with the office’s customary year-to-year focus, the new chairman of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) is determined to create

Tom Kuennen

Breaking with the office’s customary year-to-year focus, the new chairman of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI) is determined to create a long-term vision for PCI that will sustain it well into the future.

We need to look beyond a year, says 2008 PCI Chairman William Bill Simmons, who is chief executive officer of The Shockey Precast Group. We must have a consistent, long-term strategy. My approach aims to bring unity and a continuation of what we started last year under Bob Konoske’s leadership, where we sought to bring members back in touch with PCI. We will broaden that approach in optimizing member value.

The precast/prestressed industry is diverse and rapidly changing, and the Institute has had great success in capitalizing on these changes to grow market share and implement new technologies, Simmons affirms. With that growth, our diversity in membership has increased to the point where we really need to assure value to all of our members, he tells Concrete Products. We will do that through a proper strategic, long-range plan. Now, we are developing a plan Û not yet finalized Û which should optimize or maximize membership value.

In trying to create or optimize member value, PCI must identify its role as a national organization, Simmons emphasizes. One role of our institute is to expound on the benefits of precast for the building industry, he says. The key in that regard is solving technical issues that limit the enjoyment of those benefits in the field. By advancing technical solutions via research and development, we support our members and the increased use of precast.

Additionally, high-level educational opportunities are necessary to spread the word about precast/prestressed products, Simmons asserts. Educational opportunities are both internal and external, he notes. We have an internal segment for our members and associates, as well as an external component intended for professionals outside the Institute, including architects and engineers. A primary focus of last year was the creation of a new Educational Activities Committee (EAC) to follow through on both external outreach to architects and engineers and internal outreach to member company employees with certification training, inspector training, and management training.

Currently in development is a long-range strategy that will be the culmination of an internal analysis of the past three years, Simmons reports. The results are being synthesized into eight key PCI goals to be announced in late spring 2008. They will become the marching orders for our PCI staff, he tells Concrete Products, and provide the direction under which all of our committees will operate.

Over the last five to 10 years, we’ve had great successes in growing market share for precast/prestressed concrete, in gaining acceptance of precast as a key building component and as an effective and efficient product, whether for parking garages, total precast structures, stadiums, arenas or bridges, Simmons observes. Our market share continues to grow for a number of reasons: among these, using precast concrete allows a builder to minimize up-and-down labor requirements on construction projects, so we help reduce labor problems. We also can achieve shorter project duration, because our products are fabricated in a plant, which compresses the job-site time frame.


Part of PCI’s external outreach encompasses green or sustainable design. To that end, the Institute last year created a new Committee on Sustainable Design to coordinate its varied programs aimed at promoting Û and defining Û sustainable precast design. The committee first met at PCI’s October 2007 convention to outline goals and strategies.

We have to look at sustainability and how projects can be better built using less energy with less pollution, Simmons affirms. Sustainable design is a huge issue through which PCI can leverage its activities and help the construction industry become more environmentally responsible.

While PCI has been working for years to aid architects in applying precast to sustainable design, these efforts have been dispersed through various committees and staff members. The new committee is intended to focus such endeavors to optimize PCI’s contribution to sustainable design. Ultimately, the goal is to produce materials most in demand by the design community and ensure that technical information is readily available.

Among several seminar programs sponsored by the committee during PCI’s fall convention was the keynote address by Edward Mazria, an internationally recognized architect whose designs typically feature a cutting-edge environmental approach. The committee also hosted panel discussions on the basics of sustainability in design and plant operations.

Besides promoting sustainable design concepts to architects, the group is leading efforts to introduce environmentally friendly production techniques in PCI-certified plants. Accordingly, optimizing material usage, making efficient use of water, reducing energy use, and minimizing site disturbance are emphasized. Moreover, the committee will collaborate with other organizations to conduct research and develop innovative design and system solutions to maximize sustainability.


Active also in the seismic engineering arena, PCI has introduced its first Seismic Design of Precast/Prestressed Concrete Structures manual. This inaugural edition unifies data from International Building Code (IBC) provisions and other engineering standards for the application of seismic design in regions of varying hazard levels nationwide.

There never has been a publication addressing seismic needs as they relate to precast concrete design for all regions across the country and all code requirements, notes PCI Director of Technical Activities Jason Krohn. Compilation of the manual was prompted especially by the number of new provisions impacting seismic design in the last few code cycles.

Establishing a comprehensive design approach was simplified by IBC acceptance of merging the previous three legacy model codes into one, he explains. Previously, it was difficult to create a design approach that could be certain to meet the three legacy building codes used in different regions, Krohn says. This manual now can provide unified procedures for designing precast, prestressed concrete structures for seismic requirements anywhere in the country.

The manual details approaches for designing precast structures to meet seismic-design provisions of Building Code Requirements for Structural Concrete (ACI 318-02) and Commentary (ACI 318R-02), ASCE 7 Standard Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures (ASCE 7-02), and 2003 IBC. It examines various styles and classifications of precast lateral-force-resisting systems and reviews code and behavior requirements, which are then demonstrated in realistic examples. Also included are discussions of energy dissipation, ongoing research, diaphragm design and anticipated code developments.

Further advancing precast concrete with respect to seismic design, PCI continues its support of a research project at the Englekirk labs in San Diego involving testing of diaphragms. The testing was to begin in March and run for eight weeks, Simmons reports. This Îshake-tableÌ testing will be documented using video, as intensity is increased to observe how precast structures respond under seismic conditions. The study will yield a technical verification document detailing the performance of structures based on this type of precast design.

Extremely active in the precast/prestressed industry, lab founder Robert Englekirk, chairman emeritus of Englekirk Partners Consulting Structural Engineers Inc., was the recipient in late 2007 of PCI’s Medal of Honor. The award Û the Institute’s highest honor Û was presented at the PCI Convention and Exposition in Phoenix.


In addition, PCI recently released the third edition of its Architectural Precast Concrete manual, an authoritative text encompassing standard practice and innovations in architectural precast. The new version updates a reference used by architects and engineers in two previous editions since its 1973 introduction. The hardbound, 600-page publication includes new sections on energy conservation, condensation control, sustainability, and designing for blast resistance. It features extensive revisions to sections on color, texture, and finishes; weathering; tolerances; connections; and windows, plus detailed specifications to meet today’s construction standards.

PCI also recently introduced a full-color, loose-leaf binder titled Designing with Precast and Prestressed Concrete, aimed at providing architects a comprehensive overview of precast concrete’s capabilities and design considerations for use in both architectural and structural applications. The manual is divided into chapters that cover all aspects of the building process in which precast concrete plays a role. It features key design considerations, a listing of major components and their capabilities, systems integration, connection options, guide specifications, and examples of projects using precast concrete in all building types.

Again in 2008, the 46th year, PCI sponsors its Design Awards Competition, which continues to demonstrate how designers extend the capabilities of precast, prestressed concrete components to achieve cost-effective, aesthetically attractive, and rapidly constructed projects. Eligible structures include any projects in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico completed within the last three years and substantially constructed with precast, prestressed concrete, glass-fiber reinforced concrete, and/or architectural precast.


Despite a national slowdown in residential construction, PCI maintains a strategic emphasis on fortified weatherproof homes. Thus, the subject of an International Builders Show session in Orlando earlier this year was building partnerships and building techniques for homes fortified for safer living in areas subject to tornadoes, hurricanes, and wind storms. Participating in the panel discussion emphasizing fortified home design virtues and applications were PCI Managing Director-Marketing and Communications Chuck Merydith; Chuck Vance, Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS); Vince Davis, American Red Cross of Greater Chicago; and, Brian Bock, vice president-Sales and Marketing, Dukane Precast, Naperville, Ill.

IBHS is a nonprofit association of insurers and reinsurers. Its Fortified program specifies construction, design, and landscaping guidelines to increase a new home’s resistance to natural disasters. Operating for about seven years, the program has been especially popular in Florida, where hurricanes and other devastating weather events have increased building-code standards.

The group’s Fortified standard includes a wide range of features:

  • Connections that securely tie the house together from roof to foundation, providing protection for winds up to 130 mph
  • Impact-resistant roof materials that better withstand high winds and fire
  • Windows and doors with higher wind- and water-design pressure ratings and a garage door capable of withstanding impact from large objects
  • Construction materials and site work that eliminate the threat of flood or wildfire
  • Water intrusion prevention
  • Protective landscaping

According to Portland Cement Association test results, precast homes provide significantly more protection than any other building material from wind-borne debris, PCI asserts. In its study, PCA subjected various walls Û wood frame, steel frame, reinforced concrete, and insulated concrete form (ICF) construction Û to the impact of 2_4s shot from an air cannon, thereby replicating airborne debris potentially acting as missiles during a tornado or hurricane to determine the projectile’s depth of penetration.

Test results demonstrated that the missiles directly penetrated a vinyl-sided, wood-frame wall; shot through a brick, wood-frame wall; and, penetrated a steel-frame wall. A precast wall panel with formed-in brick embossing withstood the missiles. And, the mark remaining after the stud bounced off could easily be covered with touch-up paint.



The Winchester, Va.-based Shockey Precast Group produces structural and architectural precast concrete at its headquarters facility and architectural precast at its Fredericksburg, Va., plant. The company traces its roots back to 1896, when Howard Shockey started a carpentry business in Winchester. Soon, Howard Shockey & Sons became a regional leader in general contracting and design-build services.

In 1946, Crider & Shockey, Inc. emerged as the first ready-mixed producer west of the Blue Ridge. A decade later, Crider & Shockey’s precast, prestressed division became a separate company, known as Shockey Brothers, Inc. That name was changed in 1999 to The Shockey Precast Group. Today, the Shockey companies employ more than 700 and deliver 200-plus projects per year, continuing a tradition of outstanding craftsmanship and exceptional customer service.

With its partners, Shockey Precast has been a key player in the development of a 3-D modeling program for precast components. Additionally, it’s participation in the AltusGroup partnership exploring carbon-fiber reinforcement as a replacement for standard steel in precast offers the prospect of higher tensile strengths, thinner sections, and reduction of weight in structures.

On Sept. 25, 2008, The Shockey Precast Group will host its third annual Design Professionals Education Event. The schedule includes a 2.5-hour plant tour, video and exhibit area, catered lunch, and prize drawings, besides the featured AIA-registered presentations including Precast Parking Structure Design, Total Precast Systems, and CarbonCast Carbon Fiber-Reinforced Precast Pretopped Double Tees for Parking Structures.

Originally developed as an open house in conjunction with PCI’s Precast Month in September 2004, the event has evolved into an educational forum intended to inform architects, engineers and students of the benefits and flexibility of structural and architectural precast design. Registered architects and engineers will receive 5.5 AIA LUs or PDHs for attendance.





Chief Executive Officer
The Shockey Precast Group
Winchester, Virginia


V.P. and General Manager
Coreslab Structures
Perris, California


High Concrete Group, LLC Denver, Colorado

PCI has been dedicated to advancing the precast/prestressed concrete industry and supporting its members since 1954. Today, a growing network of more than 2,000 professional members continues to redefine the technical landscape and advance the industry. The Institute serves as well 500-plus producer and associate members.

Boasting an international scope and influence, the Institute aims to foster greater understanding of precast design and use in a variety of applications, ranging from bridge and highway construction to commercial/industrial/institutional and residential projects.

PCI offers the opportunity for national participation and recognition through committees that cover varied interests and disciplines. Through a network of committees, experienced professionals endeavor to promote excellence in precast and prestressed concrete production. Issues addressed include product innovation, application of new technologies, development of design methods, training, and quality assurance. Committees cover such diverse topics as architectural precast concrete, bridge design, glass fiber-reinforced concrete, seismic design, sound walls, and parking structures.

James Toscas is PCI president. Further information can be obtained by contacting PCI at 209 W. Jackson Blvd., Suite 500, Chicago IL 60606-6938; tel.: 312/786-0300; fax: 312/786-0353; e-mail: [email protected]; web: