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Hotel Project Team Finds Value is More Than Skin Deep with Precast-Alternative Cladding

Cleveland Clinic chooses SlenderWall by Smith-Midland to envelope it's own hotel.

Cleveland Clinic is a world-class research and clinical care institution, with more than 40 buildings (including a hospital with more than 1,400 beds) across its 165-acre grounds. Patients and their families come to the Clinic from across the United States and around the globe for treatment. The need for nearby lodging to serve these visitors became obvious when the Clinic chose to demolish a former guest house to make way for a new medical-education complex.

The hometown firm of Kaczmar Architects, Inc., (KAI) landed the design contract for the 276-room hotel, operated under the Holiday Inn brand, that was intended to take the place of the previous guest house. This firm’s first task was ensuring its plans meshed with Cleveland Clinic’s well-defined architectural guidelines. KAI wasn’t a newcomer to these requirements – as architects for several other recent projects on the campus, they were very familiar with their client’s fit-and-finish priorities.

KAI architects have frequently turned to traditional architectural precast panels as exterior cladding for other hospitality projects, as well as other KAI projects on the clinic’s grounds. Initially, Kaplan and his team were focused on this material for the nine-story Holiday Inn, as well. But when the building team, which also included contractors Walsh Construction and Forest City Erectors, started costing out installation – including the large cranes required to lift very heavy precast panels to eight-story heights – it became very clear an alternative solution was needed.

Representatives from Chicago-based Walsh Construction had worked successfully with SlenderWall on previous projects and suggested that Kaplan take a look at the product. He quickly saw opportunities for budget savings, without compromising the design, given SlenderWall’s significantly lighter weight and faster installation time. Because SlenderWall panels combine multiple building elements into a single system, they can shorten a project’s overall construction schedule significantly. “The initial reaction was, ‘What’s the catch?,’” he says, remembering some initial skepticism from the building team. “Then we soon realized there was no catch.”

“I can’t think of any hiccups, and I can’t think of anything I’d want to change,” says Kaplan, who says he’ll be coming back to SlenderWall for future projects, thanks to this experience. “Any time you can just watch things go up as you expect, that works for me.”

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