Rowan University needed housing for its expanding student body…and quickly. The once modest New Jersey state teachers’ college suddenly had 18,000 students, including its graduate program, and had gained university status with its large growth spurt. The school and the adjacent town of Glassboro near the city of Philadelphia were engaged in a joint planning effort to accommodate the flood of newcomers.
This collaboration led to the construction of a six-story residential building, which would anchor several planned surrounding structures. These were to be built by the team of Sto Panel Technology, its affiliate, Jersey Panel Corp, and Nexus Properties, the developer and general contractor for the project. Between 2014 and 2018, seven buildings comprising more than 450,000 square feet and 1,500 wall panels were constructed in three phases.
Phase one began with The Penthouse, a mixed-use building with student housing above the first floor. Located on Rowan Boulevard, the large six-story L-shaped building with 500,000 square feet of floor space and approximately 200,000 SF of exterior wall had an aggressive construction schedule in order to accept students attending the fall semester. Considering the desired completion date, Nexus Properties concluded that prefabrication was the only way they would come close to meeting the timeline.
“We’ve known Jersey Panel for over 20 years, and with this fast-paced project in Glassboro, it was perfect timing to use them,” said Joe Kline, Vice President of Construction with Nexus Properties. “Their ability to build quickly during the winter months was a big part of our decision to hire them. After the first building was completed, we saw the quality of the panel, the nice waterproofing details, and we were happy with the product. We knew we needed to use this for the next six buildings and the panels worked perfectly for this job.”
In addition to the tight schedule, Sto Panel was used to achieve a highly detailed exterior look, including three contrasting finish materials – brick, cast stone and texture. Prefabricated panels of StoPanel Brick ci and StoPanel Classic ci were used to create these finishes while StoPanel Backup was used on the ground floor as brick veneer was field installed. As is custom with every StoPanel, the fluid applied air and moisture barrier, StoGuard, was installed on every panel prior to the cladding being installed in Jersey Panel’s prefabrication facility. The final touch was Stolit® Lotusan,® an engineered, super-hydrophobic and patented exterior textured finish designed to resist dirt pick-up and keep the walls clean and attractive with its known self-cleaning effect.
Based on their success constructing the first building, Jersey Panel subsequently completed Phase II (three buildings) and Phase III (three more). The designs called for a mix of retail and classrooms on the first floor with the upper floors used for student housing for four of the new buildings. Two of the new buildings are devoted to luxury apartments for the general public.
The panels were all built at the Jersey Panel manufacturing facility, just 25 minutes down the road. Essentially the entire building envelope was completed in-house, then brought to the jobsite by truck, lifted into place with a crane, then attached to the structural framing.
“The beauty of prefab is that the exterior goes up quickly,” said Art Baruffi Jr, VP Project Management for Jersey Panel, “And the interior can get started at almost the same time.” The average installation, he reports, was 10 panels a day, with the buildings ranging in size from about 65 to 500 panels. “There was no need for all of the different trades you’d normally see in the field since the walls were ready to go up when they arrived, and we worked with a crew of just about five or six people to install them,” said Baruffi.
Sto Panel was the right choice for Rowan University and served their needs and ultimately the city, by creating aesthetically-pleasing, energy efficient and faster-than-field constructed buildings.