Riverplace Tower / Formerly Gulf Life Tower
Built in 1967 by Welton Becket & Associates in conjunction with Kemp, Bunch and Jackson Architects.
This 28-story marvel was the tallest precast concrete building in the world until it was surpassed in 2002 by San Francisco’s Paramount Apartments . In honor of its 50th anniversary, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute went through the arduous process of selecting the Seven precast concrete “Wonders”. Their choices were: the Department of Housing & Urban Development Headquarters in Washington, D.C.; Gulf Life Tower in Jacksonville, Fla.; Disney World Monorail in Orlando, Fla.; TransAmerica Pyramid in San Francisco, Calif.; Aurora Justice Facility and Municipal Center in Aurora, Colo.; Sunshine Skyway Bridge in Tampa Bay, Fla.; and the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Parking Structure in North Haven, Conn.
It was rumored that Jeane Dixon, then celebrity psychic and astrologer, predicted the building would fall into the river prior to completion.
According to an Architecture article in Time Magazine, "(the) Gulf Life, placed in a shoddy, chaotic part of Jacksonville, is a tonic for its area, acts as an organizing beacon. And the bold Alcoa building…makes a positive contribution to San Francisco. Both buildings thus achieve excellence." Truly, this site is now surrounded by high-rise residential, hotels, and office buildings.
Currently, the 28 story 420,000 rentable square foot high-rise office building on the Southbank of St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Amenities include cafeteria, sandwich shop, retail banking inclusive of drive-in teller, fitness club, 24/7 security and The University Club, a private dining club on the 28th floor.
“In the design of Gulf Life Tower” says architect Welton Becket, “we sought to provide a singular, bold statement combining the wishes of our client for a dynamic, functional landmark, and our own desire to evolve a scale which would directly express the multiple layers of work areas which make up a high-rise office building.”
“Form and structure of the Gulf Life Tower are one, the product of architects and engineers who worked as one, pooling innovative concepts. The precast, segmented, post-tensioned structural framework supports the floor system (leaving the interior column-free), encloses the space and, with its inherent color and texture, provides the finish.”
“Forthright and elegant, it stands27 stories and is 433 feet above a two-level podium-the nations tallest precast, segmented, post-tensioned building.” “The sculptured shaping of the beams, articulating the architect’s expression of layered spaces in a high-rise, was made feasible within the $17-million budget by repetitive use of sets of precast elements. There are 14 such elements to each beam. Sequenced to taper upward and inward to a common interior plane, they are strung like beads on cables and post-tensioned to cantilever 42 feet to corners of the building from two columns which divide each face in thirds”. “The floor structure is comprised of double-tees units, spanning between beams and the central core. Direction of these double-tees is east-west on one floor and north-south on the next to spread the load evenly.”
“The sense of scale changes appropriately through all approaches to the building. At the podium level itself, the marble-faced tapered bases of the columns, which read as slender supports for the tower viewed from a distance, acquire great strength and massiveness of their own as they are approached more closely. This effect is enhanced by the sequenced setback of the banking floor and lobby floor made possible by suspending the banking floor from the underside of the 3rd floor.” “The system of cantilevered beams permits column-free corners with narrow corner mullions so that views are not obscured except at the option of the occupant.”
Post-tension precast building which at the time of construction was the tallest of its type in the world.
More Info: Two Disciplines Article
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