Fun, New Façade is a Huntsville Design First

Feb. 7, 2023
The first project in the city to incorporate 3-D printed construction materials.

When someone says, “You can’t miss it,” all too often, it means you surely will. But that’s not so at the Monroe Street Parking Garage. Located in downtown Huntsville, Ala., the building sits smack-dab among an array of entertainment hotspots, hotels, eateries, nightlife, and the popular Von Braun multipurpose event center (capacity 10,000). Incoming entertainment seekers know they’ve arrived upon spotting the parking structure’s unique 12,000 sq.-ft. façade.

The structure’s fresh face consists of panels made from BranchMatrix, an innovative, 3D-printed, open lattice material by Branch Technology. The power of 3D printing allows for an almost unlimited number of options for creating designs. The innovative advancements achieved by Branch Technology mean construction-scale projects—even large commercial projects—are now able to utilize this power at a level not previously thought possible. The Monroe Street Parking Garage displays one stunning example. 

BranchMatrix can make almost any shape while using 20 times less material than traditional solid-volume layered printing with the same geometry. Shapes can be produced directly from digital files as opposed to shop drawings. This results in extreme accuracy at a higher rate of speed and with significantly less waste than is typical for commercial construction projects. 

“Branch allowed us to achieve unique shapes that we wouldn’t have been able to get otherwise,” said Les Tillery, principal at Fuqua & Partners Architects, the project’s architectural firm, in a press release. “3D printing design options are pretty unlimited in terms of what you can create.”

The façade panels consist of an internal structure made of a 3D-printed carbon-fiber material. This structure is then encased by an expanding foam and robotically machined into organic shapes—shapes approximating those found in nature. After being coated with glass-fiber reinforced concrete, the panels are installed—in this case, on three sides of the parking structure. The outcome is an energy-efficient façade that is lightweight and durable. 

Branch Technology, Fuqua Architects, and the City of Huntsville all contributed to the project team along with Turner Construction, precast concrete manufacturer Metromont, metal fabricator Ben Parker, and engineers LBYD Engineers and Larson Engineering. 

The important downtown structure was completed in October 2021. The project is topped off with LED lighting that adorns the parking deck to add even more to its nighttime presence. 

No one comes to downtown Huntsville for the parking garage, but once people arrive, they are sure to be impressed by this facelift. The Monroe Street Parking garage. You can’t miss it.

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