Interview with Cody McNeal, architect for the GATEWAY PAVILION in Washington, D.C.


Why did Davis Brody Bond choose Ductal® UHPC for the canopy roof system?

We chose Ductal® for its unique combination of exceptional strength and precision aesthetics. Ductal®'s structural properties allow our panels to achieve greater spans while providing an incredibly durable finish, a priority given the project's public nature. The precision casting of the material into large format panels with clean edging and remarkable consistency across its surface allows the Pavilion's angular geometries to remain true to our design intent. This same textural consistency contributes to the project's simple and honest material palette. We wanted to provide visitors with a tangible link between the monolithic swathes of materials they see and the tactile qualities of these same materials they touch. Ductal® afforded us this sensory experience.

How did Ductal® help to accelerate construction schedule?

The project's primary challenges were its accelerated construction schedule and tight budget constraints. We worked closely with Ductal® representatives, structural engineers, steel and precast fabricators to accurately document and 3D model the individual panels that clad the Pavilion's sloping roof structure. The close coordination prior to the first panel ever being cast was facilitated by the continual sharing of each party's respective 3D model. This allowed us to identify and solve clashes on the computer before they became problems in the field. By solving potential issues on the front end, the fabricator was able to cast and install the panels in a very short period of time without any significant field modifications or delays.

To which extent Ductal® was a budget wise choice?

Ductal®'s structural capacity and inherent waterproofing also contributed to overcoming the Pavilion's challenging budget constraints. By increasing the UHPC's panel dimensions to synchronize with our primary steel structural grid of 15 feet (4.57 meters) on center with a panel thickness of only 1.75 inches (44 millimeters), we were able to minimize the quantity of secondary steel members needed to support the panels back to the primary steel structure. This translated to a reduced steel tonnage which greatly reduced our project costs. At the same time, by selecting Ductal® for our exterior cladding, we eliminated the need for a waterproofing system beneath the panels, saving the project additional costs.


It is refreshing to work with a material that enables so many technical possibilities.

Cody Mc Neal

Do you foresee any opportunity to design with Ductal® again in the near future?

I found the process of working with the material in each phase of the project, from concept design through construction, to be uniquely rewarding for its ability to push the discussion of what is possible. It is refreshing to work with a material that enables so many technical possibilities. Given my experience on the Pavilion I look forward to the next opportunity to work with Ductal® and to collaborate with the Ductal® team. If there exists an aspect of a future project that cannot be achieved with other materials, I am now confident in saying that it can be done with Ductal®.

Were you pleased with the quality of the thin UHPC panels produced by the precaster (Gate Precast)?

Having Gate Precast on the project team was a great benefit. Their meticulous attention to detail throughout their involvement on the project solidified the success of the Ductal® panels. They often went above and beyond their contractual obligations to ensure the panels were cast, handled, and installed correctly. I am thoroughly impressed with their people and look forward to the next chance I get to work with their team again.

More about the GATEWAY PAVILION in Washington, D.C.

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