Teamwork Delivers Innovative Thin Brick Solution

One of Charlotte’s fast growing companies, AvidXchange acquired the naming rights to the former North Carolina Music Factory and chose to build its new corporate headquarters in this vibrant, mixed-use district of uptown. Once complete, the company’s two new buildings will provide more than 600,000 square feet of office space.

As a recognized top employer, AvidXchange wanted a workplace and location in an urban setting with plenty of amenities and a community feel. The first phase of the headquarters, now complete, is a 5.6 acre corporate campus that includes a six-story, 200,000+ square foot office building and a large parking deck. The building design combines a modern feel with traditional elements; according to Nathan S. Daniel, AIA Principal, LS3P Associates Ltd., the company was looking to maintain the old-brick warehouse feel of the original factory. Daniel says, “They wanted to respect and emulate the brick materials there, but we knew their tight schedule wouldn’t allow for traditional brick construction. We decided to go with precast construction with a distressed brick, which brings more uniqueness to the project.”

General Shale’s English Pub thin brick provided the textured, authentic look the designers and client was seeking. The challenge for this multi-storied project however, was to develop a distressed thin brick product that would work well in the precast process. General Shale and LS3P teamed up with precast provider Metromont Corporation and concrete form fabricator Architectural Polymer for an innovation solution.

While precast panels speed up installation by 10-15%, there are still challenges. According to Chris Rogers, sales and business development manager at Metromont, “Precasters have fought textured brick for a long time because we couldn’t meet dimensional tolerances due to the beaten edges. So we worked with General Shale and Architectural Polymers to figure out how to overcome that issue.”

A custom pre-built form (developed by Metromont and Architectural Polymers) marries the varying distressed reliefs of the General Shale product to expose a larger surface area of the thin brick face and edges.  Marshall Walters, president of Architectural Polymers, describes how his company partnered with Metromont:  “A distressed thin brick cast into a precast concrete panel system is a difficult accomplishment. We worked very closely with Metromont’s operations to engineer the liner to their specific aesthetic requests, including the profile of the mortar joints. This was a critical component for success, enabling Metromont to utilize the form liner to create the panels for this project with less labor.”

By casting the distressed brick and also creating a deeper joint, the team was able to make the brick look less linear and more like natural, hand-laid brick. The solution not only achieved the aesthetic that the client wanted, it also was a model precast project – saving time and money using a highly-durable brick product. Daniel (of LS3P) reflected on the success of the collaboration. “With this product developed by Metromont using General Shale’s brick products, you’re able to bring in traditional, core elements, such as stacked bond and soldier courses in the panels, to keep it looking authentic.” The new system included a custom corner, allowing installers to wrap the brick, making it look like a true brick building and they were able to incorporate the thin brick on the interior – for the first-floor elevator lobbies and the interior piers.

Incorporating General Shale’s authentic, thin brick created the industrial, chic feel that AvidXchange wanted and yet tied the design into the vibrant history of the music factory. According to Michael Praegar, CEO and co-founder of AvidXchange, “We’re adding to the sprawling uptown neighborhoods that bring so much life to Charlotte, and with our new corporate campus at the AvidXchange Music Factory, we’ve officially made our mark on the landscape of the city.”

Project: AvidXchange corporate headquarters, Charlotte, NC

Architect: LS3P Associates Ltd., Charlotte, NC

Precast Provider: Metromont Corporation, Charlotte, NC

Architectural Form Liner System: Architectural Polymers, Palmerton, PA

Brick Products: General Shale, Johnson City, TN


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