When we asked the founder of WVA if he ever imagined his basement operation would grow to 63,000 square feet, his answer was one word: Never.
Along with his wife Judy, Dr. Robert Fait owns a prosperous company known for stocking almost everything an eye doctor needs to run a practice. The distribution capabilities of Wisconsin Vision Associates (WVA) enable optometrists across the country and of all office sizes to maintain a consistent supply of lenses and contact lenses, saving doctors and patients both time and expense.
What started as a buying co-op housed in Dr. Fait’s basement—a group of 45 eye doctors who pooled their budgets to order larger quantities of supplies directly from manufacturers—quickly outgrew what their makeshift subterranean headquarters could accommodate. When their numbers swelled to 100 members, they bought a downtown building.Then they expanded laterally by cobbling together several adjacent structures, and eventually their footprint totaled 17,000 square feet.
Their continual upgrades came with new challenges, however. None of WVA’s newly-acquired downtown spaces were equipped with a loading dock, so semi-tractor trailers had to be unloaded from the street. And with three or four of these traffic-disrupting deliveries daily—not to mention UPS and FedEx trucks handling outbound shipping—the contempt from angry commuters and the loss of logistical efficiency pushed Fait and his team to seek an alternate location for their growing operation.
By constructing the full exterior of the building with 12-inch VersaCore+Green Sandwich Panels, WVA reaped the benefits of R-values up to 3 points higher than other precast wall panels; the potential for increased LEED points and tax credits; and increased design flexibility.
Fabcon specializes in Functional Aesthetics, the idea that appearance doesn’t have to be sacrificed for performance.
They found a solution on the edge of town, far from the tight streets and blaring horns of the city center. And with a Wisconsin winter looming on the horizon, architects Abacus Architects and general contractor Peter Scherrer Group knew Fabcon Precast would be up to the task of a winter build. Midwest winters are notoriously brutal; temperatures can drop well below freezing, and unpredictable weather patterns can threaten both schedules and safety. Fabcon’s panels are manufactured in a controlled environment and trucked to the site, where highly-experienced, PCI-certified technicians can enclose a building envelope in as little as 10 days. This allows for protected interior finishing.
Fabcon specializes in Functional Aesthetics, the idea that appearance doesn’t have to be sacrificed for performance. This resonated with WVA, whose vision demanded form and function go hand-in-hand. None of the precast panels are painted; instead, Fabcon mixed carefully-selected combinations of tinted pigment and aggregate. In this case, charcoal-tinted Steel Form Finish brings a clean, modernist look to the structure both inside and out, accented by natural stone and redwood siding.
The group’s humble beginnings in the Faits’ basement are a distant memory now. Their new headquarters allows the company to stock around a 30-day supply of product (almost triple that of the old facility). And with four built-in loading docks for shipping and receiving, their efficiency has increased exponentially.
With Fabcon’s structural precast panels and installation expertise, WVA has finally realized its vision…and what a striking vision it is.