Megapanel Mania: Prefabricated Exterior Wall Assemblies

Track 2

Tuesday, May 2, 8:30 am – 9:30 am

Prefabrication of exterior wall systems and assemblies is a growing trend in the construction industry. There are many terms used to describe this process (panelized, modularized, unitized, etc.) and the definition and scope of prefabrication can be as unique as the project itself.  For many projects, the exterior walls are anticipated to be panelized or unitized from the start as is often the case with precast concrete panels and aluminum-frame curtain wall systems. However, sometimes modularization is proposed by the construction team after design is complete as a means of expediting the schedule, addressing site access constraints, and/or lowering project costs. The presenters will describe different types of panelized exterior wall assemblies and will present a case study regarding a 10-story, 700,000 square foot healthcare facility that utilized megapanel exterior wall construction.  The change to a panelized approach occurred after the design was complete, resulting in challenges associated with continuity of air, water, and thermal control layers, particularly at the interface conditions. Perspectives and lessons learned from the building enclosure commissioning provider (BECxP) and contractor’s building enclosure consultant for this project will also be offered.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand various exterior wall prefabrication techniques and several advantages and drawbacks of panelized construction.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of building science and the impacts of megapanel joinery and transitions with respect to building enclosure performance and continuity of air, water, thermal, and vapor control layers.
  3. Appreciate challenges associated with integrating exterior wall and roof construction in panelized assemblies.
  4. Describe building enclosure quality assurance and quality control efforts that can be performed in the prefabrication facility, for mock-ups, and at the construction site.


Level of content:

Sarah Sinusas, PE

Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Shelton, CT

Sarah Sinusas is a Senior Associate at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. (WJE) in the firm’s New Haven, Connecticut office. She is a Professional Engineer and has specialized in building envelope systems since beginning her career in 2008. She specializes in the evaluation and investigation of fenestration assemblies and building science assessments, and has participated in and led projects that include design, detailing, testing, and monitoring of a variety of cladding and glazing systems. Her work has included peer reviews of architectural and envelope shop drawings, thermal modeling of wall assemblies, as well as investigations, field observations, and construction monitoring for both new construction and repairs to existing structures.

Patrick Reicher, SE, REWC, REWO, CCS, CCCA

Raths, Raths & Johnson, Inc., Willowbrook, IL

Patrick has 18 years’ experience with the forensic investigation, evaluation, and repair design of existing building enclosures and structures; and building enclosure consulting and commissioning for new construction projects. Mr. Reicher is a Structural Engineer in Illinois and a Professional Engineer in several states. He is also a Registered Exterior Wall Consultant, Registered Exterior Wall Observer, Certified Construction Specifier, and Certified Construction Contract Administrator. He currently serves on several committees and task forces for the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC) and the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance (FGIA).