The New Ivy Covered Walls

by Ted S. Miller, Miller Clapperton

When you hear the term “ivy covered walls” your mind almost automatically shifts to a university campus, with masonry buildings in collegiate gothic style with ivy expanding up the walls surrounding a grassed quadrangle.  Can’t you smell a grill cooking meat for the tailgating party before the football game?

I have visited two (2) university campuses this week and I can report to you that much of the new construction on these campuses has a new feature element and it is not ivy on masonry anymore.  What I have seen is attractive uses of metal, sometimes the entire wall in metal but most commonly metal walls are being used as the featured element of the building.

In comparison to the construction of university campuses of just a couple of decades back; this expanded use of metal in buildings is a significant change.  I remember in the early stages of my career, most designers of university and college buildings would use a straight arm technique worthy of a great running back with the use of the phrase, “the university has an established design format that only allows masonry or stone; metal can not be considered”.

So, what has changed?

What has changed is that designers and facility managers have become aware of the benefits of metal.  The wide variety of metal wall systems have given designers great flexibility for their designs.  From extremely flat, to curved, to sloping, to ribbed; metal systems offer designers an ever-expanding list of choices to make their designs distinctive.

Facility managers have learned that metal wall systems require almost no maintenance.  This meshes nicely with the current state of finances for these institutions where capital may be available from an endowment to build a new facility but the funds to actually operate a facility are as scarce as hen’s teeth.

The point is this; metal has gained acceptance as a “go to” product for institutional buildings because of its inherent benefits and performance.  So, all of us in the metal industry should approach designers and building owners with confidence when we recommend metal.

Check out some recent uses of metal on university campuses below:

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