Exterior and Interior Metal Designs Provide the Perfect Solution for Louisville High School Media Center

Tasked with transforming a 40-year-old, standalone media center into an engaging, multipurpose student commons at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, JRA Architects choose metal and glass to craft the new Sangalli Learning Center.

Serving as a media center breakout area, adaptable learning environment, and venue for extracurricular meetings and events, the outdated building is now a popular, bright and inviting space.

The new aluminum storefront, overlaid with crisscrossing aluminum members, provides a nice contrast to the school’s existing brick façade.

“We used conventional aluminum extrusions to create a collage of diagonal accent stripes that streak across the exterior, resulting in a remarkably simple solution despite its unique appearance,” explains Colin Drake, AIA, LEED AP, principal, JRA Architects, Louisville.

The abstracted X’s reference the school’s logo and brand, and lend a striking look to the modernized façade.

YKK AP’s aluminum storefront system incorporates pre-finished glazing members which are colored to blend with the fritted glazing and clear anodized, decorative trim members. The combination of aluminum and glass accentuates the building’s features, lending both a customized appearance and a cost-effective solution.

Three subtly different colors of Peterson Aluminum metal were finished by PAC-CLAD, micro-embossed by Rigidized Metals and fabricated into flat lock siding panels by Highland Roofing. The flat lock wall cladding offers the richness and depth of a hand-formed element while simultaneously lending the geometric and color flexibility to perfectly compliment the other building materials.

In the interior, standard structural steel components were fabricated by Padgett into a set of glass-clad bridges and adjoining social staircase. The application of structural steel allowed new openings to be carved through the existing masonry while still appearing delicate and transparent.

“Extending exterior cladding through the interior creates literal visual continuity, but also encourages building users to approach and understand that material in a way that they never would outside,” observes JRA Vice President Tim Graviss, AIA.

Generally speaking, the architects at JRA are big fans of metal. “More than any other material, metal informs, inspires and shapes the work we do,” says JRA President Rob Deal, AIA, LEED AP.

When working on educational sector projects like Saint Xavier High School, longevity and cost effectiveness are highly valued. To responsibly apportion the civic dollars which have been entrusted to them and provide long-term building solutions, metal is a go-to strategy.

The architects also appreciate metal’s ability to achieve long spans, open up expansive views to the exterior and maximize usable interior space. They also like how the material is cost effective and functional, with a wide array of appealing design options.   

“Metal cladding offers simplicity, minimal resource consumption and infinite design permutations that we can shape into solutions that suit every aesthetic,” he says.

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