Category Archives: New Construction

Why You See Christmas Trees Atop Construction Sites

tree 1 This time of year, it’s common to see Christmas trees. But why do you see them on top of commercial construction sites all year long? These trees are a tradition in commercial construction. But do you know where the tradition comes from, or what it means?

Topping Out Ceremonies
Prior to adding the metal panels and metal roofing, a building’s framing is completed by placing the last beam at the highest point of the building. To commemorate this accomplishment, crews have a Topping Out ceremony: a party to celebrate those who made the building possible. They hoist an evergreen tree attached to that last beam for all to see. Often an American flag is also put on the opposite end of the beam. Sometimes the last beam is painted white and signed by the members of the crew, contractor, architects, and owner. But where did this odd tradition come from?

How It Started
Immigrants to the U.S. brought the tradition with them from Europe and Scandinavia, passed down from early pagan and Christian traditions. It’s believed that as early as 700 A.D. Scandinavians began topping out structures with a fir tree to signal those nearby that it was time for the celebration to start. Others believe the tradition of an evergreen atop a structure was started to represent new birth, as the Christmas tree represents the birth of the baby Jesus. There are many tales how the tradition started, and so the specific origin is murky.

tree2The Building Is the Gift Under The Tree
While Grand Opening festivities introduce a new building to the public, the Topping Out ceremony uniquely honors the accomplishments of the construction crew, architect, building owner and other key people who made the building possible. Reminiscent of a party at the end of an old-fashioned barn raising, a Topping Out ceremony gives credit to those who do the actual work of designing, planning, and constructing buildings.

Celebrate Your Own Metal Construction
The Topping Out ceremony is a wonderful celebration for any construction project, whether low-rise, high-rise, commercial, residential, or other. On your next construction project, take the time to celebrate what’s been accomplished and the people who made it happen with a Topping Out ceremony. It’s a little bit of Christmas that you can look up and experience year round!

MCA’s New Metal Roof Installation Manual: An Essential Tool for Anyone Working with Metal Roofs

Using the Right Methods, Materials and Tools is Essential to Installing Your Metal Roof Properly
Using the Right Methods, Materials and Tools is Essential to Installing Your Metal Roof Properly

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

Using the right tools is key to getting any job done correctly. Contractors and installers who work with metal roofs know how important it is to have the right seamer or a quality screw gun. And architects and specifiers know how important it is to have a good architectural scale and the most current reference manuals.

MCA Metal Roof Installation Manual
MCA Metal Roof Installation Manual

If you work with metal roofing, MCA has another essential tool for your toolkit: the new Metal Roof Installation Manual. Now available at MetalConstruction.com in the Technical Resources section, this new manual offers 20 chapters of best practices, tips and training for installing metal roofs. The manual covers a full range of useful information about installing metal roofs, including:

  • Introductory information about roofing materials
  • Panel types, attributes and profiles
  • Roof deck substrates
  • Safety
  • Sealants and Fasteners
  • Maintenance
  • Re-Roofing

Download your copy of the MCA Metal Roof Installation Manual today, and keep the document handy as a reference as you come across questions with your metal roof project. It’ll soon become an essential tool in your toolbox.

And the best part about this tool? It’s free!

Trade Associations with Ties to Metal Discuss Collaboration

By Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

2014SummerMeeting-OpeningSession3 croppedLet’s assume that collaboration among trade associations whose members work with metal building materials, including wall and roof panels, will help them thrive in a construction industry marked by consolidation. The question is, where should collaborative efforts start?

The answer appears to be education, according to a panel discussion held at the MCA Summer Meeting on June 23–25, 2014, in Rosemont, IL.

Leaders from six trade associations met with MCA members and guests to discuss where best to pool their resources to help grow the metal construction market, and possibly their own memberships. Time and again, the discussion turned to education.

Panelists included leaders from the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA), the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), the National Coil Coating Association (NCCA), the National Frame Building Association (NFBA), and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).

MCA Board Member Roger Sieja, director of market development for Wismarq Corporation, moderated the discussion.

During the discussion, several panelists and attendees pointed to the need to educate the building community—particularly architects, specifiers, engineers, and board members of local municipal commissions—on current codes, regulations, and design trends.

Some panelists pointed out that, currently, education is done on a project-by-project basis, so having readily available, widely accepted educational tools on these issues would be useful to their own association members and the entire industry.

“Once [city commissioners]learn what they can actual do [with metal], they are more agreeable and realize that they have been too strict” in limiting the use of metal  in building exteriors in their areas, said Lee Shoemaker, director, research and engineering,  MBMA. “If [the issue] came up more often, we would probably come up with a program to address it more directly, but it happens only occasionally. We give members tools to help address it locally, but it is hard to do from a national trade association vantage point.”

MBMA promotes the design and construction of metal building systems in the low-rise, non-residential building marketplace. According to Shoemaker, MBMA devotes half of its budget to addressing technical issues of building systems.

Ken Gieseke, chair-elect of NFBA, agreed that broader education on the local level is needed.  “We’ve done one-on-one education with [our own city commission], taking pictures of jobs that show that metal is attractive and pointing out [limits to] their codes,” he said. “Getting tools to help us as an industry would be huge.”

NFBA has more than 700 members, including contractors, suppliers, and design professionals. The association seeks to expand the use of post-frame construction, educate builders and decision makers on post-frame construction, provide technical research, and market the benefits of post-frame construction.

The panelists also stressed the need to promote the benefits of using metal on building exteriors to the entire industry, including consumers.

Tom Wadsworth of DASMA said that, “thanks to coil coaters,” highly durable steel and aluminum garage doors now resemble wood ones, but are less expensive and easier to maintain on the part of consumers. DASMA works to create a unified force among its memberships of manufacturers of door and access systems, develop standards, influence building codes, expand its market, and educate the door systems industry.

Likewise, MBMA’s Shoemaker noted that metal buildings with wide clear spans offer superior durability to other construction types, particularly in adverse weather conditions. Getting out messages like this to influencers of construction and consumers is key to growing the industry, he said.

2014SummerMeeting-OpeningSession4croppedThe groups represented at the meeting vary greatly in size and educational offerings, with the 128-year-old NRCA being by far the largest with 3,500 members in the U.S. and abroad   and a $12 million annual budget, a vast array of training and educational programs, and its own Political Action Committee.  NRCA helps its members contend with government regulations and is active in the codes arena.

However, all the groups represented on the panel promote professionalism and provide education and training to their members, and some provide accreditation.

The 52-year-old NCCA, which has about 100 members, promotes the growth of pre-painted metal.  It serves as the voice of the coil coating industry for technical, promotional, education, and regulatory matters.

The 46-year-old MBCEA provides, among other things, national standardized testing and apprenticeship and accreditation programs. It has seen a 30% jump in its membership of metal building contractors and erectors over the past year, according to MBCEA President Gary Smith.

As the panel concluded, it was clear that this discussion was, itself, only a start. Sieja said that MCA would welcome an opportunity to discuss collaboration further at meetings sponsored by these groups.

 

 

 

 

AIA Economist Bullish on Nonresidential Construction Activity

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Kermit Baker, AIAKermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects in Washington, DC, told attendees at the recent MCA Annual Meeting in Clearwater Beach, FL, that although nonresidential construction has been slow to recover from a steep downturn in 2013, several emerging signs point to increased activity throughout 2014.

As a guest speaker at the January meeting, Baker noted several leading economic indicators that point to an improving economy, including that housing starts have accelerated in recent months and that house prices, which continue to recover, have gained back more than 40% of their losses. He also said that net household growth has been dominated by renters in recent years, pushing down the rate of ownership.

“The housing recovery is well underway, but production levels are still below long-term potential,” Baker said, adding that a rate of 1.6–1.8 million housing starts per year is still years away.

Despite the positive market fundamentals, there have been modest gains in spending on nonresidential buildings, Baker said. He noted that the nonresidential construction sector faces several challenges and opportunities, including that recovery to date remains modest, with little improvement over past year; commercial property values are recovering “nicely”; and real estate market fundamentals, such as vacancies and rents, remain positive for most commercial market segments.

Meanwhile, architecture billings point to emerging upturn in nonresidential building activity. “Even with slowdown toward the end of last year architecture billings are in the midst of an upturn, with the strongest growth since the recession began,” Baker said.

Baker added that construction spending should see solid single-digit growth in 2014, with recovery continuing into 2015.

Plans for the MCA Summer Meeting, set for June 23–25 at the Westin O’Hare in Rosemont, IL, are underway. Online hotel reservations and a preliminary program schedule are now available. For more information, visit the Events page on the MCA website.

High School Football Stadium, Texas Style

Allen High School Football Stadium, Allen, TX

By Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Sure, everything is bigger in Texas, and that includes a high school football stadium so grand and high-budget that it garnered national attention last year. The $60 million Allen High School football stadium, located in the fast-growing Dallas suburb of Allen, TX, features many architectural bells and whistles, including concrete seats for 18,000, a towering upper deck, a spacious weight room, and practice areas for the school’s wrestling and golf teams. With its 100,000 square feet of metal composite material (MCM) panels, the structure looks more like a college stadium.

According to Zeke Miller, President , The Miller-Clapperton Partnership, Inc. @thepanelguys, Austell, GA, metal is a natural fit for stadiums of all types. “Obviously this project is like a dream assignment, where certain features lend pizzazz, and MCM panels fit the bill.” He adds that MCM panels are the modern day sheet metal because they do not oil can, are low maintenance and durable, and provide design flexibility. The paneling itself can be clad with decorative metal, which is perfect for all stadiums.

The only drawback to stadium projects is that there is no messing around with deadlines, Miller says, because the football season always begins on schedule. Miller-Clapperton, whose projects include the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at the University of Florida, is currently hoping that his MCM panels will be incorporated into the design of the new Atlanta Falcons Stadium that is scheduled to open for the 2017 NFL season.

Since the stadium opened in August 2012, Allen High School’s Eagles football team hasn’t lost a single home game, but Miller resists attributing the streak to anything associated with the stadium’s metal composite paneling.  Still, with all the publicity surrounding the “most expensive high school stadium in America,” Miller says that he kind of wishes that the stadium was better known for its panels rather than the other way around.

Metal Construction in Atlanta: Portman Family Middle School

Portman Family Middle School, Atlanta, GA

Editor’s Note: As we gear up for METALCON International, Oct 1-3 in Atlanta, we’re highlighting some of our favorite Atlanta metal construction projects. We hope to see you next week in Atlanta!

Sports arenas, event centers and skyscrapers generate the most buzz around their construction. Other buildings, such as schools, may not enjoy the limelight, but they’re no less important. In fact, one could argue the design, planning and function of a school building affects the future of more people than any other building type.

As you tour Atlanta during the upcoming METALCON, Oct 1-3, you can’t miss metal’s contributions to the city’s famous buildings. But get off the beaten path a bit, and take note of some of the less known, yet highly influential ones.

Atlanta-based Portman Family Middle School is a prime example of design done well, and metal products contribute to the middle school’s educational and green attributes. A LEED Gold-certified building, construction of the middle school was made possible by a generous $10 million donation by Jan and John Portman.

Designed by architecture firm Shepley Bulfinch, the 75,000 sq.-ft. building was completed in 2009. Some of the “green” features of the design include:

• a garden roof used as an interactive learning space with native plants fed by a rainwater-fed runnel carrying water through the garden to a cistern below
• low-flow faucets, waterless urinals, and dual flush toilets
• daylight sensors, solar hot water, and a high-performance exterior envelope

ALPOLIC aluminum composite panels are central to the high-performance exterior envelope. The metal panels were chosen for their versatility, durability, modern appearance and energy efficiency.

As an energy-efficient green building, the middle school not only saves tens of thousands of dollars annually, it also educates hundreds of children about the importance of sustainable living.

Metal’s use as a green construction material will no doubt be a hot topic at METALCON this year. For a prime example of metal’s green attributes in action, check out Portman Family Middle School, too.

In Atlanta, Grab a Moment of Zinc

Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

While in Atlanta attending METALCON on Oct 1–3, you may want to check out the recently renovated and expanded Holy Innocents’ Episcopal Church. The sanctuary’s new roof features flat lock zinc panels by Umicore Building Products USA., Inc.,  to help bridge the existing building’s mid-century architecture and  its modern chapel features.

06-2013 Holy Innocents 04d WEBAccording to project architect Bob Balke of TVS Design, Atlanta, zinc was selected to replace an existing asphalt shingle roof because of its longevity and clean, authentic appearance. As one of the few metals to naturally develop a protective patina, zinc also

• promotes a lengthy structural lifespan through its ability to withstand harsh elements

• “self-heals” imperfections, which keeps the metal looking better longer

• is recyclable at the end of its useful life.

06-2013 Holy Innocents 17d WEBWhile there, be sure to note the complex roof slopes and valleys, and gutters at the prow of the roof. (Zinc gutters formed by using masked stainless steel clips conceal the gutter system.) Other notable features include the sanctuary’s exposed steel structure, structural red oak wood in the decking and ceiling, an aluminum veneer curtain wall system, and a continuous ribbon vaulted skylight.

Once inspired, it’s time to head back to the show to network with colleagues and learn more about the latest in metal. See you there!

Immerse Yourself in Metal at the Georgia Aquarium

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, GA

 After you’ve seen the latest in metal products at METALCON on Oct. 1-3 in Atlanta (stopping by to visit MCA in booth 1553, of course), come see how metal enhances the physical environment of all members of the ecosystem, from people to sea life.

Opened in 2005, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta is the world’s largest aquarium. It holds more than 8 million gallons of water and is home to more than 100,000 sea animals.

Designed by Atlanta-based architecture firm Thompson, Ventulett, Stainback & Associates, the firm says its design “combines a unique exterior profile for the Aquarium with an interior concept that strives to give visitors the sensation of visiting an underwater world.”

Metal was a key component in bringing this underwater world to life. The building’s exterior uses metal panels to recreate the appearance of a ship’s hull. The building uses 50,000 sq. ft. of 3A Composite’s Alucobond metal composite panels. The “ship” features approximately 3,600, 4-mm-thick panels in platinum, silver metallic and custom three-coat blue metallic colors.

The aquarium features six regular exhibits—Cold Water Quest, Ocean Voyager, Tropical Diver, Georgia Explorer, Dolphin Tales and River Scout—and a special exhibit, Sea Monsters Revealed: Aquatic Bodies opens September 27.

Attend METALCON first and then wade into the metal application of Georgia Aquarium.

For more information about METALCON visit www.metalcon.com.

3 Reasons Why Facebook Chose Perforated Metal Panels

Facebook Data Center, Prineville, OR

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

There are three very good reasons why nearly a quarter of the 65,000 square feet of metal wall panels on Facebook’s new data center in Prineville, OR, are perforated panels. Foremost, the screen metal walls secure the center’s sizable generator yard and help ventilate its diesel-fueled backup generators.

The metal panels, including the perforated metal panels, also are customized by Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation  to allow the entire structure to meet strict LEED® Gold certification standards. More than half of each perforated panel—52.94%, to be exact—is open area for ventilation.

Last is aesthetics. The metal panels perfectly complement the simple and minimalist design of the neutral-colored center. But don’t let the Facebook data center’s understated façade fool you; inside the center is a powerhouse. The energy-efficient structure houses tens of thousands of Facebook’s servers containing information for its 800 million users. The only hint that the building serves one of the busiest websites in the world is the blue flag with the iconic ‘Facebook’ logo.

To recap, those three reasons are –

1. Superior ventilation
2. LEED® Standards
3. Aesthetics

Want to learn more about the role metal has played in Facebook’s new data center? Metal Sales has the full story.