Category Archives: New Construction

Shipping Containers Find New Life in Metal Construction

Monterrey Technical University - Student Center
Student Center, Monterrey Technical University, Juarez, Mexico

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

Fortune Magazine recently featured a story about Starbucks’ use of shipping containers in the design of their new drive-through coffee shops. According to Fortune, a good portion of the 900 or so drive-through locations that Starbucks plans to build in the next five years will be made using retrofitted metal shipping containers.

The use and repurposing of metal shipping containers in construction is a growing trend, even though they are not always less expensive than other manufacturing methods.  And re-using a metal shipping container that would otherwise be destined for the scrap heap can make a statement about sustainability, especially when used with other “green” building efficiencies.

MCA’s 2012 Chairman’s Award Winner in the Education-Colleges & Universities category is a creative example of how shipping containers can be used in construction. The project, a student center for Monterrey Technical University in Juarez, Mexico, was designed by Ruben Escobar, a graduate of MTU and principle at the architecture firm Grupo ARKHOS.

Monterrey Technical University 1 WEBThe student center uses 14 metal shipping containers to make a 7,000 sq. ft. space for students to  interact socially. With exposed metal making up 80% of the new building’s structure, Escobar integrated a metal skin composed of Reynobond composite aluminum panels around the building’s entrance. The 4-mm panels from Alcoa Architectural Products proved to be a perfect complement to the shipping containers, and also were chosen for their durability.Monterrey Technical University 2 WEB

Not only is the new building constructed primarily of recycled materials, but it also is designed to keep cooling costs low. An outdoor paint scheme that uses automotive paint mixed with ceramic nanospheres helps repel the desert sun’s rays, and  a series of aluminum and glass garage doors open up to provide natural ventilation about 8 months out of the year.

It is estimated that there are more than 17 million shipping containers in the world today. Because the United States imports far more than it exports, there is a surplus of empty shipping containers in this country. Metal shipping container-inspired architecture is just one way to give new life and purpose to these resources.

Metal Construction in Denver: Denver Art Museum

Denver Art Museum - Night

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

As we ramp up for the AIA National Convention in Denver next week, any discussion of Denver architecture would be remiss to not include the striking Frederic C. Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum. Designed by Daniel Libeskind, the metal building addition opened in 2006 and has been a lightning rod for both praise and criticism.

Denver Art MuseumClad in titanium panels, the Frederic C. Hamilton Building reflects not just the Colorado sun, but also the shapes and angles found in the most prominent part of the Denver landscape–the Rocky Mountains. The metal building is sure to evoke strong feelings from even the most casual critic, but we simply appreciate the use of metal construction in new and engaging ways.

We’re excited to be in Denver next week, and will be sure to take in many of the many beautiful and varied examples of architecture. Stop by booth 1303 at the AIA National Convention in the Colorado Convention Center to say hello, and learn more about the beauty of metal walls and roofs.

Grupo ARKHOSBy: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

I was excited to see the Chihuahua Businessmen Foundation, (FECHAC) featured in Architect Magazine‘s project gallery today. The project—MCA’s 2012 Chairman’s Award Winner for Overall Excellence—is an outstanding example of ingenuity and resourcefullness, and an innovative application of Reynobond Composite Aluminum MCM panels. Grupo ARKHOS, the architect for the project, is well deserving of the many accolades it has received for the project.

Read more about the project–and more than 60 others–in the case study library.

Billings for Design Projects Rise

Improvements to the metal construction industry2013 is looking promising for architects. A recent Wall Street Journal article, Demand for Architects Builds Momentum, reports that billings of design projects at architecture firms rose 4 consecutive months after having been depressed for 4 years in a languishing housing and real-estate market. The American Institute for Architects’—Architecture Billings Index—rose to 53.2 in November, up two points from the previous year and the highest reading since November 2007. A reading above 50 indicates that billings are increasing.

According to the article, if the trend continues, architecture firms will need to hire new design teams—welcome news for working architects, whose numbers declined to 153,000 in 2011 from 214,000 in 2007. “Rising billings also are viewed as a gauge of future construction activity because real-estate developers tend to break ground on new projects 9–12 months after they hire design firms,” it reads. And with that, 2013 is looking promising for metal construction as well.

Top Reasons to Use Insulated Metal Panels

Hitchiner Manufacturing Studio
Hitchiner Manufacturing
Photo: Studio One, Manchester, NH

By: Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

More often than not, architects and designers choose Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs) for a combination of reasons, not the least of which is aesthetics given that they come in a variety of styles, sizes, colors, finishes, and textures and can be installed both horizontally and vertically. Metl-Span’s Tuff Wall® IMPs, for example, provide a stucco-like appearance to the new corporate-headquarter addition to the Hitchiner Manufacturing facility, Milford, NH, a casting supplier to manufacturers in the aerospace gas turbine engine industry. But according to Dennis Mires, PA, of The Architects in Manchester, NH, IMPs also met insurance requirements, stayed within the owner’s budget, and provided a high-tech look for the company.

With that in mind, what are top reasons for choosing IMPs? Industry experts say that the metal panels:

IMP Manufacturing Suppliesare energy-efficient. IMPs have two metal skins, an interior and an exterior, which are bonded to a foam polyisocyanurate insulation core, making them highly energy efficient, said Brian Jaks of Green Span Profiles, Waller, TX, a manufacturer of IMPs. Initially used on cold-storage facilities, the panels have R values as high as 8 per inch, compared to 3.7–4.3 per inch for batt insulation, and range in thickness from 2–6 inches.

have thermal performance. According to Ken Buchinger of Metal Building Components, Inc., who recently spoke at METALCON, IMPs provide continuous insulation and consistent R values across walls, and have concealed fastener systems that prevent thermal bridging between the exterior and interior skins. He further noted that IMPs tend to hold their R value over time and do not have significant thermal drift.

allow for fast installation. IMPs’ one-piece construction makes for faster installation, Buchinger said. Faster installation helps lower construction costs and interim financing costs. Moreover, he said, the steel skins are resistant to abuse and, compared to conventional building envelope materials, are not as affected by adverse weather conditions such as high winds.

are suitable for green building. IMPs were used on the new LEED-gold-certified “Bartholomew Building” addition to William Allen High School in Allentown, PA,   for their simplicity of design. “The [system] just goes together,” said Mitch Miller, associate and director of specifications of USA Architects, Easton, PA. “You’re installing the insulation and the finished panel at the same time.” Furthermore, the metal in a panel’s skin often has a high content of recycled steel or aluminum, and, when IMPs are removed from a wall, they can be recycled or re-used on another project, saving them from the landfill.

offer unsurpassed design flexibility. “People like the panel because it has a flat appearance,” Jaks said. “It doesn’t necessarily have corrugation and architects like that.” He added that IMPs are available in a variety of textures, including smooth, embossed, and heavy embossed. They also come in wide range of colors, and can be customized to match any color palette. IMPs’ design flexibility allows the ability to achieve almost any look and increase curb appeal.

Haughton Middle School Metal Roof
Haughton Middle School

are well suited for roof applications. More than 130,000 sq. ft. of IMPs was used to reroof the eight-building Haughton Middle School complex in Haughton, LA.  According to Lauren Marchive, project architect with Newman Marchive Carlisle, Inc., Shreveport, LA, the local school board chose IMPs for their thermal performance and because the roof system was available in red, which matched the school’s original design. Even more vital was the speed and ease of installation, and that the roof could be installed during the school year on sections of buildings that were not in use.

are code complaint. In his AIA presentation, Insulated Metal Panels (IMPs): High Performance Green Building Products, Randy Wilken of Metal Building Components, Inc., noted that IMPs qualify as continuous insulation, where required by the International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE 90.1. They are also available in ASHRAE/California-compliant cool-roof colors, as listed on the Cool Roof Rating Council’s website (www.coolroofs.org).

Choosing between metal construction materials and systems can be complex—each project has a number of factors that need to be considered. But IMPs offer a host of benefits to make them an attractive choice for a wide variety of projects.

School Construction Trending Towards Metal

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

My daughter just started kindergarten this fall, and picking her up from school each day often reminds me of my days in grammar school. The brick-walled schools that I attended years ago are still in use today (they seemed so much bigger back then), and still providing students with a great environment in which to learn.

But just as I am reminded that every year I am getting older, there are reminders that the country’s thousands of school buildings are aging, too. Many are being replaced with new, state-of-the-art schools, and many more are being retrofitted to make them current with the latest education, technology and energy standards.

Retrofitted High School
William Allen High School, Allentown, PA

And with more frequency than in the past, those familiar brick walls are being upgraded and replaced with new, energy-efficient metal walls and roofs. Take, for instance, the Metal Construction Association’s newest case study on the William Allen High School in Allentown, PA. The school—originally constructed with brick masonry—had outgrown its existing space, so they built a new addition on an adjacent lot. The exterior of the new building is a combination of brick and metal panels, with the majority of wall surfaces being insulated metal panels (IMPs).

The metal complements the brick aesthetically—a trend that we are seeing more and more of—and it helped the new building attain LEED gold certification. Not only are the IMPs energy-efficient, but the added benefit of quick installation (IMPs allowed the building to be enclosed with insulation and the finished panel in one shot) made them an ideal choice for this project.

Check out our case study library for additional examples of how schools—new and old—are making use of metal walls and roofs.

Economists Maintain Cautiously Optimistic Outlook on Construction

Jennifer Hicks at SmartBrief posted a valuable summary of a webcast hosted by Reed Construction Data on the architecture, engineering and construction industries. Here are a few nuggets that may be of particular interest to the metal construction industry. Visit Jennifer’s blog for more details from the three economists that participated in the webcast.

The construction industry in 2012 has fared better than in recent years, and the upward trend could continue in 2013, according to the three economists that participated in the webcast.

Commercial construction, which turned around in 2012, is expected to continue to grow in 2013. The hospitality and higher-education segments also are forecasted to improve in 2013.

The biggest threat to growth in 2013 is the “fiscal cliff,” which could result in a loss of $2 billion in federal construction spend. Other factors that could stall metal construction growth include troubled state economies, tight lending policies, and regulatory changes.

Meet the “Overall Excellence” Chairman’s Award Winner

As mentioned in our last post, over the coming weeks we’ll be introducing more information and articles about the Metal Construction Association’s Chairman’s Awards winners. The natural place to start is with the “Overall Excellence” winner: the Chihuahua’s Businessmen Foundation (FECHAC) Regional Office in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

We’ve just posted a new case study about the project that provides more details about how the design process unfolded, and how the architects overcame obstacles to achieve the design that best suited their client’s needs and represented their client’s values. The Metal Initiative offers a library of more than 60 case studies featuring many inspiring project that reflect the benefits of building with metal.

The MCA judging panel chose this project  because it incorporates metal into many parts of the building. They were fascinated by the architects’ ability to use metal to represent rock. Lights on the building were incorporated to make the metal look different in summer and in winter.

Reynobond Composite Aluminum Panels from Alcoa Architectural Products were used in the design. The architect for the project is Grupo ARKHOS.

Building Design and Performance: The Stakes Are High

By: Todd Miller, Isaiah Industries, Inc.

Today, it doesn’t make any difference whether you’re planning to build or remodel a tall skyscraper in Manhattan or a rustic vacation getaway outside of Albuquerque, the stakes are high when it comes to product selection.

The first step to specifying products that will lead to a successful project is to determine your criteria. What are the key things you’d like to achieve? Once you determine your criteria, you have benchmarks to weigh competing products against and determine what it will take to create the building of your dreams.

In determining your criteria, there are several keys areas to consider. Let’s take a look at them.

Continue reading Building Design and Performance: The Stakes Are High