Category Archives: News

Double-Curved Metal Bridge Provides Key Urban Link in Colorado Springs

Joining Architectural Digest’s coveted 2022 Works of Wonder list and earning the first place slot in MCA’s 2022 single skin metal panels category, the new Park Union Pedestrian Bridge is a 250-foot-long, curved steel bridge spanning over an active railyard and serving as a key urban link for Colorado Springs.

Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), the unique double-curved geometry rises from opposite and opposing sides of the bridge, meeting at interlocking open loops in the middle where pedestrians are afforded framed views of downtown Colorado Springs, the adjacent U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum (USOPM), the railyard below and the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

“The bridge is an exercise in fitness – both in terms of material and geometry. The hybrid steel structure system functions as an arch and a truss, elegantly preserving views from downtown to the majestic mountain ranges of Pikes Peak,” said DS+R Partner-in-Charge and Lead Designer Benjamin Gilmartin, AIA.

Fabricated and installed by MG McGrath, the flat and curved panels are made from a 25-inch aluminum plate material with a 3-coat fluoropolymer finish. Close to 2,000 square feet of the custom panels were installed on bridge’s interior near the deck and around the circular oculus. The panels were designed and engineered to withstand extensive wind and live loads, in addition to accommodating the movement of the bridge structure.

Metal was selected as an elegant way to connect the America the Beautiful Park with USOPM. It also achieved the design intent for a modern bridge that blended well with USOPM’s metal facade, also designed by DS+R and fabricated/installed by MG McGrath.

The futuristic-looking bridge takes its inspiration from the gravity-defying motion of Olympic athletes with its steel structure appearing to float above the railyard.

“Metal beautifully matched the modernity and awe of the museum while being flexible and customizable enough to fit the curves and geometry of the arching overhead slopes,” said Allison Gladkowki, marketing specialist, MG McGrath.

The bridge was prefabricated in a Houston shop and assembled in a staging area. Next, a full fit up was conducted to ensure a continuous geometry. The bridge was then delivered to the site in sections, assembled, and welded together on the ground next to the rail yard. The full fit out included an 8 ½-inch concrete walking surface, parapets and architectural finishes.

The full 300-ton superstructure was then driven into place using self-propelled modular transporters to place the bridge on its abutments within an eight-hour window to minimize outage for the rail lines and yard later. 

The bridge’s generous width supports both pedestrians and bikers with access by stair and a glass elevator.

MCA Member Spotlight

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Manhattan High-Rise Captures the Beauty and Details of a Metal Facade

Hearkening back to the architectural beauty, patterning and façade detailing of the early 20th century is the 2022 MCA Metal Design Award-winner, the Art Deco-inspired 45-story Rose Hill in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood.

Developed by the Rockefeller Group, the high-rise houses 123 condominiums with approximately 230,000 square feet of interior space. Common areas include a lobby, underground pool, squash court, gym, 37th floor meeting room and a spacious terrace.

“The building features an expressive glass and metallic bronze façade, accented with chevron patterns, intricate detailing and expansive windows, referencing a classically Gotham aesthetic interpreted in a modern vocabulary,” said John Cetra, FAIA, founding principal, CetraRuddy Architecture, New York, in a Metal Architecture article.

The façade form features a rectilinear series of bronze-colored metal panels and glazing. On the ascent up the tower are a number of setbacks designed to meet City regulations.

 Distinguishing the skyscraper from a typical Manhattan building are the bottom-lit chevron reliefs and beautiful detailing continuing all the way up the façade.

Offering some historical context, award judge Lee Calisti, AIA, lee CALSTI architecture+design, Greensburg, Pa., explains, ”One problem with 20th century tall towers is they don’t have any detail beyond ground level as our predecessors did. The fact that they [the architect] has this detail all the way up the building really says something.”

The design is also unique in that the first scaling back of the façade can be easily viewed at street level whereas high-rise designs typically require the pedestrian to look up to view such detailing. Consequently, Centra describes his firm’s design as a “statement to the street.”

Above the lobby level, a screen with zigzag details lend aesthetics and cover the mechanical, electrical and plumbing components of the building. Continuing upwards, passersby can see a series of balconies connected to their adjoining apartments.

During the planning phase, terracotta and other contemporary materials were considered for the façade. However, cost and load considerations led to the selection of metal paneling. To compensate for the typical flat look lent by metal, the raised chevrons add depth to the façade as does the corrugated metal banding every four stories which create a grid with the panel columns.

The aluminum in the vertical pilasters appear as a warm, sueded bronze finish, which blends into the neighborhood context and offers a dynamic appearance based upon the sun’s position throughout the day and year. The aluminum was also easy to work with in the creation of the details through a combination of extruded shapes and corrugated panels.

The building’s insulated metal panels for the north shearwall are Kingspan Insulated Panels Inc., Deland, Fla., the exterior soffit panels are made with 4-mm ALUCOBOND PLUS aluminum composite material from 3A Composites USA Inc. Davidson, N.C., and Construction Specialties Inc., Cranford, N.J., supplied RSV-5700 Stormproof Louvers.

To support the building’s tall windows, the architects specified a unitized aluminum-and-glass curtain wall with the chevron pattern repeating up the length of the vertical pilasters.

“The chevron motif was an important way for us to emphasize the verticality of the building, reference the building’s design inspiration and respect its richly detailed context,” said Cetra. “Working with the façade manufacturer, we were able to develop a bent metal process to replicate the design at scale and make it feasible to implement across much of the façade of the building.”

Beginning on the third floor and extending until the roof, W&W Glass-installed the hybrid-wall unitized curtain wall system with custom chevron IMP infills from Sotawall Inc. The system is made from 3003-H14 aluminum alloy coated in Duranar Sunstorm Chocolate Bronze from PPG Industries.

“The system was chosen over other façade systems due to its high thermal performance values as well as the flexibility of the exterior appearance,” explained Cetra. “Additionally, a unitized curtain wall system is much better at handling wind loads and seismic loads in such a tall and thin building. No exterior caulking is required in a system like this, which sped up completion of the envelope to meet construction schedule requirements.”

Bold Metal Panels Raise College Profile in Chicago

“The bright yellow of the overpass represents the use of caution colors in manufacturing and draws the community’s eyes to the facility even more dramatically,” wrote Metal Architecture Editor Paul Deffenbaugh.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Rossiter

Breathing new life into a predominantly working-class Latino neighborhood, CannonDesign and JGMA selected bold metal colors and shapes for the Daley College’s Manufacturing, Technology and Engineering Center (MTEC).

Metal panels, glass and exposed steel combine to create an industrial, high-tech aesthetic, drawing attention to the modern façade. Silver, yellow, orange and red panels appear as fins, blocks and geometric shapes throughout the 57,000 sq. ft.  exterior and interior, creating a bright, attractive look. A bold yellow metal panel highlights the underside of the overpass, acting as a prominent entry point.

“The bright yellow of the overpass represents the use of caution colors in manufacturing and draws the community’s eyes to the facility even more dramatically,” wrote Metal Architecture Editor Paul Deffenbaugh. “The hope is that while young people drive past the school and see the dramatic reveal of the manufacturing equipment, their interest will be piqued.”

“The CENTRIA Formawall paneling especially gives the building a contemporary feel, and the varied angles and shapes and three-dimensionality showcase a design philosophy that is forward looking, and not representative of a historically grimy manufacturing sector,” said Deffenbaugh.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Rossiter

Large expanses of glass draw the eye to the colorful machines and equipment inside the advanced facility. As expressed by the architects, “the seamless fluidity to the building’s form was inspired by the constant and linear flow of the manufacturing process.”

The natural flow of the building brings students and visitors through a series of exterior and interior learning spaces, and acts as a new front door for METEC and campus itself.

Located near Midway Airport, the new building raises the former one-building college into a more prominent role within the community it serves. The technical education offerings are aimed at generating high-end manufacturing jobs for Chicago residents to boost the local economy and promote development in the West Lawn community.

The natural flow of the building brings students and visitors through a series of exterior and interior learning spaces, and acts as a new front door for METEC and campus itself.
PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Rossiter

“The CENTRIA Formawall paneling especially gives the building a contemporary feel, and the varied angles and shapes and three-dimensionality showcase a design philosophy that is forward looking, and not representative of a historically grimy manufacturing sector,” said Deffenbaugh.

Recipient of an MCA Chairman’s Award in the (college and university category, the architectural design incorporates a number of seating areas, platforms and alcoves, to support socialization and incidental learning outside of class.

MCA judge Steven G. Blye of Legat Associates comments, “this is an outstanding project. The triangular motif is expressive, and they really showcase the use of metal, which plays up the school’s curriculum.”

In all, 28,000 sq. ft. of architectural metal panels were specified for the project.

PHOTO CREDIT: Tom Rossiter

Durable Metal Roof Covers the country’s Most Sustainable, High-Altitude Building

Preserving a piece of American history, the new Pikes Peak Summit Complex replaces an old, bunker-like center on top of the 14,115 ft. “America’s Mountain” in Cascade, Colo. where poet Katharine Lee Bates was inspired to write the patriotic song “America the Beautiful” in 1893.

Designed to achieve both LEED Silver and Living Building Challenge certification and be the most sustainable, high altitude building in the U.S., RTA Architects and GWWO Architects had to highly scrutinize every product and material going into the 6,200 sq.-ft. visitor center to meet the materials petal requirements for the stringent seven-petal Living Building Challenge.

Further, with below freezing temperatures the majority of the year, heavy snow loads of 125 lbs per sq. ft. and winds reaching 170 mph, the Colorado Springs roofing contractor Weathercraft needed a highly durable and robust metal roofing system to withstand the extreme weather conditions.

Fortunately, Drexel Metals had performed some unusually high wind testing for its DMC 200S with a custom clip-on attachment system AND the system was free from Red-listed chemicals. After submitting all data on the roof system’s components for LBC review and acceptance—including the sealants, butyl, clips, roof panel, backplates, seam sealant, snow guards and sheets—the roofing system could then be designed and fabricated.

The 22-gauge, 2-ft. mechanically seamed Corten steel standing seam panels sit on top of a precast concrete floor, wall and roof structure. With a 1/12 pitch in a trapezoid shape, the metal panels run as long as 115 ft., and are tied into a ¼-in. plate gutter system running around the roof perimeter.

Contributing to the building’s high rooftop R-90 insulation, high-density EPS insulation with ¾-in. plywood is mechanically attached to the structural metal decking. The roofing contractor also installed a layer of Metshield ice and water shield.

The next step in the installation process was marking the clip layout on the underlayment as the roof required fixed clips. By providing a point of fixity for the metal panels, this allows for thermal movement toward the eave and peak line. The Drexel panels were then lifted by crane and installed with fixed and continuous clips. The clip systems reduce panel stress caused by changes in temperature and help maintain a smooth, uniform appearance.

Each panel was seamed right after installation to protect against wind damage. After completing the peak detail, an S-5 ColorGard snow guard system with 199 clamps was installed. The snow retention system is custom designed and anodized in bronze to match the roof color.

Structurally, the roof is reinforced with superimposed loading of 540 lb/ft2, with a dead load of 390 lb/ft2 and a live load of 150 lb/ft2. The project team also designed the roof to keep boulders away from the walkways on the site and dowels were installed to prevent the upper concrete form from sliding off the roof.

High Altitude Sustainability

The Pikes Peak Summit Complex, which is connected to the U.S. Army Corps Engineers’ new High-Altitude Research Laboratory on the mountain top can be accessed by car or via the modernized cog railroad, originally built in 1891, to travel nine miles up the mountainside.

The north side of the Summit Complex sinks into the mountain to take advantage of the ground’s thermal mass for insulation. The subtle design also allows the mountain itself to take center stage.

“We wanted to create an iconic experience, not an iconic building,” RTA Principal Stuart Coppedge, FAIA, LEED AP, told Civil Engineering magazine. “You can’t out-mountain the mountain. It’s all about the total experience, not some architectural monument.”

On the south side, a high performance curtain wall system with electrochromic glazing in the lobby space enables the building to benefit from passive solar heating, which is tied into a radiant floor system.

While the harsh climate made a rooftop solar panel installation unviable, the Complex is able to import PV renewable energy from another location to make the building net electricity positive.

The building also features rainwater and blackwater collection, treatment and reuse systems. The rainwater supplements municipal water for potable needs and the graywater and blackwater is be treated onsite and reused for toilet flushing.

IMPs Double as Teaching Tool for this STEM-Focused High School

New three-story Mandeville High School classroom building designed by Holly & Smith Architects

With overflowing enrollment, it was time for Mandeville High School in Mandeville, La., to expand. To create an energy-efficient enclosure with a striking, colorful appearance, Holly and Smith architects chose insulated metal panels (IMPs).

Not only do the metal panels offer a weatherproof enclosure with R-values of up to 7 per inch, but a mix of horizontal and vertical blue and grey panels of varying lengths replicate the famous mathematical Fibonacci sequence.

Used as an important teaching tool for the students, the Fibonacci formula is a string of digits where each number is the sum of the two preceding ones. By integrating these values into the size of the IMP panels and windows, the façade achieves what’s called the Golden Ratio of visually appealing proportions, creating a sense of harmony for the subconscious mind.

In mimicking the Fibonacci pattern 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, Driftwood, Dove Gray, Regal Blue, and Slate Blue IMP panels at 12 in., 24 in., 28 in., 31in., 36 in., and 38 in. sizes were mixed and matched to achieve the formula.

New three-story Mandeville High School classroom building designed by Holly & Smith Architects

“The team assigned each different panel a color and selectively placed window openings to make the façade visually interesting and reinforce the pattern,” explains Damon Brown, regional sales manager, Kingspan Insulated Panels North America. “Each floor then mirrors the pattern—1st floor left to right, 2nd floor right to left, etc.—so the pattern does not stack vertically.”

The versatility of the IMPs was key to creating the sizes, orientations, and color changes to produce the aesthetic, educational façade. The design team also incorporated storefront windows with the Kingspan BENCHMARK Designwall 2000 panels to bring natural light into the classrooms.

“The building has classrooms which are more art and STEM focused and the Fibonacci sequence has important connections to art, natural science, math, and technology,” adds Brown.

In addition to the cool looking, energy efficient enclosure, the IMPs also contributed to the project delivery schedule.

“Getting the drywall and the finishing is the part that takes the longest in the building. Getting that stage started sooner is a big time-saver overall on the construction schedule,” reported Holly and Smith Project Architect Paul Morvant, AIA, NCARB, in a Design and Build with Metal article.

The three-story addition was expected to last 18 months, but COVID-19 delayed construction by an additional 6 months. If it hadn’t had been for the IMPs making up for lost time, the delay would have been even longer. Unlike traditional cladding installations requiring multiple trades, IMPs require just one installer – ER Barnes, based in Mandeville.

The new facility houses 38 new classrooms—26 regular classrooms and 12 smaller special education modules—support spaces and a courtyard offering collaborative space for students to study and socialize. The brand new building replaces 32 modular classrooms.

Other planned additions include a renovated locker room area, new HVAC system, and an adjacent, already completed sports practice facility.