Tag Archives: choosing metal

Texas A&M Rec Center Takes Home Top MCA Honors 

As one of the largest state universities in the country, Texas A&M University was hard pressed to expand its recreational services for its 69,000 enrolled students in College Station, Texas.

To fill the need, the new Southside Rec Center—with 63,500 square feet of indoor recreational space and 15,000 square feet of outdoor space—opened its doors in the late summer.

Earning accolades as the Metal Construction Association’s Design Awards Winner in the Single Skin Panels Category, the sleek structure features a variety of boxed ribbed metal panels, perforated metal scrim and single-skin metal panels.

“The variety of panels creates an energetic pattern across the façade, accurately reflecting the kinetic movement of the live oaks outside and the fitness activity inside,” stated Kalman Nagy, AIA, NCARB, design principal, SmithGroup, Dallas. “This varied pattern extends to other materials in the building façade, such as the vertical frit patterns on the glass and the horizontal reveals in the limestone.”

The architects designed the form as two high-bay spaces flanking a central spine where recreational activities are showcased, thereby engaging the campus at a pedestrian scale.

Metal was selected as a prominent material to complement the campus context and master plan design guidelines. For example, the Dark Bronze finish matches the master plan palette.

Overall, the architects successfully blend the flat composite metal panels and single-skin ribbed metal panels with a limestone and glass curtainwall exterior. Highlighting the combination of materiality and contrast between the stone and metal, the MCA judges were impressed with the detail juxtaposition and range of applications in the facility.

The team selected four different Petersen Aluminum box rib patterns in Dark Bronze to offset the patterns, articulating the building’s base, middle and top. While the patterns in the ribbed metal panels create texture, a change in the pattern’s rhythm emphasizes the transition from one section to the other. 

A perforated box rib metal scrim, located at the main entry plaza, mimics the expression of the adjacent live oak trees. And two different profiles and perforation sizes extend the façade’s visual rhythm, shading the entry plaza and glazing of the courts and lobby.

With the ribbed metal panels extending beyond the building envelope, the cladding transitions to perforated panels to balance shading, views, texture and depth in the façade. 

The single skin metal panels also add value to the building in lending support to the outdoor amenities, including a terrace, two volleyball courts and a turf area for fitness classes and functional training. The 12-inch-wide panels stretches off the façade that enclose the large 100-foot by 200-foot high bay for strength and conditioning and courts.

This large overhang provides shaded exterior space and daylight-protected glazing. High-performance glazing with integrated ceramic frit patterns and perpendicular shading fins further reduces heat gain while maintaining views. 

Also inside the rec center is a bouldering wall, locker rooms and a cardio mezzanine. “Minimal circulation space connects a variety of programs and is a good example of a simple design move with a big impact,” he said.

Showcasing the modest investment required to deliver a high quality, aesthetic building, Nagy again stated, “It’s a shining example of the power of simplicity and how an economical and common material thoughtfully designed to work with campus context can result in a truly beautiful outcome.”

Thirty75 Tech’s Animated, Shimmering Metal Facade


Earning its latest accolade as the Best Overall Winner in MCA’s 2023 Design Awards competition, the dynamic and shimmering metal louvered façade at Thirty75 Tech in Santa Clara, Calif., is a sight to behold.

Custom aluminum extrusions form Brise Soleil, louvers that wrap the curtain wall. In addition to presenting an animated façade, the carefully calibrated louvers expertly shield the building from the California sun.

“The project explored the dialectic relationship between performance and expression: a dynamic façade that, while static in construction, changes based on the viewer’s position and daylight angle,” explains Verse Design Principal Paul Tang. “The complexity of the louvers is not random and is based on performative needs to mitigate heat gain and glare in what otherwise is an all-glass structure.”

Without it, the building would not have been able to shade the required 70 percent of the floor-to-ceiling glass to meet stringent Title 24 energy standards.

In order to achieving this performance target, the design team tested different louver shapes and sizes with the parametric modeling program Grasshopper. The louver length, width and rotation were tested and adjusted in relation to the shading values and evaluated within the context of the façade’s environmental impact on the office space, a landscaped entry plaza and the street.

Ultimately, an airfoil elliptical shape emerged as the best option for meeting all these goals.


While terracotta was originally selected for the louvers, upon further exploration, the team discovered that terracotta would have been too heavy and costly to implement. As a result, metal was chosen based upon its visual experience and ability to add a finish coating for enhanced durability.

“A champagne-colored metallic paint on all louvers captures and reflects the changing daylight colors, providing visual variation not possible with terracotta,” notes Tang.

The architect’s vision and desired effect is a 3-dimensional interpretation of the “digital rain” concept from Matrix films.

The louvers are custom extrusions of Alloy 6005-T5 from Architectural Glass & Aluminum with a PPG Duranar Finish. 

To optimize shading, the design incorporates 28 unitized panel variations with each panel containing seven vertical louver units with some exceptions at corners. The louvers are offset by 5 degrees, rotating every 15 degrees, in six different angles, up to 90 degrees. Designed in depths of three, six and nine inches, each unitized panel is held together by a 4 in. x 6 in. x 3/8-in. aluminum angle frame attached to a catwalk.

Through the process of fabrication and installation, Verse Design worked very closely with AGA, Architectural Grilles & Sunshades, the fabricator and contractor as quite a number of modifications had to be made to make the Brise Soleil system installable.

“The process was not linear, and the team had to keep an open mind to overcome challenges. These challenges included changes to components of the system, methods of attachments and sequence of construction. A mockup was instrumental in identifying these challenges and experimenting with different solutions,” reports Tang.

In addition to creating a first-class façade design worthy of Class A office building, Verse Design also added an additional 33,000 leasable square feet to the original 200,000 square feet program on the two-acre site. This yielded $200,000 more in monthly rent than originally projected. 

Originally designed to house multiple tenants, Amazon ended up leasing the entire building which also incorporates a parking structure, EV charging, café, gym, basketball courts and putting green.

Photo Credit: Tim Griffith

Metal Clad Retreat Home Provides Fire Protection and a Beautiful Aesthetic in the Santa Monica Mountains

In the aftermath of the Old Topanga Fire, which broke out near Malibu, Calif. in the fall of 1993, more than 39,000 acres of land in Malibu neighboring Topanga burned, sending property values plummeting for several years. 

At the time, young architect Joe Day, AIA, and his wife were able to afford an empty plot overlooking the Santa Monica Bay in Topanga.

14 years later, now a firm leader with Deegan-Day Design & Architecture in Los Angeles, Day’s team finally completed the 4/Way 2,250-square-foot retreat home in this once again desirable location.

With fire protection top of mind, Day chose metal for the exteriors. A RHEINZINK prePATINA architectural-grade zinc clads the walls and roof. In addition to resisting fire and corrosion, the long-lasting material is fully recyclable and its dynamic patina will evolve in color over time.

Enhancing the home’s fire protection, steel trusses lend a unique interior aesthetic over the living spaces and concrete was selected for the base of the structure.

“Fear of fire, flood, slides and erosion dictate stringent setback, cladding and planting guidelines enforced by the state-wide Coastal Commission and by a myriad county and city agencies,” explains Day.

In addition, the home sits downslope from its neighbors, essentially making it the first line of fire defense for the community.

“A lot of the rationale for the house has to do with the idea that now we’re the outpost. If you can defend our property, you are defending five houses up the street,” he says.

The property’s surrounding terraces offer a series of outdoor rooms and act as a fire buffer as well.

Like a good neighbor, the design sits low enough on the ridge to preserve views for the homes uphill while showcasing the natural, mountainous landscape through large glass windows.

“To take advantage of a distant, but commanding view of Santa Monica Bay, the house folds across the grain of a steeply sloping ridge, ducking upslope neighbors and cutting into the hillside to cool the lower floor,” notes Day.

The name 4/Way House was inspired by the home’s four rotations.

• The first is a planimetric rotation approximately 18 degrees off the cardinal north-southeast-west to the southeast, toward the Santa Monica Bay view.
• The second rotation comprises the truss configurations that give the house its angular envelope, opening the house toward the view while also providing a faceted fire blanket for the house.
• The third orientation is the garage, designed to municipal specifications to potentially aid firefighters. It tilts 90 degrees upward and doubles as a movie screen.
• The fourth rotation references an internal ruled-surface rotation that governs much of the cabinetry and the transition between floors.

Ultimately, the raw concrete, exposed metal, zinc panels and birch plywood combine to display a beautiful, durable and protective interior and exterior.


Metal building, residential and roofing contractors, architects, engineers, developers, facility managers, fabricators and building owners from the US and abroad. Attend because it’s the only show of its kind in the world!



New Study Verifies Steel Roofs Can Last As Long As The Buildings They Cover: Typically 60 Years Or More.

Low-Slope-Galvalume Roof

By: John Ryan, Metal Construction Association

The cost of replacing a roof can be one of the most significant maintenance expenses in the life of a building. USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building rating program (version 4) assumes a building service life of 60 years. With most types of roofing, building owners can expect to replace the roof once or twice in that amount of time, incurring significant expense to do so.

Many buildings are The Metal Construction Association (MCA) is proud to announce a new study that verifies that coated steel roofs can last as long as the buildings they cover. The research study concluded that the expected service life of an unpainted 55% Al-Zn coated steel standing seam roof constructed today in a wide range of environments using best practices can be expected to be in excess of 60 years.

Learn more about the study here, and access the full study and executive report in MCA’s Technical Resources  library.

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.

Visit MCA at the International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas

MCA Exhibits at IREWe’re excited to be heading to Las Vegas next week for the International Roofing Expo (IRE). If you’re at the show, we hope you’ll stop by and visit us in booth #2341. We’ll be at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas from Wednesday, February 26 through Friday, February 28. We’d enjoy meeting you, and look forward to answering any questions you might have about metal roofing.

Many MCA members will also be exhibiting at IRE next week, as well. Stop by their booths to see the exciting products and services that they offer.

Exhibitor Name                             Member Category                               Booth Number
ABC Supply Co., Inc.                    Distributor                                            1423
Arkema, Inc.                                  Manufacturer                                       562
ATAS International, Inc.                Manufacturer                                       2242
BASF Corporation                        Insulation Mfr                                       925
Drexel Metals                               Distributor                                             2437
Englert, Inc.                                   Manufacturer                                       1037
Fabral                                            Manufacturer                                       2135
Firestone Building Products        Manufacturer                                       1813
GSSI Sealants, Inc.                       Accessories                                         2154
MBCI                                             Manufacturer                                       2121
McElroy Metal                              Manufacturer                                       2349
Metal Construction News            Publication                                          2336
Metal Roofing Magazine              Publication                                          2141
Metal Sales Manufacturing         Manufacturer                                       2127
Metalforming, Inc.                        Equipment Mfr                                     1436
Petersen Aluminum Corp.           Manufacturer                                       842
RHEINZINK America, Inc.            Distributor                                            1722
Roof Hugger                                Accessories                                          742
SFS intec, Inc.                              Accessories                                          1727
Sheffield Metals International    Distributor                                             2259
TAMKO Building Products, Inc.  Manufacturer                                        525
Triangle Fastener Corporation   Accessories                                         2131

We hope to see you in Las Vegas!

Arced and Ready for Football

The John & Mary Brock Football Facility, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

By:  Jane Martinsons, Metal Construction Association

Although the credit of Georgia Tech’s 63-21 win over Western Carolina last weekend belongs to the team and coaches of the Atlanta-based institute, maybe, just maybe, metal roofing played a role in the win? Okay it’s a stretch, but consider this: Georgia Tech players began practicing in the school’s new indoor practice facility in August, and that facility has a metal roof that is designed to arc like a perfectly thrown pass and provide maximum space inside. If the roof “played a role in a winning football formula,” says Bill Croucher, director of engineering at Lancaster-PA-based Fabral, then “Fabral is happy to be part of it.”

It sounds like a win-win to us.

Croucher says that metal is a top choice for curved roofs on stadiums and practice facilities because it provides a choice of color, profiles, and paint and substrates; has a high-recycled content; and is 100% recyclable when the useful life of the roof is over. Moreover, Fabral’s structural standing-seam metal roof offers superior wind-uplift resistance and is Class A fire rated.

Joseph A. Knight, AIA, Knight Architects, Inc., Atlanta, points out that the metal roof panels stretch the full width of the 80,000-square-foot building, without any end-seams. The 24-gauge Galvalume panels are 245-feet long and 16-inches wide. “The metal shines and contrasts nicely with the adjacent brick buildings, as well as the brick at the base of the practice facility itself,” Knight says. “There is really no other material we could have used that would have presented such an aesthetically and economically strong solution.”

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.