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The Metal Construction Association (MCA) recently announced the winners of its 2016 Chairman’s Awards, given to the year’s most exceptional building projects involving MCA member companies. Awards are based on overall appearance, significance of metal in the project, innovative use of metal, and the role of metal in achieving project objectives.

The MCA Chairman’s Awards were given in eight categories: overall excellence; residential; metal roofing; education – primary and secondary schools; education – colleges and universities; institutional; municipal; and commercial/industrial.

The University of Arkansas Champions Hall in Fayetteville, Ark., received the 2016 Chairman’s Award in the Education – Colleges and Universities category. Funded primarily by the university’s athletics department, Champions Hall is located on the southern edge of the university’s historic academic core. The building fills a deficit in classrooms and laboratory environments, while serving as a hub and student destination that energizes the surrounding campus neighborhood. The project sits between two prominent hilltops in an understated “Service Valley” and is adjacent to a large parking garage and central utility plant.

The use of metal allows the design to elegantly interweave the utilitarian language of the adjacent structures while complementing the highly defined material palette of the nearby historical academic core. With the majority of neighboring buildings being elevated, the roof becomes the building’s highly visible “fifth elevation.” Here, economical standing seam metal roof panels fold down to become wall, creating identifiable and entry portals at the building’s north end.

“This project is all about metal, even down to the horizontal joints that happen in the walls. It gives a texture at night with glimmers of light, and in the daytime it’s like a musical rhythm,” said Brent Schipper, AIA, LEED AP, principal, ASK Studio, Des Moines, Iowa, and a competition judge.

The aesthetic and functional versatility of the metal material was a major factor in its selection. The wrapping elements of the building required a material that could be used on both horizontal and vertical surfaces while addressing issues of water infiltration. Metal’s durability and sustainability were other factors that made it a clear choice. The design team specified material that was regionally sourced and with a high-recycled content to help contribute toward LEED credits.

In addition to the highly visible roof, the site’s location within the university campus further required access and entries from all sides of the building, eliminating the option of a back or service side. Perforated metal wall panels were utilized to conceal intake and exhaust openings to mechanical rooms, seamlessly integrating them into the south and west façades and allowing these services to be located directly adjacent to building entries.

Primary school category

Fayetteville Montessori Primary School used lightweight, cantilevered, angled metal panel walls to transform an outdated strip mall into a school building.

Fayetteville Montessori Primary School, also in Fayetteville, Ark., received the MCA’s 2016 Chairman’s Award in the Education – Primary and Secondary Schools category. The school required a complete renovation, transforming an outdated suburban strip mall into a nine-classroom school building to fit seamlessly into the existing campus. The renovation, which was completed in 11 months for $132 per square foot, utilizes the original structure of the building, including the glass storefronts on two walls, which now provide expansive banks of natural light for classrooms. An addition on the north side of the building intersects the existing building, creating a dynamic corner framing two courtyards used for outdoor play between the old and the new.

A new elementary school, built in 2012, established a material language and identity for the campus. The existing materials, budget constraints, time constraints, and elegant detailing led to the decision to use dark bronze box rib metal panel to unify the campus with a new aesthetic. The metal panel allowed lightweight, cantilevered, angled walls to fold down in front of the windows, providing shade and a visual separation from the street. With custom corner details, the metal panel seamlessly navigated existing odd angles, and helped integrate the existing structure and a three-classroom addition. The metal panel met the budget needs and worked with established detailing and aesthetics from the elementary school, extending and unifying the campus.

“It’s really bold and creates a strong contemporary statement from a building that’s been recycled,” said Mark Dewalt, AIA, principal, Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Chicago, and a MCA judge.


Information provided by the Metal Construction Association (www.metalconstruction.org).   

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