Launch Slideshow

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Beam up

Beam up

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    “Our council told the design firm that they wanted people to see the facility and say ‘wow'”, says Lancaster's Asisstant City Manager Opal Mauldin Robertson. Photos: CENTRIA Architectural systems

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    “The metal elements were used to separate the new structure and let the building stand out with its own identity.” —Nick Seierup, FAIA, Perkins + Will

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“The structural engineer had to think outside the box and chose to use a post-tensioned, castellated beam, which is basically two W-shape beams connected by steel plates, top and bottom,” Pontious says. The post-tensioned tendons then were run through the ends to help with deflection. The whole assembly was erected in place on temporary shoring while all connections and welding were done. Then, when the shoring was removed and the cantilever deflected slightly, the contractor used the post-tensioning cables to bring it back level.

The main cantilever is supported by another cantilever that extends to form the area where the police and fire chiefs' offices are. The overall length of that main member is approximately 110 feet.

In any location, this feature would catch the eye. But there's a deeper meaning to this particular design element: Texas has a rich legacy of what's become known as the Texas front porch.

“This all-encompassing, projecting element under which one can sit provides some sense of enclosure and protection, but allows you to engage with life outside the building,” Seierup says. “In an abstract way, it unifies the police and fire departments while serving as a forward-looking manifestation of that traditional Texas front porch.”

On a project intended to be visually arresting, everything had to fit together perfectly. Integrating metal with other material at soffits, above and below windows, and wide beam fascias requires expertise. “Things being out of line or not matching up would not stand on this project,” says Goulding.

As well as being pleasing to the eye, the building is designed to be pleasing to the environment. Although the city opted not to pursue LEED certification, due to financial constraints, the facility was designed with many of those principles in mind.

“The building was sited at the optimum solar angle to make extensive use of natural light ,” Pontious explains. “Glazing allows light to come deep into the building. We used a white cool roof; and many of the materials themselves, including the metal, contain extensive recycled content. We used low-flow fixtures for water savings and specified low-VOC materials.”

The combination of an eco-friendly interior and a visually striking exterior is a hit.

“The community loves it, which was gratifying, considering the mix between the young and the more conservative crowds,” Pontious says. “Everyone bought into the design—especially the cantilever. Lancaster is very proud of it.”

—Schneider is editor of METALMAG, a sister publication of PUBLIC WORKS.


Other projects ...

A Sheriff's Fleet Facility

OWNER: Collier County, Fla.

BUILDER: Wright Construction Group, Fort Myers, Fla.

ARCHITECT: Disney & Associates PA, Naples, Fla.

SQUARE FOOTAGE: 51,000

WHY IT'S COOL: Built to withstand wind speeds up to 132 mph

DETAILS: Collateral gravity loading of the pre-engineered maintenance area allows the structure to suspend overhead systems such as electrical wiring, fire protection, and lighting — a key capability in a facility filled with stationary and portable vehicle lifts, welding equipment, fluid delivery system, and other service equipment. A cool roof reduces the heat island effect; sunshades on the overhead coiling doors reduce thermal heat gain. Large skylights provide natural illumination. Memphis, Tenn.-based Varco Pruden Buildings manufactured the rigid frame system that includes a single-slope penthouse with louvers and skylights centered on the main roof and portal frame bracing at the service doors. This eliminates sidewall bracing and allows for more work bays. An 8-foot, arctic white liner panel was installed around the interior perimeter of the maintenance area for protection; a 3½-inch roof and wall insulation also was installed. The front of the building is constructed of concrete masonry units (CMUs), structural steel, and stucco. It houses offices, maintenance bays, and a small kitchen.

COST: $19 million

COMPLETED: June 2009


White Mountain Administrative Complex

OWNER: U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Forest Service, Campton, N.H.

BUILDER/STEEL ERECTOR: Construx Inc., Plymouth, N.H.

ARCHITECT: USDA, Forest Service, Washington, D.C.

SQUARE FOOTAGE: 14,296

WHY IT'S COOL: Designed to resemble a typical New England sugar house

DETAILS: Although Star Building Systems' StarShield Roof System in charcoal gray, along with the manufacturer's reverse-rolled DuraRib Wall System in light stone, were chosen for their cost effectiveness, custom canopies and cupolas also were used. R-30 roof insulation makes the facility more energy-efficient. The three-structure complex is LEED-certified.

COST: $548,000

COMPLETED: May 2008


Regional Airport Snow Removal Building

OWNER: City of Idaho Falls, Idaho

BUILDER: Steel Vision Construction Inc., Rigby, Idaho

STEEL ERECTOR: Ultimate Steel Erection Inc., Idaho Falls

ARCHITECT: Alderson, Karst, and Mitro Architects, Idaho Falls

SQUARE FOOTAGE: 15,200

WHY IT'S COOL: Strategically placed accents — like the concrete block — make the no-nonsense building aesthetically pleasing as well

DETAILS: Columbus, Neb.-based Behlen Building Systems supplied the building. The interior includes a Behlen ADP-1 liner panel, the exterior walls consist of Behlen ADP-1 and AEP-Span 7/8 -inch Wave, and the roof is a Behlen ZL-24 standing seam roof. Colors were selected to compliment the surroundings.

COST: $1.9 million

COMPLETED: October 2009