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Dramatic Facelift:

A prominent building sheds its marble façade for a more modern appearance

Marcy Marro, Posted 08/01/2010

A prominent fixture of downtown Roanoke,Va., the Verizon Building recently underwent a major facelift. Located at the corner of Luck Avenue and Third Street, the 176,400-square-foot (16,388-m2), seven-story building shed its black and white marble stone cladding for a more modern façade.

Over the years, the Verizon Building has undergone a number of renovations. Built in 1936 as a four-story Art Deco precast concrete building, it was expanded vertically and horizontally to its current configuration that extends the entire block to Franklin Street. In 1972, the last major work was completed, with the addition of the black and white marble stone cladding to create a single building composition.

Structural Modification
The 38-year-old marble exterior was experiencing structural failure in the thin stone panels and structural deterioration due to weathering. The building’s design allowed for the previous framing to be used for support of the new building skin, with some modifications. According to Jeff DeHoff, AIA, LEEAP, principal and project manager with the architect, Richmond, Va.-based Baskervill, each connection of the existing structural framing was inspected by the structural engineer, Wiss, Janney, Elstner and Associates, Fairfax, Va., to determine its pull-out resistance and lateral load resistance. Any connections that were missing, corroded or deficient were replaced or repaired. New structural framing was added in some areas to even the plane of the structure for panel connection, in addition to a section at the top of the building to allow the panels to make a cleaner transition than the existing framing would allow.

Because the building had been expanded numerous times both horizontally and vertically,the building surface under the old stone veneer was very irregular. With a number of exterior wall components over the years, including decorative precast concrete, precast concrete planks concrete masonry units and brick, DeHoff explained that a consistent and continuous waterproofing membrane under the metal panels was needed. It also needed to seal around the many connection points for the panel structure. A fluid applied system was determined to be the only approach that could work.

The project began in September 2008 with the removal and recycling of approximately 4,500 stone panels, and was completed in August 2009. Installation of the approximately 1,150 new metal panels from Kingspan Insulated Panels Inc. (which operates as Kingspan-Benchmark out of its Columbus,Ohio, location) used to create the new building skin began in December 2008, following a phased installation process by American Door & Glass of Southwest Virginia Inc., Salem, Va. Tishman Construction Corp., Washington,D.C., was the general contractor.

Patrick T. Johnson, P.E., chief engineer with Kingspan-Benchmark, commented "Another interesting engineering challenge was working panels around the temporary supports for the scaffolding. A Hydro-Mobile Mast Climber scaffold was used during the construction period which greatly improved efficiency and allowed for an expedited panel installation schedule. This type of scaffolding device requires temporary tie-back to the building structure at 30 feet (9 m) maximum height intervals.

This requires panels to be worked around the scaffolding supports with a panel ‘left off’ at each support penetration. The Designwall 2000 panels are of a progressive progressive shiplap joint design, making it difficult to insert these last panels into the wall as scaffolding is being removed. American Door and Glass developed an innovative detail approved by Kingspan-Benchmark that allowed for these last panels to be ‘infilled in an acceptable manner that preserved the integrity of the system."

A Black Box
“Essentially a ‘black box’ with few windows,the design goal was to give the structure a new skin that would moderate the scale and bulk of the building in a dynamic manner with lightweight and low-maintenance material with a long service life,” DeHoff said.

Kingspan supplied 17,733 square feet(1,647 m2) of DW2000V in Charcoal Gray; 30,837 square feet (2,865 m2) of DW2000Hin Silversmith; 6,576 square feet (611 m2) of DW2000H in Pewter; and 6,704 square feet(623 m2) of DW2000R in Silversmith. The 2-inch- (51-mm-) thick insulated foam core interlocking metal panels are 18 feet (5 m) longby 3 feet (1 m) tall, and have a Fluoropolymer Metallic finish. Additionally, the panel system is ventilated from the bottom to top, acting as a rainscreen, deterring rainwater intrusion into the wall.

“The panels had three different finishes,two different reveal sizes, two different surface types, plus both vertical and horizontal panels. This created quite a critical process for just the management of the correct layout, installation location of the placement of the correct panel at the proper location as indicated on the architectural details,” said Larry Lamanca, owner and president of American Door & Glass.

Colorful Reflections
The Kingspan panel’s Metallic finish allows the panels to reflect the colors around the site and sky, creating an ever-changing appearance.Profiled corrugated panels were dispersed throughout the field of flat panels to add variety, scale and interest to the windowless sides of the building. The building’s existing brick exterior walls with windows were structurally improved and then sealed and painted.

DeHoff explained that with three of the buildings’ four faces not having any windows, the previous stone panel design broke up the huge expanses of wall with vertical articulations in color and dimension, in what was a typical architectural response.

“Our design team wanted to reach for an idea that was not a typical solution and that brought interest and life to the outward expression of the building. The building sits at one of the major thoroughfares into Roanoke. We knew that people who live, work and travel through this area would have opportunities to see the building often at various times of the day. We wanted to provide them an enjoyable view while providing Verizon with a practical, economical and energy-efficient new skin to the building,” DeHoff said. “We had worked with metal panels on many other buildings and were certain it was the right technical solution. By studying the effects of different finishes and textures in artful combinations, we found the solution that stands on the site today. It reflects a different mood and offers a changing character between morning, afternoon and night; cloudy and clear; and the full dynamic seasons of the Roanoke area.”

“At the end of the project the architects and designers were not only pleased with the installation, but thrilled with how the completed design with the various types of panels and paint finishes created the unique shadows that reflected the different surroundings,” Lamanca said.

According to DeHoff, metal panels were chosen because of the variety of colors, profiles and sizes available in the eco-friendly material. “We specifically chose insulated panels because they could be produced in larger sizes than typical composite aluminum panels, allowing us to work with the larger scale of the facades more effectively,” DeHoff said. Additionally, adding insulated value to the building’s exterior wall was an added benefit, and there is anticipated to be a reduction in the building’s energy costs as a result of using the insulated panels.

“Our design proposals were bold, but Verizon and the City of Roanoke Planning Department embraced the concept allowing artistic expression with utilitarian material,” DeHoff said.

A time-lapse video is available on the American Door and Glass website at Click on Verizon Time Lapse to see the construction process and completed project.

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