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Life Sciences Building at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

A modern, technological aesthetic was created for the J.D. and Mary West Science Laboratory at Southern Nazarene University with curves throughout the design.

The 265,000-square-foot Life Sciences Building at Brigham Young University was built on the slope of a large bluff in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. The building exterior has multiple facets and elevations rising against the slope of the site intended to evoke the tectonic and erosion forces that created massive escarpments and deeply incised canyons on the landscape.

LCG Façades fabricated the glazing and Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc.'s ALPOLIC/fr 4-mm aluminum composite panels for its SL-2200 pressure-equalized composite panel rainscreen system for the facility, which opened in 2014.

Ted Derby, business development manager at LCG Façades, says the ALPOLIC materials are most visible on the Life Sciences Building's spine, which is a series of open conference rooms and entrance areas that extend through the middle of the building on the top in a stepped fashion and become the cap of the building.

The spine is seen rising in stages through the center of the building from the interior and exterior; it was intended to mimic a ridgeline defining the center of a mountain mass. The lower sections of the building were constructed with cast-in-place concrete and the upper sections were built with a steel structure. Interior spaces include teaching and research labs, auditoriums, corridors and common areas, a rooftop greenhouse and a central atrium.

Derby says that a strong, lightweight cladding material was needed to meet the building's seismic requirements. "Exterior insulation began to be used more commonly and we were quick to realize that a caulk system was not the right thing to be using, that the wall needed the ability to vent any moisture that might collect in that exterior insulation."

The metal panels are finished in Silver Mica, which was intended to recall the blue limestone formation that caps the Wasatch Mountain spine above Provo. Additionally, metal panels in a custom Blue Mica finish were installed around window openings and other reveals. The metal panels were specified to complement the red brick used on many of the building's lower elevations, which tie to nearby campus buildings.

Derby says matching custom colors takes time and Mitsubishi Plastics Composites' ALPOLIC did a good job on the project. "There's some real consistency there, and we don't have to worry about opening up a skid and having surprises," he says.

Architectural Nexus, the architecture firm for the project, asked LCG Façades to get involved in the project early to provide design engineering expertise for the glass curtainwall and metal panel systems for the building envelope. Derby says early involvement provides insight into the way architects and structural engineers think about projects. "One of the nice things that occurs when you're asked to begin working on a project early is that you sit in with architects and engineers not just to grind out all the details," he says. "You also get to experience the project as it is really developing and provide feedback such as 'Wow, if you look at this concept and this rendering, it really looks like it fits the mountainside.'"

General contractor: Okland Construction, Salt Lake City

Architect: Architectural Nexus, Salt Lake City

Fabricator: LCG Façades, Salt Lake City, www.lcgfacades.com

Metal wall panels: ALPOLIC-Mitsubishi Plastics Composites America Inc., Chesapeake, Va., www.alpolic-usa.com