Sunlight, grass, water and other surroundings highlight façade
Photo: Daniel Lunghi Photography
The Connor Group’s headquarters in Miamisburg, Ohio, earned the Metal Construction News Building and Roofing Award in the Metal Wall-New category, in part, for its highly detailed metal and glass exterior. Judges noted the folded skin’s dynamic appearance and said it was evident the concept for the building was executed to the tiniest detail.
The office building’s appearance transitions throughout the day according to lighting conditions. Daniel Pickett, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, partner at Moody Nolan in Columbus, Ohio, says on any given façade some panels are angled slightly toward the sky, reflecting blue or gray, and angled toward the ground plane, reflecting surrounding water and grass. “Each of those [angled panels] is reflecting different colors and different tones and different levels of illumination,” he says.
Pickett says one of his favorite pictures of the building was shot at about the time of the summer solstice. “The sun had traveled all the way around and was setting in the west and illuminating the north façade of the building,” he says. “Some of the panels picked up that sunset; they look like they’re on fire.”
The exterior is designed with horizontal bands. “There was a subtle organization to [the exterior] that presents itself as being very complex, and yet there’s a simplicity to it,” Pickett says. Diagonal breaks in the metal panels and glass run the length of the façades across 6-foot verticals. The geometry of the ribbon windows is identical to the metal panels.
“There’s complexity within each of those horizontal bands that form the whole,” Pickett says. “If you take any given façade, the top of that wall might be leaning out at 7 degrees at one end and leaning backwards 7 degrees at the other end. Every single panel is a different size and shape.”
The 3,495-square-foot central atrium is a significant organizing element in the design, Pickett says. “This band of exterior offices wraps around that central core, and it sort of rises up,” he says. “There wasn’t a single corner that we didn’t look at multiple times to be sure that we had it right.”
The judges noted angled slots illuminated by blue LEDs helped break up what might have otherwise been an overbearing length of building. Pickett says the blue LEDs refer to runway lights at Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Miamisburg. The Connor Group operates a fleet of aircraft and the two-story, 39,000-square-foot building is located on a 7-acre parcel of airport property.
“The blue washes down that slot within the metal panel, and it only reveals itself as you get closer to the building,” Pickett says. “From far away you don’t even see it; it’s just not a color that stands out amongst all the other lights going on in the area. As you get closer to the building, it reveals itself as another layer of detail on this very complex building. Incorporating that into the design was something we really thought out and did with purpose.”
Exterior lighting was limited in the design. “Our approach to lighting the building was to allow light from the interior to escape out, and then include details like the blue slot lights and some ground plane lighting,” Pickett says. “So we weren’t blasting the building with light at night, but the nighttime view of that building was just as important as the daytime.”
North Royalton, Ohio-based Royalton Architectural Fabrication Inc., fabricated approximately 23,000 square feet of Statesville, N.C.-based 3A Composites USA Inc.’s 4-mm Alucobond naturAL aluminum composite material (ACM) with a brushed finish and Pittsburgh-based PPG Industries Inc.’s DURABRITE Clear FEVE fluoropolymer coating into 2,800 triangulated panels.
Celina, Ohio-based Celina Glass Co. Inc. installed the metal panels with Royalton Architectural Fabrication’s Royaltech 3000 Series dry-joint rainscreen pressure-equalized system for the $18 million project, completed in July 2014.
Spray-on insulation was installed behind the metal panels and a vapor barrier was sprayed on the insulation to make it watertight. The panels are hung on a bracket system, the same type used to vertically install regular rectangular panels.
“The geometric complexity of the exterior wall placed additional burdens on us, and so essentially it was a custom-designed mounting system,” Pickett says. “But it was based on, at its roots, the typical way you would hang a metal panel, heavily customized.”
The ability to create the design with modern computer modeling that the contractors could build from was essential to executing the project, Pickett says. “Without the computer technology that’s available to us today, we wouldn’t have been able to design that building 10 or 15 years ago,” he says. “To our surprise, we had virtually no issues with the installation of these metal panels. Celina Glass did a magnificent job mounting all the panels.
The Connor Group Headquarters, Miamisburg, Ohio
Completed: July 2014
Total square footage: 39,000 square feet
General contractor: Messer Construction Co., Dayton, Ohio
Architect: Moody Nolan, Columbus, Ohio
Installer: Celina Glass Co. Inc., Celina, Ohio
Fabricator: Royalton Architectural Fabrication Inc., North Royalton, Ohio, www.rafpanels.com
Coating: PPG Industries Inc., Pittsburgh, www.ppg.com
Metal wall panels: 3A Composites USA Inc., Statesville, N.C., www.alucobondusa.com