Metal ceilings: interesting look, sustainable design
The pace of BurgerFi store openings is sizzling faster than a patty flips. With more than 50 locations opening this year and 50 more planned in 2014, the company is bringing back authenticity to the hamburger via natural vegetarianfed beef, never frozen or microwaved, while taking another step toward keeping it real. With ecology on its mind, the company is using environmentally sustainable best practices in its restaurant prototype, and that includes constructing its ceilings with expanded metal and using perforated metal panels as a wainscot, specifically from Tampa, Fla.-based McNICHOLS product line. “We use the McNichols metal products because we love the look, but more importantly because it is a sustainable product,” says Sandy Karp, director of construction and development for BurgerFi International, North Palm Beach, Fla.
A metal solution
The expanded metal product that is populating the ceilings of BurgerFi locations across the country is made from 1 1/2-inch, 0.125 galvanized aluminum flattened and bond-cut on four sides into ceiling tiles of 23.75 by 23.75 inches. The perforated metal product creates a 3-D look. The material, which is installed into a 1,000- to 1,800-square-foot area of the interior, excluding the kitchen, is cut on-site and suspends in a grid system, an advantage that helps lower expenses for BurgerFi franchisees.
“We add a layer of black acoustical tile above the ceiling panel to achieve a very clean urban look,” Karp says. “This allows us to keep the look we want with the metal while lowering the amount of square footage that needs to be cooled.” Likewise, the material is easy to work with and trim out for light fixtures and diffusers.
While each BurgerFi differs slightly based on location and range from 2,000 to 3,500 square feet, they are generally the end cap locations. Due to its post-consumer and post-industrial recycled contents, McNICHOLS metal as a ceiling application is consistent with BurgerFi’s commitment to earth-friendly elements that reduce the carbon footprint.
BurgerFi carries through with its commitment by choosing chairs that are made from recycled Coke cans and recycled milk jugs, as well as a large fan that is supplied by a certified LEED Gold company that uses recycled material, 35 percent less energy and 58 percent less water than buildings meeting minimum code requirements. To understand corporate’s decision to use expanded metal in its ceiling design is to appreciate the nature of the BurgerFi business model.
Honoring the burger stand
The concept is to build urban burger stands across the nation that combine the energy and spirit of the ’50s and ’60s burger joint using updated modern décor with easy-to-maintain material like metal as featured elements.
The expanded metal is installed as a drop ceiling with sufficient space above the metal to accommodate black acoustical tile, and “with an expandable metal ceiling, it’s open and see-through,” says Karp, “so the acoustical tile is painted black making the expanded metal stand out.” Adding the acoustical tile and the large fan, which spans 10 feet in diameter and uses 66 percent less energy than traditional cooling systems, creates a more energy-efficient space, she said. Karp, who joined BurgerFi in September 2012, a year after its founding, spent the first several months refining the original design prototype and product specifications, including modifying the ceiling system. “The metal ceiling fits our brand,” she says.
To maintain consistency in the design and construction standards, franchisees often work with architects and builders in their respective states. San Antonio-based Mdn Architects have implemented the design criteria for several Texas BurgerFi locations, including Sugar Land, Garland, San Antonio and South Padre Island. While the concept of an open style expanded metal ceiling is new to Mdn, “it’s a nice idea that looks sharp,” says Xavier Delgado, Mdn’s vice president and director of design, whose firm works with many restaurant franchises. “We do a lot of prototypes and this one is really intriguing,” he says. “I like the idea of the industrial look.”
Cladding with perforated metal
Extending the metal design feature another step, BurgerFi’s construction standard includes a wall cladding feature of perforated metal, another McNICHOLS specified product. The perforated 1/2-inch round on 11/16-inch staggered, 0.125 aluminum was cut from 4- by 10-foot panels. Secured and mounted over drywall in a black channel frame system, the perforated metal covers the lower portion of the walls, serving the aesthetical and practical purposes of carrying out the brand image and protecting the drywall from wear and tear. The drywall behind the metal cladding system in semi-gloss or satin and can be cleaned by vacuum through the perforated metal.
Mary Estes, principal of Estes & Co. Marketing Communications, is a freelance writer who covers metal trade industry topics, including materials, application and design. For more information on McNICHOLS Co., Tampa, Fla., visit www.mcnichols.com.