Metal Architecture Home

Museums, Libraries and Cultural Centers

Iowa Western Community College Performing Arts Center, Council Bluffs, Iowa

The addition to the Iowa Western Community College Performing Arts Center was 12 years in the making as the addition was planned with the original facility, but took a number of years before the plan was brought to fruition.

The prominent two-story addition is highlighted by more than 5,200 square feet of Dri-Design's 14-gauge Weathering Steel wall panels. The material palette for the original building included castin-place concrete, glass, limestone and

galvanized roof decking that was painted. "Had the addition come sooner or been smaller, we probably would have gone with those same exterior materials," according to David Lempke, design principal with HDR Inc. "But one of the tenets of our design philosophy is that buildings should be 'of our time.' Something that has been intriguing for the past decade is the use of weathered steel. It has clearly become more commonplace in projects."

The 11,000-square-foot addition primarily provides classrooms for the Center's educational component. As the college grew and developed, weathered steel had been used on a main entry sign, as well as a clock tower and several bridges that cross a creek running through the campus. "We picked up on that existing material that was in the bones of the campus," Lempke says. "The Dri-Design panels provided a great benefit because we could select a thicker gauge of steel. The 14-gauge panels were pretty hefty and substantial yet still able to be bent." The Dri-Design panels were installed by SGH.

HDR has designed with Dri-Design before but this was the firm's first use of weathered steel. "The advantage of Dri-Design is that it offers a system that's already engineered and works with very minor tweaking," according to Lempke. "That's not always true of other weathered steel products."