From folding façades to colorful LED displays, these fantastical projects show off the architectural possibilities of wire mesh and perforated metal panel technology.

March 13, 2013

5. Mesh wall doubles as massive marquee for AmericanAirlines Arena

Four times the size of an average billboard, the 42-foot-wide, 80-foot-tall marquee above the main entrance to Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena appears to be a typical large-screen TV; it’s actually a first-of-its-kind, large-scale LED mesh media wall in the U.S. The monitor is made from 3,400 sf of woven stainless steel mesh fabric with interwoven LED profiles that provide the pixels for displaying high-resolution digital images and video.

The key advantage of integrating the large-scale media display with mesh screen panels is transparency—when the LEDs are turned off, the monitor simply disappears, revealing the architecture behind. The mesh screen is ¾-inch-thick yet 70% transparent, blending in with the architecture of the arena. Additional benefits: it uses a about a sixth of the electricity required to power conventional LED boards; requires minimal maintenance; and can stand up to Florida’s harsh weather conditions, including hurricane-force winds up to 146 mph.

AmericanAirlines Arena

Clients: Miami-Dade County (owner),
Basketball Properties Ltd. (operator)
Mesh system designer/installer: GKD-USA
Mesh system specifier/architect: A2aMEDIA




BONUS: Aluminum mural ‘lights up’ Valparaiso University

In planning the new 51,500-sf College of Arts & Science Building at Valparaiso (Ind.) University, school officials desired a design element that celebrated the rich cultural diversity on campus. The university’s 4,060 students hail from more than three-dozen countries, representing 30 languages.

Design architect EHDD, San Francisco, dreamed up a novel scheme that involved “printing” the university’s Latin motto—“In luce tua videmus lucem,” which translates to “In thy light, we see light”—in all 30 languages on a massive metal plate mounted over the building’s main entrance. EHDD designer Joseph Schollmeyer, LEED AP, says the “tapestry of words” is an amalgamation of translations for the word “light.” The nine languages taught in the building are larger, and the motto itself is situated at the center of the screen.

The design team worked with Doralco Architectural Metal Solutions to create the mural by cutting the complex pattern into six half-inch-thick aluminum plates using a waterjet cutter. The plates were welded together and painted gray in the factory, then shipped to the job site. The resulting screen spans 30 feet in width and the full height of the window wall above the entrance. At night, the interior lights in the building’s faculty commons room create a glowing silhouette effect.

“The screen serves as a marquee, giving a unique identity to the otherwise humble piece of architecture,” says Schollmeyer.


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