Whether it’s thermal performance, modern aesthetics, weather-resistance, or fast installation, insulated metal roof and wall panel (IMP) technology offers numerous advantages for commercial building projects. The cladding type first came on the scene in the early 1980s and quickly became a popular façade solution for building projects all over the country.
Early IMP applications were mostly industrial in nature—cold storage facilities, manufacturing plants, food processing facilities, and so on. Today, it’s common to see IMPs specified for everything from office buildings and arenas to casinos and museums.
The lightweight panels are made of a rigid foam core sandwiched between two sheets of coated metal. Because of their strength and minimal weight, panels can be manufactured in extremely large sizes (60 feet in length or longer) for fast installation and a seamless appearance. They can also be customized in a variety of finishes, colors, textures, and curved shapes.
In the following project profiles, we explore some of the design and engineering possibilities with IMP technology.
1. Leaf-like metal panels complete Vancouver’s orchid-inspired garden visitor center
In planning a new visitor center for the internationally recognized VanDusen Botanical Garden, officials with the city of Vancouver, B.C., set an audacious goal of tripling annual attendance to the 54-acre garden. Their chief obstacle, as they saw it, was increasing visibility to the property, which, despite its prime downtown location, was obscured from the main road by trees. They set out to create a highly visible, iconic structure that would call attention to the garden and meet the highest possible sustainability standards.
The design team from Perkins+Will Canada (www.perkinswill.com) collaborated with Canadian landscape architect Cornelia Hahn Oberlander to develop the primary design concept. Inspired by the close-up plant images of German photographer Karl Blossfeldt, the team created a scheme that adapts the curvaceous form of an orchid. A series of undulating metal petals top the 19,000-sf, glass-clad structure and appear to sprout from a glass-and-metal oculus at the center of the building.
The floral shape is meant to represent the building’s extreme sustainable goals. The LEED Platinum-rated visitor center is also registered with the International Future Living Institute’s Living Building Challenge. To meet the stringent green standards set forth by IFLI, the Building Team specified building materials—including wood, glass, and rammed earth—that are free of so-called “red list” chemicals. For the metal roof, the team selected Alucobond aluminum composite material by 3A Composites USA. The architect also liked the rawness and pliability of the material.
“In terms of its visual presence, the Alucobond offered the look of raw aluminum that attracted us,” said Harley Grusko, LEED AP BD+C, Architectural Designer with Perkins+Will Canada. “The detail around the perimeter of the roof was extremely important. We needed to find a material that could bend in a couple of directions at the same time.”
The team commissioned local fabricator Keith Panel Systems (www.keithpanel.com) to manufacture and install 12,000 sf of Alucobond in a plain mill finish using a custom attachment system developed by KPS. The insulated roof system is made up of two sheets of 4mm-thick aluminum thermo-bonded to a polyethylene core.
The result is an energy-efficient, durable, lightweight, and weather-resistant roof installation that is, as the architect puts it, “alive.”
2. Angular IMP façade offers a sleek look for Michigan community college
Looking to create a signature, high-tech style for a 70,000-sf addition at Oakland Community College in Southfield, Mich., TMP Architecture (www.tmp-architecture.com) developed a sleek, angular façade scheme. The building, which houses classroom and administration space, is clad in insulated metal panels in two colors—flat white and metallic—configured in a horizontal fashion to accentuate the structure’s elongated form.
Approximately 28,000 sf of Metl-Span CF30 Architectural Flat panels were used to create the exterior. The two-inch-thick panels range in length from eight to 20 feet and were finished in Metl-Span’s Regal White and Cool Metallic Silver colors.
Tom Viers, Project Manager with local IMP installer Ross & Barr, said the project required some difficult custom fabrication to get the angles right. “The 45-degree-angle custom corner panels were probably the sharpest we’ve ever done with an insulated panel,” Viers said. “The horizontal installation and complicated geometries of the design required extremely detailed field measurements to assure the panels would align properly with the vertical elements.”
3. IMPs key to deep energy retrofit at Boston’s Castle Square Apartments
Built in the 1960s, the 192-unit Castle Square Apartments complex was an energy hog, due largely to its inefficient enclosure. The quartet of seven-story buildings located in Boston’s South End occupy an entire city block. The exposed concrete frame buildings are clad in brick veneer backed by concrete block infill, offering an R-value of just R-3.
In an effort to bring the structures up to date, the Castle Square Tenants Organization and property manager WinnDevelopment commissioned Elton + Hampton Architects (www.eltonhamptonarchitects.com) to conduct a deep energy retrofit that included re-cladding the structures in a five-inch-thick, super-insulated shell made of metal panels from Kingspan Insulated Panels. The IMPs, combined with an insulated reflective roof, high-efficiency windows, and extensive air sealing, increased the insulation value of the building by a factor of 10.
The team considered other insulation approaches, such as adding a layer of drywall and insulation to the interior of the apartments, but ultimately chose Kingspan’s EnvelopeFirst solution because it minimized disruption for the residents and offered greater energy savings. The panels are durable, require little maintenance, and feature double tongue-and-groove interlocks treated with vapor seals for a weathertight seal.
Energy models show that the energy retrofit will reduce the complex’s annual energy use from $194,000 to just $50,000.
4. Insulated metal roof tops California’s largest public works project
Spanning some 1.2 million sf on an expansive, 144-acre site in Stockton, Calif., the $906 million California Health Care Facility Inmate Hospital was the state’s largest public building project in 2012. The LEED Silver-certified facility has the capacity to house 1,720 patient inmates.
Despite its size, the client—the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation—set an aggressive schedule for completing the hospital’s 23 buildings in less than a year.
To help the team meet the tight schedule and simplify logistics on the site, the project’s steel building contractor, Roland Construction (http://rolandconst.com), recommended that the original built-up architectural metal roof design scheme be replaced with an IMP approach. The move, Roland argued, would speed installation, minimize the amount of material on the site, and reduce the number of roofing crew members required for the project.
The hospital’s prime contracting joint venture team of Clark Construction (www.clarkconstruction.com) and McCarthy Building Companies (www.mccarthy.com) took Roland’s advice and incorporated the IMP roof system in the final design-build package. The team specified 791,000 sf of insulated metal roof panels from All Weather Insulated Panels, a Vicwest Company. The four-inch-thick SR-2 standing-seam insulated roof panel was selected with a 22-gauge exterior skin coated in Natural Green Kynar paint. The panel’s insulating properties (R-32) meant the team could use a darker color and still comply with the project’s energy-efficiency requirements.
Roland completed the installation in just six months. The firm utilized three crews to erect the panels at a pace of 22,950 sf/day. The cranes were equipped with a vacuum lifter capable of raising panels up to 60 feet long and 600 pounds to the roof level in seconds.
“That kind of production would have been impossible with as few people utilizing any other type of roof system,” said Roland Construction’s Mike Harnack.
5. Fast break! Santa Cruz basketball arena erected in 90 days
When the city of Santa Cruz, Calif., was approached by the Dakota Wizards, an NBA D-League franchise based in Bismarck, N.D., with a proposal to relocate the team there, city officials jumped at the opportunity, even offering to cover two-thirds of the relocation costs. However, in order to make tip-off for the 2012 season, a new, 2,500-seat arena would have to be built in just three months.
To help speed construction while meeting energy-efficiency goals, the Building Team went with a building shell consisting of insulated metal wall panels topped with a fabric roof. The team specified Eco-ficient Royal IMPs from MBCI. The 25-foot-long, 42-inch-wide panels feature a three-inch-thick polyisocyanurate, foamed-in-place core, offering high insulation value and a clean, seamless appearance.