Two buildings or three?

The exterior of the Trane office has a dramatic look.

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January 05, 2018 |

TJK Design Build, Inc. of Madison, WI is a company that prides itself on innovative design and outside-the-box approaches to architectural challenges. They frequently build with Star Buildings – often in situations where a metal building is not the usual choice – because TJK has learned that Star is willing to turn their unusual ideas into reality.

The Trane sales office in Madison, WI is a good example. The entire building has a footprint slightly over 10,000 sf. There was no requirement for the kind of broad clear-span area that often drives the decision to use a metal building system. In fact, the modest overall size is actually divided into three sections, and structurally framed as three metal building systems joined together.

According to TJK president Tim Kritter, they chose to make this project a Star metal building for three reasons: cost effectiveness, speed of construction (specifically in relation to the onset of winter), and a flexibility of design afforded by working with Star, which Kritter describes as rare in the industry.



The layout of the building consists of a low-roofed central section with two taller ‘wing’ buildings on either side. (The rising rooflines of the two sides make that term seem more-than-usually appropriate.) The west wing is largely composed of smaller private offices for the sales force. The east wing is a large, open bullpen-type office. The center has the conference room, break room, other common space, and mechanical rooms. Trane HVAC units on the roof of the center section serve all three parts of the building.

The exterior of the Trane office has a dramatic look. The soaring roofs are extended into projection canopies – overhangs five feet long around the sides and 2 feet long at the roof peaks – that help shield the many windows from direct sun. Tim Kritter points out that the aesthetic contribution of overhangs was just as important to the project as solar shading. “They create shadow lines, and give it significant interest.”   

The two side-buildings are clad in two colors of AVP 26 ga. metal wall panels, Medium Bronze and Colonial Red. The center section’s exterior is dominated by glazing, surrounded by Trespa panels in colors matching the AVP panels.



If the look of the Trane office is innovative, the structural system that achieves it is probably even more unusual. It could be considered as structurally three buildings, if you look at the rafters. However, it is supported on the number of columns you would expect for two buildings. The center section’s rafters have no columns of their own. They piggyback onto the inner columns of the two wings, supported by means of brackets welded onto the columns. This unusual approach saved on steel and erection time. 

Kritter also emphasizes that by using a metal building, they were able to meet a significant challenge in timing. Site work and concrete foundations were begun in October, enabling them to complete concreting before freezing conditions became an issue. This allowed them to have the metal structural frame delivered and erected in December. Because they were able to enclose the building early in the winter, they could work indoors through the rest of the winter to finish the project.  



Kritter is enthusiastic about using metal building systems from Star, and reports that it works out advantageously for his company and his customers, even on small projects. 

“Star works very, very well with us, allowing us to create these unique shapes and uses, and create enough architectural interest to use a metal building,” comments Kritter. “There are a lot of pre-engineered building manufacturers out there, but we like the ease of creating ideas using Star’s design software. Some metal building manufacturers are just dinosaurs, but Star is willing to allow us to design our building and incorporate elements of architecture back into their system. They’re so good at that, it’s one of the reasons we continue to work with Star.”

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