A Class Act at ASU Incorporating Clad Wall Panels
Colors: Custom, Copper Metallic
Architect: Studio Ma
General Contractor: DPR Construction
Architectural Cladding Contractor: True Metal Solutions, LLC
Completion: July 2021
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As Anyone In The Construction Industry Knows, Planning Makes Perfect.
That sentiment nicely sums up the success of ASU Fusion on First—a recent 283,000-square-foot tech-driven project for Arizona State University’s (ASU’s) Downtown Phoenix campus. The new student apartment community, which also includes designated academic space, is a design and performance standout, thanks to the collaboration between Metl-Span® and Arizona-based architectural cladding contractor True Metal Solutions (TMS).
This new-build project was a combination of academic and residential space where the first three floors contain a high-tech innovation hub for the arts geared towards such academic programs as design, popular music and fashion. Floors four through 17 are apartment-style student housing with living space for up to 550 students. Damon Brown, Project Manager for True Metal Solutions, summarizes, “The task that we were given was to wrap the entire exterior in insulated metal wall panels (IMPs) while maintaining a specific aesthetic required by the university. Metl-Span’s CF Striated IMPs were a great solution.”
TMS Director of Preconstruction, Pat Brackney, adds, “At the very onset of design, one of the client’s expectations was that this be an airtight structure. There was considerable time spent working with Metl-Span to achieve that as a top priority. The Metl-Span CF Striated insulated metal panels provide that kind of single solution. Plus, it is a really attractive product to use for the entire skin.”
Metl-Span IMPs also played a big role in meeting an aggressive schedule with a mid-July (2021) completion date to accommodate students for the fall semester, all while supporting the project’s performance and design goals. Pat explains, “Putting up this panel allowed us to get the project completed on time, but also, from a design standpoint, it was really exciting to see what they were able to achieve on a building that required a pleasing aesthetic component.”
The Metl-Span CF Striated insulated metal panel is an attractive alternative to typical flat wall panels. The exterior face is lightly profiled with narrow longitudinal striations, which create a subtle shadow effect but exhibit a virtually flat appearance from a short distance away.
To maximize the benefits, the project team utilized the CF Striated panels in variedcolors and sizes. Additionally, they used the reveal and the windows in such a way as to create an interesting facade. Pat elaborates: “The design team chose to use staggered, non-continuous reveals at the slab edges, and different sizes of vertical panels, creating a unique, interesting and pleasing architectural design.”
Kellen Johnson, the Metl-Span sales representative on the project, adds, “Since Metl-Span didn’t have a standard slab-edge detail for this exact configuration, our team, which included engineering experts, worked with TMS and the design team to find the perfect solution for integrating the Metl-Span panels into the weathertightness at the slab edges at every level—something we had never really seen before.”
Additionally, recalls Damon, “The project evolved from the original design where they added gypsum board and waterproofing as part of a prefab aspect. We started about three months earlier with prefabbing—just waterproofing and installing hat channels on DensGlass. The framers then stood those up in place prior to panels being installed. That was not something they required at the beginning during the design process, but it ultimately added to the complexity and unique aesthetic.”
As Kellen adds, “The Metl-Span CF IMPs are just a quicker install with a higher R-value, and you get a nice architectural look at the same time.”
The color choices were purposeful as well. Pat says that many ASU projects use similar custom Copper Metallic finishes—colors more frequently seen in the Tempe area rather than in Downtown Phoenix. The 3-inch-thick, 42-inch-wide panels used for this project were in a mix of colors that included Finest Silk, Industrial Age, and Roman Brick (all custom), in addition to Copper Metallic.
Pat remarks how exciting it is to see an insulated metal panel as an architectural feature. “There’s a perception that this type of panel is used for warehouses or other industrial settings. The building is a beautiful addition to downtown. To even present an insulated metal panel in this kind of building with these features is exciting. I’m glad to see it being used this way.”
Damon agrees, stating, “I think it showcases what insulated metal panels are capable of—architecturally and aesthetically.”
The construction, which took approximately 10 months to complete, required a great deal of planning and coordination, with swing stages operating up to five crews at a time. Pat shares, “Because of the accelerated schedule, there was a long and comprehensive preconstruction design phase. Even with a tight schedule, we didn’t feel rushed because of the preplanning and having all these details worked out, such as the slab edges and resizing the panels so that when the windows went in, we didn’t have to cut on-site. Everything fit perfectly due to an abundance of coordination and flexibility from the design team from the beginning.”
Kellen notes that the detailed planning made all the difference. He says, “We had to take into consideration all the nitty gritty details, like how many panels could go on each pallet and how many colors of each panel were on each pallet. From the architectural planning through the metal product side from a manufacturing standpoint, there was great collaboration with TMS for us to deliver the panels the way they needed them, in order for the project to run smoothly.”
Damon praises Metl-Span, sharing, “They did such a good job of putting a comprehensive list together of everything we needed based on the conversations we had. They really made it easy for us to succeed.”
Indeed, Fusion on First presents “an image of innovation and progressive ideals,” as noted by ASU. The collaborative effort between the developer, the architecture firm (Studio Ma), Metl-Span, and TMS resulted in a positive construction experience as well as a beautifully designed, high-quality building that will serve ASU’s student body for years to come.
Metl-Span is a NUCOR® company. (NYSE: NUE ); delivering high-quality, durable and energy-efficient insulated metal panels designed for unparalleled performance to stand the test of time.
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