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Ribbed Panels Contain Shipyard Office

Intermarine Shipyard Pic 5 High Res

Photo: Mark Johnson

Operations and office building design reflects shipping industry

Ribbed metal wall panels installed on the exterior and interior of Intermarine LLC's shipyard operations and office building in Houston were designed to look like shipping containers. The 2015 Metal Architecture Design Award judges noted the design's compelling use of exterior metal on the interior of the 21,750-square-foot building, which was completed in December 2013. The vertical elevator shaft refers to the stacked shipping containers found in the surrounding shipyard. Bristol, Conn.-based Morin Corp.'s, a Kingspan Group company, MR-36 deep rib metal wall panels with a Galvalume finish wrap the elevator shaft on the exterior and were also installed in the elevator lobbies.

Jeffrey Brown is principal in charge of design at Powers Brown Architecture, Houston, the architecture firm for the project. "We began studying the form-making possibilities of shipping containers as an obvious means of indexing the company's industry," he says. "However, we determined that the interior environment produced from this literal strategy was less than desirable. We wanted to take advantage of iconic and spatial opportunities that referred to containers and the various shipping processes that we found provocative."

Houston-based Southern Architectural Systems Inc. fabricated more than 18,000 square feet of metal wall panels including 4-mm Reynobond aluminum composite material with a polyethylene core finished with Reynobond DesignLine Zinc Patina coating by Eastman, Ga.-based Alcoa Architectural Products.

Additionally, Southern Architectural Systems fabricated Morin's MR-36 deep rib metal wall panels and Morin's MR-36 deep rib perforated metal wall panels. "We used a super-rib metal panel with a natural Galvalume finish-indexing to rather than blending in-with stacked shipping containers found in the surrounding yard," Brown says. "Referring to the containers opened iconographic and spatial opportunities that actually using them cannot."

Photo: Mark Johnson

A perforated metal panel was used as a vehicle screen on the ground level and at exterior programmatic function areas, which created exterior and interior zones, Brown says. "A unifying architecture of smooth panels with a reveal grid abstractly refers to a ship's hull. We wanted the building to have a diaphanous layering effect with an ephemeral quality that allows it to touch the ground very lightly."

Metal was specified for multiple reasons including the facility's location in an industrial shipping area. The project is located at an industrial terminal, a 95-acre site adjacent to the Houston Ship Channel. Additionally, the skin could be composed of one material with a variety of finishes, profiles and transparencies to achieve project goals and natural variations in the material provided a visual texture to an otherwise blank wall in places where glazing was not desired.

Intermarine LLC's Shipyard Operations and Office Building, Houston

Completed: December 2013

Total square footage: 21,750 square feet

Architect: Powers Brown Architecture, Houston, www.powersbrown.com

General contractor: Rosenberger Construction, Sugar Land, Texas

Fabricator: Southern Architectural Systems Inc., Houston, (713) 462-6379

Metal wall panels: Alcoa Architectural Products, Norcross, Ga., www.reynobond.com, and Morin Corp., a Kingspan Group company, Bristol, Conn., www.morincorp.com