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Colorful cladding checkers children's hospital

Mentor, Ohio-based W.S. Tyler USA Architectural Design Group's painted woven wire mesh in the LARGO-PLENUS 2022 weave pattern with a 25 percent open area was selected to clad the façade of the University of Florida Health Shands Children's Hospital, Gainesville, Fla., as a light and colorful alternative to the existing brick façade. The project is scheduled to be completed in summer 2014.

The outer skin of the façade was designed to represent green, rolling hills and is made of 26 multi-barrette 8124 panels painted green. These include 19, 85-foot-long panels that diagonally slope approximately 19 feet over the span of the design.

Jack Ponikvar, vice president and principal architect at Gainesville, Fla.-based Ponikvar and Associates says the owners requested a hospital that was child-friendly with an identity that differentiated it from other areas of the facility.

"The use of color with the woven wire mesh panels created a crystal jewel kind of feel," Ponikvar says.

The façade continually changes with the interaction of artificial light, daylight, transparency, luminosity and color.

"We were challenged to do something that was child-like without being childish," Ponikvar says. Bradley S. Pollitt, AIA, vice president of facilities development at Health Shands Children's Hospital, says they did not want solid-colored metal panels and the woven wire mesh provided partial transparency.

"This is going to be the most visually dynamic building in the city," Pollitt says. "There's nothing like it in north Florida."

Supporting the mesh panels at the changing elevations to maintain the rolling hills visual tested the installation team. W.S. Tyler produced sample panels for review by the owners, architecture firm and project managers and using a crane, the sample panels were positioned in front of the existing façade to determine the visual effect that would be created when the colored panels were in place.

Thomas G. Crow, senior project manager for Ajax Building Corp., the Midway, Fla.-based construction management firm that worked on the project, says multicolored stainless steel woven mesh fabric panels were attached to a two-layer structural steel framework that was connected to the façade of the existing 12-story north tower. "Changing the building this way creates a more modern perspective of the hospital," he says. "The new façade will really grab people as they go by and make them want to come in."

The University of Florida Health has been working toward consolidating pediatric services within the university medical center for the last several years. A planned renovation for the east entry atrium and building façade led owners to realize it was time to establish a separate identity for the children's hospital. "The portal project is now rebranding the entrance to the building so that our smallest patients do not have to enter through the adult hospital," Pollitt says.

W.S. Tyler USA Architectural Design Group, www.wstyler.com