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2017 Chairman’s Awards

MCA recognizes eight projects that speak to the excitement of metal building construction

Uof Iowa Feb18

Eight outstanding building projects from across the country were recognized by the Metal Construction Association (MCA). Selected by a panel of architects, the Chairman’s Awards are given to the year’s most exceptional building projects involving MCA member companies. Awards are based on overall appearance, significance of metal in the project, innovative use of metal, and the role of metal in achieving project objectives. 

Announced at the MCA’s Winter Meeting held in San Diego on January 23, the MCA Chairman’s Awards were given in eight categories: overall excellence; residential; metal roofing; education—primary and secondary schools; education—colleges and universities; institutional; municipal; and commercial/industrial. 

The honorees were chosen by a panel of professional architects, which included Mark Dewalt, AIA, principal, Valerio Dewalt Train Associates, Chicago; Mark Horton, FAIA, principal, Mark Horton/Architecture, San Francisco; and Brent Schipper, AIA, LEED AP, principal, ASK Studio, Des Moines, Iowa.

Overall Excellence

Designed by architect Steven Holl, whose designs are seen throughout the University of Iowa campus, the new Visual Arts Building provides 126,000 square feet of open space within an artfully designed building envelope. The building replaces the original arts building built in 1936, which had suffered flood damage, and although very different in design, complements the adjacent Art Building West, also designed by Holl.

“I thought the use of metal here was really interesting because the metal does two things,” says MCA judge Mark Horton. “One is it creates heavier masses that are sharp forms, which I think is really nice. But at the same time the perforated rain screens also allow it to be very light, and even translucent in other conditions, which is really interesting. The metal can allow both of those things to occur simultaneously, which is a nice use of material.”

The Visual Arts Building presents an industrial aesthetic with 38,000 square feet of RHEINZINK-cladding and poured-in-place concrete walls. The main entrances on the southwestern and southeastern sides of the building are covered in 1.5-mm perforated stainless steel panels, which create a rainscreen system. The RHEINZINK panels, as well as the stainless steel panels, were custom designed, engineered and fabricated by POHL Group. The perforated stainless steel panels bring natural light deep into the building through a series of scooped setbacks with 13,000 holes in a specific pattern in each of the stainless steel perforated panels. Curved RHEINZINK panels were also utilized on the building’s vegetative roof to clad large skylights.

Photo: Keith LaGreze


The need for renovation came after fire destroyed the interior office space at 877 Beacon Street in Boston, and left the beloved original facade in disrepair. The project was challenged to respect the historic neighborhood, Audubon Circle, in the front. Plans included a historic renovation with a rooftop and rear residential addition. An added penthouse emulates the historic curved masonry facade with a curved patterned copper skin derived from the existing design. New storefronts align with the masonry openings along Beacon Street. The windows in the rear addition are directly placed to maximize the opening percentages allowable by code, and the beveled forms relate to the alternating bay windows in the back alley. The rear addition is lifted above the ground plane to accommodate for parking for the residents.

Copper was the appropriate choice for its historical character, durability, beauty and flexibility around curves. At the rear of the site, the challenge was to create a dynamic and textured facade that was less expensive than copper, but kept a similar aesthetic and quality. Coil sheet metal was used to create a dynamic facade that expresses the building’s geometry, floor levels, and as a way to break up the massive addition. The metal panel skin introduces a subtle champagne palette to balance against the neighboring red brick facades. 

“I enjoyed the dichotomy of taking those overall brick forms and adding something. Changing up the material but echoing the rhythm and the scale. If you had used the same material you would have lost all the drama of what they were able to do here. I thought this was a beautiful project,” says MCA judge Brent Schipper.

Photo: Tom Bonner Photography


Located in the resort town of Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, the Deli Loop was conceived as three separate components under one roof: a cafe, gourmet delicatessen and food preparation area. The bifurcated building mass is orientated to the city of Lazar Cardenas, while the south-facing elevation opens to 50 feet of glazing providing the main entry to the building. Bicycle parking and an outdoor waiting area are conveniently located at the entry. The 200-foot by 100-foot irregular sloping site has an 8-foot elevation change from back to front. By slightly elevating the street-facing building and partially burying the rear eliminated the need to terrace the first floor and creating a continuous level ground floor.

Context and passive solar techniques were particularly important design considerations. Ensenada touts a mild climate during the winter and hot weather with cool on-shore breezes during the summer months. The street-facing facade of the cafe and the deli open to the ocean and operable skylights allow for natural ventilation of the entire building. During the daylight hours, virtually no artificial lighting is necessary to illuminate the space. Indigenous building techniques and materials were used to minimize out sourcing and importing.

The exterior white metal-clad walls and roof were used to reflect the harsh summer sun. The metal skin and roof were installed by local contractors in less than three weeks which resulted in a substantially shorted construction schedule compared to other systems. Passive and active solar design strategies render the building energy neutral. Recycled, renewable and high-performance materials and products were specified throughout.

The project also uses fluorescent lighting throughout the building, insulation made from recycled material and double-pane windows. The building is equipped with water-saving, dual-flush toilets and many other energy conserving devices, such as tankless water heaters, reclaimed water for toilets, and all non-potable water uses, and energyefficient appliances. The outdoor cafe dining area is protected from sun with perforated metal walls. The building is LEED Platinum certifiable.

With an emphasis on passive and active solar design strategies, the white metal siding was selected as means to reduce solar heat gain into the building thanks to its reflective properties. Wrapping the building with the corrugated metal gives it a consistent, predictable texture and meets environmental concerns. The metal siding was uncomplicated to install and requires virtually zero maintenance. 

“The one thing I liked about the metal aspect of this project is that this is a deli, it’s a small restaurant and it’s not part of a national chain, says MCA judge Mark Dewalt “It’s a one-off probably or a mom and pop. And these kinds of projects are always financially strapped and so they tend to fall below the level of good design. And yet here with maybe a fairly restrictive budget and the use of metal, this thing has got some pop and sizzle to it. I thought that that was an interesting achievement.”

Photo: Lara Swimmer

Education: Primary and Secondary

The Medicine Crow Middle School building consists of 121,000 square feet of new construction for 6th-, 7th-, and 8th-grade students. Currently the school houses 700 students and can grow to a capacity of 900 as the population of the city increases.

The school requires educational spaces to serve dual purposes: to accommodate 21st century learning during school hours and to function as public facilities after hours. As the first new school in the Billings Public Schools since 1989, the design needed to create a variety of environments to enhance the curriculum of the district. Classrooms open into shared learning spaces and STEM labs are connected to fabrication and technology spaces. Athletics, music, and performance spaces are zoned to allow for community use without disrupting focus in the science/creative spaces and general classrooms.

Iconic to the Billings community are the nearby Rimrocks, prehistoric sandstone banks created by the Yellowstone River. It was important to incorporate the surrounding environment into the design to create a bold building rising from the river valley. The exterior skin of Copper Penny and Dark Bronze metal panels reflect the golden glow of the sun and surrounding Rimrocks. The metal panels mimic the striation patterns in the sandstone engraved through years of erosion.

It was also important to create a space for the Billings community that would be resilient and provide a minimum life span of 50 years. The metal wall panels created a durable and aesthetically interesting solution for Medicine Crow Middle School while meeting sustainability and energy goals for the exterior envelope. The building is articulated into simple rectilinear forms that define classrooms and community use spaces. The linear metal panels became an organizing element that intersect a masonry spine and reach out into the landscape, defining the procession to the entry of the building. 

“I think that this project was thought through very holistically. When you see one part of it, you understand that it’s a part of a whole, and I very much appreciated that about this project. The simplicity gives it some gravitas,” says MCA judge Brent Schipper.

Photo Andrew Pogue

Education: Colleges and Universities

The Whitcomb Art Center is home to the art and art history departments at Knox College. The building, which includes modern green building features, provides a series of spaces including studio, seminar, and classroom areas, for the study and creation of 2-D, 3-D, and multimedia works of art.

The Whitcomb Art Center project includes five buildings with a second level. The environmentally friendly, energy-efficient building was designed with the goal of future LEED certification. A sawtooth metal roof includes skylights that fill the second-floor studio spaces with evenly dispersed natural lighting throughout the year. Extreme roof pitch on one side creates a non-symmetrical gable on the three larger buildings. Native prairie plants surrounding the building’s exterior are nourished by storm runoff. The metal exterior is accented with repurposed lumber from a shed that once stood on the building site and Purington pavers from the streets of Galesburg.

Roof panels are used for a wall condition, creating an extension of the roof. The roof systems utilize conventional construction with metal panels along with other wall areas using reclaimed material. Skylights and large framed openings for glass allow light with shading techniques for energy savings.

Using a metal building allowed the architect to create a transition from the east end of the campus to the industrial district in Galesburg. Exposed metal was important to the overall effect this building has on the campus and the industrial district. It is seen everywhere inside the building. 

“I liked that this was a transition between the campus and an industrial area, and I appreciate the high fenestration, a roof shape that is less than common for a metal building. I think it does things with metal forms that I haven’t seen in other places,” says MCA judge Brent Schipper.

Photo: Tom Bonner Photography


The Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky., underwent a $60 million renovation, which included the addition of two new buildings that were built to the north and south of it. The added 62,500 square feet has expanded the museum’s amenities and exhibit space, allowing for display of up to 1,000 pieces of art at a time. Other renovations included an indoor/ outdoor cafe, a gift shop and an events pavilion. Recently opened in early 2016, the museum’s attendance is expected to reach 200,000 visitors annually.

MG McGrath worked with the Speed Art Museum project team to fabricate and install a 485-square-foot aluminum composite wall panel system, a 19,540 square-foot custom corrugated expanded aluminum panel system with a custom pattern, 20,610-square-foot CENTRIA metal wrap insulated-core metal wall system, 245-square-foot corrugated screen wall with aluminum corrugated wall panels at the back side, and aluminum fixed louvers.

The architects wanted to keep the authenticity of the building by modeling some aspects of the museum's original design, while incorporating modern and sleek materials. A 60,000-square-foot north pavilion was created by stacking three shifted volumes sheathed in fritted glass-and-folded aluminum panels, similar to the moldings of the original museum. The materials also create a dynamic change when natural light is introduced.

“I think it’s really interesting how the new project is completely different than the original but in the same visual language. Coloration, texture, massing relate really well to this original project without having anything to do with it. It’s a different material, different architecture, everything’s different about it, but they’ve made it really relate really well together,” says MCA judge Mark Horton. 

 “When you combine the cantilever, the shifting planes and the differences of color, really only metal can do what they did in their final design,” says MCA judge Brent Schipper.

Photo: Jamey Price Photography, Courtesy of 3A Composite USA


Opened in 1972, the coliseum honors the military sacrifice of local veterans in Long Island’s Nassau County while serving as home to the New York Nets basketball team and the NHL’s New York Islanders. It is also a venue for large events and national acts. But after more than four decades, the coliseum was showing its age and in need of a major facelift.

While some might have suggested a total teardown, SHoP Architects and developer Forest City Ratner saw the opportunity to sustainably retain the strong architectural massing of the arena while giving its facade an entirely new look.

The $165 million renovation included an intricate metal design system wrapping the 416,000-squarefoot coliseum with approximately 4,700 unique aluminum fins created with 225,000 square feet of recyclable 4-mm Alucobond PLUS aluminum composite material by 3A Composites USA Inc.

All involved are not only proud of the facade’s completed design, but of sustainably renovating the coliseum rather than tearing it down. 

“I thought it was pretty interesting recladding— screen wrapped around the existing building. It’s very dynamic creating a lot of movement. It’s like a giant slinky,” says MCA judge Mark Dewalt. “It’s pretty effective cladding or reworking an existing building using metal.”

Photo: Scott Bell Photography

Metal Roofing

Mooseheart School is a residential childcare facility located on a 1,000-acre campus 28 miles west of Chicago. The Child City is a home for children and teens in need, from infancy through high school. Mooseheart cares for youth whose families are unable, for a wide variety of reasons, to care for them. The project is a new construction school building, which is among multiple existing educational and residential buildings on the campus.

The architect used metal throughout the design to create unity among the buildings. A family of neutral colors were chosen for the metal panels that blend with the brick and stone on the structure. In addition to the design aesthetic, metal was chosen for its durability and longevity.

“In this particular case, the roof was integral to the design. It wasn’t just a roof but it was a roof that was used to express a design,” says MCA judge Mark Horton.

“This would be a hard roof to do in almost anything other than metal due to the form,” says MCA judge Mark Dewalt.