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Award-Winning Expectations

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The Connor Group, Marcy Marro, Metal Architecture, Building Profile, October 2015

Expectations were set high by executives at The Connor Group for the design of its new Central Support Office building in Miamisburg, Ohio. The national real estate investment firm expected a building that would be a design award winner, according to Daniel R. Pickett, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP, partner at architectural firm Moody Nolan, Columbus, Ohio. "We knew then that this project was going to be something special," he says. "They wanted a corporate office building designed like nothing ever seen in the Dayton, Ohio, area."

Located on a 7-acre site at the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Ohio's Miami Township, the 39,000-square-foot building cost $18 million. The relocation of the company's headquarters moved 70 employees from its previous location in Centerville, Ohio. Working closely with executives at The Connor Group to create the building's innovative design, Moody Nolan also incorporated ideas from students at the Charter High School for Architecture and Design in Philadelphia, many of whom participated in design charrettes.

 

The Connor Group, Marcy Marro, Metal Architecture, Building Profile, October 2015One-of-a-Kind Design

The owner's love of journey, aviation and the spirit of collaboration drove the building's design, which serves as an iconic statement for the firm's brand. Development of its unique design started with a fairly simple diagram of offices arranged around a central atrium, explains Pickett. The diagram was then altered dramatically, and the final design features no curved lines on the exterior and few right angles. "We looked at different ways to manipulate this shape diagonally to create very unique spaces," he says. "We pulled it apart, twisted it and split it."

Moody Nolan's building design is a double-loaded office bar wrapped around itself and uncoiled towards the general public road intersection, forming an entry point and an interior glass-enclosed atrium. Inspiration for the building comes from the notion of motion and lift, trajectory and momentum. Additionally, its outer skin is sheathed in folded and triangulated sections of aluminum composite material (ACM) panels and strip windows. The triangulations allow the building to twist and lean as both momentum and movement build and pull around the perimeter to the high point. A point-supported curtainwall, which allows views and transparency through the atrium, intersects the middle of the area east to west.

"The complexity of this design and the manner in which the building's skin was articulated required aluminum composite material," says Pickett. "We knew that the sun reflecting off the panels would change during the day. The Alucobond naturAL [from 3A Composites USA Inc., Statesville, N.C.,] was the best material to capture the sun's reflections."

"The Connor Group was the most unique project I've been a part of," says Rob Emmerich, senior project manager at Dayton, Ohio-based Messer Construction Co., the general contractor. "The exterior features more than 10,000 different angles, and very few of them are right angles. It's made up of 2,000 individual rhombuses, and nearly every one of the panels is unlike any other on the façade."

Inside, lighting is abundant in the two-story, 3,495-square-foot atrium, which serves as a large gathering space. In all, the building features 5,741 square feet of windows, as well as a 2,740-square-foot skylight. It also includes approximately 5,000 square feet of electrochromic glass from View Inc., Milpitas, Calif., which switches from clear to several tint levels. With virtually all employees working in private offices, Pickett explains, "The basic design parameter for this building was to provide every office with access to natural light."

 

The Connor Group, Marcy Marro, Metal Architecture, Building Profile, October 2015An Intricate Installation

3A Composites supplied 23,000 square feet of its 4-mm Alucobond naturAL ACM in a Brushed finish for the project. Royalton Architectural Fabrication Inc., North Royalton, Ohio, fabricated 2,800 Alucobond panels; 95 percent of which were non-repetitively sized. Celina Glass Co. Inc., Celina, Ohio, installed the Alucobond panels in the Royaltech 3000 Series dry-joint rainscreen pressure-equalized system.

According to Pickett, the Alucobond panels were fabricated in triangular shapes, and the installation of the uniquely sized glass pieces enhanced the idea of twisting the building. "If you look at each elevation of the building, you'll see a band dissected by a diagonal line," he says. "This creates the perception that the metal is kinked on the diagonal. That perception extends into the glass with each piece a different size."

Terry Rolfes, president of Celina Glass, says this was definitely a complicated job. "Some walls lean in and some lean out," he notes. "There's not one rectangular panel on this entire project. All of the panels had to be custom fabricated."

"The exterior of the building, with its unique shapes and angles was the most significant challenge we faced," adds Emmerich. "We overcame those challenges by using a mix of technology, including a 3-D coordinate system, and traditional construction techniques, like string lines."

Royalton Architectural Fabrication created several building mock-ups, including a 6- by 8-foot job-site mock-up, to ensure proper fabrication and installation of the Alucobond panels. In addition to the unique configuration, the panels also feature nested lighting spaced approximately every 10 feet on the building façade.

"These panels were leaning both left and right, which required an extrusion frame to be installed behind the Royaltech rainscreen," says Stefan Winkler, president of Royalton Architectural Fabrication. "This allowed the panels to be installed in the same plane although they leaned in different ways."

To ensure proper installation, Royalton provided Celina Glass with carefully coded shop drawings for each building elevation that matched coded panels. "This complicated job required the right material, the right fabricator and the right installer," says Winkler.

 

Exceeding Goals

Since The Connor Group headquarters project was completed in August 2014, Pickett says Moody Nolan has heard many positive comments about the building's innovative design. "We were charged with designing a corporate office building like no other in the area," he says. "We think we exceeded our goals for creating a spectacular piece of architecture."

The project has also met the company's goal of being award winning. Before ground had broken, the architectural design received a 2012 American Architecture Award from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design, and since its completion, has earned a 2014 Build Ohio Award from the Associated General Contractors of Ohio.

Featuring the latest technologies and environmental planning concepts that allow for more efficient and functional environments, the building is expected to receive LEED certification. Sustainable features include recycled materials, rainwater harvesting, stormwater management and optimized energy performance.

**Photos: Brad Feinknopf Photography

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The Connor Group, Marcy Marro, Metal Architecture, Building Profile, October 2015