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Exemplary Projects

The discussions by architects on the merit of one project over another never cease to amaze me. From the attention to detail to the personal likes and dislikes of the architects charged with selecting the winning projects in an awards program, the insight gained by even just sitting in and listening is always quite interesting. And even being involved in a number of awards calls over the years, every one is dramatically different in both the conversation between the judges and the final projects selected.

Each year, the Metal Construction Association (MCA) honors the year's most exceptional building projects involving its member companies. Announced at the winter meeting, held last month in Weston, Fla., the 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. This year, the association honored eight projects in the following categories: overall excellence, residential, metal roofing, education-primary and secondary schools, education-colleges and universities, institutional, municipal and commercial/industrial.

From honoring the projects that best exemplify the use of metal, we turn to celebrate one in which metal helps honor those who helped build this country. In this month's Building Profile, we take a closer look at the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. The museum, which opened last September, has a very distinctive form with a three-tiered, inverted step pyramid shape and a bronze-colored, cast-aluminum corona inspired by the Yoruban Caryatid. The building form and materiality express faith, hope and resiliency.

Also this month, we introduce a new feature called Creative Metal. The idea is to highlight unique applications using metal. Unlike most of the projects we feature, this section will concentrate on a specific part of the building instead of the entire building. The first application featured is a perforated metal screen with accents of bright colors that highlight inspirational images of children on a building co-occupied by Moving Everest Charter School and the By The Hand Club For Kids after-school program in Chicago.

Have a unique application you'd like to see featured? Send me an email at


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