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Coated panels replicate weathered steel

Photo: HKS Inc., Blake Marvin

A combination of custom coatings supplied by Valspar Corp. replicated the appearance of weathered steel on the JW Marriott Convention Center Hotel in Austin, Texas. Representatives from HKS Inc., the architecture firm for the project, Hunt Construction, a contractor that worked on the project, and ProCLAD Inc., the fabricator and installer, met to determine if there was a material that would create the appearance of weathered steel at a lower cost. The architects at HKS wanted dimensional panels with varied colors that would read well from far away because the panels would be installed on the high-rise portion of the 1.3 million-square-foot hotel.

Craig Caudill, executive vice president at Pro- CLAD, suggested using formed Galvalume panels painted in dark, medium and light shades to mimic the appearance of rusted steel.

McElroy Metal supplied 40,000 square feet of 18-gauge Galvalume steel coil coated with Valspar's Classic II Fluropon in a custom color combination of Barrel Brown, Fudge and Mustang. ProCLAD fabricated the steel coil flush in three depths and five widths.

John Kelly, metal buildings market manager at Valspar, says HKS requested five sets of colors in varying shades of brown and a few metallic options. "Clients typically request one or two color variations, but in this instance, we needed to create nearly 20 color options to ensure the best possible result for the client," he says.

Eddie Abeyta, AIA, LEED AP, principal and commercial design director at HKS, says his firm selected a range of warm brown tones found in weathering steel that was exposed to the elements over time. Abeyta says the inspiration came, in part, from the look of the Corten steel bridges found throughout Austin. "After comparing several options, we decided that a range of three colors with a slight variation would best represent a naturally weathered steel, but in an interpretive manner," he says.

Caudill says when you are close to a piece of weathered steel you can see the color variation, but if you put it high up, it looks like it's all the same color of brown. "These panels were the right solution to achieve the dimensionality," he says. "They're really something else."

Brad Hitzfield, owner of ProCLAD, says the three colors representing the light, medium and dark ranges of weathered steel created the appearance of weathered steel's modeling effect. "Getting the three colors right was the trick," he says. "The brilliance of Eddie Abeyta was to understand that from a distance, the three similar colors of panels would have an abstract yet similar visual effect as weathered steel has up close."

The project also utilized Win-Con Enterprises Inc.'s Unitized curtainwall system with 200,000 square feet of glass with interior mullions and exterior fins coated in Valspar's Classic II Fluropon in Bright Silver applied by Bonnell Aluminum. Charlie Ruyle, vice president at Win-Con Enterprises, says his company's curtainwall complemented the hotel's design. "The towering unitized curtainwall achieved the aesthetic look desired by the design team and allowed for coating customization of the aluminum fins and mullions."

Abeyta says the prefabricated and unitized building envelope approach allowed the panels to be delivered ready to install, and saved time and money. Hitzfield says ProCLAD crews mounted 75 percent of the panels on back-pans that were glazed into unitized curtainwall. The balance of the panels were mounted on girts in varying locations.

The original concept for JW Marriott Convention Center Hotel, which took nine months to complete and was finished in 2015, was to integrate natural materials found in Texas, including weathered steel, on the façade of the 34-story, primary tower. Abeyta says the hotel's design fits in Austin. "The design merges the influences of the natural landscapes and local vernacular that define the Austin experience with modern form and materials of the urban context," he says

Architect: HKS Inc., Dallas

General contractor: DPR Construction, Austin

Curtainwall applicator: Bonnell Aluminum, Newnan, Ga.

Mock-up applicator: Western Extrusion, Carrollton, Texas

Fabricator/installer: ProCLAD Inc., Noblesville, Ind.,

Coatings: Valspar Corp., Minneapolis,

Curtainwall: Win-Con Enterprises Inc., New Braunfels, Texas,

Steel: McElroy Metal, Bossier City, La.,