Sheet metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

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Customized copper panels tame reflections in the desert

Butterfield (3)Bright reflections off water in a desert oasis are desirable. Not so reflections off copper roofs. That is why Mike McGrath, president of SMACNA’s MG McGrath Inc., based in Maplewood, Minn., selected TECU OXID copper finished in a Tecu Bronze patina from KME for the one-of-a-kind Butterfield residence project in Palm Desert, Calif. “We didn’t want the roof to throw a lot of sun on other neighbors’ houses,” he said.

Butterfield (7)The primary reason the architect chose copper for the $1.3 million job was its aesthetically authentic look, natural color, and the way it burnishes to a dark brown/bronze. However, the project had several low-slope details that required soldering.

TECU OXID provided not only the rich look desired, plus texture and interest, but also low reflectivity and workability. Additionally, the 20 oz. coil patina material was less expensive than using a custom, field-applied pre-patina finish on natural copper material.

Butterfield (8)With use of the company’s 100,000 square foot production facility and building information modeling tools, craftspersons at MG McGrath fabricated and installed 90,000 square feet of MG S-Slip panels to the exterior of the house. The most common size was 18-5/8 inch square panels.

On the garden wall and exercise/pool house, panels were changed to a diamond pattern and wrapped all the way around the exterior and the roof.

Butterfield (1)MG S-Slip Panel Systems have a slip connection and are mechanically fastened with integrated clips and concealed fasteners. They can be installed over almost any substrate in a sequential pattern, overlapped, and sealed to form a watertight system. 

The product can withstand the effects of stresses from dead loads, wind loads, snow loads, and normal thermal movement. Further, it does not create vibration harmonics, wind whistles, or noises caused by thermal movement.

The contractor custom fabricated many of the panels to a special width and shape to keep the seam lines straight over the curves of the roof.

roof-07“In the early stages of the project, the architect provided schematic designs from Autodesk’s Revit, the BIM software,” said David Rassmussen, MG McGrath pre-construction manager. “Then we worked collaboratively with the architect to create exacting shop drawings for the components of the building. Once shop drawings were approved, field measurements were taken so that the building components could be precisely configured, with the added bonus of eliminating jobsite modifications.”

roof-08“With all of the different geometries involved in the layout, precise fabrication of each individual piece was critical,” Mr. McGrath said. “We were able to make everything custom with our computer numerical control (CNC) machine.”

According to Mr. Rassmussen, using BIM and CNC has yielded several benefits, including shortening schedules, improving quality and control, and creating better coordination, class detection, and informed design.

MG McGrath’s work on the Butterfield Residence earned the Metal Construction News Metal Roofing award for new construction.

Photos courtesy Shari Streutker, Illumine Images