Sheet Metal & Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association

Fabricating Angled Panels for Missouri Innovation Campus

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When the University of Central Missouri partnered with local schools to build the new Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC), they wanted to create a distinctive building design that encompassed “innovation” to showcase the new educational program.

“The design teams at DLR Group and Gould Evans came to us early on to assist with the design of the metal panel system,” said Jeff Mann, president of Standard Sheet Metal (SSM) of Kansas City, Missouri. In fabricating the façade with its angled aluminum skin, SMACNA member SSM created an innovative paneling system on the outside that reflected the innovative learning on the inside.

Arch_SSM MIC side entry“We always help contractors and architects during the design phase, on detailing, panel designs, and project budgets,” Mann continued. “We’ve found that if we can assist with questions and details in the design phase, it allows more accurate budgeting and less discussion on overall costs at the end of the project. We have a reputation for quality results and it starts during the design phase.”

SSM worked closely with the designers to devise the custom-fabricated wall cladding system. “We tested paper models and other mock-up panels to find the best approach for this project,” Mann said. “SMACNA standards were critical in determining the overall panel design. We needed to know where to locate brakes and the optimum gage of material to minimize oil canning. We relied on SMACNA’s Architectural Sheet Metal Manual, 7th edition, to determine the width, length, and gage of panels so we could predict the final outcome.”

Working with clear anodized aluminum sheets, SSM explored custom-shaped panels that responded to the design directive. Following SMACNA Standards, SSM recommended 10-foot by 2-foot panels of clear anodized aluminum for the metal panel façade. Each aluminum composite material (ACM) panel had two diagonal bends in the center and an interlocking return at the edge. “It’s simple for us with our level of expertise. It’s basically the same panel fabricated over and over again, with 180-degree rotations,” Mann noted.

SSM then produced a full-scale mock-up for approval by the design team. The mock-ups were attached to the outside of the building for viewing, which enabled the design team to see exactly how the custom panels would look under daylight conditions.

The custom panels gave the project a unique look. “These metal panels cannot be bought as an ‘off the shelf’ item. It’s the only campus in the world to have panels like this, making it both innovative and impactful. All panels were fabricated in house,” said Todd McLellan, SSM project manager. When all was said and done, SSM installed about 1,100 panels on the building.

While the panel concept was simple, installing the specially designed parapet coping and sill were more demanding. “A typical coping would have protruded over the edge of the wall and detracted from the building’s appearance,” Mann explained. “The design team wanted the coping to integrate with the panel system, so it would undulate with the wall and visually disappear.”

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Achieving the goals of the owners required the highest quality workmanship from SSM. “Matching the ins and outs of the panels with the coping cap really showcased the craftsmanship of Sheet Metal Workers Local 2,” McLellan said. “The panels required multiple rounds of samples and test fitting to ensure they would fit together smoothly, requiring increased communications with tight coordination between the shop and field personnel for crating and installation sequences.”

Cleanly executed corners and window returns defined the edges, while custom parapet caps followed the panel forms. Up above the classrooms around the upper level and the rooftop, equipment, SSM provided 3-inch corrugated and insulated wall panels in silver metallic finish. SSM also installed their ACM panels’ open joint rain-screen components with custom gutters and downspouts.

SSM’s work also ensured energy efficiency. “The metal panel sub-girt system utilized a fiberglass clip to prevent thermal bridging, unlike the traditional metal girt system,” McLellan noted. Thermal bridging occurs when a non-insulating material interrupts the insulation of a building, allowing costly heat loss. “The penthouse area also utilized 3-inch thick foam wall paneling, all contributing to energy efficiency.”

The Missouri Innovation Campus’s original appearance has earned awards from the Society for College and University Planning and the Association for Learning Environments. McLellan takes the attention in stride.

“These awards just publicize what our team does day-in and day-out” McLellan reflected. “Every one of our team members made this possible. To receive the awards is an honor, but we all expect great quality and execution each and every day and we strive to achieve this on every project we undertake.”

Learn more about the project »