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8330 On The River


“It's dry." To the residents of 8330 On the River, an 18-story, 226,000 square foot apartment building in Detroit, Mich., no two words have ever sounded sweeter. Architectural metal products from CENTRIA were key factors in achieving that goal.

The 280-unit senior care apartment complex, built in the 1970s on the banks of the Detroit River, has struggled for years with water infiltration after every hard rain. Not just a little leakage. But a lot.

"It wasn't like just one or two units had a leak," reported James T. Pappas, AIA, president of Fusco, Shaffer & Pappas, Inc. Architects and Planners, the 52 year-old design firm based in Ferndale, Mich. that was hired to solve the water problems.

Pappas said the building's exterior façade was the culprit. The envelope was constructed with single wythe brick on the non-bearing walls. Over time cracks began to form, allowing water in.

“Entire stacks of units leaked with every rain. Over the years, attempts were made to solve the problem, including some questionable ones, such as substituting caulking for tuck-pointing. Nothing worked. It was a big problem," Pappas said.

The building owner, Preservation Affordable Housing of Boston, Mass., had seen enough. Their mandate? Dry apartments, period.

"We looked at a couple of options," Pappas explained. "We considered stucco, pan of brick, and a couple things like that. Our conclusion for a long-term solution was a metal panel system. It came down to long-term durability and affordability."

The Fusco design team called in CENTRIA, a partnership they had relied on in several smaller projects. "CENTRIA was great to work with. They helped us investigate the best way to assemble a structural frame over the existing brick veneer. Should it be vertical or horizontal? We decided on vertical for budget reasons."

Fusco specified 100,000 square feet of CENTRIA Versawall vertical insulated metal wall panels in three colors: surrey beige, colonial red and lee ivory. The assembly, according to Pappas, "went well."

The contractor initially sprayed the leaky veneer with a waterproofing agent. "We waterproofed the brick like you would a below-grade foundation," Pappas recalled. Then the contractor attached the structural steel frame and secured insulated CENTRIA panels to it, encasing the structure with a new watertight metal skin. With double tongue-and-groove joinery and factory-applied air and vapor sealant, the Versawall wall system provides outstanding weather resistance, and improves insulating values and energy economy.

"The building sits in a very exposed location," Pappas observed. "Because it's a high-rise, it's buffeted with very fierce winds coming off the river. Insulated CENTRIA metal panels have the stability and strength to meet the environmental challenges, including Detroit temperature extremes." The new cladding has also transformed the look of the building, going from a dull monotone brick to a rich, lively color scheme that modernizes the appearance.

And the leaky building?

"It's dry," Pappas smiled. "The CENTRIA system is a great improvement and everyone is pleased. The water problem is solved, the building looks better, and everyone is happy, including the residents and the owner. I would absolutely work with CENTRIA again. It was an excellent experience."

The architect for this project was Fusco, Shaffer & Pappas Inc. of Detroit, MI. The CENTRIA products dealer/installer was C.L. Rieckhoff Co. Inc. of Taylor, MI. The contractor was O’Brien Construction Company Inc. of Troy, MI.

CENTRIA products used on this project included:

• Versawall® Vertical - Square Feet: 59,243; Color: Surrey Beige; Finish: Embossed Striated; Gauge: 26.

• Versawall Vertical - Square Feet: 30,595; Color: Colonial Red; Finish: Embossed Striated; Gauge: 26.

• Versawall Vertical - Square Feet: 14,700; Color: Lee Ivory; Finish: Embossed Striated; Gauge: 26.


CENTRIA, a Nucor company, supplies a variety of architetural metal wall and roof systems. For more information, visit

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