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Discovery Channel Telescope Enclosure

Kingspan Insulated Panels – North America

Forty-five miles southeast of Flagstaff, AZ in a place called Happy Jack, situated at a dark sky site on the Coconino National Forest, is the 4.25-meter Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT). Built for the Lowell Observatory, in partnership with Discovery Communications, DCT was designed to serve as a powerful research tool to be applied to a wide range of topics, including Near Earth Objects (NEOs), extrasolar planets and the exploration of the Kuiper Belt and is scheduled to be operable by 2011.

To house the telescope, the Lowell Observatory commissioned a dome to be built which features Kingspan Insulated Panels’ 200 Inverted Rib wall and KingZip® Insulated Standing Seam Roof System. With an estimated cost of $42 million for the telescope and associated infrastructure, the observatory needed to ensure that the telescope and observing space could be protected against the elements – high winds, dust, and precipitation – and insulated during the day.

“Because of the need for both thermal and elemental protection, insulated metal panels that could attach to the steel structural frame were the best fit for the shell of the dome,” said Eric Jurus, regional sales manager for Kingspan Insulated Panels. “We teamed up with Kovach Inc. out of Chandler, Arizona to present to the Lowell Observatory. Both the 200 Inverted Rib Wall and KingZip Insulated Standing Seam Roof panels were selected. The panels feature insulation foamed in place, which provides increased thermal efficiency.”

KingZip’s two-piece thermally broken concealed clip design helps minimize heat loss through the sidejoint and the possibility of condensation at the clip assembly. Available in five thickness options, with R-values up to 49, KingZip can help meet the requirements for the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) green building program, as well as ENERGY STAR® and Cool Roofs.

The 200 Inverted Rib Wall features a foam core chemically bonded to non-permeable steel facings to retain insulating value over time. And improved side joinery offers excellent foam-to-foam contact for full thermal seal.

Throughout the project Kingspan and Kovach worked closely to coordinate schedules, manpower and product delivery. As the project’s installer, Kovach also worked with the general contractor and owner to make sure deadlines were being met.

“The remote location of the site proved to be challenging when delivering materials. We were trying to meet panel installation deadlines so that other components of the project could be completed,” said Luke Brandt, project manager for Kovach Inc. “Fortunately, Kingspan engineers their panels with fast-track construction in mind. To ensure that we remained on schedule, Kingspan delivered the panels to our facility, where we prepped them and sent them to the site in a prepped state. Not only did that make installation easier, but we were able to make sure that everything was installed correctly.”

Designed to meet today’s stringent construction schedules, KingZip panels are pre-engineered as a single component with the insulation already foamed in place, allowing for single-step installation. The panel’s 42-inch width makes it easy to handle and position, enabling fast installation. In addition, the 200 Inverted Rib wall allows for one-step installation, making the panels a fast, economical alternative to single element siding with linear systems.

To help protect the telescope against weather, KingZip delivers a superior degree of weathertightness. Available in lengths up to 48 feet, KingZip minimizes the need for through fasteners that penetrate the external facing. Using the concealed two-piece thermally broken clip design, panels attach to the structural substrate. The seam is then mechanically roll-formed to create a continuous weather seal. For increased weather resistance, the panel features a two-stage double tongue and groove joint with an overlap nosing that deflects rainwater, and protects and conceals the panel fastener. KingZip’s interior liner presents a bright, reflective, washable surface to help reduce lighting requirements.

The dome features a two-piece mechanical shutter that opens to the sides. The shutters are held and guided by tracks fixed to the steel framework and are computer controlled to track telescope movements during observing. At the base of the dome is a steel ring beam, which rides on 16 roller assemblies to help the dome rotate and achieve optimum observation.

“What impresses me the most about this project is the end use of the building,” said Jurus. “The fact that Kingspan products are used to provide a superior level of protection for such a high-powered telescope and research system really demonstrates the strength and performance of our panels.”

The Discovery Channel Telescope Dome was designed by M3 Engineering and Technology Corp. in Tucson, AZ. In addition to Kovach, the project team included BEC Southwest general contractors from Flagstaff.

Photo courtesy of Heather Marshall, Lowell Observatory

About Kingspan Insulated Panels - North America


Kingspan Insulated Panels – North America is a business unit of Kingspan, a global company operating in more than 80 countries, with over 200 manufacturing facilities. Kingspan Insulated Panels – North America manufactures and markets three groups of products at its U.S., Canadian and Mexican facilities: insulated metal wall and roof panel systems for commercial/industrial construction; insulated architectural panel and façade systems for design-driven projects; and controlled environment panels and doors for cold-storage and climate-controlled warehousing. In addition to its commitment to quality and innovation, the company is on the leading edge of the sustainability movement, offering best-of-class products produced in state-of-the-art, eco-friendly facilities. To learn more visit

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