For almost 35 years, Pittsburg State University, Pittsburg Kan., had limited performing arts offerings for its students because the campus did not have a facility to support a large program. That changed this academic year when the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts opened. Four shades of the Dri-Design Wall Panel System clad the building to make it warm and inviting while also standing out.
“The president did not want another brick building on campus,” explains Duane Cash with ACI-Boland Architects, Leawood, Kan. “He wanted something that stood out and made a statement.”
ACI-Boland served as the architect of record with William Rawn Associates Architects Inc., Boston, acting as the design architect. The team was asked to imagine a space that could serve both the university and community. “We had to recognize that this is a university asset, but we also needed to create a space welcoming the community to a theater built for them. The building sits on a gentle hill and overlooks the edge of campus. The lobby has a slight arc that serves to embrace people as they come up to campus. We wanted people to have full views into the space so everyone would know something special is going on in there,” says Doug Johnston, FAIA, LEED AP, a principal with William Rawn Associates.
The project called for 35,772 square feet of 0.080-inch aluminum panels in Dark Fawn Metallic, Dark Moondust, Fawn Metallic and Moondust. The trim is a fifth color, Champagne Metallic. The panels were specified by the architects for rainscreen capabilities, available sizes and customization. “The metal is interesting. We designed the panel system to bring a warmth and vitality to the building’s opaque wall surfaces,” notes Kevin Bergeron, a senior associate with William Rawn Associates. “We used four different colors and a random installation pattern to create a highly variegated surface, and the reflectivity of the metal allows it to change in response to varying light conditions throughout the day and evening.”
The four shades of color were installed in 14 panel sizes in a random pattern. To ensure quality shipping standards and ease of installation, a systematic crating method was developed to correlate color-coded shop drawings with the crate contents. This streamlined the installation process in addition to eliminating any repetition of pattern. The supplier, SGH Inc., Kansas City, Mo., and installer, Queen City Roofing, Springfield, Mo., worked with Dri-Design to create this installation approach.
“Dri-Design has quality measures in place to ensure every process from manufacturing to shipping maintains the integrity of the wall panels,” says Brad Zeeff, president of Dri-Design. “We will work with each client to create customized solutions to fit their needs.”
Collaboration and advanced planning made this project function according to schedule and exceed expectations. Todd Bryant with SGH notes that the installation crews and others on site were impressed with the Dri-Design product, as well, because of the speed and ease of installation. He says: “To accommodate the size of the project and the schedule required by the general contractor, the project was split into three releases. The building design required a spray-on insulation with a substrate of zees and hats for anchoring the panels. Due to the height of the building and the loads being applied to the panels, we had the substrate engineered appropriately to accommodate the needs of the design calcs.”
The $33 million facility is 96,000 square feet and sits on 14 acres. This is why multiple panel sizes were specified. “The large building could have been overwhelming if it wasn’t for the size of the metal panels; different sizes were selected to mimic the look of brick,” Cash says. “The metal blends with the glass and prefabricated concrete that also make up exterior details.”
The name of the center honors Gene Bicknell; his wife, Rita; and their family. Bicknell, who made a $10 million donation, earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the university. He remembers the importance of the first performing arts center, and he wanted to bring something similar back to campus. The center has two main performing spaces. The larger 1,100-seat performance hall has easy stage access, an orchestra shell and can be a theater or concert hall. The 250-seat theater is the workhorse of the theater department and is used for classes, rehearsals and other events. The lobby also was configured to serve as an event space. A 3,500 square-foot art gallery for the visual arts department sits off the lobby.
Photos by Mark Kempf, St. Louis