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Clark Knapp Honda

ALUCOBOND, Manufactured by 3A Composites USA

The new Clark Knapp Honda auto dealership in Pharr, Texas celebrated its grand opening June 18, 2014 in a facility that incorporates the American Honda Motor Co.’s Generation 3 prototype dealership architectural design, including an expansive two-story showroom.

The dealership includes a 38,000 sq. ft. two-story sales showroom, offices, service center, and new vehicle inventory lot located on three acres at the corner of Expressway 83 and Sugar Road in Pharr. Across the street is a two-acre pre-owned vehicle lot featuring a 3,500 square-foot one-story sales office.

Interbrand Design Forum, a retail-design and architectural firm headquartered in Dayton, Ohio, has been creating retail brand designs for American Honda Motor Co. Inc., since its 1996-introduction of the Generation1 Honda dealership prototype design that featured the company’s now-signature blue cylinder entry and wave canopy architectural elements – both created from aluminum composite material.

The new Clark Knapp Honda dealership is clad in a total of 6,500 sq. ft. of Alucobond® aluminum composite material (ACM) by 3A Composites USA in the 4mm thickness and three colors, including: 4,500 square feet in the custom Honda Motor Co. Blue, 1,200 square feet in Sunrise Silver and 800 square feet in Bone White.

 “Honda offers a unique design on auto row,” said Jim Williamson, executive director, client services, Interbrand Design Forum. “You don’t see a lot of blue cylinders and waves. People recognize it.”

These signature architectural elements were introduced in the Honda Generation 1 prototype design, which was focused on “creating a friendly atmosphere attuned to the female shopper in the marketplace,” explained Williamson.

The 2002-introduced Generation 2 Honda dealership design offered an interior update, while 2011’s Generation 3 dealership design featured both interior and exterior upgrades.

“The entry cylinder was updated to include a lot more glass, creating transparency into the dealership,” said Williamson, of the Generation 3 Honda design. “It serves as a beacon for the building. We also reduced the depth of the Honda signature wave design on the building in order to improve facility maintenance. … The aluminum composite material is easy to clean. It provides an upscale, updated look to Honda dealerships.”

Bob Simpson, AIA, principal of McAllen, Texas-based Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects Inc., worked with Clark-Knapp Properties, Ltd., of McAllen, and Interbrand Design Forum to adapt the Honda prototype design to meet owner requirements for this specific site within Honda design guidelines, including incorporating Honda’s Generation 3 materials and color specifications. The new Honda dealership in Pharr was designed to replace the existing Clark Knapp Honda dealership in downtown McAllen.

“The owners knew that they needed to be near the expressway,” said Simpson. “This new location in Pharr offers a good street view (on Sugar Road) and easy access from the expressway, which also provides a great deal of visibility for the dealership. ... Additional property has been acquired adjacent to the Honda dealership, so they have room to grow.”

The Clark Knapp Honda dealership features an open two-story showroom with second-floor offices that are separated from the showroom by a glass railing. Parts storage areas are provided on both the first and second floors. The first floor is designed with sales and break-room areas, a children’s play area, a customer waiting area and a retail-sales boutique. The attached one-story service center features service bays and a car wash.

“We utilized the prototype building plan and adapted it to fit this specific site so it would work well architecturally and also allow us to incorporate value engineering,” said Simpson.

Architectural design was completed in November 2012 with construction started in February 2013.

“The Alucobond looks great,” said Simpson. “Interbrand Design Forum created the cylinder-shaped entry. It’s a curved vertical shape with a radius around the door opening. The blue aluminum composite material clads the main entrance cylinder as well as a wave canopy. It’s a challenge in terms of flashing to create all of this curved metal.”

The Alucobond panels were fabricated by Bowman Distributing Co., of San Benito, Texas, which installed them with a rout and return wet-seal system. D. Wilson Construction Co., of McAllen, served as general contractor for the project.

“Fabricating the wave canopy – including the trim and curved panels on top and bottom – was challenging,” commented Juan Marchan, general partner, Bowman Distributing, who said the company created its own canopy model through a series of design templates and photos loaded into AutoCAD computer software for use with a CNC router.

“We’ve completed similar unique designs, but this one was quite challenging because of the fascia,” said Eduardo Richa, general partner, Bowman Distributing. “Not only did the canopy feature a curve but a carved fascia with a return. Alucobond routes on a CNC machine very well compared to other products. … We’ve used Alucobond for years. This material is very consistent in its thickness, which makes it easy to route. It doesn’t delaminate or stick to the tool. It’s more tolerant in the fabrication process.”

Fabrication of the Alucobond panels was begun in March 2014 by Bowman Distributing, which completed installation in May.

“We’ve received many compliments on this job,” said Marchan. “The curved canopy and entry cylinder are impressive. When people see this Honda dealership, they’re impressed.”

American Honda Motor Co. revises its dealership prototype design every four to five years, according to Williamson, who said that updated dealerships usually see an uptick in business.

“In general, we see an improvement in customer traffic and business,” said Williamson. “People are more comfortable in these stores, which are designed with a space to relax. This can be a very stressful purchase because a vehicle is a big-ticket item. We try to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone.”

Photography by Bob Simpson, courtesy of Boultinghouse Simpson Gates Architects

About ALUCOBOND, Manufactured by 3A Composites USA

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