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Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building

3A Composites USA

The new Nils K. Nelson Bioscience Innovation Building at Purdue University Northwest was designed not only to serve as a state-of-the-art teaching facility – housing the university’s college of nursing and department of biological sciences – but as a new “front door” to the 167-acre campus in Hammond, Ind.

Located adjacent to the campus’ main parking lot, the three-story 68,000 square-foot Bioscience Innovation Building – which opened in August 2020 as the first new building constructed on campus since 1998 – was designed by the Chicago studio of CannonDesign to be “a striking symbol of forward-looking student space supporting 21st century education,” according to a CannonDesign statement.

The $40.5-million facility features a contemporary modular design focused on technologically advanced student learning experiences that are showcased through glass-filled classrooms and labs, offering glimpses of today’s STEM learning to science and nonscience-focused students alike. The building’s façade design offers exterior transparency into these programs and interior views back to the surrounding campus.

The façade’s material palette was chosen to complement the mid-century architecture on campus that features red/brown brick on buildings while also providing contrast to the heaviness of nearby structures. While the first floor is clad in brick, the upper two floors feature a lighter, more contemporary façade clad with ALUCOBOND® PLUS aluminum composite material (ACM) by 3A Composites USA and glass.

A total of 24,000 square feet of ALUCOBOND PLUS – including 5,000 square feet of Silver Metallic and 19,000 square feet of Brilliant Silver Metallic both from The Classic Collection – was installed in a modular design on two planes with varying system depths that set off windows. ALUCOBOND PLUS panels were installed in a repeating pattern mixing the Silver Metallic and Brilliant Silver Metallic finishes within wide modules that span the building’s façade. Windows are punched openings within these modules.

CannonDesign reviewed a wide range of silver-hued samples of ALUCOBOND PLUS in the “lighter silver range that would change throughout the day,” according to Brett Lawrence, AIA, LEED AP, associate vice president, CannonDesign in Chicago, who said several flat mock-ups were created to review the ACM samples.

“This is a long building; we wanted to break up the horizontal spans by adjusting the depth of the metal panels and mixing the silver hues,” said Lawrence. “As the sun moves across the side of the building, you see a lot of shadows in the façade.”

In addition to combining two STEM programs, the building was designed to meet the needs of all students who lacked interaction and study spaces on campus and to serve as the university’s new foyer, according to Lawrence.

“This campus has traditionally served commuter students who would sit in their cars between classes,” said Lawrence. “We were called to create more student interaction space within this building. We were able to provide more square footage of this type of space through this program by creating nooks and crannies all over this building for students. … This building is sited at the north end of the university’s main parking lot. We wanted it to become the new front door of the university.”

This new campus “entrance” is marked with “Purdue University Northwest” signature signage attached to a solid area of ALUCOBOND PLUS panels spanning the upper two floors of the building’s façade. “The sign element with metal panels in the background has been well-received,” said Lawrence.

The ALUCOBOND PLUS panels were fabricated by Shaffner Heaney Associates Inc. of South Bend, Ind., and installed by Gary, Ind.-headquartered Crown Corr Inc. General contracting services were provided by a joint venture between Chicago-headquartered Berglund Construction Co. and Powers & Sons Construction Co. Inc. of Gary, Ind.

“We worked with our ALUCOBOND representative because we wanted to push the boundaries as far as metal panel sizes,” according to Lawrence, who said fabricator Shaffner Heaney “tweaked” the final façade design to achieve maximum performance from the ACM panels.

Shaffner Heaney created detailed shop drawings for the façade panels, incorporating two panel depths and contrasting material between the windows, according to Mark Haab, vice president of operations, Shaffner Heaney Associates, who said the company accommodated this unique metal façade design with a custom extrusion system.

“We drew joint lines at the top and bottom of the windows and recommended that the client add these joints to accommodate material expansion and contraction,” said Haab.

Shaffner Heaney fabricated a total of 1,150 panels ranging in size from 14 feet 4 inches tall by 2 feet wide to 3 feet 4 inches tall by 2 feet wide. The majority of horizontal joints in the material are 1.5 inches wide while vertical joints are 2.5 inches wide – the latter to coincide with the window frame width.

Installer Crown Corr provided precise measurements of the work in place to Shaffner Heaney prior to panel fabrication. Glazing had to be installed prior to panel installation and alignment.

Crown Corr spent approximately six months installing the panels.

® ALUCOBOND is a registered trademark of 3A Composites USA.

Photo Credit: © Mark Kempf Photography courtesy of 3A Composites USA

About 3A Composites USA

Alucobond logo3A Composites USA offers aluminum composite material. For more information, visit www.alucobondusa.com.

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