By Alli ReauVeau
Education Specialist, Steel IQ Inc.
To some, weathered steel represents decay and decline. But to a growing number of architects, artisans and building owners—particularly in the desert southwest—weathered steel is a wonderful thing.
Steel IQ, Inc. of Phoenix markets a line of weathered steel roofing and siding called Bare Naked Steel™, and the company’s products are featured on a pair of recently renovated buildings in the heart of Phoenix’s Arts District.
The properties, located at 901 and 905 N. 4th Street, are owned by Norm Fox. Working with architect Andy Pulsipher, general contractor Scott Fisher and artists Nathan Ward and Pete Deise, Fox completed his architectural works of art in March 2009.
Fox said he chose Steel IQ’s A606 for the project because he “wanted to bring back the historic and authentic look of downtown Phoenix.” The area was developed in 1908 and back then the area’s bungalow homes had tin roofs. “The A606 gave the authentic look and the ambiance I was looking for,” he noted. Fox is hoping that his restoration of the two commercial-use houses will inspire others to do the same and eventually attract new business to the area.
Pulsipher, the architect, is a protégé of the late Alfred Beadle. He said he usually uses some form of steel in his work, because of its “permanence and versatility”, and uses bare steel whenever appropriate. He concurred with Fox that Steel IQ’s A606 is ideal for historic preservation projects like the 901 & 905 homes.
The two structures were similar to one another but not identical. And Fox had no desire to make them so. In the 905 house, the desire was to maintain the existing open rafter design, but to trim-out the rafters with the weathered steel. Because of the added weight of the heavy-gauge A606, the original 2 x 4 roof structure had to be reinforced with steel supports and 2 x 6 furring. To ensure the new roof assembly was modern in terms of its energy efficiency, 6” of foam insulation was added between the 2 x 6s. The natural air pockets created by the corrugated material’s shape contribute to the energy efficiency of the assembly as well.
The 901 home already had good insulation so work on that dwelling was limited to reroofing. “Basically we took two inefficient houses and made them energy efficient and beautiful,” Pulsipher said.
As with any bare steel product, staining will appear around the perimeter of the building as water runs off the steel, unless a gutter system is installed. The buildings have no gutter system, which was deliberate. “We put pavers around the perimeter and wanted the staining to add to the vintage look. Around each rebar pole there is a small rust stain that is actually a great natural affect that adds to the charm,” Pulsipher explained.
One of the general contractors, Scott Fisher, owner of 21st Century Construction, said working with the A606 was no different than any other metal. He said he was proud of the way the project turned out.
When reminded of the significant environmental benefits of using a domestic A606, Fox, Fisher and Pulsipher said they were aware of the benefits of using steel but that “green” building was not their focus. They did not seek a LEED certification. The authenticity, nostalgia and life-span were the defining elements. The lack of a warranty did not concern them. Pulsipher confirmed, “I know steel and this steel will last forever”.
The lack of formal recognition does not mean the two buildings are not environmentally friendly or energy efficient. The steel used, for example, features more than 70% domestic recycled content, made and melted in the USA via an Electric Arc Furnace (EAF). The EAF method uses 67% less coal and 40% less energy than a traditional Blast Oven Furnace. The mill of origin is an ANSI/ISO 14001; 2004 certified facility, owned and operated by the nation’s largest steel recycler. And steel used on these two buildings is also maintenance free and will never need to be painted, sealed or power washed. This makes this renovation an architectural, environmental and historic work of art.
Contributions by Nathan Ward to the project included a massive Buddha, a rebar canopy, a railing and an expansive swirling wall sculpture on 901. He also used reclaimed grates to cover a door and window. These textural elements set the stage for an industrial Zen experience.
Pete Deise was responsible for the interior sculpture inside the 901 building. The detail is proof of steel’s ability to be as gracious as it is strong.
About Steel IQ
Steel IQ, Inc. focuses on the environmental use cold roll ASTM A1008 and ASTM A606 (aka: core-ten, rustic, exotic or weathered steel). The company markets its bare steel products under the name Bare Naked Steel™, and A606 under the name COR-10™. The “ore to door” environmental attributes of the company’s products are verified at the time of purchase.