Completed in the 7th century CE, the Hwanryongsa Temple's Wooden Pagoda was once the tallest structure in East Asia, and the tallest wooden building in the entire world. Although it was destroyed in the 13th century, the pagoda remains
an important symbol of the heritage of the city it once towered above, Gyeongju City, North Gyeongsang Province, South Korea. In creating a modern-day homage to the historic structure, designers of the new 17-story Gyeongju Tower at the Gyeongju Cultural
Expo Park sought resilient, long lasting materials for the new building’s construction. They found exactly what they were looking for in the anodized aluminum processed by Lorin Industries.
The reference to the historic pagoda is unmistakable in the new tower’s design as the pagoda’s iconic silhouette is quite literally cut into the larger building’s center. To get the full effect of such an ambitious design, the new building
was envisioned to have reflective surfaces and a metallic finish that would illuminate the structure and show off the city’s ancestral heritage. Composite panels were favored as a cladding, but the chosen product had to have a durable finish,
be corrosion resistant, and have a consistent panel‐to‐panel match quality.
Before any final cladding decisions were made, J.H Lee, President of Garmco Myunghwa Ltd., presented the project’s architect with samples of Lorin Industries’ ClearMatt® Architectural Class II Anodize Film finish.
Lorin manufactures coil anodized aluminum, which can be finished in a wide array of colors and features an anodic layer that is part of the aluminum, meaning it does not chip, flake or peel like paint and other coatings can. According to Lee, the
building owners liked that the clear anodized finish maintained the aluminum’s inherent reflectivity, rather than covering it up. “There are too many buildings in Korea that are painted—and you can tell,” the owners said.
Since the anodized aluminum was processed in a continuous coil operation, the panel-to‐panel match quality exceeded what can typically be achieved in batch anodizing. Stainless steel was considered for the project too, but anodizing has shown to hide
fingerprints and smudges better. Given the building was expected to be a popular tourist attraction, that was an important consideration in making a material choice. Additionally, as the aluminum oxide layer is three times harder than the aluminum
itself, the durability of the finish constituted yet another reason to choose the material for the project. Ultimately specified, Gyeongju Tower, uses 212,400 ft2 (19,700 m2) and 120,000 lbs. (54,000 kgs) of Lorin anodized aluminum.
The type of honeycomb composite panels used on the project are widely specified as an alternative to solid panels, as they provide strength and stiffness without a lot of added weight. Testing shows honeycomb composite panels to weigh just 0.6% more,
while providing nine times the flexural strength and 37 times the stiffness of a solid panel. The use of honeycomb composite panels in construction also typically eliminates the need for welding. Additionally, honeycomb paneling provides
excellent thermal resistance and sound absorption properties.
Now standing tall at the Gyeongju World Cultural Expo Park, the new tower, with its observation lounge and exhibition hall, hosts various cultural events that draw nearly one million visitors annually. Recently, another tower celebrating the Hwanryongsa
Tower joined the Gyeongju City skyline. In a celebration marking the end of a cultural festival, and a hope for the reunification of Korea, a symbolic traditional wedding was performed between the two buildings, suggesting the people of Gyeongju expect
the Gyeongju Tower—and the Lorin aluminum it sports—to remain beautiful and durable long into the future.