The Louisiana Superdome’s exterior is now clad with the new Kalzip FC façade system. The first phase was completed on schedule August 1, 2009, prior to the start of the football season; the second portion was completed in 2010. The lower portion uses about 85,000 square feet of the Kalzip FC façade system, and the upper, curved walls called for 280,000 square feet of Kalzip.
Catalyst for new system
Restoring and resurfacing the Louisiana Superdome after it was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina was a complex task. The state-owned Superdome, which has been part of the New Orleans skyline for more than 40 years, gained international attention in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane. So restoration was monitored around the world, particularly by members of the design and build community.
The process began with a comprehensive evaluation of the damage. From that came a set of performance-based criteria that called for restoring the original appearance with a system that would solve the panel replacement difficulties of the previous one. The call to meet these criteria drew the attention of Kalzip engineers and the final result was the new high performance Kalzip FC façade system.
Several architecture firms worked as a team on the project. Trahan Architects, located in Baton Rouge, was lead architect of a Joint Venture with Billes Architecture and Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, both located in New Orleans.
Trahan Architects conducted the initial study of the damage. According to Brad McWhirter, project manager for Trahan: “The original system was riveted into the decking and the only way to repair a panel was to take out the ones around it. We took an inventory of every damaged panel on the building to prepare a repair package for FEMA. We could have replaced just the damaged panels, but we would have had a striped facade that looked like a zebra.”
The state of Louisiana, which owns the facility, wanted a system that would allow repair of single panels without pulling off the whole system, which in essence was a call for a custom system. The specifications also required rigorous testing of the system in mock up form. “The entire wall system, not just the panels, had to meet specifications for wind resistance and other severe weather conditions. It was a state project so it went to the lowest responsible bidder, which was Gibbs Construction. So it was up to them to bring in the product,” McWhirter said. Gibbs Construction is located in Harahan, LA, and was general contractor on the project.
“Specifications were performance based so anyone could go after the job, but obviously there were risks in taking on this project because of its worldwide visibility. Kalzip came up with the concept and their performance is commendable,” he added.
Chad Schexnayder, sales manager for Ryerson, a metals service center in St. Rose, LA, was also part of the team. “When we saw that this job called for the exterior to be clad with aluminum, we got the word out to hundreds of our vendors. Kalzip responded and joined with us and our sub-vendors to form a team. When Gibbs won the bid to do the job we all partnered with them,” he said.
The team went through three or four different designs before deciding on the final system. “This system is lightweight and performs very well in wind testing and other aspects. This testing also determines the spacing of the panels. A big part of installing the panels on this new Kalzip FC façade system is lining up the mullions. If that’s not done right the panels will not fit well nor click or press into place as they should,” Schexnayder said.
The Kalzip FC façade system also met appearance criteria. The new anodized aluminum is the same color as the original facade, but with today’s technology the finish has been improved to ensure the panels maintain their appearance.
Doug Bruza, senior project manager for Gibbs Construction, managed installation of the FC façade system on the Superdome and was involved in the project from the beginning. “The biggest challenge was the timeframe. We had 180 days to design and develop the system, so we quickly pulled all the players together. Kalzip brought in its international team and our company also played a role in the product development,” Bruza said.
Gibbs had to be sure certain criteria in the contract were met. “The biggest thing was to provide an individually replaceable metal wall panel and attachment system. Kalzip was the only one that could come up with this feature. The original wall system was installed from bottom to top. So if a panel was damaged you would have to take off 118 feet of panels to replace just one,” Bruza noted.
During work on the lower portion this feature was put to the test. “We had a few instances where we had to change out a panel that had been installed. We simply removed the single panel and replaced it, which clearly demonstrated how easy the system worked as designed,” Bruza said.
“The Kalzip system is excellent. Because of the ease of installation it can drastically reduce time and labor. It uses a mullion clip and a notch system, which is an adjustable clip system that provides a slot connection point for the mullion. It is also a rainscreen system, which is not commonly used in this area,” Bruza said.
McWhirter agrees. “It really looks like this system has met and in some cases exceeded our expectations for flexibility and ease of installation. It’s been an interesting journey from where it started with the first ideas to where it is now. Kalzip really stepped up to the plate. It’s really come together nicely,” he said.
The Kalzip FC façade system is ideal for new construction, and is particularly beneficial for retrofit and replacement especially in cases where portions of structures have sustained major damage. It also can enhance a building’s appearance while providing unique aspects not found in other systems.
It is a bi-directional concealed fastener system that allows aluminum profiles to be installed either from the bottom up or top down, or in both directions simultaneously to speed installation. The system allows individual panels to be easily removed and replaced without compromising adjoining panels or the overall appearance of a structure’s façade. The clip connection provides extreme high wind suction resistance for the façade.
The Kalzip FC façade system installs easily and without penetrations using brackets and a modular click rail. The panels are hooked over the designated clips and pressed into place so that each panel clicks into a bracket. The clips are also available in a continuous rail format, where the clip areas are notched out to the exact spacing needed for the panel modules. The Kalzip pre-notched rail is an option that makes installation simpler and more precise by eliminating the need for measuring distances between individual brackets or clips.