In 2001, the New Memphis Arena Public Building Authority was created to oversee construction of a new downtown multi-use sports and entertainment arena in Memphis, Tennessee. The Authority selected the architecture and engineering firm of Ellerbe Becket to design the new downtown arena, which opened in 2004.
Lead architect Jon Niemuth of Ellerbe Becket writes in his architectural statement, “…the Arena site is an epicenter of regional and national history and popular culture. These elements create an opportunity to express and fuse elements of the past with those of today in a contemporary expression.”
When executives at engineering and construction giant Fluor Corp. decided to build a new global corporate headquarters in Irving, Texas, meeting a tight construction deadline was of the utmost importance. Design plans for the 140,000-square-foot, three-story, dual-wing corporate building were begun in mid-June 2005, with ground-breaking in late July. Just eight months later, construction was completed. Similar projects, according to Fluor, usually require a 16-month timeline to complete.
Contributing to this impressive construction timeline was the selection of Alucobond® aluminum composite material (ACM) by Alcan Composites USA for a brand-new application – custom sunscreen louvers. Not only were these energy-saving sunscreen louvers designed, fabricated and delivered for installation in a much more timely fashion than pre-manufactured sunscreens, they contributed to this project’s submission for certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System.
St. Louis-headquartered Clayco, Inc., served as general contractor for this design-build project in conjunction with its architectural firm Forum Studio, Inc., which handled shell and core design.
“Incorporating sustainable principles in the building design just makes LEED certification easier and less expensive,” said Lance McOlgan, project manager, Forum Studio, Inc. “One example is the distance from the exterior wall to the core being 30 feet, which allows for better day lighting of the interior and that, in turn, reduces the lighting load.”
A tilt-wall design was used to construct the new Fluor headquarters, with windows added to give the building an open feel, according to DeWitt Porter, vice president, operations, Fluor Corp.
“We let the architects come to us with a design,” said Porter. “One of the reasons we didn’t go with an existing building is that we wanted a campus feel. … Tilt-wall is used a lot in warehouse design and that’s not the look we wanted from an exterior perspective. We wanted a corporate, open feel and that’s why we have all of the glass. The glass makes the building feel more spacious.”
In addition to the campus feel, Fluor executives required a building design that would not only reflect the company’s values but establish a presence in Irving that displayed Fluor’s commitment to the Dallas region, according to McOlgan. “The building needed to be contextual and responsive to the Texas environment,” he said.
According to www.weatherbase.com, during the past 30 years, the average high temperature in Irving, Texas, in July reached 96.8 degrees. The average high in June reached 92.1 degrees, and it reached 96.3 degrees in August.
“We used the louvers to aid in cooling the building, to reduce the heat load, and to make the building more comfortable,” said Porter. “We were concerned that with all of the glass in this building we would have a horrendous heat load. We were trying to reduce the heat load and make the building more comfortable for people in the afternoon hours.”
The sunscreen louvers were designed to shade the building’s glass-lined dining area and an image-lined history walkway.
“With the dining area having an all-glass wall system and southern exposure, the shading device is critical in reducing heat load and lowering demand on the cooling system,” said McOlgan.
When project managers at Clayco, Inc., learned that the pre-fabricated aluminum sunscreens originally specified for the Fluor headquarters would not be delivered for installation until 14 to 16 weeks after customer approval, they approached NOW Specialties, Inc., of Carrollton, Texas, for costs and timelines to fabricate custom louvers. NOW also would complete sunscreen louver installation.
“This project had a very compressed schedule; so, when we learned of the very long lead times on the pre-manufactured product, we presented the alternative of fabricating sunscreens out of Alucobond,” said Dave Jennings, business development manager, NOW Specialties. “We knew we could get a very good turnaround from Alcan Composites and save money (over the pre-manufactured aluminum sunscreens).”
It would be a brand-new application for NOW Specialties to design and fabricate sunscreen louvers from Alucobond. “This was something we had not done before and a rather unusual application for us,” said Jennings. “But it worked out very well. These sunscreens contributed to the project’s LEED points, as well as saved money and lead time. Alucobond is very easily fabricated into a variety of shapes. We knew we could custom create these shapes in our shop.”
Alucobond is an aluminum composite material that consists of two sheets of .02” aluminum thermobonded to a plastic core. Alucobond provides extraordinary flatness and rigidity, excellent formability, low weight and outstanding weather resistance.
The sunscreen louvers were fabricated from 10,000 square feet of 4 mm thick Alucobond in the bone white color. The sunscreen fins were fabricated from Alucobond with the inside rails fabricated from 3-inch aluminum and painted to match. Stainless steel fasteners were used as attachments.
Well into sunscreen fabrication, NOW Specialties found itself short five panels of Alucobond in the 62-inch by 196-inch sheet size. Alcan Composites provided the needed sheets one week later. “We didn’t think there was any way that Alcan could turn the material that fast,” said Jennings.
“We had potential liquid damages that were staggering – thousands of dollars per day for not meeting the construction schedule – so we approached Alcan about the turnaround time,” said Trevor Ryor, project manager, Clayco, Inc.
The Alucobond sunscreen louvers not only met a tight construction timeline but have blended well into the building’s design, according to Ryor.
“We used aluminum composite metal panels on the soffits and vertical panels on the walls; the sunscreen louvers matched perfectly,” said Ryor. “They turned out very well in both their look and color match.”
“This was our first experience using ACM in this fashion and we are very pleased with the final product,” said McOlgan. “The project had a fast-track schedule, so the curved and irregular geometry of the trellis made meeting the construction schedule difficult. What made the ACM a great solution was the ability to fabricate the louvers locally. NOW could take a standard sheet of ACM and fabricate each custom-sized louver at their shop.
“These louvers have been installed for only a few months now. We will need to take a look at this installation in a few years to see how it faired. The final product really depends upon the fabricator. NOW did a great job. We would recommend that a mockup be made before attempting this again with a different contractor.”
In addition to the sunscreen louvers, 4,000 square feet of 4 mm Alucobond was provided in the custom cool zinc gray color to match the building’s standing seam roof and installed as exterior trim at building soffits and around the sunscreen louvers.