North Star Academy


The new North Star Academy, a Duluth (MN) Edison Charter School, uses the latest in construction products and techniques to create a stimulating educational environment based on friendliness, openness and comfort.

The 90,000 sq. ft. facility, which serves up to 900 K-8 students, is clad with two styles and five colors of insulated metal wall panels from Lewisville, TX-based Metl-Span. In all, approximately 30,000 sq. ft. of the company’s 3”-thick CF24 and CF36 Architectural Flat panels were utilized. Colors chosen for the various sections of the multi-level structure were Tahoe Blue, Dove Gray, Regal Gray and Cool Zinc Gray.

The Minneapolis office of the DLR Group was responsible for the building’s design. Associate Mark Vetter led the design team and recommended insulated metal panels as the appropriate choice for the major exposed envelope material. “The integration of thermal and moisture protection in a factory-foamed panel that could be directly and quickly applied to a steel frame in almost any weather was an important factor,” Vetter said. “And the fact that the panels were lightweight for ease of handling made the value engineering decisions by the overall team relatively easy.”

The design team also wanted to explore the use of dominant colors and textures found in the natural northern Minnesota environment and nearby Lake Superior. The four-color-palette of warm, light-to-medium gray Metl-Span panels, mixed with highlighted areas of blue panels, provides for a large building that seems to set quietly in its surrounding. “The sunlight on the panels creates ever-changing, multi-faceted hues and color values that make for a very interesting and nuanced envelope,” said Vetter.

The installation of the Metl-Span panels was handled by Specialty Systems, Inc. of Burnsville, MN. “This was probably the largest Metl-Span job we’ve done,” estimated Marshall Johnson, project manager. “All of the panels were ordered from a field-measured cut list and installed using a customized clip system. The site was tight and so was the schedule—we put up the whole job in a little more than a month. Metl-Span really excelled on the project.”

Kraus-Anderson Construction Company, Duluth, was the general contractor.

About Metl-Span

Metl-Span-logoMetl-Span, a Nucor company, manufactures insulated metal wall and roof systems for projects ranging from architectural to cold-storage. To learn more, visit

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