Upson Hall, Cornell University


Originally built in 1956, Cornell University’s Upson Hall was reinvented to meet 21st Century standards for campus planning, learning and research environments, and energy performance. Approximately 29,000 square feet of finished assemblies consisting of Metalwërks'® ornamental metal enclosures and Arcwall™ rainscreen panels were instrumental in transforming the 155,000 square-foot, LEED Platinum® structure into a thermally-efficient, aesthetically-forward, enriched hub for student learning and innovation.

“It was the optimal design decision for us to use the metal plate system on this project,” said Craig Sobeski, Project Designer with Perkins+Will, the architecture firm responsible for the building’s design. “The plate afforded us an incredible amount of control over the façade geometry, while also accommodating a high-performing wall system. Metalwërks’ product let us achieve an extremely precise level of detailing as well as the high R-value required for the building’s energy performance goals.”

In total, Metalwërks provided approximately 85,000 lbs. of aluminum for the building façade. The company was responsible for providing ornamental surrounds for the windows, and Arcwall aluminum plate panel rainscreen for soffits, fascia, and coping. This economical drained and back-ventilated rainscreen system is manufactured from formed aluminum or stainless plate. It offers design flexibility, and can be flat, curved or formed into custom 3D profiles. It can be installed both horizontally and vertically.

“The Arcwall rainscreen was adaptable to the building’s existing conditions and was flexible enough to use across the renovation of the existing structure,” explained Sobeski. “It’s a fun product because it can be shaped to precise levels of tolerance. We are not limited, and can achieve that which we draw using this type of metal plate.”

To ensure the building achieved high energy efficiency standards illustrated by a high R-value — measuring a material’s ability to resist heat flow — continuous insulation was installed under the metal panels. The coffered window surrounds helped the thick wall system transition gracefully to the deeply-recessed windows, creating a robust thermal barrier while simultaneously shading the openings from excessive heat gain.

“The continuous insulation had to be at a certain thickness to achieve the high energy performance,” Sobeski added. “Using a thin metal panel like Metalwërks’ let us achieve the desired aesthetic while maintaining a high R-value. We work with Metalwërks products when we require high performing façades.”

Architectural finishes for the windows, curtainwall, and panels was a 2-coat Bone White PVDF. A 3-coat Bright Yellow accent trim was scattered throughout the façade — a detail that nodded to the building’s original façade, which featured yellow metal panels.

Cornell’s Upson Hall was completed in 2017. Perkins +Will Architects were the project architects. Thornton Thomasetti provided façade and structural engineering, LEED management, energy modeling, and building physics consulting services.

About Metalwërks®


Metalwërks® is a manufacturer of architectural metal claddings and wall systems. To learn more, visit


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