Altara Center

ALPOLICĀ® / Mitsubishi Chemical America

Honduras holds a rich architectural history stretching back thousands of years – from the plazas and pyramids of Maya civilization; through the Moorish, Gothic and Baroque forms of Spanish colonialism; to the eclectic styles now found across the villages and cities of an independent Republic. Honduran architecture reflects the cultural identities and aspirations of generations of Central American people. And so it goes for the new Altara Center, featuring ALPOLIC materials from Mitsubishi Chemical Composites America Inc.

Altara Center brings shopping, dining and entertainment establishments to the Altia Business Park. Altia Business Park Marketing Manager, Kathia Yacaman, describes this development center as “the first smart city in Honduras.”

Located in the northwestern city of San Pedro Sula – the second largest city in Honduras with a metro area population of more than 1.2 million – the Altia Business Park houses office towers, a university campus, a medical center, exercise and sports facilities, a hotel and more. It’s designed to provide for all the business, living, recreational and social needs of people who work there – while also serving the community as a whole.

The Altara Center is the main portal connecting Altia’s business tenants and visitors, university students, and the wider community. As such, its façade and entryway represent the aspirations of people from all walks of life – or as the creators of Altia Business Park have said, “We envision a better Honduras and are not only dreamers, but also change makers! We are a humble country that passionately believes in peace and democracy and that this is a land of opportunities.”

A sales manager for ALPOLIC® materials said the decision to use the company’s ACM on the exterior of The Altara Center came about because the architect, Gerardo Lopez, was looking for something different. “He was familiar with aluminum composite material, but he wanted something that would be different from the typical silver and metallic colors, or gray and white. He wanted something eye-catching.”

Lopez found exactly what he was looking for with the ALPOLIC Prismatic line. “When he learned we could provide a finish that would be kind of like a chameleon – changing colors throughout the day as the sun changes position, as if the finish is alive – he fell in love with the idea,” Diaz recalls. But the architect wanted tones on the blue-purple end of the spectrum, not the prismatic colors available in-stock. The project would require custom color formulation, with samples provided up-front to ensure the full run of material would match the architect’s vision. With ALPOLIC, what the architect wants, the architect gets.

“If an architect wants a blue color,” Diaz explains, “there are thousands of blue colors. So we begin with a Pantone or RAL code and use that as a basis. But every material is different. Painted aluminum looks different than a paper or plastic color chip. So it’s important that we provide a sample of the material that’s actually going to be used. If the architect says it’s too dark, or too light, or wants more gloss, we try it again.”

This custom color matching was provided at no cost or commitment to the project owner. And because the Altara façade was a substantial project, ALPOLIC provided the custom-painted composite panels at no additional charge over the stock prismatic colors.

Diaz notes that the Latin American building market is currently flooded with composites manufactured in China. Using ALPOLIC® materials, however, the entire color matching, manufacturing and shipping process took only a fraction of the time it would have taken to get panels shipped from China, even if provided in a readily available color.

The architectural plan for the façade called for perforations in the cladding material, backed by multicolored LED lighting. ALPOLIC® MCM materials are easy to fabricate in virtually unlimited shapes and patterns. The fabricator, WINDOTEC-Honduras, created these perforated patterns as well as routing and bending the edges of each panel to accommodate a dry seal attachment system.

The panels were fastened to a concave wall structure, so light is reflected at different angles from one end to the other as well as throughout the day. The effect is perfectly executed, and as Diaz reports, “The customer loves the product. They’re happy with the outcome. We have a happy customer here.”

On the completed project, hues constantly shift from sky blue through violet with changes in time, weather and viewing angle. At night, the experience shifts again as the LEDs take prominence, backlighting the patterned perforations and inviting visitors to imagine the world of colors and textures inside the mall.

The colorful glazed entryway also features ALPOLIC® materials in a silver canopy that ties the fanciful exterior together with a sense of monumental solidity. More prismatic panels decorate the interior skylight, connecting the whole experience as visitors enter the space.

The design of the Altara Shopping and Retail Center couldn’t be further removed from the legacy of a Mayan pyramid or Spanish cathedral. But that’s the whole point. It’s a forward-looking structure that invites imaginative exploration of all that’s becoming possible in Honduras. In a country that has faced many challenges over its long history, Altara looks to an engaging, embracing future.

About Mitsubishi Chemical America  - ALPOLIC Division

ALPOLIC Meet the SupplierALPOLIC® Metal Composite Materials (MCM) have been manufactured since 1991 at Mitsubishi Chemical America’s Chesapeake, VA location. ALPOLIC ® MCM is among the most versatile and useful architectural materials available, and our manufacturing, distribution and support capabilities extend worldwide. ALPOLIC ® offers the rigidity of heavy-gauge architectural metals in a lightweight composite material, with a standard polyethylene or fire-resistant core available in an unmatched selection of colors and finishes. For more information about ALPOLIC ®, visit or call 800-422-7270.

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