Lincoln Park Centre, a 61,000 sq. ft. retail shopping center located at the highly trafficked intersection of North and Clybourn avenues on Chicago’s north side, has undergone the kind of major changes in just a few short years that have made it a real-estate investment company’s dream venture. The project features aluminum composite material cladding from 3A Composites USA.
When White Plains, N.Y.-based Acadia Realty Trust acquired the urban retail property in April 2012 for $31.5 million, Lincoln Park Centre was suffering from tenant losses, including the shuttering of the Borders Books and Music store that had occupied its 25,000-square-foot anchor space. In January 2015, Acadia announced its sale of Lincoln Park Centre to The Georgetown Co., LLC, of New York, for $64 million – more than double its purchase price.
Key to that investment success was an approximate $5 million renovation, including an extensive redesign of the shopping center’s light-hued brick-and-stone exterior façade with a modern metal look that focused on creating a custom, contemporary image for new tenant Design Within Reach Studio. The home furnishings and decor merchandiser opened in July 2014 in Lincoln Park Centre, occupying the second story of the vacated Borders anchor space.
The renovated façade was clad in a combination of uniquely ribbed-and-curved aluminum composite material (ACM) wall panel sections, U-shaped ACM panels and rectangular zinc panels.
The building’s contemporary metal image included 9,652 square feet of 4mm Alucobond® Plus naturAL ACM in the Brushed Stainless finish by 3A Composites USA. The Alucobond panels were fabricated by Sobotec Ltd., of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and installed by Architectural Panel Systems, Inc., of Naperville, Ill., utilizing Sobotec’s SL-2000 Dry Joint Rainscreen System. Ernie Loberg Construction of Rolling Meadows, Ill. served as general contractor for the project.
Steven Weiss, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C, principal, Weiss Architects, LLC, of Chicago, was hired by Acadia Realty Trust to complete this renovation project, incorporating Design Within Reach store schematics by New York-based Sayigh + Duman architects.
The Design Within Reach anchor space occupies a large curved building facing the intersection of North Avenue and Halsted Street. “This building features a big curve and faces into a street corner; it’s very visible,” said Weiss, who was the architect of the original Lincoln Park Centre development in 2004.
Sayigh + Duman architects created an updated image for the Design Within Reach Studio that required removal of the building’s third-story curved tower that had featured Borders corporate identity signage – bringing the building down to the level of the parapet all the way around. Completing this streamlined, contemporary update was uniquely ribbed-and-curved metal cladding.
“We looked at corrugated steel in a ribbed material,” said Weiss. “But you can’t bend a formed material into this curve. … Alucobond is so workable. You can make curved panels. The ribs are fastened from behind so that this cladding looks like it’s carved from a block of steel.”
“When we looked at corrugated steel panels, the costs were high and the material could not achieve the desired look,” said Ross Boehmer, president, Architectural Panel Systems, whose company has completed several projects with Weiss Architects. “Alucobond was by far a better option. The radius of this building is not uniform; it changes. All lines featuring the Alucobond had to perfectly line up with the louvers, and they do line up perfectly on this job.”
Both Architectural Panel Systems and Sobotec were brought in for consultation during the renovation project’s design phase.
“When we learned that the architects wanted curved metal panels with ribbing, we provided solutions using Alucobond,” said Vlad Sobot, president, Sobotec. “We knew we could create ribs with the Alucobond and install those ribs in panel sections in the shop. These were not just straight, flat panels; the majority of panels were curved.”
The unique radius of this building’s profile was its “key feature,” according to Sobot.
Sobotec fabricated approximately 1,400 Alucobond ribs – either curved or flat – that were shop-installed with concealed fasteners into 200 wall panel sections averaging 4-feet by 8-feet. Additionally, Sobotec fabricated 24 U-shaped 4-by-5 foot Alucobond panels for installation around first- and second-story windows on the retail center’s anchor space.
“These wall sections were easy to install in the field with hidden fasteners,” said Sobot. “We’ve completed many projects in this manner. By assembling these panel sections in the shop, labor costs are reduced because labor is much more expensive in the field. The controlled shop environment also allows us to match all of the ribs from one panel section to the next.”
Weiss credits the cladding’s exact fit to precision engineering by Sobotec.
“Sobotec engineers are geniuses,” said Weiss. “They really engineered this cladding incredibly precisely and were extremely detail-oriented. They got the reveals exactly where I wanted them, and there were no exposed fasteners. This building looks like a finely-crafted museum. Everything fit together incredibly well.”
The Lincoln Park Centre renovation project was one of the first to utilize the Alucobond naturAL in the new Brushed Stainless finish.
“The Alucobond brushed stainless finish is spectacular,” said Weiss. “It looks like brushed steel.”
The successful sale of the shopping center – which now is home to new tenants Design Within Reach, Eddie Bauer and Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams as well as legacy tenants Sur La Table and Carter’s – may be the best endorsement for this renovation project’s design.
“We were very happy with this project,” said Sobot. “The fact that the retail center sold so well speaks to the quality and image that Alucobond can give a building when it is fabricated and installed correctly.”
Photography by Paul Biasco.