The Ben White Branch of the University Federal Credit Union (UFCU) in Austin, TX uses curved panels from Kalzip to create a unique but highly functional element of this dynamic green building.
The facility actually has two of these unique cylindrical aluminum sheaths. One encircles a cistern that is part of the building’s rainwater collection system and the other is a sign that replicates the cover on the cistern.
Austin-based Jackson & McElhaney Architects was the architect of record for the project, which won a prestigious 5-Star Rating from the Austin Energy Green Building Program. Michael McElhaney, AIA, LEED AP, was project architect and Reed Critendon, AIA Associate, was project manager.
“The large rainwater collection tank was an essential part of the project and to make it look sleeker; we sheathed it with Kalzip perforated material. We replicated the cistern with the other structure for the signage and placed the two on either end of the building to create a dynamic composition between the building and the towers,” said Michael McElhaney.
Panels made of 0.047-gauge aluminum were curved to a 5-foot-6-inch radius to create a cylinder that was factory formed in two pieces and placed together on the jobsite. Sets of three different types of panels make up each structure. The bottom ring on each tower is made of Kalzip 65/400 stucco embossed solid aluminum. The middle portion on each one is Kalzip 65/400 perforated with 22.7% free space that makes it semi-transparent. The top panels are Kalzip 65/400 perforated with 51% free space to allow more transparency. A total of 1,950 square feet of Kalzip material was used to create both sheaths.
For McElhaney and his team this project had several new experiences and many rewards. “This was the first time I’d used this type of curved perforated product. Most panels would not curve this way but Kalzip has a unique product and the engineering to back it. The engineers at Kalzip helped us examine what curvature was possible and the available perforation patterns. The fun thing about the perforations is seeing how the final product turns out. The towers change from day to night. During the day it’s difficult to tell the material is perforated, but at night it really lightens up the structures,” McElhaney said. Both structures are backlit with amber lighting.
This is the first of six branches planned by UFCU, which has set environmental awareness through green building as a main goal for the projects. The architects wanted to show that green doesn’t have to be standard or boring. So they decided to put a new twist on the cistern. It is the most visible part of the building’s rainwater collection system that reuses rainwater for landscape irrigation and toilet flushing. A pump takes water from the system to either the landscape irrigation system or another pipe connected to plumbing inside the building.
“The dynamic shape of the building demanded a sleeker look than the normally agrarian image of the typical, local cisterns. We researched several metal panel manufacturers, and in the end Kalzip's wide range of perforated aluminum and ribbed panels, along with their ability to roll the panels to a 5-foot radius, made their product the perfect choice. The client is also very proud of the final outcome of the design,” McElhaney said.
This was Jackson & McElhaney Architects’ first facility for UFCU and the firm is now working on designs for several more branches planned by the credit union as it grows over the next few years. UFCU plans to open six more Austin-area branches and is considering making the cistern/sign its identifying mark for the new facilities.
The project’s 5-Star Rating with the Austin Energy Green Building Program is only the second such rating in the program's 13-year history. The recycled content and recyclability of the Kalzip aluminum panels were both beneficial and helped earn points for the project.
UCFC is a mission-driven organization that considers green building and the environment key parts of its program. This member-owned, not-for-profit cooperative is Austin’s largest locally owned financial institution. It serves more than 100 universities, associations and employers in Central Texas and Galveston.