Chris Wilson Pavilion

McElroy Metal

In designing the new Chris Wilson Pavilion at Potawatomi Park in South Bend, IN, the architect was charged with creating a high-quality outdoor performing arts locale that would overcome the size and acoustical limitations of a small existing band shell. The new band shell also was desired to be an aesthetic match for an adjacent historic picnic pavilion. One of the key design materials that allowed the architect to meet all goals was a Met-Tile metal tile facsimile roof system from McElroy Metal Inc.

“Potawatomi Park is a highly visited historic attraction, and it was important to preserve its traditional flavor,” notes Kathryn Schuth, an architect with James Childs Architects. The South Bend firm was the architect of record for the Chris Wilson Pavilion. “The picnic pavilion has tall brick piers and is covered by an original clay tile roof, but clay tile was not a viable roofing option for the band shell due to weight and cost concerns,” she explains.

“We quickly turned to metal roofing systems after considering other options, and we looked at samples of the Met-Tile tile facsimile system and found it to be a very good match. It is only a fraction the weight of clay tile, and it also met our requirements for appearance, affordability, and ease of installation.”

Design described

James Childs Architects worked with consulting engineer Yerges Acoustics of Woodridge, IL, and the general contracting firm, The Robert Henry Corporation of South Bend to create a building geometry designed to naturally amplify the performances staged in this band shell. The shell is 60’ wide x 32’ tall at the front of the stage, tapering down to 30’ width at the rear of the structure. The stage can accommodate a 50-member symphony and has a flat floor for theater and dance as well as music. A spacious backstage area is used for storage and changing.

In addition to the Met-Tile roofing, the architect selected brick walls to reflect the look of the picnic area. Universally accessible seating configurations blend benches with grassy areas for flexible seating, and the stage faces north to shield audiences and performers from the glare of the sun. The site was designed to minimize the number of mature hardwood trees displaced by the new structure.

Met-Tile roof specifics

The stage area combines load bearing masonry with wood trusses, featuring large laminate beams over the stage to support the elevated roof. The Met-Tile panels were installed over a standard plywood deck with an ice and water shield and rosin paper underlayment.

The project utilized about 5,200 sq. ft. of the Met-Tile panels and matching accessories in a traditional Mission Clay color with an SMP paint system manufactured by Becker Specialty Corp. The panels were manufactured in lengths ranging from 3’ to 22’ to fit the roof take-off, and are designed for vertical installation from ridge to eave using screw fasteners that are more secure than nails. Met-Tile also supplied flat sheets that were used to form a custom edge trim around the front and sides of the band shell.

The tightly anchored long-length panels are highly resistant to wind (with a 230+ mph wind rating), moisture infiltration and hail, and the sloped metal system resists snow and ice damming in the winter months. In addition, Met-Tile is recognized as an ENERGY STAR® cool roof product. It reflects sunlight away from the building during hot summer days, helping to keep performers a little cooler on the stage below.

Barany Sheet Metal, Inc. of South Bend installed the Met-Tile system using application guidelines and fastening patterns recommended by the manufacturer. “It was our first time using Met-Tile, but we received good support from both the manufacturer’s representative firm of Wm. H. Scarlet & Associates and the Met-Tile technical department,” says John Barany. “The project went smoothly and took our crew about three weeks to complete, including construction of the roof deck, the Met-Tile installation, and installation of the gutter system.”

Architect Kathryn Schuth sums up: “Everyone has been very pleased with the result. Met-Tile provided an attractive and practical roofing solution, combining the functional benefits of metal with the historic look we were seeking for the band shell.”

The Chris Wilson Pavilion was completed in 2009 and was made possible by a combination of public and private funding from the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County, the Rotary Club, the family of Christopher H. Wilson and private trusts.

About McElroy Metal

McElroy Metal logoSince 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The family owned components manufacturer, headquartered in Bossier City, Louisiana, has 14 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company over the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of the business model along with a strong focus on the customer. To learn more, visit

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