Warren Civic Center

3A Composites USA

With the opening of the Warren Civic Center – housing the new city hall and library – in November 2006, a master plan for the City of Warren, Mich., first drafted in 1963 came to fruition. According to Aug, 24, 2004, news reports of the civic center groundbreaking ceremonies by the City of Warren Communications Department, the city’s mayor presented a copy of the Aug. 29, 1956, edition of the Warren Township Journal, with a headline announcing: “Approve plans for future city hall.” 

“Those days have come and gone,” said City of Warren Mayor Mark Steenbergh, of Warren’s township status at the groundbreaking. “I grew up here and watched Warren become a city. Our citizens are hungry for a place of identity. This project brings that to the city.”

The city hall, library and city square park are within the boundaries of the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA), created within city-controlled land across from the General Motors Technical Center. The DDA is zoned to allow for more density and mixed-use projects.

“When you look at the master plan, this use has always been intended for this area,” said Gina Cavaliere, DDA director, in City of Warren Communication Department ground-breaking ceremony reports. “This is very symbolic for where we are as a community. Warren is a great place to live and work, now and into the future.”

The $30-million 109,667-square-foot Warren Civic Center is supported by a 600-car parking structure.

With a 2007 population of 135,000, Warren is the third-largest city in Michigan. But, according to a civic center design statement by Neumann/Smith Architects, of Southfield, Mich., the city “is suburban in nature and lacked a downtown central core.”

The architectural firm was charged with designing a large, combined city building not only to replace the outdated existing city hall and library, but to address a broader idea of creating a new downtown, according to the statement:

“Although the City initially envisioned a 19th Century design solution, we recalled the City’s roots as an important industrial and research and development town whose great icon was the GM Tech Center. The resulting design concept is a modern response to the Tech Center. To achieve a complementary ‘bookend’ to the Vehicle Engineering Center, the tallest building on the GM campus, the city hall was stacked over the library to increase its height to four stories. …A grand glass-walled atrium links the floors of the multi-storied building, serves as the indoor public space, and overlooks the new city square. A large cantilevered roof canopy extends out from the atrium over the plaza toward the city square. The structural columns and soffits create a modern formal front porch to the building and provide screening from the sun above.”

Although traditional exterior materials were chosen to construct the civic center – including brick, stone, glass, and metal – they “are boldly composed to create a new image for the City of Warren,” according to Neumann/Smith.

The striking cantilevered canopy was fabricated from Alucobond® Plus aluminum composite material (ACM) with a fire-rated core by Alcan Composites USA in the custom LCH Silver color and 4 mm thickness by Sobotec Ltd., of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Alucobond is an aluminum composite material that consists of two sheets of .02” aluminum thermobonded to a plastic core. Alucobond provides extraordinary flatness and rigidity, excellent formability, low weight and outstanding weather resistance.

Measuring 140 feet at its widest point and 100 feet in length, the Warren Civic Center canopy is comprised of multiple geometrically shaped panels, according to Vlad Sobot, president, Sobotec. The canopy was installed with the SL 2000 Dry Rain Screen System by Sobotec and Buildex stainless steel screws.

“This design is actually a bunch of canopies with a large one on top,” said Sobot. “It looks like an airplane wing that is curved underneath and folds on top of the canopy.”

Sobot credits close communication with installer Michigan Metal Walls, Inc., of Wyandotte, Mich., with the successful completion of the canopy’s complex design through 3-D AutoCAD drawings.

“It turned out very well because of our partnership with an experienced installer,” said Sobot. “We communicated very closely. And, they gave us as many dimensions from the field as possible.”

Installation of the canopy was “surprisingly easy,” according to JR Cislo, project manager, Michigan Metal Walls. “We were very careful with our field measurements and laid it out with AutoCAD,” he said. “We also used a laser to mark our dimensions.”

Michigan Metal Walls manufactured all framing for the canopy from 16-gauge metal framing. The soffit panels were attached from structural steel. Five support columns – 26-inch diameter tubes fabricated from ¼-inch steel and painted to match the Alucobond Plus LCH Silver color – were positioned beneath the canopy.

Although Michigan Metal Walls has installed any number of building canopies, it had not installed one “that high or that big” when it installed the Warren Civic Center canopy, according to Cislo, who said two 80-foot lifts were required to install the soffit and a 125-foot lift was used to install the fascia end. Canopy installation was completed on schedule in six weeks (April through mid-May 2006) and with no safety incidents, according to Cislo.

A total of 23,240 square feet of Alucobond Plus ACM in the LCH Silver color and 4 mm thickness was incorporated into the Warren Civic Center design – including the large canopy. This design was repeated over the library entryway in a 32-foot by 25-foot canopy and in an oblong-shaped soffit measuring 45-feet long by approximately 12 feet wide installed over the library’s book drop-off area. Additionally, Alucobond Plus was incorporated into column covers in the building’s glazing and as in-fill panels in the curtain wall of the parking structure.

“We’re proud of this canopy,” said Cislo. “It’s featured on our office wall to show customers.”

Skanska USA Building, Inc., of Southfield, Mich., served as the project’s general contractor.

About 3A Composites USA

Alucobond logo3A Composites USA offers aluminum composite material. For more information, visit www.alucobondusa.com.

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