Although the major addition to the Iowa Western Community College Performing Arts Center in Council Bluffs, IA was planned when the original facility was built in 2000, it was still 12 years before the 11,000 sq. ft. addition was finally constructed. Containing classrooms in support of the Center's educational component, the addition's exterior is clad with metal, including 5,200 sq. ft. of 14-gauge DRI-DESIGN Weathering Steel wall panels.
Both the original building and the stunning addition were designed by HDR of Omaha, NE. The material palette for the original building consisted of cast-in-place concrete, glass, limestone and painted galvanized roof decking. The addition is altogether different.
“Had the addition come sooner or been smaller, we probably would have gone with those same exterior materials,” explained David Lempke, design principal. “But one of the tenets of our design philosophy is that buildings should be ‘of our time’. Something that has been intriguing for the past decade is the use of weathered steel. It has clearly become more commonplace in projects.”
At the college, weathered steel had previously been used on a main entry sign, a clock tower and several bridges that cross the creek running through campus. “We picked up on that existing material that was in the bones of the campus,” Lempke said. “The DRI-DESIGN panels provided a great benefit because we could select a thicker gauge of steel. The 14-gauge panels were pretty hefty and substantial, yet still able to be bent.”
HDR has designed with DRI-DESIGN before but this was the firm’s first use of weathered steel. “The advantage of DRI-DESIGN is that it offers a system that’s already engineered and works with very minor tweaking. That’s not always true of other weathered steel products,” Lempke noted.
The patented DRI-DESIGN Wall Panel System is an affordable dry joint, pressure-equalized rainscreen system. The system was installed by Omaha’s SGH.
Photographs by Mark Kempf, St. Louis