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Metal Architecture
Tuesday | 16 August, 2016 | 10:24 am

Dynamic design

By Lauren Duensing

Above: Several types of modular panel systems were used in the project: Centria’s Intercept, Cascade, Versapanel and MetalWrap.

Centria’s modular panels bring function and flexibility to electric utility’s training center

August 2016 - Structural performance is a crucial element of buildings designed and built in the 21st century, and more architects are specifying modular systems, using pieces that can be connected or combined in different ways, to help customize a design so that it can meet occupants’ requirements. 

Kansas City Power & Light opened the latest addition to its Kansas City complex—the Safety and Training Center—late last year. The $22 million facility includes workshops for welding, mechanical and electrical training as well as meeting spaces for companywide functions and office and classroom space for internal departments. 

Amy Gilbertson, architectural project manager at Bell/Knott & Associates, Leawood, Kansas, says that besides housing training programs for trades apprentices, it was important to her client, KCP&L, “that the project incorporate as many methods of energy generation as possible to highlight its dedication to alternative energy. We were able to include a small wind turbine that powers the pond aeration fountain for the stormwater detention pond and three easily accessible solar panel canopies.”

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Installing equipment for clean air distribution helps create an inviting indoor environment.

Another priority was to make the building part of its environment by embracing flora and fauna around the site and “using natural elements to connect the interior to the exterior and adjacent surroundings,” Gilbertson notes.

For example, stone and reclaimed wood were used in the lobby and the first-story break room “opens onto a patio that incorporates the same interior wood pattern tile in an exterior paver.” Employees can stroll down a mile of walking trails along the developed portion of the campus. 

Mix and match

The facility has a highly insulated metal panel sheathing system with integrated punched window openings to maintain a tight exterior cladding, Gilbertson says. “It was completed in two steps [sheath and finish] instead of four [sheathing, insulation, wind/air barriers before finish].”

Several types of modular panel systems developed by Centria were combined to meet the project’s needs: Centria’s Intercept modular metal panel system, Cascade metal panel system, Versapanel and MetalWrap insulated backup system. This project was one of the first to use Intercept modular metal panel system, which Centria introduced in 2014. 

Gilbertson was attracted to the clean aesthetic of the modular metal panel systems, as well as the ability to create dynamic custom designs. She has used modular metal panels on other projects. “The modularity allows for many different configurations and styles that can be presented to the owner in a timely fashion,” the project manager says. “There are also so many options to modify the façade of the building by mixing colors, textures, perforations and depths of panels. You can completely change the feel of a building without modifying the sizes of the panels and openings.”

Intercept panels can be installed in myriad configurations, including formed corners, wing walls, soffits, fascias and curved radial wall sections. Panels also can be custom fabricated. 

The original specification named a competitor’s product, but Intercept was a more economical solution, Gilbertson noted. “[It] offered the same look and feel but it was a more competitive bid. That’s always going to be an important factor.” 

The project also features Cascade single-skin metal panels. Gilbertson says she wanted to use Cascade because of its curved aesthetic and comprehensive functionality. The product was used as an accent wall in areas with industrial applications, filling “a necessary visual role” for the Safety and Training Center. “We wanted to achieve that corrugated look with a panel that we knew was going to perform well,” she says.  

In addition to the Intercept and Cascade panels, Versapanel insulated metal panels were incorporated into the project. Versapanels can be used for both walls and roofs and are available in a range of thicknesses that can handle extreme weather conditions while remaining energy efficient. 

Finally, the total wall system is backed by 3-inch MetalWrap insulated composite backup panels, which integrate seamlessly with the other panel systems. In total, nearly 80,000 square feet of Centria’s high-performance building products were used for the exterior envelope of the Safety and Training Center: 27,015 square feet of Intercept, 33,000 square feet of MetalWrap, 35,054 square feet of Versapanel and 6,688 square feet of Cascade—in addition to Formavue windows and Construction Specialties MetalWrap louvers. 

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The panel system provides the training center with a high-performance exterior envelope.

Behind the walls

The Midwest experiences a range of harsh weather but for the Kansas utility, MetalWrap panels—the inner layer of the building’s rainscreen system—provide a second line of defense against strong winds, snow, ice and high heat. 

A rainscreen system protects structural integrity. The outer portion sheds and controls rainwater, and the inner element works as a final moisture barrier, air and vapor barrier, and thermal barrier. Because the outer layer does not repel all water, moisture management within the cavity is important to ensure proper drainage and air, vapor and thermal management of the building envelope. Without this control, moisture, and hot and cold air, would travel inside the building. 

Unlike many multiple-component wall systems, MetalWrap panels have a metal liner combined with factory-installed butyl joint sealant. This single-component construction eliminates the need for separate batt or board installation, exterior gypsum, air barriers, vapor retarders and building wraps. 

The integration of Formavue windows and C/S louvers “provided all the design aspects to meet the architect’s goals to construct the building so it is air and water tight [with] one of the highest-performing exterior envelopes in the country,” says Gary Mays, president/owner of Mays Maune McWard, a Fenton, Missouri,  distributor of architectural products.

In addition to its modular metal panel system, the KCP&L Safety and Training Center incorporates green design with LED lamps to lower energy usage, along with “an automated building system to control lighting and HVAC temperatures,” Gilbertson says. 

“All storm water is diverted into a retention pond to provide irrigation for native, drought-tolerant landscaping around the building,” she continues, noting that no potable water is used in the irrigation system. Three solar trellises provide walkway cover between the center and its adjacent Pole Training Facility, which is used to teach pole setting and climbing. 

From researching and selecting recycled and low-VOC materials to working through harsh winter weather to meet the aggressive construction schedule, the team’s hard work to address challenges was rewarded when the building received a 2016 Capstone Award for green design. MM

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