Architectural Excellence with Insulated Metal Panels

Insulated metal panels offer environmental benefits, ease of installation, and potential for high design
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Sponsored by Metal Construction Association's Insulated Metal Panel Alliance
By Kathy Price-Robinson

Environmental Benefits

Insulated metal panels can fulfill all the required air, thermal, and water control functions to create a high-performing building enclosure. That means buildings with more consistent thermal properties, and increased occupant comfort. Much of the metal used in metal panels is recycled. And the durable nature of the assemblies creates structures that last for decades with minimal maintenance needs.

The awarding-winning T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas was designed with insulated metal panels, which helped it achieve LEED Gold status, becoming the first sports and entertainment stadium in Las Vegas to attain LEED certification. The project was designed by the architectural firm Populous.

“T-Mobile Arena’s LEED Gold certification demonstrates tremendous green building leadership,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, President and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). “The urgency of USGBC’s mission has challenged the industry to move faster and reach further than ever before, and T-Mobile Arena serves as a prime example with just how much we can accomplish.”

Photo courtesy of CENTRIA

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

The project includes an enormous mesh wall with a bright magenta, 9,000-square-foot LED display that overlooks the area between the New York-New York and Monte Carlo casino resorts. The LED board represents the city’s energy, while the building’s metallic skin resembles the burnt golden hues of the desert that the town is built on. The north and east sides of the venue act as a gateway to the city while the south and west are designed to reflect the hot Vegas sun.

The multipurpose arena required a building envelope that could not only withstand the hot desert weather, but also provide exciting aesthetics for the wide variety of events the facility hosts, from the biggest names in music, major UFC and boxing events, and basketball games. T-Mobile Arena is now home to the Golden Knights, the NHL’s newest franchise.

The insulated panel system provides thermal, air, water, and vapor barriers in a composite assembly to maintain comfortable atmospheres for all events. Architects paired the innovative backup panel system with custom bronze shingles, creating a building envelope that provides both performance and aesthetics.

Insulated metal panels in a gold tone complement the custom bronze shingles, while providing advanced thermal and moisture performance in a single component. Additionally, the facility showcases over 27,000 square feet of perforated screenwalls creating the fascinating mesh facade to control light passing through the curtainwall exterior.

As these projects show, the types of buildings designed with IMPs are wide-ranging. Following are a variety of applications, starting with additional sports and event facilities.

Photo courtesy of CENTRIA

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada

Sports and Event Facilities

It’s hard to see how the grandeur of the Chase Center in San Francisco could have been achieved without the use of insulated metal panels. The Chase Center is a state-of-the-art sports and entertainment arena, home to the Golden State Warriors, and the site of nearly 200 events per year. Its design celebrates the beauty of the city and reflects the diversity and artistic community around it. The project was awarded a major metal building industry award.

The use of metal in the Chase Center, from the facade to the interior, is obvious and artful. Metal materials also aided the center achieve LEED Gold Certification. Metal cladding adds aesthetic contrasts of warmth and color to the exterior while capturing the modern grandeur of the interior.

“This is just wonderful,” said Stephen G. Blye, a judge in the competition. “The use of metal creates a sense of mystery and provides subtle gestures. Absolutely timeless design, very ambitious, extremely dynamic. I love it!”

The architects were Manica Architecture and Kendall/Heaton Associates.

Insulated metal panels also played a big role in construction of the new Inter Miami CF Stadium, home to Miami's professional soccer club, which was recently established in 2020 by former soccer star David Beckham. The new stadium and training facility were designed by Manica Architecture and feature 40,000 square feet of insulated metal panels. The IMPs are painted with custom black and pink colors representing the Inter Miami CF team motif. With a tight deadline, the panels allowed quick installation. The panels give the stadium a polished, professional look that echoes the modern feel of the architecture.

Photo courtesy of Jason O’Rear Photography/Chase Center

Chase Center, San Francisco, California

Insulated architectural panels were chosen as the main exterior of the building because of their fast install time as well as the ability to showcase the vibrant colors. The fast install time ensured that the stadium would be completed in under 10 months, a record-breaking construction time frame that was unheard of in the world of professional sports stadiums.

The panel’s advanced technology provides thermal performance in addition to their striking colors. With R-values to up 8 per inch, they are the preferred choice for large-scale buildings like stadiums, arenas, and amphitheaters. These architectural wall panels provide the desired aesthetic while ensuring a tight building envelope and energy efficiency at the same time.

Photo courtesy of Kingspan Insulated Panels

Inter Miami CF Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

In a very different climate, insulated metal panels helped reach goals for the design of the Rocksport Indoor Climbing Facility and Outdoor Guiding Service, a family-owned and operated business in Queensbury, New York. Rocksport’s new facility features a 45-foot-tall, two-tier inclined climbing wall. The contractor’s project coordinator explained why insulated metal panels were specified for the project, which is 50 feet tall at its highest point: “During the design phase we had to look at the constructability of such a tall building and tackle an increasingly stringent energy code,” said Todd Coffin of design/build firm Munter Enterprises. “Working at those heights and facing a mandatory blower door test on new commercial buildings by the local code enforcement, insulated metal panels were a no-brainer.”

Photo courtesy of Metl-Span

Rocksport Indoor Climbing Facility and Outdoor Guiding Service, Queensbury, New York

More than 18,000 square feet of insulated metal panels were installed on the new 8,400-square-foot facility. The exterior panels are 26-gauge Galvalume with a PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride) coating of gray and brown, while the interior panels are 26-gauge Galvalume in polyester white. Two-and-a-half inches of urethane insulation are sandwiched by the metal panels. The panels were installed vertically with double factory caulked joints.

“The insulated panels look great inside and out,” said Tom Rosecrans, Rocksport owner. “Despite the volume, the building is holding temperature great, and our utility bills are lower than expected.”


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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in December 2021