Architectural Excellence with Insulated Metal Panels

Insulated metal panels offer environmental benefits, ease of installation, and potential for high design
Sponsored by Metal Construction Association
By Kathy Price-Robinson
1 AIA LU/HSW; 1 IDCEC CEU/HSW; 0.1 ICC CEU; 1 IIBEC CEH; 0.1 IACET CEU*; 1 AIBD P-CE; AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines; AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.; MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.; This course can be self-reported to the NSAA; NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; OAA 1 Learning Hour; SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning

Learning Objectives:

  1. Define the benefits of insulated metal panels for meeting environmental goals, ease of installation, cost effectiveness, and design potential.
  2. Describe notable sports and event facilities designed with insulated metal panels (IMPs) for durability and low maintenance.
  3. Discuss how IMPs played a major role in designing commercial and medical buildings with superior interior environmental quality.
  4. Identify high-performing educational, municipal, transportation, and aviation projects designed with IMPS.
  5. Describe noteworthy, durable, and energy-saving roofs designed with insulated metal panels.

This course is part of the Metal Architecture Academy

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Commercial and Medical

Insulated metal panels were specified for another tall building, BMO Tower, the newest addition to downtown Milwaukee, which stands at 328 feet tall. The tower includes 400,000 square feet of rentable space and is comprised of 15 floors of offices and first-floor retail.

Architects Kahler Slater were able to deliver on both a high-profile monolithic design and on sustainability by choosing insulated metal panels to enclose parking on the bottom eight levels of the otherwise all-glass, 25-story office tower.

Photo courtesy of Metl-Span

BMO Tower, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

To provide protection from the elements—particularly the cold, wind and snow that is common in Wisconsin—architects needed a product that would provide an optimal barrier and create a smooth finish.

Insulated, concealed fastener architectural panels allowed for a clean sightline and a seamless look due to the interlocking nature of installation. To prevent water infiltration, designers added a composite band to transition from the glass curtain wall to the metal panels on the 12th floor.

BMO Tower features architectural metal panels in charcoal, satin nickel, and gray. The panels have a polyurethane core that is encapsulated by two steel facings for an all-in-one building envelope solution. This eliminated the need for addition insulation and created efficiencies on the job

In addition, the impermeable faces and built-in thermal breaks of the metal panels maintain insulating values for the life of the building. This significantly lowers heating and cooling costs, key to success in achieving Green Building Initiative certification for sustainable design, construction, and operations.

Photo courtesy of Kingspan Insulated Panels

Gusto 501, Toronto, Canada

Cost savings and reduced construction time were priorities for the Gusto 501 project in Toronto’s Corktown. Gusto 501 is a multilevel restaurant and bar dining experience with a theatre style atmosphere of terracotta walls encompassed by a large garage door stylized facade.

With a narrow 6,700-square-foot building space, owners Gusto 54 Restaurant Group called upon the Partisans architectural firm in Toronto. Partisans selected an insulated metal wall system with a rib profile panel of mineral fiber insulation to help achieve the theatrical building design challenge. The all-in-one solution of a single source panel system allowed for fast installation in a tight space. The mineral fiber panels provide a fire resistance rating up to three hours.

The universal barrier wall system provided the client not only reduced construction time and costs without the need of multiple trades, but it also allowed the desired design flexibility and imaginative freedom.

Photo courtesy of Kingspan Insulated Panels

DynaEnergetics, Blum, Texas

In Blum Texas, the award-winning DynaEnergetics’ headquarters is a state-of-the-art manufacturing and office facility. Its exterior reflects the high-precision nature of the company’s products as well as its parent company’s European roots. The exterior’s natural finish metal accentuates the landscape of the surrounding flat rural plains. Vertical and horizontal aluminum sunshades, coupled with reflective glazing, control heat.

Photo courtesy of Kingspan Insulated Panels

Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation, Denver, Colorado

The building, designed by Arch11, Inc. in Denver, won an award in a competition sponsored a metal building organization. Most of the building’s facade is clad in insulated metal panels.

“The use of metal gives the building a conspicuous texture and depth,” said Yen Ong of 5G Studio Collaborative, one of the competition judges. “I appreciate how expressive they made every element of this building.”

In Colorado, insulated metal panels helped created a sophisticated building in a hub in Denver’s bustling River North District, an area rich with businesses, restaurants, artist studios, and more. Catalyst Health-Tech Innovation was created to be an industry integrator, bringing together major healthcare systems, doctors, universities, nonprofit groups, and startups.

The seven-story, 190,000-square-foot building was designed by The Beck Group. The exterior of the building is described as blend of historic Colorado and chic, based on results from a 50-question survey sent to 500 people in the community.

Part of that industrial chic look includes the use of glass, brick, and insulated metal panels. More than 14,000 square feet of IMPs finished in pewter were used on the exterior. The panels deliver a flat, modern look while meeting the demand for a high-performing building envelope. The panels are GREENGUARD Gold certified.

Photo courtesy of Kingspan Insulated Panels

St. Michael Medical Center, Silverdale, Washington

Insulated metal panels helped achieve the sustainability goals for the recent $500 million, 500,000-square-foot acute care expansion of the St. Michael Medical Center (formerly Harrison Medical Center) in Silverdale, Washington. It was a project that builds on a caring legacy started by the Harrison family more than a century ago. NBBJ Architects designed the project.

The nine-story, light-filled facility can boast that it is the most energy-efficient hospital in the state. Ketul Patel, CEO of project owner CHI Franciscan Health (now part of Virginia Mason Franciscan Health), is quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal: “The facility was…built to use 50 percent less energy than the average hospital in the Pacific Northwest, use 36 percent less water and save the carbon output of the equivalent of 700 homes.”

To help meet the ambitious design and sustainability goals, Balfour Beatty, the general contractor, worked with a manufacturer that could deliver the insulated metal panels, windows, sunshades, and louvers that would make the project a success.

In fact, that manufacturer provided project management for the insulated metal panels, single-skin panels, and integrated windows, as well as louvers and the design of a special, customized sunshade design that the architect wanted but that didn't exist. In this case, the architect wanted individual blades attached vertically to the window, rather than the typical sunshades that attach at the top like an eyebrow.

For the walls, flat panels were specified along with a ribbed profile panel and 1-inch reveals. One interesting feature on the front of the building is the incorporation of foam insulated metal panels with vertical ribbons of CMU block, which looks like stone. From a design perspective, it goes back and forth—panel, window and then the vertical section of stone and then panel, window, etc. This achieved the architect’s vision.

Education and Municipal

In Flint, Michigan, sleek and colorful insulated metal panels helped make the Flint Cultural Center Academy an appealing destination for the community. The academy offers experiential learning to students in kindergarten through sixth grade alongside the programs offered by the Flint Cultural Center Institutions.

When designers began planning the facility, they knew they wanted to showcase the flexible learning environment and embrace the new technology in education. THA Architects Engineers envisioned a building envelope with an innovative look to deliver the modern design of FCC Academy, which would feature curved and straight-wall sections. Once they did their homework, architects chose insulated metal panels.

“Our goal was to create an ultra-contemporary expression that was going to emphasize the technological advances in education, and the sleek metal panels reflect that high-tech look we were striving for,” said architect Jeff Bennett.

Photo courtesy of CENTRIA

Flint Cultural Center Academy, Flint, Michigan

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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in December 2021