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Thinking Outside the Box at Colby

A team led by Sasaki and Hopkins Architects worked with their client at Colby College to develop an entirely new way of utilizing insulated metal panels to more efficiently and beautifully construct a new 350,000 SF Athletic Complex.

This new facility, to open in 2020, will be home to a range of program types and venues, including a field house, ice arena, fifty meter pool, gymnasium, squash courts, strength and fitness center, multipurpose spaces, locker rooms, training facilities, and offices. At this scale, even with a tight program layout, the voluminous venues and adjacent spaces require a vast area of exterior cladding to enclose.

Video by Hopkins Architects

Large programs like these can too often result in “big metal box designs,” but the design and construction team had higher aspirations for this project.

Through innovative approaches to facade design the team achieved that ideal outcome of elevated aesthetics, high performance, good value, and timely delivery—ultimately expanding the possibilities for the humble insulated metal panel, which is ubiquitous to sports facility design.

Benefits of this custom-designed approach to panel installation, include:

  • More elegant, cleaner detailing: Interior and exterior details are streamlined and better integrate holistically with the entire building’s structure and aesthetics.
  • Less structural steel required to support the facade: The captured insulated metal panel system eliminated 1900 linear feet of tube steel, equating to 25 tons of steel, from the project.
  • Better thermal performance and moisture management: The captured system allows for a 90% reduction in screw penetrations—thereby reducing the potential for air and moisture infiltration. This makes it more energy efficient while reducing the risk of system compromise.
  • Sturdier, more durable installation: This method allows for free thermal movement of the insulated metal panels, mitigating stresses on panel fasteners, as well as risk of “oil-canning” on the panel facing.
  • Simplified replacement of damaged or compromised panels: Panels can be removed and replaced by releasing the compression detail, rather than unscrewing and risking additional damage to adjacent panels
Together, alongside many other coordinating design decisions, this innovative approach helps set the Colby College Athletic Complex apart from similar large-volume facilities.

The Delight is in the Details: Proven Materials, Assembled in New Ways

The manufacturer’s typical insulated metal panel system installation detail requires the panels to be screwed to lateral support elements, in the form of intermediate steel girts, 6’ to 8’ on center, for the height of the wall.  Sasaki and Hopkins, with input from Arup, Consigli, Total Wall Systems, and Kingspan, improved upon the standard installation method by developing an innovative new way to capture the insulated metal panels by custom extrusions—similar to the manner by which glazing is captured within a curtain wall system.

Custom Extrusion for Colby College
(Captured Insulated Metal Panel System)

  • Less support steel
  • 90% reduction in screw penetrations
  • Reduction in thermal bridging
  • Improved aesthetics

Manufacturer’s Standard Mounting
(Insulated Metal Panel System Screwed to Steel Girt)

  • More support steel
  • Over 9 times more screw penetrations
  • Increase in thermal bridging
  • Visually busy

Through modeling, prototyping, custom-manufacturing, and vigorous testing, the manufacturers and construction team embraced the concept and helped to refine and execute the detail, to the ultimate delight of the client.

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