Owensboro Convention Center, Owensboro, KY, Wins the 2016 Smooth Metal Panel Metal Architecture Design Award

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Muskegon, Michigan based Lorin Industries Inc. celebrates the Owensboro Convention Center receiving the 2016 Metal Architecture Award for Smooth Metal Panels. Lorin supplied the BlackMatt LL Brushed and ClearMatt LL Brushed anodized aluminum for the project; see the full article from Metal Architecture by Christopher Brinckerhoff below.

Owensboro Convention Center, Owensboro, Ky., received the 2016 Metal Architecture Design Award in the Smooth Metal Wall Panels category for its striking, smooth aesthetics. Brad McWhirter, AIA, design director at New Orleans-based Trahan Architects, says his firm drew inspiration for the design from tobacco barns, a common building type found in the outskirts of Owensboro and throughout the state. "It was something that was rooted in place in Kentucky," he says. "We were trying to find a building typology and something to draw from that was a vernacular architecture of the area. Obviously the scale is much different, but we were very interested in the unique shapes that every barn is."


The convention center was designed to associate with some of the tobacco barns' materiality aspects, McWhirter says. "We couldn't use wood as the exterior, but [the design picks] up on some of that color palette that you see where the black woods [are] on the exterior of the barns, and the interiors, which weren't as weathered and have lighter wood," he says.

McWhirter says vertically brushed finishes on anodized aluminum panels on the exterior refer to woodgrain on the tobacco barns. "It was a move we chose from a finish standpoint to keep the exterior tight, taught and smooth," he says. "We tried to create this smooth, vertical finish that would allow the building to feel like these vertical panels are very similar to the vertical woodgraining of the barns. When the sun hits them, there's this vertical reflection, very similar to some of those woodgrains that you see on the tobacco barns."

Fulton, Miss.-based F.L. Crane and Sons Inc. installed approximately 50,000 square feet of Peachtree City, Ga.-based MetalTech-USA's 0.05- inch Alloy 5205 H34 aluminum vertical, interlocking Reveal Panel rainscreen system with BlackMatt Long Line Brushed finish and Architectural Class 1 Anodic Film on the exterior walls. Additionally, it installed approximately 49,000 square feet of MetalTech- USA's 0.05-inch Alloy 5205 H34 aluminum vertical, interlocking Reveal Panels with ClearMatt Long Line Brushed finish and Architectural Class 1 Anodic Film for soffits at the facade and exterior balconies. The most frequently used size for both panel types was 15 inches wide by 15 feet long. MetalTech-USA fabricated all of its panels for the project with Muskegon, Mich.-based Lorin Industries' anodized aluminum coil.


McWhirter says Owensboro Convention Center's footprint is smaller than other similar facilities. "There's a lot of value to riverfront property, so we found it important to minimize that footprint but keep the program the size that they needed," he says.

Convention centers often have deep, steel trusses for long-span, column-free areas, Mc- Whirter says. "From an overall massing standpoint, what we did, which was unique here, was actually a stacked program within those steel trusses. So the ballrooms and meeting rooms and kitchens all got stacked within those."

Owensboro Convention Center has three floors. The ground floor contains a main lobby, restrooms and spaces used to serve exhibit halls. The second floor is a mezzanine level with administrative spaces. The third floor contains large ballrooms, meeting rooms and a kitchen, which are stacked within the steel truss structure above exhibit halls. The ballrooms and meeting rooms overlook the Ohio River to the north.

Janesville, Wis.-based Hufcor Inc.'s painted steel movable partitions are used to split up the ballrooms, meeting rooms and exhibition halls into multiple sizes. The exhibit halls are divisible into three smaller halls and ballrooms are divisible into five smaller meeting rooms. McWhirter says the partitions are a common application in convention centers. "The difference is we're trying to create as much multipurpose availability in terms of sizes as possible," he says. "There's a combination of events that can occur where there's an exhibit downstairs, there's a ballroom function on one side, and then there's a breakout of five meeting rooms on the other side of the building."


One challenge was to fit the tall convention center among shorter, smaller scale buildings, McWhirter says. Owensboro Convention Center is shorter on the side that faces downtown Owensboro than it is on the side overlooking the river. McWhirter says his firm was also aware that riverfront convention centers have the potential to disconnect the river from the rest of the city. "It was important to us to try to keep a connection," he says. "That's why the building slopes down and is shorter on the city side than it is on the river side, where we're trying to get up vertical, have those ballrooms overlooking the river, and having a much bigger riverscape looking over that view."

McWhirter says a connection between the city and river is made with views through a towering curtainwall. "We weren't looking at the glass as a true threshold," he says. "Obviously you need that threshold for hermetic enclosure reasons, but it was really about trying to bring the form of the exterior straight through the interior, to lead you between city and river."

F.L. Crane and Sons installed Menomonee Falls, Wis.- based Novum Structures LLC's 50-foot-tall curtainwall with painted steel vertical mullions. "There's no horizontal mullions, which is quite unique," McWhirter says. "It allows it to look as transparent as possible without having a bunch of horizontal mullions blocking the views of the interior and exterior."

Occupants experience a visual connection with the city and the river at the top of the building, McWhirter says. "Up on that third level, where you go from lobby to meeting and ballrooms, the glass on both sides lets you see both downtown and the river all the way through the building at the same time," he says. "There's a visual connection to orient you constantly when you're at exhibits or meeting spaces."


McWhirter says his firm specified Poway, Calif.-based Hunter Douglas Architectural's acoustical, painted aluminum ceiling system to mimic MetalTech-USA's silver metal soffit panels and fold into a smooth transition between exterior and interior. The metal ceiling system extends through the lobbies, ballrooms and meeting rooms.

"It's this sort of materiality of blending interior and exterior together," McWhirter says. "We wanted to maintain the form, the shaping of the building all the way through the space, to go straight through from city to interior to river. The direction of the paneling, the directionality of it, the motion of it, it all feels like it pulls you through the building up to the ballrooms and overlooking the river."


Owensboro Convention Center, Owensboro, Ky.
Completed: 2014
Total square footage: 100,000 square feet
Owner: City of Owensboro's Owensboro-Daviess County Industrial Development Authority
Architect: Trahan Architects, New Orleans, trahanarchitects.com
General contractor: Denark Construction Inc., Knoxville, Tenn., http://www.denark.com
Installer: F.L. Crane and Sons Inc., Fulton, Miss., http://www.flcrane.com
Anodizer: Lorin Industries, Muskegon, Mich., http://www.lorin.com
Curtainwall: Novum Structures LLC, Menomonee Falls, Wis., http://www.novumstructures.com
Metal ceiling system: Hunter Douglas Architectural, Poway, Calif., http://www.hunterdouglasarchitectural.com
Metal wall/soffit panels: MetalTech-USA, Peachtree City, Ga., http://www.metaltech-usa.com
Steel partitions: Hufcor Inc., Janesville, Wis., http://www.hufcor.com

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