Although the major addition to the Iowa Western Community College Performing Arts Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa was pre-planned when the original facility was built, it was 12 years before the addition was constructed.  The 11,000 sq. ft. addition primarily provides classrooms for the Center’s educational component.

The prominent two-story addition is highlighted by more than 5,200 sq. ft. of 14 gauge Dri-Design Weathering Steel wall panels.

Architectural design for the addition as well as the original building was provided by HDR, Omaha.  The material palette for the original building included cast-in-place concrete, glass, limestone and galvanized roof decking that was painted.  “Had the addition come sooner or been smaller, we probably would have gone with those same exterior materials,” according to David Lempke, design principal.  “But one of the tenets of our design philosophy is that buildings should be ‘of our time’.  Something that has been intriguing for the past decade is the use of weathered steel.  It has clearly become more commonplace in projects.”

As the college grew and developed, weathered steel had been used on a main entry sign as well as a clock tower and several bridges that cross a creek running through the campus.  “We picked up on that existing material that was in the bones of the campus,” Lempke said.  “The Dri-Design panels provided a great benefit because we could select a thicker gauge of steel.  The 14 gauge panels were pretty hefty and substantial yet still able to be bent.”

HDR has designed with Dri-Design before but this was the firm’s first use of weathered steel.  “The advantage of Dri-Design is that it offers a system that’s already engineered and works with very minor tweaking.  That’s not always true of other weathered steel products,” according to Lempke.

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