UMASS Design Building

At the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a new Design Building has brought together previously dispersed departments in a LEED Gold structure that is integrated with the campus’ material palette. Leers Weinzapfel Associates, Boston, selected materials that speak to Amherst’s rural environment, particularly timber and metal. The team chose Dri-Design Wall Panels in a copper anodized finish to create a truly unique look.

According to the firm, the copper anodized aluminum panels laid out with vertical windows generate a colorful pattern like Amherst forests. The exterior also has the same palette as the area’s tobacco barns. Jeffrey Fishbein, AIA, associate at Leers Weinzapfel Associates, notes: “The owner valued a low-maintenance, economical and high-performance cladding system. The Dri-Design aluminum rainscreen system functions as a key component of the high-performance building envelope. The durable material maintains low life-cycle costs and requires no sealants. In addition, the copper-anodized finish works well as a modern material in a traditional brick campus context.”

R & R Window Contractors Inc., Easthampton, Mass., installed 26,294 square feet of 0.080-inch aluminum Copper Anodized panels. This finish allows designers to capture the warm glow of natural copper with the long-lasting durability of an anodized finish. The Copper Anodized finish has subtle variations of the copper-penny color from panel to panel that add depth and character to buildings. Like all Dri-Design panels, there are no sealants, gaskets or butyl tape in the panel joints. This means there are no dirty streaks or maintenance associated with the panels.

This was R&R Window Contractors first experience with Dri-Design. “We have worked with other metal wall panels but not with Dri-Design,” says Dave LaFosse, senior estimating manager with the company. He adds that the installation was made easier because of the panels’ precise sizes.

As a LEED Gold structure, there are many sustainable features, including: energy-efficient mechanical equipment with a heat recovery system, radiant heat flooring, chilled beams, natural daylighting, roof gardens, low-flow faucets, a stormwater management system for roof runoff, LED lighting, motion sensors, electro-tinting glass and more. The metal wall panels contribute to the LEED rating with their recycled content and recyclability.

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