At Sugar Creek Station, the City of Charlotte tasked builders with creating a municipal pedestrian bridge. The North Carolina railway location needed a path where public transit riders could safely travel from one side of the train tracks to the other. As patrons crossed this walkway, it was also crucial that the bridge provided secure railings and weather protection.
Architect firm Neighboring Concepts PLLC also had to consider another factor. The enclosure would not have fire sprinklers, so building code requirements mandated that at least 50% of the perimeter would need to remain open. With this safety measure in mind, Neighboring Concepts specified Perforated Metal, with the right Percentage of Open Area, as the solution.
ProClad Inc. got to work selecting the Perforated Metal and installing it as peripheral walls along the bridge. To add visual interest, weather protection and ultimate security, the teams chose two types of Perforated Metal and layered them back-to-back. McNICHOLS® Designer Metal in the Aluminum AIRLINE 1468 pattern, with rectangular slots and 68% Open Area, was one of the primary selections. The second layer of Perforated Metal would also be Aluminum, due to the material’s high strength-to-weight ratio and noncorrosive properties. However, this layer would feature three different varieties of round, staggered openings. These assorted panels were placed parallel with the AIRLINE sheets, two inches apart. The final product of overlapping, yet distinct patterns effectively created a unique and striking Moiré pattern.
To add even more depth and intricacy, the installation of these patterns were alternated. For the lower half of the wall, the AIRLINE sheets were placed on the inside next to the walkway, while the round panels clad the exterior of the bridge. On the upper half of the wall, this was swapped—the AIRLINE panels were installed on the outside, and the round Perforated Metal sat on the interior.
The double layers added functional benefits, as well as style. During rain or other inclement weather, the outer layer of smaller, round openings provides an initial boundary against the elements. Then, the inner layer functions as a drainage plane that channels remaining water away from pedestrians. Furthermore, this secure inner partition ensures safety as they traverse the elevated walkway.
Several innovative techniques were used to fabricate and install the Metal screens, considering that work could not be done over an active railway. One of these techniques included assembling the walls adjacent to the rail tracks, below the bridge work site. Then, installer ProClad Inc. set them in place with a single crane pick. These creative construction measures, combined with the resourceful material use, led the project to receive the Eagle Award for Excellence in Construction from the Carolina chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
In total, Perforated Metal sheets clad more than 5,000 square feet of this essential structure’s walls. The Sugar Creek Bridge now stands perched over Charlotte Area Transit System’s Blue Line as a regional icon and community fixture. The convenient walkway now saves railway patrons more than a mile of walking distance by allowing a direct route to and from the rail car—all while keeping them safe, secure, and sheltered from exterior elements.