The Hole Objective
Transforming a dated fortress into an open and modernized gathering spot was the vision city planners in Santa Rosa, California set into motion.
The goal was to refurbish an abandoned AT&T switching station to create a revitalized core within the city’s downtown area. The new plan had to attract and accommodate multiple uses. These ranged from restaurants, to banks, to offices, and the California Wine Museum (or “Wineseum”). Building owner, developer, and contractor Hugh Futrell Corporation partnered with TLCD Architecture to produce such an establishment.
Hugh Futrell Corporation sought to bring natural light into the space. However, the windowless cement building presented a unique set of challenges. In order to achieve their objective, they needed to find a way through the 18-inch exterior concrete walls.
Five-foot diamond saw blades were required to demolish the fortified wall. Large portions of the building came tumbling down to form 17 openings. These openings, each averaging 250 square feet, were assembled into glass sections and balconies. The glass would require a sunscreen, and the next challenge would be finding the right one.
The Hole Solution
The solution was found in McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal. The material, both decorative and functional, was an ideal choice for the light filtration this project called for.
Lead Project Architect and TLCD Partner Don Tomasi, AIA incorporated this material into an expansive metal façade. In total, 6,000 square feet of McNICHOLS® Perforated Metal panels were used. The team selected Round Hole panels made from Aluminum Type 3003-H14, .250” Thick, 5/8 Round on 7/8 Staggered Centers, 1-1/2” Solid Margins- All Sides, 46.3% Open Area.
Approximately 150 perforated panels were applied as cladding over the original cement façade and the new glazed glass. The design specified that the panels be coated with a white, resin-based finish. This powder-coating added to the modern transformation and provided an intriguing contrast to the original industrial exterior.
Tomasi then decided to take the architectural Perforated Metal one step further. Counter to the previous bunker-style construction, he planned to fabricate the material into delicate-looking, origami-style vertical fins. His intention was to provide the building with unique branding and give it character.
Fabricator and installer B.T. Mancini Company assembled this feature inspired by Japanese paper art. Mancini turned metal into origami through a process which “took the 4- by 10-foot flat perforated metal panels and made a 120-degree bend diagonally down the length of the panel,” Project Manager Dave Jacks explained.
Before installing the fins, Mancini fabricated 2- by 2- by ¼- inch structural tube steel frames and positioned them at a 60-degree slope from the wall. Next, general foreman Rafael Velasquez mounted the frames to the exterior wall using Hilti KBTZ wedge anchors. Finally, Velasquez attached the angled panels onto the bolted frames.
“We were not trying to hide the original building,” said Tomasi. “Instead we were putting a veil of metal over it to give it a contemporary face, and then added a sculptural element to bring the whole façade to life.”
The visual appeal of the cladding system also allowed for functional modifications to be made underneath. Mancini made use of the design by affixing McNICHOLS® Perforated panels to a two-piece set of 14-gauge sub-girts, thus hiding the system from view. This veil enabled him to plumb the linear surface of the concrete wall, which was as much as 1.5 inches out of alignment.
Ultimately, although removing the fortified exterior walls was difficult and expensive, the process allowed the team to actualize the updated façade and bring their vision to life.
The finished project is “a sculpture that looks different from every angle,” according to Tomasi.
The redeveloped building was completed in February 2016. Tomasi expressed his satisfaction with the culmination and affirmed, “The redevelopment fits nicely into the urban fabric of downtown Santa Rosa.”