The best designs have a specific direction right from the start. The Pablo Center at the Confluence in Eau Claire, Wis., was constructed to fit into its site where the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers meet, using traditional and practical façade features, including insulated metal panels from Metl-Span.
“The location along the river played a big part in the design process,” says Gilbert Oh, AIA, LEED AP at Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture of New York. “Metal panels were a pragmatic decision because of the insulation. The depth of the panels helps the appearance because they are high up and we didn’t want that look to get lost from the street.”
Almost 29,900 square feet of Metl-Span’s 7.2 Insul-Rib insulated metal panels were installed on the project. IMPs were filled with a 3-inch urethane core. The 22-gauge exterior metal on the panels is Weathered Zinc, while the 26-gauge interior metal on the panels is Igloo White. The symmetrical 7.2 Insul-Rib features distinctive 1-1/2-inch-high ribs on 7.2-inch centers. The IMPs house the main theater.
In addition to the insulated metal panels, the façade features 18,000 square feet of shop-fabricated copper, supplied by KME, and a 3-1/2-inch sawn height of Aqua Grantique stone from Krukowski Stone Company. The stone is a local product, bringing everything full circle on this unique building.
“The stone is Wisconsin stone, mined less than 50 miles from the site,” Oh says. “That was important because historically, a lot of Eau Claire structures are built using masonry; it’s more brick than stone, but it’s a familiar look in the area. The curved copper extends as close to the river as possible and it contrasts the stone.”
The Pablo Center was definitely designed with durability in mind.
“When you construct a civic facility like this you do so with the intent that it will last over 100 years,” says Malcom Holzman, Partner-in-Charge at Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture. “And the stone, the copper, the metal, provide an appearance that you might find at any civic center in Wisconsin.”
The Insul-Rib panels from Metl-Span offer a rib that is 1-1/2 inches high, which played an important role in the design plan.
“The profile depth of the panels is important,” says Holzman. “We want the building read as a volume and not as a panel. The shape and shadow deceive the eye so it reads as volume.
“When you’re building a stage tower, it gets to be pretty high, so when you go to clad it, you want to get it done easily and quickly, so you can get it enclosed, which was important in this case. Insulated metal panels allowed that to happen.”
Division V Sheet Metal of St. Paul was in charge of installing the 7.2 Insul-Rib panels.
“It was a pretty straightforward job for us,” says Bruce Reed, senior project manager at Division V Sheet Metal. “With the copper, the stone and the IMPs, there had to be some coordination with the delivery and installation, but it went well. The biggest challenge for us was working in the middle of winter instead of the middle of fall. Fortunately, the insulated metal panels were delivered on time and they were packaged by elevation so they were in the order we requested. That saves even more time during the installation because we don’t have to spend time sorting out panels.”
Because the insulated metal panels were installed on the upper mezzanine level, the use of a tower crane was required to hoist panels to the roof. From there, panels were lowered into place with a swing crane.
“Hoisting the vertical panels was a bit of a challenge,” Reed says. “We developed some clamps to hold them into place. We work a lot with insulated metal panels, so we know our way around.”
128 graham Ave, Eau Claire, WI
Pablo Center at the Confluence