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Durham City Hall, Durham, N.C.
- ARCHITECT: Roughton Nickelson De Luca Architects PC, Durham
- GENERAL CONTRACTOR: Balfour Beatty US, Raleigh, N.C.
- ALUMINUM WALL PANEL INSTALLER: SPS Corp., Apex, N.C., (919) 367-8885
A complete exterior and interior renovation was needed for Durham City Hall, which opened in 1975. Looking for a maintenance-free material that would soften the building’s feel while giving the structure a strong presence, the design team selected metal wall panels from Dri-Design.
“The desire to have a rainscreen system where the water barrier was behind the metal panel with few caulk joints was important to the design team,” says Rhonda Zack, project manager and designer with Roughton Nickelson De Luca Architects. “In addition, the Dri-Design panel … had an interior gutter system that kept rainwater off the face of the panels directing flow through the gutter system to the bottom of the screenwall. The panels interlocked and made for a tight rainscreen that would stand up over time.”
The original city hall façade was a cementitious aggregate panel called Arlite. The weight of the panels caused sagging and open surfaces for water to penetrate the building, leading to leaks and water damage. The openings had been caulked many times, but waterfalls reportedly still occurred inside the building.
After the Arlite was removed, the teams at Balfour Beatty and SPS Corp. had to determine how to use the building’s original framing for the metal wall panel installation. Because of 40 years of leaking and sagging, the framing was not straight. In fact, it was out of alignment by as much as 4 inches over 3 stories in some areas. Additional framing was worked into the existing framing to create a straight panel installation.
Together, Balfour Beatty and SPS installed 23,535 square feet of post-painted aluminum wall panels. The primary wall color is Dorian Gray with Agreeable Gray and Amazing Gray worked into the panel layout. Dark Bronze wall panels were selected as an accent to the gray panels.
ALUMINUM WALL PANEL MANUFACTURER: Dri-Design
The project won the People’s Choice Durham Golden Leaf Award and the Adaptive Re-Use Durham Golden Leaf Award.
Zack says: “The design of the new façade has brought new attention to a building that was neglected for far too long. The design team took the opportunity during this redesign to soften up the Brutalist language of the original design and add more pedestrian-friendly areas so that the city hall would feel like a building for the people. The metal panels allowed us to bring the look into the 21st century with a durable product that allowed for a variety of design options.”