The Saints Go Marching In

Teamwork and Innovation

Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La., conducted the initial study. “The original system was riveted into the decking and the only way to repair a panel was to take out the ones around it. We took an inventory of every damaged panel on the building to prepare a repair package for FEMA. We could have replaced just the damaged panels, but we would have had a striped façade that looked like a zebra,” says Brad McWhirter, project manager for Trahan Architects.

The facility owner, the state of Louisiana’s facility planning and control agency, requested a system that would allow repair of single panels without requiring removal of the whole system.

The team went through three or four different designs before deciding on the final system. “This system is lightweight and performs very well in testing for wind, rain and severe weather conditions. The testing also determines the spacing of the panels. A big part of installing the panels on this new façade system is lining up the mullions. If that’s not done right the panels will not fit well, nor click or press into place as they should,” explains Chad Schexnayder, sales manager for Ryerson Metals, the panel supplier.

The new system’s anodized aluminum is the same color as the original façade, but with today’s technology the finish has been improved to ensure the panels maintain their appearance. According to McWhirter, the improved durability is because the anodized finish on the new panels is six to seven times thicker than the finish on the original panels.

Challenges and Successes

The team’s biggest challenge was the timeframe — 180 days to design and develop the system. According to Doug Bruza, senior project manager for Gibbs Construction, who also manages installation of the façade system on the dome, his crew had to ensure certain criteria in the contract were met. “The biggest thing was to provide an individually replaceable metal wall panel and attachment system. The original wall system was installed from bottom to top. So if a panel was damaged you would have to take off 118 feet of panels to replace just one,” he says.

Project Team

  • Architectural joint venture: Trahan Architects, Baton Rouge, La.,; Billes Architecture, New Orleans,; and Sizeler Thompson Brown Architects, New Orleans,
  • General contractor: Gibbs Construction, Harahan, La.,
  • Construction manager: Broadmoor LLC, Metairie, La.,
  • Consultant: Ellerbe Becket, Kansas City, Mo.,
  • HVAC contractor: Baudier Mechanical, Chalmette, La., 504-277-6985
  • Structural steel: Boes Iron Works, New Orleans,
  • Electrical contractor: HTE Contractors, New Orleans, 504-734-0811

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