Woven Mesh Provides Shade, Daylight, Graphic Design and School Spirit

The mesh facade also glows as a lantern in the nighttime, serving the dual function of sun shading in the day and lighting for evening events.The mesh facade also glows as a lantern in the nighttime, serving the dual function of sun shading in the day and lighting for evening events.

Piper High School’s mascot, a pirate, was etched into GKD’s Omega 1510 woven mesh fabric.

Piper High School’s mascot, a pirate, was etched into GKD’s Omega 1510 woven mesh fabric.

Because of the growing student population in the Piper Unified School District No. 203, Piper High School in Kansas City, Kan., recently underwent a large-scale renovation and addition. Chicago-based DLR Group’s design solution incorporates sunshading, daylighting, graphic design and space-utilization to create a unique, 21st century learning environment. To promote school spirit and create an easily identifiable main entrance area, the school’s mascot, a pirate, was etched into woven mesh fabric.

Design architect Ken Graham, AIA, LEED AP, with DLR Group worked with GKD-USA to develop an aesthetically pleasing entryway that would become the focal point of the building—capable of providing sun shading and daylighting. Graham selected Omega 1510, a stainless-steel woven mesh fabric from GKD, based on its durability, sustainable attributes and aesthetics.

“A school building shouldn’t just be about functionality; it should have personality,” Graham notes. “The building itself should be a place where creativity and excitement are fostered and encouraged. We wanted to use a material that would help bring the building life by providing contrast and a more refined image.”

The architect specified the woven mesh to provide an aesthetically pleasing entryway that would become the focal point of the building—capable of providing sun shading and daylighting.

The architect specified the woven mesh to provide an aesthetically pleasing entryway that would become the focal point of the building while being capable of providing sun shading and daylighting.

Making up the 520-square-foot stainless-steel woven mesh facade are two panels: one is 14-feet wide and 15-feet high; the other 18-feet wide by 16-feet high. The mesh, installed using tensioned panels pulled taut with rods and custom eyebolts on the top and bottom, is flexible in one direction and rigid in the other. Using a special process, the image of the pirate was applied to the mesh fabric and then etched into the steel. Because of the detail in the image, the process was fairly time consuming. Etching and installation took about three months; start to finish. The image will eventually darken, which will enhance the clarity of the pirate.

Beyond the need for sun shading that the stainless-steel mesh provided, the durability, longevity and maintenance-free nature of the Omega 1510 mesh facade were major factors in the decision to use this product. The mesh facade also glows as a lantern in the nighttime, serving the dual function of sun shading in the day and lighting for evening events.

The mesh facade also glows as a lantern in the nighttime, serving the dual function of sun shading in the day and lighting for evening events.

The mesh facade also glows as a lantern in the nighttime, serving the dual function of sun shading in the day and lighting for evening events.

The project team was able to meet the challenge of renovating with a low budget while incorporating a range of sustainable elements. The Omega 1510 allowed for a visual graphic to be presented at the front of the school with no long-term maintenance costs. “The design is one-of-a-kind, and the ability to use the mesh as sun shading for the entry added to the school’s overall sustainability goals,” Graham comments. “The mesh provides visibility and filters daylight, which when combined with the clerestory of glass we incorporated, eliminates the need for artificial lighting in the commons area during the day.”

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