Architectural single-skin panels provide a new image for Durham City Hall.
A complete exterior and interior renovation were needed for Durham City Hall, which opened in 1975. 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, general contractor Balfour Beatty US’ Raleigh, N.C., team and panel installer SPS, Apex, N.C., had to determine how to use the building’s original framing for the metal wall panel installation. Because of 40 yearsof leaking and sagging, the structure was not straight. It was out of alignment by as much as 4 inches over three stories in some areas.
The design team was tasked with finding a maintenance-free material that would soften the building’s feel while also giving the structure a strong presence. The chosen system would also need to help address the concerns with water infiltration.
Roughton-Nickelson-DeLuca Architects chose Dri-Design Metal Wall Panels, in painted aluminum, with the primary wall color in Dorian Gray; Agreeable Gray, and Amazing Gray were worked into the panel layout. Dark Bronze panels were selected to accent to the gray panels. The panels interlock, and feature an internal gutter system that keeps rainwater off the face of the panels, directing flow to the bottom of the screenwall. Other offerings, typically, employ more fasteners that can penetrate the waterproofing, creating opportunities for leaks. “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 the Durham-N.C-based firm.
Winning the People’s Choice Durham Golden Leaf Award, and the Adaptive Re-Use Durham Golden Leaf Award, the project has been a hit with locals and visitors. “The new façade has brought attention to a building that was neglected for far too long, says Zack. “The design team took the opportunity during this re-design to soften up the brutalist language of the original design, and add more pedestrian-friendly areas so that 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.”