New building cladding revamps dilapidated switching station by bringing light, function, and artistic features.
Transforming a dated fortress into an open and modernized gathering spot was the vision city planners in Santa Rosa, California set into motion. The goal was to refurbish an abandoned AT&T switching station to create a revitalized core within the city’s downtown area. The new plan had to attract and accommodate multiple uses. These ranged from restaurants, to banks, to offices, and the California Wine Museum (or “Wineseum”). Building owner, developer, and contractor Hugh Futrell Corporation partnered with TLCD Architecture to produce such an establishment.
Hugh Futrell Corporation sought to bring natural light into the space. However, the windowless cement building presented a unique set of challenges. In order to achieve their objective, they needed to find a way through the 18-inch exterior concrete walls.
Five-foot diamond saw blades were required to demolish the fortified wall. Large portions of the building came tumbling down to form 17 openings. These openings, each averaging 250 square feet, were assembled into glass sections and balconies. The glass would require a sunscreen, and the mission would be finding the right one.
The solution was found in McNICHOLS Perforated Metal. The material, both decorative and functional, was an ideal choice for the light filtration this project called for. Approximately 150 perforated panels were applied as cladding over the original cement façade and the new glazed glass.
The cladding system also allowed for functional modifications to be made underneath. Perforated panels were affixed to a two-piece set of 14-gauge sub-girts, thus hiding the system from view. This veil enabled them to plumb the linear surface of the concrete wall, which was as much as 1.5 inches out of alignment.
Lead Project Architect Don Tomasi then decided to go one step further. Counter to the previous bunker-style construction, he planned to fabricate the material into delicate-looking, origami-style vertical fins. His intention was to provide the building with unique branding and give it character.
Fabricator and installer B.T. Mancini Company assembled this feature inspired by Japanese paper art. “We took the 4- by 10-foot flat perforated metal panels and made a 120-degree bend diagonally down the length of the panel,” Project Manager Dave Jacks explained.
“We were not trying to hide the original building,” said Tomasi. “Instead we were putting a veil of metal over it to give it a contemporary face, and then added a sculptural element to bring the whol