Volume 50, Issue 12 - December 2015


Heavy Metal: “Mesh” Façade Helps Research Center Achieve High-Tech Look

The Georgia BioScience Training Center isn’t meshing around.

The new $14 million building, which serves as a workforce development and recruitment tool in the biotechnology sector, dons a striking metal “mesh” façade. The metal, developed by Cambridge Architectural, clads the majority of the facility’s exterior, providing a “high-tech” look and solar shading. Similar mesh inside the facility shades an open-air courtyard that is the center’s initial vista entering the building.

A total of 149 panels, covering 10,900 square feet, were used on the project.

“We infused stainless steel into the exterior design to capture the performance benefits of shading while expressing the connections of the system, which enhance the client’s brand of a decidedly hi-tech facility,” says Nathan Williamson, project designer for Cooper Carry, the architect. “The mesh delaminates from the main façade with facets and plane changes to provide a dynamic, crystalline aesthetic with ever-changing shadows and reflections that suggest a sense of movement.”

At night, the mesh is a backdrop for a wall wash of LED lighting in a variety of colors.

The Metal

The mesh pattern is called “Lanier,” named after Georgia’s Lake Lanier.

It has a 50-percent open area, which Cambridge director of operations Matt O’Connell says effectively blocks 50 percent of the sun’s radiant energy from coming into the building. Additionally, the stainless steel is reflective.

That combination, O’Connell says, “reduces the overall heat load into the facility, so their HVAC system can be sized smaller, and they can save energy.”

The mesh is attached to the structure using Cambridge’s Clevis in-tension system.

Inside Georgia BioScience, a flexible pattern, similar to Lanier and named Matte, is used for solar shading and visual screening. Mesh also provides screening for the center’s main conference room. An eyebolt system is used to attach the mesh on the building’s interior. 

Early and Often

During the design phases, Cambridge worked closely with the architect and general contractor, going back and forth with several different mesh options to achieve both the desired look and the functionality of a sunshade.

“We came in early in the design process to work with the architect,” O’Connell says, adding that the company likes to get involved on a given project “once they have the initial design and vision in place.”

Cambridge exchanged ideas, samples and mockups over the course of approximately two months “to really fine-tune and home in on what they were looking for,” says O’Connell.

L&S Erectors, which installed the metal, was soon brought in after it became evident the parties were a good fit. David Brock of L&S says his company prides itself in taking on projects with “specialty product” manufacturers because of its willingness and capability to be more “hands on” in the pre-installation phase.

The new Georgia BioScience Training Center is clad with a unique “mesh” metal pattern developed by Cambridge Architectural and installed by L&S Erectors.
The Ohio-based installer works with just a few primary manufacturers, but has done jobs throughout the country and worked as far away as Hawaii. Brock says that because L&S is a union shop, it typically takes three key in-house installers to a job and is able to pick up union workers to assist in any area of the project that requires it.

The project team called on L&S to help coordinate and foresee any potential problems or particular issues that could come up onsite later on. That phase of the project was crucial, as concerns regarding transitional areas and other specifics took some hashing out.

“When we finally got to the installation of the project, everything was exactly as designed,” says Brock.

The mesh pattern has a 50-percent open area, which blocks 50 percent of the sun’s radiant energy from entering into the building.
The Challenge

The early collaboration was particularly crucial for the Georgia BioScience project because of the many curves and angles in the design.

“After initial review and discussions with Cooper Carry about their vision, we conducted 3-D modeling,” O’Connell says. “But the computer only goes so far, so we went through multiple mockup processes, both small and full size, to provide the right mesh fabric for the job.”

In working with the installers, one of the main concerns for Cambridge was making sure there were adequate dimensions for the transitional areas.

“L&S, which has collaborated with Cambridge Architectural on many other projects, asked that a Cambridge engineer join them on-site to ensure everything was measured and accounted for correctly,” says O’Connell. “In the case of this project, [our] engineers ended up making several site visits to ensure a successful project.”

—Nick St. Denis

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