How do you renovate a county government building without shutting down operations or relocating hundreds of critical employees? That was the dilemma that Butler County, Pa., faced when its government center needed major repairs.
Located about an hour north of Pittsburgh, the building’s 30-year-old, precast concrete façade was deteriorating. The exterior seals had failed, leading to glaring structural and aesthetic problems. According to Ben Marnik, district sales manager at the Moon Township, Pa.–based manufacturer CENTRIA, the building’s exterior “was failing miserably. Moisture was getting behind the façade, corroding some of the supports behind it, and evidence of corrosion was coming forward through the material.”
Thanks to the expertise of the local architectural design and structural engineering firm Ashlar Architecture & Engineering, Butler County found a solution in CENTRIA’s insulated metal panels (IMPs). By retrofitting the building with IMPs, county employees wouldn’t be displaced, and the building would gain a new, high-performance envelope that would enclose the failing concrete façade.
“An insulated metal panel can not only provide the exterior appearance, but also the retrofit IMPs form a new air, water, vapor and thermal barrier on the outside of the building,” Marnik says.
However, retrofit projects are never easy. The Canonsburg, Pa.–based roofing contractor A.C. Dellovade and the Hampton Township, Pa.–based contractor Uhl Construction joined the team and together they solved a variety of engineering and design challenges.
“The biggest challenge with retrofit is verifying what's actually out in the field and what they're showing on paper are actually one and the same,” says Joe Gizoni, vice president of sales and marketing at A.C. Dellovade.
In addition, the team had to assess how structurally sound the existing façade was. “If you're going to install IMPs over the top of an existing material,” Marnik asks, “can the existing structure carry the new weight of the added material? And how do you attach it?”
Once they confirmed the IMP envelope could attach directly to the existing façade, CENTRIA and A.C. Dellovade developed a secondary metal support structure to hold the new panels. “The new system is a complete new exterior with a sealed air and water barrier, so there is no chance for moisture to get behind it,” Marnik explains.
Most of the new building exterior is composed of Formawall Dimension Series. The 3-inch-thick panels are made with a factory foamed-in-place core surrounded by sealed steel and finished in sage brown or surrey beige. Since the panel system provides air, water, vapor barrier, and insulation all in one, no further trades or components were necessary for the building envelope.
At the entryway, the modular solution Intercept Entyre helped bring the project to life. Intercept allows design versatility around depths, tapers, slopes, curves, and other architectural features.
Another important design requirement was the incorporation of operable windows. Formavue Windows, which integrate seamlessly into the Formawall Dimension Series panels, were installed in dark bronze. Marnik explains that A.C. Dellovade “installed subframing, IMPs, and windows over top of the existing windows with everybody still in the building.” Ultimately, only a handful of employees were removed from their office for a day or two while the windows were finished.
Working together, the team accomplished a challenging list of retrofit goals—enclosing a failing façade, providing a new, weather-tight envelope, and integrating operable windows—all without disturbing vital government operations or relocating the building’s workers.