How should color guide your next project? Should it complement its surroundings? Or challenge—or perhaps, even defy—them?Architects answer those questions with astonishing diversity. Consider the following projects. Some whisper aesthetic intent with accent, trim, and roof line colors. Others use color to underscore and italicize their visual narrative. See how each project in its own way demonstrates the transformative power of color, from the playful to the determined.

Environmental Harmony

Wolf Creek Library, suburban Atlanta
Architect: Leo A Daly, Omaha, Neb.
In daylight, the 25,000-square-foot library’s appearance shifts from copper to red to orange depending on the time of day, weather conditions, and viewing angle. The building’s aluminum composite material (ACM) cladding is coated in Sherwin-Williams’ Valflon MRT Prismatic Magma, a hue that works well with the surrounding woods, lakes, and wetlands.

Walter Cronkite School of Journalism & Mass Communication, Phoenix
Architect: HDR Architecture, Omaha, Neb.
At six stories tall and 223,000 square feet, the building’s boxy exterior is brought to life with metal panels coated with Sherwin-Williams’ Fluropon 70 percent PVDF coatings in Colonial Red, Terra Cotta, and Copper Penny. The colors match the surrounding desert and also mimic the FCC’s radio spectrum chart. The color gradient serves as a visual “launching point,” according to project architect Steven Ehrlich.

Environmental Contrast

Formosa 1140, West Hollywood, Calif.
Architect: Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Los Angeles
The 16,000-square-foot multifamily community vibrantly plays with two colors—red and green. The surrounding pocket park—the green—is dramatically offset by the building’s Sherwin-Williams’ Fluropon 70 percent PVDF coatings in Coronado Red over the corrugated metal panels. According to the architect “the red form grounds its park, brightens its neutral surroundings, and has helped catalyze the revitalization of West Hollywood.”

Urban Harmony

Hilton Garden Inn, Chicago
Architect: GREC Architects, Chicago
This 26-story, 96,000-square-foot hotel needed a way to differentiate itself in a crowded hospitality marketplace. A 10,000-square-foot exterior metal mosaic is a pixelated study in gray using Sherwin-Williams’ Fluropon 70 percent PVDF coatings in Midnight Blue, Stonewall, Sabre Gray, Sleigh Bells, and Horizon. Why gray? In the architects’ view the classic palette will never go out of style and fits seamlessly with its neighbors.

Detroit Public Safety Headquarters, Detroit
Architect: SmithGroupJJR, Detroit
This 400,000-square-foot renovated facility is clad in 90,000 square feet of insulated metal wall panels coated in a mosaic of four shades of blue-green. The project features Sherwin-Williams’ Fluropon 70 percent PVDF coatings in a range of hues—including Key Largo, Tarryton, and Sweet Nothings—that update the building’s appearance with visual depth and movement.

Residential Surprise

Eser Home, rural California
Architect: owners, Ilhan and Kamer Eser
Ilhan Eser is the CEO of a major metal panel manufacturer, so his self-designed home embraces the building material his company manufactures. The exterior metal wall panels he specified are coated in Sherwin-Williams’ Fluropon Effects Kameleon in Dusty Rose, a 70 percent PVDF coating that appears to shift in color based on lighting or viewing angle. The color “fits with nature” the owner says. “In the morning it highlights green and yellow. In the evening, it goes from silver to almost bronze.”

Tivoli House, Venice, Calif.
Architect: Cameron McNall, Los Angeles
The 2,700-square-foot four-bedroom home is wrapped on two public-facing sides by floral cutout aluminum composite material (ACM) façade offset from the interior stucco wall by a 9-inch gap. The gap facilitates façade backlighting at night. The aluminum composite material (ACM) façade is coated in a Sherwin-Williams’ Valflon architectural exterior coating in black. McNall says “the finish sheen is a pleasant surprise in daylight. It reflects its surroundings as sunlight changes. It’s a pleasure to see.”

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