The versatility, appearance, and durability of copper cladding have increased demand for the material both as an exterior covering and building trim.
Long life and low maintenance are the driving forces behind any commercial building exterior treatment. Of the many available options, metal has emerged as the cladding of choice in many parts of the country. In New England, there has been a notable trend by designers and builders to use copper cladding for new construction and renovations. The metal has become particularly popular in school designs.
“Our firm uses a lot of metal cladding in our educational designs,” said Pip Lewis, AIA, a senior associate at HMFH Architects Inc., Cambridge, MA. “More often than not, we use copper panels over other manufactured metals. We like using copper because of its longevity, as well as its appealing look. I like to add copper for some punch to a design, even if it’s only in a canopy over an entryway. Copper adds a tactile depth of texture and conveys a great sense of quality as you’re entering the building.”v
|The entrance to the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Beaver Country Day School uses copper cladding to visually connect the new building with the old classroom building. Brick further enhances the architectural integration.|
Additionally, Lewis noted that copper is a slightly less expensive than brick and does not require any maintenance. “Copper lasts for years. Although the patinas will change slightly, it doesn’t need repainting like other metals,” Lewis said
Similarly, Dan Flanagan, division manager for institutional work at Erland Construction, Burlington, MA, commented that, in his experience, metal has become more popular in school building projects. “We’ve been involved in the construction of several educational buildings where metal cladding has been used prominently. Metals are more flexible in design and aren’t as costly as brick,” he said. He added that his company had completed a number of school projects recently that incorporated copper in a variety of design elements.
This movement toward use of copper on building exteriors is driven by its durability and attractiveness. It is a highly malleable metal that is easily fabricated, will not rust or corrode, and never needs painting. Because of its environmentally friendly qualities, copper is being incorporated into many university projects to generate LEED credits and certification.”
An example of this trend can be seen at the Beaver Country Day School, Chestnut Hill, MA, where copper cladding was instrumental in integrating the modern design of a new visual and performing arts center with the architecture of 80-yr.-old New England brick structures.
Beaver Country Day School was incorporated in 1920 by a group of Boston-area parents who wished to have a “progressive” school where students were taught through creativity and play, as well as hard work. Today, the school is a private, independent, co-educational, college-preparatory institution with 410 students in grades 6 through 12. In 1999, the school initiated a master plan to meet its growing academic program and an anticipated increase in enrollment, while maintaining its standard of educational excellence. HMFH Architects was hired in early 2002 to plan and design an expansion and renovation of the existing 17-acre wooded campus to address program needs in performing and visual arts and athletics.
One of the priority projects was to address the need for a substantial amount of additional space for visual and performing arts. Although renovating and expanding underused existing space was initially considered, the decision was made to construct a new facility and connect it to the existing main classroom building.
For Lewis, being charged with designing the school’s new Visual and Performing Arts Center involved incorporating a state-of-the-art facility with the existing buildings of the school’s campus-some of which dated back to the 1920s. It was a project full of endless creative possibilities.
“Officials at the school did not place any restrictions on the facility design,” Lewis said. “There were no preconceived thoughts on how it should look.” Yet, Lewis recognized that the building was part of a long-established New England educational environment and needed to harmonize with the surroundings. While several designs were proposed, a brick structure with exterior copper cladding and accents helped bridge the …View More