Glass Reveals Pre-Engineered Metal Building Metal Magazine- Hallie Busta

Despite a tight budget, the design-build team of this state-funded addition to the West Tennessee School for the Deaf, Jackson, Tenn., was able to create a customized multipurpose room out of a pre-engineered metal building. The addition also includes a metal-covered stick-frame structure made to house a library, conference room, computer lab and occupational therapy rooms.

“I love this project because of the way it has taken a pretty industrial, inexpensive pre-fab construction methodology and reinterpreted it into a very handsome civic structure,” says awards judge Ron van der Veen, AIA, principal with Seattle-based Mithun. “It makes great space, great massing and a strong visual presence using pretty low-tech steel construction technology.”

ut the design of the building is focused as much on creating defined spaces for the students as it is to protect them, says Todd Walker of Memphis-based archimania, the architects on the project. Because the school serves deaf students, Walker initially thought the design would need to meet special acoustic needs. Designing for safety and security, however, carried more weight, per a request by school officials. The building’s exterior features an extended overhang that bridges the gap between the addition and the existing building, concealing a courtyard formed in the space between. The overhang provides a space for the children to wait for buses in inclement weather, satisfying the school’s request.

Inside, the multipurpose room includes half a basketball court inset into a concrete floor. A mezzanine accessible from the room serves as an additional usable space. Walker also extensively incorporated the use of natural light by adorning the entire north side of the building in glass, revealing an exposed, pre-engineered metal building to the exterior. “It captures northern light, which was the best light we could capture for the kids during playtime, so in a way it lets them feel like they’re outdoors while they’re indoors,” he says. “You can really open up a pre-engineered metal building and provide a lot of glass within the design itself.”

Project Team

Architect: archimania, Memphis, Tenn.,

Building Owner: State of Tennessee W.T.S.F.T.D., Jackson, Tenn., (731) 423-5705

General Contractor: Allen Searcy Builder Contractor Inc., Union City, Tenn., (731) 885-7633

Installer: Ceco Building Systems, Columbus, Miss.,

Metal product: Petersen Aluminum Corp., Elk Grove Village, Ill., manufactured the corrugated “S” metal wall panels covering 60 percent of the exterior wall surface, Houston-based MBCI Metal Roof and Wall Systems manufactured the Zee-Lock panel system used on 90 percent of the roof surface,