A+ Ceilings

Oct. 1, 2004
A+ Ceilings
When the North Carolina-based architectural firm of Hayes-Howell was faced with the challenge of highlighting the public spaces in a renovated high school, it turned to a solution that continues to increase in educational as well as many other commercial environments: the use of metal ceilings.A case in point is Sanderson High School, an 1,800-student facility located in Raleigh, NC. Originally constructed in 1968, this 260,000-square-foot, two-story facility recently underwent an $18 million renovation. According to K.C. Underwood, the Hayes-Howell principal in charge of the project, the original school was standard for its time, a very "straightforward, well-constructed brick building," he notes, "except for the fact that it was all vanilla. There was no hierarchy of space, no wayfinding cues, and very little color."In order to infuse a sense of fun into the building, the project team aimed to make the public spaces more memorable. One way to accomplish this goal was the creative use of ceilings. "We felt that by changing the ceiling's color, texture, pattern and lighting in the public spaces, we could make each space more of a landmark," explains Underwood. "We modulated the ceiling height in various areas for the same reason."The main entrance lobby is an example of the team's thinking. In this case, a coffered ceiling featuring Armstrong's Metal- Works Vector perforated metal ceiling panels in a smooth textured, silver gray color creates an upscale visual.The school's media center, however, presented a unique problem. When the mechanical contractor roughed in the new HVAC system, he did not take the new ceiling into account. Therefore, the same type of metal ceiling found in other public areas could not be used there.The solution was an undulating ceiling using Armstrong's Serpentina three-dimensional suspended ceiling system. Sixty-degree arcs and a mixture of four-, six- and eight-foot main beams were specified, with a perforated metal infill panel installed in the suspension system to complete the curvilinear visual. To make it even more distinctive, the undulating ceiling starts in the corridor outside the media center and then has to go "through" the wall into the space.By the time the project was completed, Underwood says that nearly 2,500 square feet of metal ceiling panels were used, all in public spaces. "The use of metal ceilings in selected spaces gave us the opportunity to add a sense of sophistication to the school and still stay within our budget," he adds.

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