Live Chat Software

Cast Against Type

Chicago medical research center reimagines aesthetics through insulated metal panel (IMP) color.

Access Center Photo 1

They have a term in Hollywood that may help describe the Access Center for Discovery & Learning in Chicago. A movie official might say the aesthetic of the two-story Access Center is “cast against type.“

The 13,811 square foot, $6 million facility mildly disrupts preconceptions with the inventive use of multi-color insulated metal panel (IMP) cladding. For some, the festive aesthetic is a far cry from the reserved, clinical look often expected from a community research and education center.

Why not color?

“We focused on trying to make the space more open and inviting to the surrounding community,“ explains Ted Peck, project architect at D+K Architects, a respected regional architectural and interior design firm based in Chicago. “The aim was to create a building that would inspire wide public engagement.“

The owner is the Access Community Health Network, a non-profit, federally qualified health care provider with services throughout the Chicago area. “They want to partner with institutions like the University of Chicago and Northwestern, as well as other institutions throughout the country. The new building serves as a gathering place for traveling researchers to work with community residents,“ Peck says.

Access Center Photo 2

IMPs take the spotlight

“We didn’t want the clean, austere look you get with a lot of larger medical research facilities,“ Peck says. “We wanted it more colorful. They’ll not only be administering research initiatives from the facility, but they also want to host community meetings in the symposium hall.“

In order to achieve that design intent, meet sustainability goals and stay within a tightly restricted budget, they turned to an IMP system from CENTRIA. “We were trying to make the exterior façade as thermally efficient as possible, given the budget we had to work with,“ Peck explains. The facility was financed with a Grant Award from the National Institute of Health.

Color Connection

The wide palette of colors they could design with using IMPs didn’t hurt, either. Architects specified four dynamic, unique hues to create the eye-catching exterior façade. “The CENTRIA [Fluorofinish® and Sundance Mica] finishes include some metallic and mica flakes so they’re a little more reflective and change color depending on the light angle,“ Peck adds.

Working closely with the installation subcontractor on the project, Crown Corr, Inc., of Gary, Ind., Peck and his design team specified embossed CENTRIA Formawall® Dimension Series® IMPs. The panels include a 2-inch polyisocyanurate foam-insulated core, as well as a thermal break between panel face and liner for superior performance. All told, nearly 12,000 square feet of CENTRIA IMPs were deployed.

Access Center Photo 3

Beyond LEED Expectations

The D+K team was aiming for LEED® certification, but are presently on track to exceed that goal with LEED Silver certification.

The Access Center opened in late 2015 and has been well received by the owner. What does Peck think, especially given this is his first IMP-clad project? “We’re definitely happy with it. As long as the client’s happy, I’m happy.“

Who says a medical research center shouldn’t win style points with a dash of color?

Access Center for Discovery & Learning
Chicago, IL
Building Owner: Access Community Health Network
Architect: D+K Architects
General Contractor: Barton Malow Company
Dealer/Installer: Crown Corr, Inc.

CENTRIA Products:
Formawall Dimension Series 2" Vertical; Copper Penny; 4,880 sq. ft.
Formawall Dimension Series 2" Vertical; Enchanted Sea; 2,423 sq. ft.
Formawall Dimension Series 2" Vertical; Arabian Blue; 2,222 sq. ft.
Formawall Dimension Series 2" Vertical; Metropolis Metal; 2,178 sq. ft.

Subscribe to MetalMag Essentials

Additional Features