For the West Texas Food Bank, the color green is a symbolic design element. Green represents both freshness and hope, which the organization has been providing in the Odessa, Texas, region since 1985.
So when the hunger relief organization set out to build a new 60,000-square-foot volunteer and community center that would house its expanded food assistance efforts, it was only natural for the color green to play a central and unifying role. Parkhill, Smith & Cooper (PSC), the building's designer and a longtime supporter of the food bank, designed an entryway highlighted by a custom "festival green" color as a focal point for the building.
The architect specified CENTRIA IW Series single-skin rainscreen metal panels with a custom color option to achieve the look on the roof and entryway, says RJ Lopez, an architect in the Midland, Texas, office of PSC. "Used as a way-finding tool, the custom-colored roof catches the eye from the main access road, while the main entry surround directs pedestrians to the front door."
For a building with both aesthetic aspirations and performance requirements, a metal façade was a good fit. The West Texas Food Bank built the larger facility as the organization grew to serve more than 31,000 people living in poverty or food insecurity in Ector County and 18 other West Texas counties.
Opened in 2016, the facility houses a state-of-the-art kitchen and contains a 3,200-square-foot freezer/cooler that allows the cold storage of almost three times as many items as the organization's previous location. The new building also has additional dry storage and volunteer areas to assist with sorting donations and holding meetings. An outdoor garden is available to grow vegetables.
Color was just one of the needs that the architect had to take into account. "The West Texas Food Bank requested a low-maintenance, yet high-performing facility that was both welcoming to their clientele and unique to West Texas," Lopez says. "The low-maintenance, high-performing metal panels provide a cost-effective initial investment that will offset maintenance cost in the future. This cost savings will have a direct effect on how well the food bank is able to serve its community, because every dollar saved on maintenance costs equals four meals that the food bank can deliver to those in need."
The sophisticated metal panel system helped to define the building's look and operation. "Since the facility is surrounded by vertically oriented cladding, the horizontally oriented CENTRIA Cascade® panel system offered a unique approach to a metal cladding system for the area," Lopez says. "The panel finish also offered both the low-maintenance and high-performing characteristics the facility needed. Taking the impact of the West Texas sun into consideration, the CENTRIA wall panels are able to playfully mimic an ever-changing sun angle and intensity."
The versatile Cascade panels employ signature curves and deep ribs for a sculpted profile and interesting shadow accents. A common side joint makes it possible to mix the panels for truly unique design options. The Cascade panel system also allowed the installer to avoid using angled trim at the 90-degree corners by using MicroSeam® Corners. "[CENTRIA panels] were easy to detail and specify," Lopez says. "All of our questions and concerns were addressed in a timely manner during the design process. It was a very positive experience working with CENTRIA and their products."
The manufacturer was just one part of a dynamic team whose spirit of purpose and collaboration came through in the finished product.
"The West Texas Food Bank staff and leadership are visionaries with unwavering commitment to their community," Lopez says. "Their excitement and persistence for the project was contagious. The stories behind the clients they serve and our ability to improve their clients' experience accessing quality food was a constant source of inspiration to us throughout the process."
The design firm's work on the project played right into its own philosophy of engaging with and helping the community. The West Texas Food Bank initially turned to Parkhill, Smith & Cooper for the design because of the long-time relationship between the firm and the nonprofit.
"Since 2011, we have held an annual design-centered fundraiser, in which sculptures are designed and built from thousands of cans," Lopez says. "After placing the can sculptures on display for the community, we donate the cans to the West Texas Food Bank. The relationship built in the process of this event is what led to our having the opportunity to design the new West Texas Food Bank Volunteer and Community Center.
"We are committed to building community in our area and would be hard-pressed to find a community organization more in line with our commitment to the area than the West Texas Food Bank," Lopez says.
The new West Texas Food Bank building has become a welcome addition to its community, inspiring the volunteers the organization relies upon. "The Permian Basin community has embraced the building with open arms," Lopez says. "Scheduling volunteers has become an issue at the new facility, since they are seeing record numbers of people stepping up to help out. Their partner agencies are lining up to take advantage of the new spaces. It has been recognized by the USDA as an exemplary facility."
West Texas Food Bank
Architect: Parkhill Smith & Cooper
General Contractor: Cooper Construction Company
Dealer: Wade Architectural Systems
Cascade® CC-260 w/ MicroSeam® Corners; Silversmith; 4,723 square feet
IW Series IW-10A; Festival Green (Custom); 4,491 square feet
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