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Need for Speed

Preeminent $22 Million Training Center Delivers within 18 Months.

Sometimes it's not enough to design just for aesthetic, function, budget, and sustainability. Sometimes the build is about speed.

Consider the groundbreaking project that Bell/Knott Architects, Kansas City-based full service architectural firm, was awarded by Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) in 2012.

Within an 18-month span, the award-winning national design firm was expected to go from design to ribbon-cutting on an ultramodern $22 million lineman and apprentice training center that would serve as a "preeminent" national example of a safety and training facility.

"We originally anticipated about a 20,000 - 30,000 square foot building," recalls project lead Amy Gilbertson, Bell/Knott project manager. "It continually grew until about 55,000 square feet. It was quite an undertaking. It was a very fast project."

With a wary eye on the clock, design was finalized and construction planning commenced. "There were a lot of special considerations. They wanted an office area, regular classrooms, and a lot of hands-on training areas, including workshops for electricians, welders, and mechanics. They also wanted a very high-tech, state-of-the-art corporate meeting area," Gilbertson says.

In addition, the team targeted LEED® Silver certification, so the design incorporated alternative energy use, including a wind turbine, solar panels, and other sustainability features. Bell/Knott designers also sought to compress the delivery schedule with a one-and-done approach to the building envelope.

"They wanted a very tight building envelope to keep R-values high and reduce the load on the mechanical units," observes Gilbertson.

Bell/Knott had recently finished another project for KCP&L with a metal panel envelope. The utility liked the clean, crisp design. So a quick thumbs up was given to a metal facade.

The team considered several suppliers, but CENTRIA held an advantage. "What originally drew us to CENTRIA was the MetalWrap™ system that backs up their Intercept™ Entyre Panels." Available in multiple thicknesses, MetalWrap is an insulated composite backup panel system that offers superior weather and thermal barrier performance with aesthetic flexibility. Gilbertson knew it would help them meet code for continuous insulation. She also liked the idea that MetalWrap's integrated window options would help reduce air leakage around the windows.

And the speed...

"With that sheathing system we weren't required to have three passes by sheathers, insulators, and water barrier subcontractors. MetalWrap would be all under one installer with one pass and a few touchups," Gilbertson reports.

The CENTRIA system also offered some bonuses. The price came in well below a competing manufacturer and the system's dry-joint assembly ensured minimal ongoing KCP&L maintenance. The Intercept modular metal panel system makes use of a continuous engagement flange and concealed fasteners to create the flat, sleek aesthetic designers were looking for.

This single-source approach with CENTRIA meant the approval process was streamlined, with just one set of shop drawings for everything from the studs on out.

"The MetalWrap and Intercept Entyre systems were a wonderful benefit. CENTRIA ended up covering 90 percent of the exterior. MetalWrap sheathes the entire building. Intercept probably covered 85 to 90 percent," Gilbertson estimates.

"It was installed much faster than a standard sheathing and insulation system. Once we got the MetalWrap up, the [Intercept] Entyre panels went on very, very quickly because everything works off the MetalWrap. Installation was a breeze. There were minimal coordination issues on-site," she said.

"The building has a nice, clean, modern look. KCP&L is very pleased with how the building turned out and how it represents the company," Gilbertson said. So too does the local design community: The training center won the 2016 Capstone Award for green design.

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