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A Salute to Service

New $104 million VA Hospital transforms healthcare for Charlotte-area veterans.

Salute Service Photo

Don’t fault architect Frank Freeman for feeling an extra measure of pride for his company’s work on the $104 million, 430,000-square-foot Veterans Affairs (VA) Health Care Center in Charlotte, N.C.

He and his team at RPA Design, a Charlotte-based architecture and engineering firm specializing in healthcare and senior living projects, helped deliver the six-story, full-service health center this past April weeks ahead of a breakneck 30-month schedule.

Care with Distinction

As RPA project manager, Freeman’s view of the project is detailed and intimate. The VA hospital’s many accolades reflect the care and passion that went into the project from all parties involved.

  • The facility supports veteran-center caregiving and accommodation, a major new strategy initiative for the VA. “Our building is one of the first to implement the new strategy,” Freeman says.
  • It’s on track for LEED® Silver certification.
  • Besides code compliance, the building meets VA blast resistance standards. “The building’s [Formawall® Dimension Series®] insulated metal panel system uses panels with metal on the front and back,” Freeman explains. “If there was an explosion, the panel’s dual-metal construction would bend and absorb the blast.”
  • Service veterans now have access to a full complement of medical services, including cardiology, dermatology, audiology, women’s health, mental health, podiatry, prosthetics, four operating rooms and 17 kidney dialysis units.
Salute Service Photo

Today an estimated 140,000 local veterans, including Freeman’s father-in-law, benefit from a modern, “happy building” for their healthcare needs. “A lot of effort went into presenting a positive, cheerful environment. It is very upbeat,” Freeman says.

Key Design Feature

One of the keys to the health center’s modern, attractive look is Freeman’s specification of CENTRIA Formawall insulated metal panels (IMP) for the envelope. Freeman ordered over 47,000 square feet of silversmith Formawall Dimension Series smooth-finish IMPs in 2-inch thickness, along with nearly 2,000 square feet of 3-inch thick Dimension Series IMPs in the same color.

Freeman says specifying CENTRIA was an easy decision.

“The CENTRIA IMPs are high-tech panels designed to shed water with an engineered tongue-in-groove system that is vastly superior to the competition. That design eliminates so many other pieces of metal and flashings,” Freeman reports. Add to that an attractive exterior appearance and tested blast performance—and the order was cinched.

The Formawall system provides thermal efficiency and moisture control in a single panelized component. The panels include a factory foamed-in-place core, minimizing insulation gaps, along with a thermal break between the face and the liner. The standard insulated vertical metal (IMV) joint creates an all metal aesthetic with no exposed gaskets or sealants. The panels offer superior weather resistance by utilizing pressure equalization along the length of the horizontal joinery. The panels are also lightweight, allowing easy, one-step installation and minimizing foundation load.

Smooth Sailing

For Freeman and his team, watching the Formawall system transform the building’s exterior was a project highlight. “The installation was really smooth. The installation crew (from SECO Architectural Systems of Snellville, Ga.) didn’t have to put anything behind the system except the studs to fasten it to.”

Nailing the pre-planning details also helped Freeman save time. “CENTRIA’s standard details were well-done, well-executed, and ready to implement into our design process. With some companies, you can’t count on that support. We could count on CENTRIA,” Freeman says.

Salute Our Heroes

For Freeman and all involved, it’s more than a “handsome building that fits very well in the area’s development.” It’s all about the military veterans it serves.

“Everybody is marveled by it. Veterans are used to seeing older buildings. When they see this building they get pretty excited by it. It gives the public a boost of confidence. The VA really cares.”

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