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Metalwërks® Products Reinvent Historic Cornell University Upson Hall

High-performing metal plate system transforms existing structure

Publish Date: Thursday, August 23, 2018

KENNETT SQUARE, PA…Originally built in 1956, Cornell University’s Upson Hall was reinvented to meet 21st Century standards for campus planning, learning and research environments, and energy performance. Approximately 29,000 square feet of finished assemblies consisting of Metalwërks®’ ornamental metal enclosures and Arcwall™ rainscreen panels were instrumental in transforming the 155,000 square-foot, LEED Platinum® structure into a thermally-efficient, aesthetically-forward, enriched hub for student learning and innovation.

“It was the optimal design decision for us to use the metal plate system on this project,” says Craig Sobeski, Project Designer with Perkins+Will, the architecture firm responsible for the building’s design. “The plate afforded us an incredible amount of control over the façade geometry, while also accommodating a high-performing wall system. Metalwërks’ product let us achieve an extremely precise level of detailing as well as the high R-value required for the building’s energy performance goals.”

In total, Metalwërks provided approximately 85,000 lbs of aluminum for the building facade. The company was responsible for providing ornamental surrounds for the windows, and Arcwall aluminum plate panel rainscreen for soffits, fascia, and coping. This economical drained and back-ventilated rainscreen system is manufactured from formed aluminum or stainless plate. It has immense design flexibility, and can be flat, curved, or formed into custom 3D profiles. It can be installed both horizontally and vertically.

“The Arcwall rainscreen was adaptable to the building’s existing conditions and was flexible enough to use across the renovation of the existing structure,” explains Sobeski. “It’s a fun product because it can be shaped to precise levels of tolerance. We are not limited, and can achieve that which we draw using this type of metal plate.”

To ensure the building achieved high energy efficiency standards illustrated by a high R-value — measuring a material’s ability to resist heat flow — continuous insulation was installed under the metal panels. The coffered window surrounds helped the thick wall system transition gracefully to the deeply-recessed windows, creating a robust thermal barrier while simultaneously shading the openings from excessive heat gain.

“The continuous insulation had to be at a certain thickness to achieve the high energy performance,” Sobeski adds. “Using a thin metal panel like Metalwërks’ let us achieve the desired aesthetic while maintaining a high R-value. We work with Metalwërks products when we require high performing facades.”

Architectural finishes for the windows, curtainwall, and panels was a 2-coat Bone White PVDF. A 3-coat Bright Yellow accent trim was scattered throughout the façade — a detail that nodded to the building’s original façade, which featured yellow metal panels.

Cornell’s Upson Hall was completed in 2017. Perkins +Will Architects were the project architects. Thornton Thomasetti provided façade and structural engineering, LEED management, energy modeling, and building physics consulting services.


About Metalwërks:

Founded in 1968, Metalwërks is the leading U.S. manufacturer of precision high-performance metal plate exterior facade systems, integrated curtain wall components, and custom architectural features. The company works in close collaboration with top architects to achieve new levels of form and function in systems precision-manufactured from solid metal plate. Metalwërks is unparalleled in the quality, diversity, integrity and reputation of its systems, services, and employees. For more information, visit:



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Headquartered in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, with production facilities in Elkton, Maryland, Metalwërks is the leading US manufacturer of precision high performance metal plate exterior facade systems, integrated curtain wall components, and custom architectural features.

Since 1968, Metalwërks has worked in close collaboration with top architects to achieve new levels of form and function in systems precision-manufactured from solid metal plate. Today, Metalwërks remains committed to innovating architectural plate systems that meet the ever-evolving aesthetic, functional, performance, and environmental requirements of architects and building owners.

Originally founded as a metal fabrication and contracting company, Metalwërks possesses a wealth of real-world experience and knowledge that informs every design and engineering decision that go into its systems and projects. This is a big reason why Metalwërks systems are more materially and structurally efficient, far more easily and affordably constructible, and why architects, owners, and contractors alike continue to prefer Metalwërks systems over alternatives.

As a family-owned company, Metalwërks takes ultimate pride in the high quality, integrity and good reputation of its systems, services, and employees. This unwavering commitment to quality is most evident in its craftsmanship, unparalleled in the industry.

Metalwërks stands behind all of its products to ensure absolute customer satisfaction.