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GKD: FIU Panthers Focus On Energy Efficiency And Identification

A facade made of metallic mesh by GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG

For universities and colleges in the US, college sports is one of the most important factors in the battle for attention. Competitions in American football and basketball in particular are heavily sponsored as prestige and identification projects. As the largest university in southern Florida, Florida International University (FIU) is internationally known for its sports teams, the Golden Panthers, who play their basketball games at the U.S. Century Bank Arena under the FIU Panthers brand. In order to live up to the importance of this sport in America and at the same time transform the Arena into a multifunctional venue, the building has been subjected to a large-scale renovation and modernisation project over the last few years. A key part of this architectural concept was the unique presentation of the Panthers logo in the entrance area together with the sustainable improvement of the Arena’s energy efficiency through multifunctional sun protection. A facade made of metallic mesh by GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG made all this possible, greeting visitors and athletes with the imposing image of the big cat created using a special bead blasting technique.

The renowned Gould Evans architectural firm were presented with the AIA Merit Award of Excellence in 2012 for this exceptional combination of sustainable and brand-conscious architecture. The mounted facade made up of five panels, each measuring around 30 square metres, provides reliable protection from direct sunlight. Thanks to the Omega 1520 mesh type’s open area of around 50%, the sun protection system reduces costs for air conditioning and artificial light while at the same time granting an unimpaired view of the outside surroundings and allowing natural light into the building interior. Five rectangular panels are arranged in a row and are separated by pillars. The bead blasted mesh panel is fixed directly above the ticketing area. A so-called “etching” technique similar to sandblasting was used to apply the logo, consisting of the panther and lettering, to the mesh. Here, the stainless steel surface is permanently modified by means of bead blasting on areas not covered by digitally generated templates, a technique that allows virtually any design to be realised. The end result retains the mesh transparency as well as the sustainable properties of the GKD stainless steel mesh such as durability, weather resistance, low maintenance and recyclability. In the tough climatic conditions of the southern Florida region, resistance to hurricanes and salt water are also crucial factors. As such, the mesh facade transforms the Arena into a sustainable architectural trademark for college sports in Miami.

Images © NY Focus

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