S-Curved Ceiling Panels Provide Economical Solution For Student Gathering Space|
When Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), St. John’s, Newfoundland,
Canada) set out to convert a 4,000 square foot unused space into a student
gathering center, the design challenges were numerous. The university waented a
space that would be suited to multiple purposes ranging from seminary, classroom
and study use to performances and social events. It also needed to be exciting –
a space that would capture the imagination of the students who used it.
The solution from Sheppard Case Architects, Inc. (St. John’s, Newfoundland) was
a flexible design using high-end materials and aesthetics. “We believe that if
you build quality into a school or any other public space, the occupants will
respect it and use it more effectively,” comments partner Jim Case.
The gathering center was to be located at the southwest corner of the building,
adjacent to a busy food court. Case observed that the students enjoyed sitting
at the existing window bays in the area. “We created two rows of benches along
the windows, where students could sit with their laptops or books and enjoy the
natural daylighting,” he explains.
bench risers extend almost to the level of the windowsills, posing a challenge
for head space. So we began to look at different ways to create a raised ceiling
above the window area,” he continues. The design team agreed on an S-curved
motif to echo the curvilinear form of the window benches. They considered gypsum
board and floating panels in various materials, but the cost would have been
over $20,000 – more than twice the allotted budget.
After further research, Case discovered that corrugated metal building panels –
perforated and lined with acoustical batte – offered an economical solution. “I
wasn’t sure if such panels could be S-curved. But after reviewing the project
requirements with Curveline, we learned that their crimp-curving process could
produce the results we were seeking,” he says. The cost – even with
transcontinental shipping – was also comfortably below the $10,000 budget.
The project uses about 570 sq. ft. of 24 GA, 7/8-inch corrugated, perforated
panels manufactured by Vicwest. Curveline shaped the 9-feet 6-inch long panels
into S-curves using 68 and 84.4 degree angles and outside radii of 26-1/2-inches
The Curveline service center is located in Ontario, California – “about as far
as you can get from Newfoundland in North America”, notes Case. Distance was a
concern, especially when a shipping problem prior to the curving process
resulted in delays. “We worked closely with Curveline and they pulled all the
stops out to fast-track the project and ship the panels directly to the site.
They arrived just before the grand opening in September 2007 – on time and on
budget,” he concludes.
The installation process was simple: The acoustical lining was taped to the
curved panels, which were then secured to support framing. The panels were
pre-painted a simple white, and were mounted to appear free-floating in the
space with four inches of free space on all sides. Dimmable pinhole down-light
fixtures were suspended in the void just above the panels to create a concealed
light feature, similar to a theatre setting.
For maximum flexibility, Sheppard Case also incorporated a Skyfold acoustic
partition so the area can be divided or used as a whole. Unlike most partitions,
the wall does not stack but folds completely up into the ceiling.
General contractor for the project was Diversified Construction Limited of
Conception Bay South, who installed the panels using their own crews. MUN
manager for the project was Judy Power of the Department of Facilities
Management. According to Jim Case, “Vision for the project was amply supplied by
an enthusiastic Dr. Lilly Walker, Dean of Student Affairs and Services.”
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