Striking Building Design

Ziba Features Metal Rainscreen Panels on Headquarters in Portland, Oregon

by Amy Wagner, PR program administrator, Godfrey

From Architectural West May/Jun ’11

On its website, Ziba, a design and innovation consulting firm based in Portland, Oregon, makes the statement, “We exist to design beautiful experiences.”  The company’s headquarters, located on the edge of Portland’s Pearl District and completed as Ziba celebrated its 25th anniversary, speaks to this quote – a beautiful structure designed by Holst Architecture, Portland, to integrate Ziba employees in the creative process even as it integrates Ziba with the surrounding community. 

         However, early in the design process, discussions between Ziba and Holst Architecture made it clear to Holst project manager, Cassidy Bolger, that Ziba was looking for more than a beautiful building.  “Ziba was very much interested in a building that was simple in its expression and one that thoughtfully showcased unconventional solutions using conventional materials in a smart way.  The use of Morin metal wall panels was one very important design element that helped us meet that objective.” 

         The 70,000-square-foot, $13 million Ziba building, constructed on a brownfield that was formerly surrounded by rail yards, is home to 100 employees who work in 55,000 square feet of unconventional office space – what Ziba founder and President Sohrab Vossoughi calls the company’s “tribal” design, consisting of open workstations positioned amid a series of interlocking pod-like meeting rooms, encouraging collaboration among employees and between employees and clients.  Located on the second and third floors of the structure, the modern workshop is bathed in natural light that enters from an open corridor that runs along the north façade of the building and features a glass curtain wall.  Below, 15,000 square feet of retail space and a 200-seat auditorium welcome the community into the building.

         To offset the expansive and expensive glass curtain wall, the architects turned to metal panels.  “The challenge was to find a manufacturer that could make a metal panel long enough to extend to the full height of the building without requiring horizontal joints, thereby maintaining the clean lines of the building,” recalled Bolger.  “That’s where Morin came in.  Their W-12 panel can be installed vertically for a smooth, taut façade, thanks in large part to its innovative V shape, which stiffens the panel and prevents oil canning or shifting and crinkling of the panel.”  The W-12 panel can be fabricated from Galvalume® coated steel, aluminum, zinc, copper, or stainless steel.  Panel lengths can be as long as 25’.  Heavy gauges are available as are coatings in various colors to enhance appearance and the ability to withstand harsh weather. 

         R&H Construction, Portland, Oregon,  the project’s general contractor, enlisted the services of Streimer Sheet Metal Works, Inc., Portland, Orgeon, to ensure the proper installation of 8,300 square feet of Morin W-12 concealed fastener wall panels.  According to Streimer’s Jeanette Lampe, the 12’’-wide, 20-gauge Galvalume panels eliminated oil-canning concerns.  “The break down the middle of the panel strengthens the panel to prevent oil-canning, while it reinforces the panel’s and ultimately the building’s vertical look.  Morin is the only manufacturer I know that has a roll-forming machine that will allow them to crease the panel down the middle and do it consistently, even in panels that are more than 10’ long.” 

         Streimer also installed 1,200 square feet of Morin’s F-12 concealed-fastener wall panel, 12’’-wide, 20-gauge Galvalume with a smooth finish; and 1,300 square feet of the company’s A-12 concealed fastener wall panel, 11 1⁄2’’ wide with a 1⁄2’’ reveal.  In all, approximately 10,800 square feet of Morin wall panels, the majority in midnight bronze color, envelop three sides of the Ziba building, contributing the value that metal skin offers.  Blue gray F-12 and A-12 panels at the entrance to the building were fabricated from a natural zinc alloy material.

         “The unique V shape of the W-12 panel presented an extra benefit and an enjoyable surprise,” said Bolger.  “In addition to stiffness, the faceted planes of the V-shaped panel made for a nice play of light across the surface of the building and created an interesting corrugated effect.”  Bolger also appreciated the flexibility of the panel.  “We weren’t stuck with having to put the product together the same way it’s always been assembled.  Instead, we were able to do some unconventional detailing, relying on Streimer’s expertise to change shapes, creating more shadow lines, and to minimize trim for a pared-down, simplistic aesthetic.  In the end, with a little thought and detailing, a fairly common building material, metal panels, came across as a rich finish, even though the panels are relatively inexpensive when compared to other options for a building façade.” 

         As the metal panels contributed to aesthetics and a solid building design, they also supported the building’s achievement of U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Gold certification.  The recycled content of the steel panels was included in calculating LEED Credit MRc4 Recycled Content, and the panels feature an environmentally friendly Valspar Fluropon paint system. 

         Vossoughi has described Ziba’s headquarters as a, “box on a plinth, an airy, metal box floating on a pedestrian plinth.”  And quite a box it is, extending along two sides of a city block and clearly defining Ziba’s place in the design community. 

         “Admittedly, designing for designers was a unique challenge for us,” said Bolger.  “By the very nature of who they are and what they do, the designer owner is more sensitive to the choices we make and ultimately, to the finished product.  As a result, we needed to make sure that everything in and on the Ziba building was finished to a high level, that every finish we selected met that challenge.  I think the metal panels exceeded that challenge, bringing the value and durability of metal to the project while supporting aesthetics and sustainability at every turn.”

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