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Guest Column - November 2011

Building Options

Building Branding
How the Right Building Can Work for You

By Charles Praeger


How do you get consumers into your recreation facility? Probably you tell them about your top assets that offer advantages over your competition: a convenient location, a wide range of up-to-date equipment, experienced staff, locker and change facilities, and other amenities. When you think about what to tell users about your brand, do you consider your building? Your structure and space tell a lot about your brand, especially when your facility is constructed with a metal building system.

What It Is, What It Does

As the name implies, there are many significant metal elements in every system, and the structural steel frame is vital. The steel members of a metal building are engineered specifically for each building and then shipped to the construction site. This offers each building owner customization, which saves money because there are no wasted materials. Metal building systems provide a quick construction period and the capability to erect a building year-round. This can happen because a metal building is fabricated in a plant for a bolt-type construction at the site. Therefore, weather doesn't affect the construction process.

"Building owners also should note that a metal building can be erected one-third faster than conventional construction," said Chuck Haslebacher, chairman of the Metal Building Manufacturers Association. "That aids in saving money with less contractor payroll and other related expenses."

The structural steel frame is what bears the load in most metal buildings. Therefore, the options for exterior finishes can be brick, glass, masonry, EIFS, insulated steel wall panels or other materials.

Case in Point

Exterior aesthetics was a priority for the Charneski Recreation Center at Saint Martin's University in Lacey, Wash. A wing of the facility faces the interior of campus, and school officials wanted this section to blend with other structures. A variety of exterior finish materials, including masonry walls, steel wall panels and a standing-seam roof accomplished this task.

As your facility users are running laps, doing sit-ups, climbing walls or shooting goals, they might notice the steel spans in a ceiling (if they are exposed). A benefit of metal building systems is these steel spans allow for economical, creative and open interior designs. "Many recreation facilities need these clear spans to accommodate pools, tracks or other gym equipment," Haslebacher said. "Metal buildings easily provide this open space."

The Enclosure Indoor Rock Climbing gym in Jackson Hole, Wyo., is proof of this. High, open spaces were definitely a necessity for climbing, as well as for workout equipment on a balcony.

The steel spans have an added benefit of making spaces interchangeable. Metal buildings become a great selling point for a building owner because when one tenant moves out and the new one wants a different layout, the wide span configurations of a metal building allow spaces to be reshaped and reconfigured. There is flexibility for mechanical additions and interior electrical layout, as well.

Saving Green and Going Green

When comparing prices of metal building systems to conventional buildings, consider more than material costs. You have already learned that metal buildings are constructed faster than traditional construction, so you save there. The fast pace also means occupancy occurs more quickly, and, therefore, so does revenue production. In addition, the specifications are so exact that you don't waste material, saving money yet again.

The Urban Plains Center and Tournament Facility in Fargo, N.D., is a lesson in how to save money when building large on a smaller-than-usual budget. "Anyone can spend $100 million on a sports arena," said Fargo-based ICON Architectural Group co-founder and executive director Mike Kuntz, "but trying to do it for $25 million is another story."