Brown University Applied Math Building
The new building for Brown University’s Division of Applied Mathematics was completed in 2015. The surface of the building is clad with a custom layout of shingles in Zahner’s Solanum Steel, a preweathered patina on weathering steel alloy. This 13,000 square foot structure offers additional space for faculty, students and staff.
Zahner was specified on the job by the designers at Architectural Research Office (ARO), who had previously worked with the Solanum Steel material on a residence in Telluride, CO. Adapting a similar shingled system for the new design at Brown University, the designers came up with a small tabletop mockup for the layout. This mockup allowed for rationalization of the overlap pattern, and the ability to figure out the layout early on.
Solanum Steel is a pre-oxidized weathering steel (Corten) surface developed by Zahner. The surface is produced by accelerating the natural weathering process and stabilizing the result. Solanum Steel provides artists, architects and designers with a range of resonant tones on an enduring surface.One of the well recognized challenges of using steel in architecture is its propensity for the material to rust or oxidize. Although there are many who appreciate the visual nature of the warm hues of weathering steel, nobody likes it when the material's color bleeds onto other surfaces. The Zahner preweathered steel process reduces the material's tendency to stain adjacent surfaces.
Designing the Facade System for Brown University
The project was already streamlined with cut lists ready and Zahner in the specs by the time it arrived in estimating. Because Zahner was clearly listed as the source for the finish, the construction management team at Shawmut knew who to contact, and were offered pricing in a quick and timely manner.
The cut list contained six different profiles for the shingles. These varying profiles were arranged in a stagger, with 2” overlaps to conceal face fasteners. The Architect also had determined their desired stagger for the layout, which would alternate overlaps at every course for the two layout options. Zahner worked with Shawmut Construction to coordinate the locations for the ¼” fastener holes, and provided shop drawings confirming exact dimensions for each of the profiles.