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  Award-Winning Renovation Gives Old Metal Building A New Lease On Life

The 50-year-old industry metal warehouse was to be converted into 20,000 square feet of combined commercial office and storage space that would be aesthetically appealing to prospective tenants.When Saroyan Architecture of Sand City, California started planning the renovation of the modified Quonset hut that was to become the Redwood Business Center, the challenge before them was considerable. "The 50-year-old warehouse building was extremely dilapidated - nothing short of an eyesore," states Al Saroyan, AIA principal of the architectural firm. "The owner wanted to convert it into 20,000 square feet of combined commercial office and storage space," he continues. "Our challenge was to turn an industrial metal building into a mixed-use property, in a manner that would be aesthetically appealing to prospective tenants."

To meet the challenge, the architect chose to celebrate rather than conceal the metal-building characteristics of the structure - using curved metal roof panels, metal wall panels, exposed trusses and other elements to update and revitalize the building. Saroyan had a special interest in making the design a successful one: His own architectural and contracting companies planned to lease space in the building.

"Despite its run-down condition, the original structure was basically sound. In fact, it was over-designed by today's standards, which worked to our benefit," Saroyan notes. He chose to demolish the interior space down to the slab - a necessary step to meet modern building codes - while retaining the original purlins, trusses and other structural components.

The architect using Curveline, Inc.'s crimp-curving method was able to preserve the low-sloping curve of the original roof line.One of the dominant features of the building, then and now, was its curved roof. "We wanted to preserve the low-sloping curve of the original roof line, and fortunately Curveline, Inc.'s crimp-curving method provided the ideal way to do that," says Saroyan. To take full advantage of the roof's 13,000 square foot size, he chose a bright "River Teal" color to reflect the sky. The new walls were designed in a contrasting "Almond" beige earth tone. 

Working within the confines of the original structure, which had an irregular shape, the architect created two-story open spaces at the ends of the building where the height was lowest, and confined the second-story square footage toward the center of the building. Large skylights were positioned down the center, over each of the 20- x 60-foot bays.

"We exposed the steel trusses that run through the building to use them as an interior accent feature," Saroyan comments. "We also exposed the steel purlins that support the roof, creating a nice rhythm in the interior of the structure." The ends of the building are punctuated with large square windows, and the entryways are accented with awnings that match the roof. The window frames are a deep red color for a crisp contrast with the natural tones of the roof and wall panels. Blue-tinted storefront glass complements the roofing. These components, together with columns that support the awnings, break up the large façade and lend a more commercial look to the exterior.

Curveline curved all roofing panels to a 68-foot outside radius at its Ontario, California service center.For the curved roof, Saroyan selected a 24 Gauge "PBU" panel manufactured by M.B.C.I. of Atwater, Calif., an exposed fastener ribbed panel. Curveline, Inc. curved all roofing panels to a 68-foot outside radius at its Ontario, Calif. service center. The same panel, uncurved, was used for the awning sections.

Saroyan Masterbuilder was general contractor for the project. Salinas Steel Builders, Inc. of Salinas, Calif. was the roof and wall panel installer. The installed cost was approximately $5.50 per square foot of the building floor area, including removal of the old metal and installation of the new.

Shortly after its completion in October 2001, the Redwood Business Center received a renovation award from the Sand City Council. "Aesthetics and creativity have helped to lease the building on its own," comments Saroyan. In addition to the two Saroyan companies - which occupy offices, warehouse space and a shop - the building has attracted an interesting mix of tenants. The facility currently houses service professionals, contractors, artists with workspaces and galleries, and even a personal trainer.

"Sand City has been encouraging mixed-use development to incorporate more office, retail and even residential space into the area," Saroyan notes. "This project was consistent with that goal. Also, the Redwood Business Center has been a catalyst in convincing other developers to improve existing buildings rather than tear them down."

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