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Metal Meets Medical Science
Beck’s Designers Tap McNichols Designer Metals Collection to Help Evoke Images of Medical Science on the Exterior of CAMLS

To the medical world, the new Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS), commonly called "Camels", is a state-of-the-art facility for learning. Affiliated with Tampa’s University of South Florida, it is a place where robotic surgery, advanced trauma life support, neonatal resuscitation and other medical techniques are simulated and integrated with education and research to push advances in health care into practice.

To the design/build community, the stunning and intelligent design of CAMLS begins with its exterior use of perforated metal and the images it evokes relating to medical science. The Beck Group, architect and construction manager, chose perforated metal panels to reduce solar heat gain and also evoke the role the building plays in medical science. They envisioned an exterior that would reflect the idea of DNA, the very essence of human life and medical science.

The designers used perforated metal panels on the exterior from McNICHOLS with three different hole patterns and various round hole diameters to simulate the pores of human skin.Perforated aluminum panels from McNICHOLS® Designer Metals collection was selected to articulate the vision. “The material had the artistic traits to convey the idea of health science, and the qualities of light diffusion that reduces solar heat gain, especially on the building’s western exposure,” said Joe Harrington, Beck project manager. Inspired by to a photo of a DNA test strip, the design team envisioned this aluminum product, with its various patterns of holes, as the perfect metaphor. “We imagined it as complementary to the DNA image, which we could apply in several ways throughout the building,” Harrington said. “The idea was to tie in the medical theme in relationship to the human body.”

They further reasoned that if the perforated metal on the exterior could represent the human skin, with variable panel sizes and hole patterns suggesting DNA, the supporting metal frame underneath could easily signify the human skeleton. Taking the medical metaphor further, the Beck team applied punched wood laminate panels to line the lobby wall, another reference to genetics.

The west facade of CAMLS is designed with a seven-degree lean creating an architectural feature that also adds square footage to the floor above. The angle produced another design opportunity for adding an overlay of metal skin that measures 30- by 135-feet and is backlit. "We wanted the building to glow at night," said Harrington.

Affiliated with Tampa's University of South Florida, the new Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation, or "Camels" (CAMLS) is a state-of-the art facility for learning.With the help of Philips and its Color Kinetics product line, LED lights were installed into 6-inch aluminum channels above and below the bend. The light, diffused through the perforation in the metal, allows the building to be illuminated efficiently with a wash of color.

The .125 gauge McNICHOLS perforated metal, installed as patchwork of varying sizes of panels and three different hold patterns, conjures images of pores in the skin. The panels are arranged in three different hole paterns from 2 to 4 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long featuring hole patterns that vary from ¾-inch round on a one-inch staggered design to 3/16th-round on 5/16th-inch staggered design.

The perforated metal skin covers 4,300 square feet of CAMLS’ exterior. While the panels wrap the south and east-facing corner of the building, it is the west side, with its LED lighting and signature “bend” that grabs the eye. Plus, the lighting feature solved a building permit requirement. Because the west facade overhangs the City of Tampa’s scenic downtown pedestrian walkway, development guidelines require the incorporation of a public art element.

Like the Tampa Museum of Art a few blocks away, which is entirely wrapped in perforated metal McNICHOLS Design Metals collection, CAMLS’ metal skin feature is a virtual canvas for illuminated art on which commissioned light artists can create their own graphic designs.

“Budget considerations played an equal part in the design approach,” said Harrington. “We knew we wanted to create something that was cost efficient. We were able to accomplish this with the perforated material.” In addition, CAMLS was certified as a LEED®-NC v2009 Silver building. Sustainable materials were selected from local, renewable, recycled or recyclable sources. The perforated metal panels by McNICHOLS are manufactured in Tampa helping attain the LEED rating.

For more information visit www.mcnichols.com

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