Chicago’s Intrinsic Charter School
Bestowed with the Metal Construction Association’s Chairman’s Award

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS -- October 14, 2015 – Chicago’s Intrinsic Charter School has been bestowed with the Metal Construction Association’s 2015 Chairman’s Award in the education category for primary and secondary schools.

In Northwest Chicago, Intrinsic Charter School is a new, grade 7 to 12 public school that aims to blend technology into its teaching program, in the hope of providing each student a path to college and a career.

The design team at Wheeler Kearns Architects, of Chicago, was commissioned to transform several aging structures that once comprised a lumberyard into an innovative 68,000 square foot school. The design team had three goals to meet: a fast track schedule, insulating the school to
face the famous Chicago winds, and creating an aesthetic look that would stand out in a
sector filled with industrial buildings. Plus, budget constraints could not be exceeded.

This innovative 68,000 square foot school was built by renovating several structures that once comprised a lumberyard. The main structure of Intrinsic Charter School is a former barn that was constructed in 1954 for the family-owned Shannon Lumber Company business. It is the northernmost extension of two connected structures built in 1911 and 1928. Other gutted buildings were linked to it to create a school that is 470 feet long and 94 feet wide. Because of its length, the building was subdivided into three fire zones with separate exits. The original buildings had brick bearing walls with long span roofs and bowstring trusses, but the wood trusses, placed in 1928, were replaced with steel joists.

The school’s design adapted and reused 75 percent of the existing lumberyard structures. That included an open air shed more than 40 feet tall, built in 1954 with solid wood columns cut from trees hand selected in the Pacific Northwest, and two buildings from 1911 and 1928. Once the basic frame was completed, the next step was to construct the building envelope.

The Architecture firm, specified BENCHMARK® by Kingspan Designwall™ 2000 and 300 A Azteco® insulated metal panels (IMPs) for the school’s exterior cladding.

“On the outside they decided to clad it all in one material, but doing a kind of modified checkerboard system. Alternating with the dark and light and being able to sneak windows in where they wanted to be able to provide glass into what typically was common space or, in some areas, offices. With the glass being dark tinted you don’t really read the glass separate from the metal,” described architect Michael Fitzgerald, AIA, one of the judges for the MCA Chairman’s Awards. “It all kind of reads as a skin. It’s a pattern. You could almost look at it as wallpaper or a big snakeskin. That’s what it reminds me of every time I look at it,” Fitzgerald adds.

“Among the primary reasons we specified Kingspan products for this project was that they allowed the Intrinsic Charter School to meet code requirements for continuous insulation,” said Daniel Wicke, LEED AP, project architect for Wheeler Kearns Architects. “We also found the cost to be very compatible with the project’s budget parameters.”

“This, like many school projects, was on a fast track timeline that began in February and had to be completed by late August of that year,” said Wicke. “Installation of the Designwall 2000 panels was achieved quickly with no delays to the critical path of construction.” As time was ticking away, the Designwall single component design made for fast on-site installation.

The two colors of panels were staggered creatively in a unique overlapping pattern. “To create the impressive staggered effect of the exterior, we specified the BENCHMARK Designwall 2000 panels in two colors, Zinc and Weathered Zinc,” said Wicke. “We wanted a color finish that would stand out, but not stick out, and we found that in Kingspan product colors.”

There were other color choices for IMPs that enhanced the Intrinsic Charter School exterior. “The 300 A Azteco wall panels we used to enclose the gymnasium portion of the structure is an impressive dark bronze color,” said Wicke. “We enjoyed the design flexibility made possible because these IMPs can fit many style applications.”

These durable panels also reduce operational costs for energy and maintenance, and offer multiple end-of-life reuse options. In fact, the exterior skins contain a substantial amount of recycled content, and each IMP is recyclable. Because these Designwall 2000 panels
weigh only 3 pounds per square foot, less energy is needed for transport and installation. IMPs contribute to LEED certification programs and Path to Net-Zero Energy targets.

The award was announced at METALCON, the metal construction industry’s annual tradeshow and conference held at the Tampa Convention Center in Tampa, Florida October 14-16. The Chairman’s Awards are given to the year’s most exceptional building projects involving MCA member companies based on overall appearance, significance of metal in the project, innovative use of metal, and the role of metal in achieving project objectives.

Recipients for these awards are selected each year from projects submitted by MCA members to Metal Architecture Magazine’s annual Design Awards Program. The honorees were chosen by a panel of professional architects, which included Elaine Fitzgerald, AIA, CCS, ArchiTech Consulting, Inc., Mount Prospect, IL; Michael G. Fitzgerald, AIA, Principal, OKW Architects, Chicago, IL; and Ted Haug, AIA, LEED AP, Legat Architects, Chicago, IL.

The MCA Chairman’s Awards were given in eight categories: commercial/industrial; education, colleges and universities; education, primary and secondary schools; institutional; metal roofing; municipal; and residential. The judges also recognized a project with an award for overall excellence.

METALCON is the only event dedicated to metal construction products, technologies, and solutions.

Project Recognition

MCA Member Manufacturer: Kingspan Insulated Panels
Architect: Wheeler Kearns Architects
Contractor: Clune Construction Company
Metal Installer: Hill Architectural Systems

About the Metal Construction Association


The Metal Construction Association brings together a diverse industry for the purpose of expanding the use of metal in construction through marketing, research, technology, and education. Companies involved in MCA gain tremendous benefit from association activities that focus on research, codes and standards, market development, and technical programs. MCA’s market development efforts increase the use of metal materials in construction through the education of the building and design communities regarding the benefits of metal.

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