Initially constructed in 1949, making it one of the oldest buildings in East Chattanooga, TN, the Avondale Youth and Family Development Center was clearly past its prime and due for a change. In November of 2019, it was replaced by a completely new facility. Designed from ground up by Hefferlin + Kronenberg Architects, the brand new center is 22,550 square feet in size, roughly four times larger than the old center. Here’s a neat perspective: The old facility could actually fit inside the new facility’s gym!
Chris Dufresne, RA at HK Architects was Project Manager of this entire endeavor. He stated,
Our collective goals were to have a new facility that would be a true beacon for the community. It was to be situated on a prominent corner of the site, making it a symbol of revitalization. Its fresh and modern design lines ensured that it was not to be a typical, stale institutional building. All involved wanted this to be a project to help bring new life to the region. Our goal was that the new community center would personify the perfect place for after-school programs. And, to also be recognized for having a great sports facility, community center, senior activities center, work force training center… and, even a public library branch.
HK’s designs specified rainscreen material to be clad on the exterior façade of the building. According to Dufresne,
This is a community center, a high-use, public facility. The main building structure is a concrete masonry unit (CMU). Therefore, for durability, the interior of the space leaves the concrete walls exposed. It was easier for us to attain better thermal performance with a rainscreen. We used continuous spray foam insulation on the exterior behind the rain screen, in combination with filling the CMU cells.
HK’s plans called for CUPACLAD materials to be used for rainscreen purposes. CUPACLAD is a natural slate rainscreen cladding system providing a range of cladding solutions, from traditional to contemporary, offering architects and specifiers a wide choice, suited for any individual design.
Highest quality, durable CUPACLAD slates are installed using a new and efficient installation system, painstakingly crafted by CUPA PIZARRAS, the world’s leading source of top-quality slate surfacing materials for construction.
When Dufresne was asked why HK decided to specify CUPACLAD as the rainscreen material for Avondale Youth and Family Development Center, he emphatically replied,
There were five major factors: durability, the longevity slate offers, it’s classy ‘look,’ the fact that it presents a good image of the city as a government-owned facility and frankly, the fact that it’s less expensive than building with brick!
When queried about the installation process relative to CUPACLAD, especially focusing upon challenges and solutions, Dufresne commented,
For economical reasons, the rainscreen was installed with a double lap, not a triple lap; like a slate roof would be. This left small gaps between some of the slates. Using closed cell spray foam for the insulation and weather barrier, you could see small gaps between the slate modules. Therefore, we decided to install a black HDPE (high-density polyethylene interlayer) behind the slate. This basically filled the small gaps and was not noticeable, even if one was standing right next to the building. People can only see it, if they are inches away, and are specifically looking for it.
“Additionally,” Durfresne continued,
We wanted to incorporate more modern detailing. So, we built a fullsized, in-house mockup of a corner of the Avondale building. We selected concealed flashing detail for the corners, not a surface applied trim. And, a metal reveal base of wall channel trim.
It should be mentioned that CUPACLAD systems are quick and easy to install by any facade contractor. Once installed, the slate is safely set in place. Because with natural slate there is no color fading… and, it stands up to any climatic change, no maintenance is ever needed.
“The City of Chattanooga is happy with the results,” concluded Dufresne. “And, so is HK Architects. The building looks great!”