State-of-the-art college veterinary center coexists nicely with neighboring buildings

October 5, 2021

During the last few years, Wilson College’s veterinary medical program has been in very high demand. Located in Chambersburg, PA, this small, liberal arts school’s new 8,900 SF veterinary education center features surgery rooms, a dental room, a recovery room as well as kennels, an indoor run area for dogs, a cat room, a lounge, clinical practice areas and of course, laundry facilities.

wilson college veterinary center

The project required demolition of existing buildings and renovation of an existing one. Benedict H. Dubbs, Jr., AIA LEED AP, Owner of Murray Associates Architects, P. C., who served as lead design architect for this project, stated:

We wanted to bring in and maintain the horizontal vernacular of a single story building.

Most of the buildings surrounding the project were stone-clad, older horizontal structures… none with more than three or four stories. So obviously, we wanted in some way to continue the stone vernacular of this beautiful campus, building to building. To a degree, we wanted this community of buildings to ‘talk to one another.

mowery construction wilson college

Dubbs mentioned that the building had four basic external design components: glass, stone, EIFS and slate.

There was natural slate roofing on nearby existing buildings, which were built in the 20’s and 30’s. This further convinced us that a strong percentage of the exterior walls of the veterinarian center should be clad in that material. Slate has a sense of weight, a sense of durability and longevity. We did, however, want to add a modern, timeless look, too. Plus, our designs included each stone module to be large and horizontal, ideal for blending this horizontal building in within the surrounding campus.

For a number of reasons, CUPACLAD natural slate rainscreen material was considered for this undertaking.

We knew of the product, but had not yet specified it so we requested samples, and they arrived quickly. The product proved to be what it was promoted to be, easy to understand, and exuded the true look of a natural product, not a synthetic one. We really had no issues with it. In particular, we liked learning that if one module broke or was damaged, it could easily, quickly and cost-efficiently be replaced right on the façade.

murray associates architects wilson college

According to Bill Sutton, LEED AP, CHC, Vice President/Customer Experience at Mowery, a leading construction company based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania:

Anytime we are utilizing new products and systems in our projects, there’s certainly a concern about installing them properly. Especially when working with the building envelope. We want to be extremely thorough and cautious that the envelope is assembled properly, and the various products used work well together to keep moisture out of the building.

Sutton stated that this was Mowery’s first experience working with CUPACLAD, and that his people found the process to be very informative and seamless. He stated,

During the design and submittal phase of the project, we did interface with CUPACLAD personnel to ensure we were applying the product properly in our design. We also looked at where and how the CUPACLAD product interfaced with other materials to ensure the details were properly provided for the design.

We first learned about CUPACLAD from Murray Architects, who thought it could be a strong addition to the look and performance of the Wilson College Veterinary Education Center project. This facility sits right in the heart of the campus alongside older campus buildings, and Murray’s exterior design adds some key modern features. CUPACLAD really was able to pull that exterior look together.

wilson college chambersburg

Once Mowery’s team reviewed the submittals and the samples of the materials, they tested the CUPACLAD materials by installing some samples in the field. They found this to be very helpful and when it came to installing the permanent materials on the finished building, according to Sutton,

Installation guidelines were very straightforward.

When Bill Sutton was asked if his group would want use CUPACLAD natural slate rainscreen materials again, his answer was immediate… and positive.

We will definitely use CUPACLAD materials again.

It provides such a unique textured look to our buildings that really cannot be replicated by any other materials. For the function and the look, CUPACLAD provides a highly unique product. We appreciate all the technical support provided by CUPACLAD, and the wonderful, finished installation.

Dubbs was happy with the product, as well.

“We definitely will specify CUPACLAD materials again. We’re pleased with our first go-around with the material. Why? It looks good, performs at optimal levels, is not hard to install and offers the longevity of natural slate.

And, concluded Benedict Dubbs,

It helped us keep the building’s visual vernacular to blend in with those surrounding it.

CUPACLAD 201 Vanguard System, which was specified for this project, is a patented CUPA PIZARRAS product. It is a complete rainscreen cladding system made up of 24” x 12” slate units installed horizontally. The slate units are connected to the structure with metal clips that are slightly visible at the bottom, offering a clean, stylish appearance. These clips are an evolution from traditional hooks, eliminating possible vibrations and giving the system greater resistance, as well as a modern “look.”

cupaclad slate facade

Demands for veterinarians are expected to grow due to rising personal incomes and also, an uptick in the number of people aged 30 to 60, which represents current pet owners’ demographic profile. There has been an increase in pet insurance purchases, which clearly indicates pet owners are willing to pay for more elective and intensive care than in the past. Therefore, it’s clear that veterinary centers are becoming an increasingly significant part of today and tomorrow’s American lifestyle.

Clearly, with veterinary centers on the rise, surely their buildings should be not only visually pleasing, but they have long-lasting and easy-to-maintain cladding systems that offer year-round comfort and protection… to both humans and animals alike!