Newsworthy ...

June 29, 2005
The Metal Initiative means more metal construction industry-wide. Portland implements rigorous standards for city buildings. Data center managers identify challenges and uncertainties. And more.

Grinds, Shuffles, and Ollies

Ever notice how retail space can tend to project a one-dimensional approach to architecture and design? The result: It all looks the same after a while. You could be in a shopping mall and be just about anywhere.

Elite Board Shop is a skateboard store located in the mall at Fair Oaks, a suburb of Washington, D.C. The store’s owner wanted to create a cutting-edge image for his new business that would speak to the young, trend-focused clientele he was looking to attract.

Enter the professionals at Bethesda, MD-based GTM Architects (, who worked on schematic design drawings and used available materials to create a skateboard park theme. The store itself now incorporates “industrial” materials like concrete and steel, and “outdoor” organic materials that include raw wood, cork, and stone. In addition, the shop floor is vinyl with a black asphalt appearance, and the walls are primarily wood and cork.

While all the finishes are inexpensive, durable, and easy to maintain, they were also selected to fit the theme. According to GTM:

  • Plywood, asphalt, and concrete materials were selected since these are all materials typically found at skate parks, shopping malls, and favorite places for skateboarders to enjoy their sport.
  • For the walls, an MDF (medium density fiberboard) slatwall system (stained and raw finish, paint-ready material) allows the store to display merchandise on walls.
  • A combination of concrete and glass sales counters continues the skateboard theme and displays the merchandise.

Prior to the renovation, the store product was the primary medium to supply a setting. Now the entire design - from top to bottom - provides the target consumer with a direct context from which to base his or her shopping experience.

Data Center Managers Identify Challenges, Uncertainties

As data centers continue to evolve, IT and FM professionals face new uncertainties. Orange, CA-based AFCOM and Concord, MA-based InterUnity Group identified a few of these challenges in a recent survey of data center professionals:

  • Preventing obsolescence of electrical/mechanical infrastructure.
  • Supporting new computing technologies.
  • Improving data center security and reliability.
  • Improving internal communication.

Lack of involvement in the planning and procurement of new equipment was a universal concern for 73 percent of the data center managers surveyed. Forty-five (45) percent were concerned about being incapable of supporting business goals within 2 years. The underlying reasons:

  • Acquisition of new equipment without adequate concern for power or cooling requirements.
  • Uncertainty about future IT needs.
  • Insufficient space.
  • Data center consolidation.

The survey also found that each year, $20.6 billion is spent on the electrical/mechanical infrastructure that supports IT in the United States.

Portland Goes for the Gold

The city of Portland, OR, has taken steps to improve and expand its 4-year-old Green Building Policy. The new policy includes more rigorous standards for city-owned facilities, Portland Development Commission-funded projects, and incentives to facilitate the permitting of LEED-registered buildings in the private sector.

A new resolution introduced in the City Council recommends a series of new actions, including the requirement that all new city facilities must meet Gold certification in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System®.

Portland joins Scottsdale, AZ, as the second city in the country to require LEED Gold certification for city facilities. Regionally, Vancouver, BC, also requires all of its municipal facilities to achieve LEED Gold.

New Initiative to Put More Metal in the Market

An industry-wide program designed to increase the use of metal in the commercial construction market is now in progress. Known as The Metal Initiative and themed “It must be metal,” the national educational and promotional plan was introduced at the Glenview, IL-based Metal Construction Association’s (MCA) 2005 Annual Meeting held in early 2005 in La Jolla, CA.

The broad-based program goes well beyond MCA and its members. Steve Collins, marketing director for The Metal Initiative, explains: “This is an industry-wide consortium of individuals, companies, and associations banding together to increase the use of metal. It’s larger than any one company or association. All companies, manufacturers, distributors, and installers associated with metal products can participate and benefit from this initiative.”

The educational and promotional program focuses on increasing the selection of metal roofs and walls in commercial, industrial, and institutional building sectors and targets building owners, architects, designers, consultants, and contractors. It is based on $10.5 million in funding over a 5-year period, and the initial outreach has generated fantastic results. “By early February we were at 25 percent of our funding goals. This exceeds everyone’s expectations at this early stage, putting us well on our way to a very solid, very effective campaign. We expect members of other associations, including the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) and the Aluminum Association, to be on-board soon,” Collins says.

The Metal Initiative’s primary goals are to increase metal roof and wall market share by 25 percent; achieve an increase of over 600,000 tons of steel, aluminum, and copper; and to increase sales of metal products by $2 billion. Currently, metal accounts for approximately 20 percent of roofing and 24 percent of wall panel in the commercial, industrial, and institutional markets.

The program incorporates an owner/gatekeeper strategy to influence building owners and the building professionals charged with the responsibility of constructing a building to the owner’s specifications. MCA, the Aluminum Association, and AISI funded initial research among architects prior to creating The Metal Initiative. Of the architects polled, 50 percent think metal is not a long-term material aesthetically; 50 percent think metal is not sustainable; and 50 percent have the misconception that metal is too expensive.

Rick Mowrey, head of MCA’s marketing committee and director of marketing and business development for Moon Township, PA-based CENTRIA, says it is time for a unified approach. “This collective effort to grow the metal roof and wall business will increase opportunities for prospects and sales for the entire industry. The asphalt, single-ply, concrete, precast, and brick industries have collectively conveyed the wrong facts and hurt metal’s reputation long enough. It’s time for our industry to tell the correct story.”

Dick Bus, president of Allentown, PA-based ATAS Intl. Inc. and current MCA president, agrees that collective power is vital. “I have always believed that the industry, whether through MCA or any other trade association, is in a better position to reach out as one voice to the end-user than any individual company.”

For more information about the program, visit ( or call Steve Collins at (847) 375-4814.

ULI Recognizes Outstanding Development

The Urban Land Institute (ULI), Washington, D.C., selected 11 outstanding developments as winners for its first-ever Awards for Excellence: The Americas competition. ULI’s Awards for Excellence recognize the full development process of a project, not just its architecture or design. The criteria for the awards include leadership, contribution to the community, innovation, public/private partnership, environmental protection and enhancement, response to societal needs, and financial success. The winners, chosen from 19 finalists, include:

  • 34th Street Streetscape Program, New York City. Owner/developer: 34th Street Partnership.
  • 731 Lexington Avenue/One Beacon Court, New York City. Owner/developer: Alexander’s Inc.; Vornado Realty Trust.
  • Fourth Street Live!, Louisville, KY. Owner/developer: The Cordish Co.
  • The Glen, Glenview, IL. Owner/developer: Mesirow Stein Real Estate Inc.
  • Harbor Town, Memphis, TN. Owner/developer: Henry Turley Co.
  • The Market Common, Clarendon, Arlington, VA. Owner/developer: TIAA-CREF; McCaffery Interests Inc.
  • Millennium Park, Chicago. Owner/developer: City of Chicago; U.S. Equities Realty.

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