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Collaboration Yields Amazing Building

   Author: Pam Schur
Location: Glenview, IL

September 29, 2011, GLENVIEW, Ill. –When a team of professionals convene to create a world class building, success or failure usually hinges on one word – cooperation.

Fortunately, the team responsible for the Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA’s) largest masterpiece – the 84,000 sq. ft building – found plenty of common ground early.

To achieve the soaring waves and arches of the building’s curvilinear structures, the contractors laboring to wrap stainless steel and white painted aluminum around architect Randall Stout’s vision worked off a common 3D computer model which was generated from the initial physical models. The computer images were created and manipulated in Rhinoceros software. The contractor team -- general contractor Ledcore Construction, metal installer Flynn Canada and fabricator A. Zahner Co. – then used the Rhino model to communicate with drawings generated in other commonly used programs such as Pro/ENGINEER, CATIA and Tekla.

The interfacing of those software platforms mirrored the collaboration happening regularly at the human level of the project, especially during installation of the “Borealis” portion of the building that features stainless steel panels on the exterior and white aluminum on the underside. (The more traditional, rectilinear portions of the building were clad in patinaed zinc.) All the forms were manufactured in Kansas City as Zahner Engineered Profile Panels (ZEPP) and shipped to Edmonton by truck.

“The biggest hurdle to get over was coordination,” says Tom Zahner, senior project manager at A. Zahner Co., Kansas City, MO. To ensure that the installation of the puzzle of different shapes on the Borealis matched the model, the Zahner team held regular virtual meetings (over WebEx) with Ledcor and Flynn representatives who were on-site.

“The true highlight of the project was the coordination, and just the fact that it was a heck of a lot less of an issue on a job like this because the right players were involved,” Zahner says. “I can’t emphasize that enough. This type of project with the wrong steel person would have taken years and might not even be completed right now.”

For more information about how the use of metal transformed this building and to see photos of this dynamic case study, visit The Metal Initiative Web site at Currently, there are more than 50 case studies in the gallery.

The Metal Initiative is an industry-wide program to educate commercial building owners, architects, and contractors about the use of metal in the building envelope. Visit for additional information and educational resources in the commercial construction market.

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