American, Blue, Cheddar, Feta, Gouda, Mozzarella, Parmesan, Ricotta, and Swiss—the alphabet of cheeses can make your mouth water! While the average American has been known to consume 29 pounds of cheese in a year (1999 – U.S. Department of Agriculture), few of them consider the process that delivers cheese to their doors.
St. Louis-based Swiss-American Inc. is a company that does think about this process. Its mission is to import, package, and distribute various cheeses to consumers. When the company needed to expand, it hired an architect to design a facility that would house administrative offices; production facilities, in which cheeses are sliced and packaged; warehouse areas; and loading docks. Swiss-American needed the entire building, except the administrative offices, to be cooled to 30 F (-1 C). In addition, the company wanted to fit a metal building 31/2 acres (1 2/5-hectare) in size onto a 4-acre (1 2/3-hectare) lot. Representatives of Swiss-American were having a difficult time finding an architectural firm that could meet the project’s complicated requirements. Then David W. Dial Architects, Chesterfield, Mo., agreed to tackle the job. Despite challenges, the design firm came to the rescue so the company could continue to help Americans indulge in their love of cheese.
Metal Wins City Approval
Immediately after accepting the project, David Dial, owner and president of David W. Dial Architects, faced the chal- lenge of designing a metal building that could squeeze into the limited lot size. His solution was to incorporate numerous angles and various heights into his design.
Another hurdle was the city of St. Louis, which was against constructing a metal building on the site. Dial thought city officials probably expected an unattractive warehouse. But they had no idea what he had in mind.
"We upgraded the building to incorporate ribbed panels for the main part of it and horizontal smooth panels for the office area to produce a grid system," Dial says. "We also integrated a glass cube to dress up the entrance area, and metal panels were applied over windows to add an accent color to the building."
After Dial showed city officials a rendering of his design, they were overjoyed. In fact, they asked for copies of the rendering to use as a standard for other metal buildings in St. Louis.
Insulated Panels Keep It Cold
The $3.7 million Swiss-American headquarters is 44,000 square feet (4088 m2) and uses 80,000 square feet (7432 m2) of metal panels in various profiles and thicknesses, including horizontal and vertical architectural panels, temperaturecontrol panels, and partition wall panels.
For example, the cold storage warehouse and loading dock feature 23,000 square feet (2137 m2) of insulated 4-inch (102- mm) CF42 Fluted/Mesa panels from Metl-Span. The panels were an upgrade to ensure the building’s aesthetics.
The interior production area and warehouse partitions required 21,000 square feet of 2- and 4-inch (51- and 102-mm) CF45 Mesa panels. According to Dial, the production areas basically consisted of "an envelope within an envelope." Ole Van Goor, president of subcontractor Van Goor LLC, St. Louis, explains that each insulated panel was pumped with nonskimming butyl on its warm side panel joint (the side facing outside) to create a vapor barrier. The panels then were lifted and bolted in place by two workers on scissor lifts. Each crew’s goal was to install an average of 30 panels per day.
The roof assembly over cold storage areas features 24,000 square feet (2230 m2) of Metl-Span’s insulated 4-inch CFR42 standing-seam metal panels. A 1/2-inch crack was left between the tops of the wall panels and bottom of the roof. The crew used urethane foam and butyl tape to flash the panels to the roof assembly.
"The key to this installation was every joint had to be a vapor barrier," Van Goor says.
Even overhead doors had to be insulated. "The dock doors are sealed, and products go directly to and from trucks without ever leaving refrigeration," says Mark Doran, regional sales manager for Perley-Halladay Associates Inc., West Chester, Pa. The company is a specialist in insulated metal buildings. In addition to cooled areas, the administrative offices required 6,000 square feet (557 m2) of 2-inch (51-mm) CF36 horizontal panels with smooth exterior surfaces.
According to Van Goor, constructing a building almost as large as its lot size was the biggest challenge of the project. "Access to the exterior walls and moving the crane around the building was difficult," he explains. "We had to move around a bit to make things work."
It's All Gouda
The Swiss-American building was completed eight months after David W. Dial Architects was hired, which is the most rewarding part of the project for Dial.
"We were able to take a stalled project, fix it, and produce a building that made Swiss-American and the city of St. Louis happy," he explains.
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