North Carolina History Center Relies on Chicago Metallic for Custom Ceiling That Delivers Historic Aesthetics, Acoustic Performance, Sustainability Goals, Smooth Installation

Complex project earns a CISCA 2011 Construction Excellence Award

(Chicago) - The former Barbour Boat Works warehouse in New Bern, N.C., has transformed into the new North Carolina History Center at Tryon Palace. Built in 1770,Tryon Palace served as the first permanent capitol of North Carolina and was home to Royal Governor William Tryon. Helping connect the History Center's enduring architectural heritage and the evolving educational space, Chicago Metallic Corporation® supplied a custom ceiling system.

The 60,000-square-foot building features massive steel trusses spanning its width and other architectural elements typical of 1800's industrial style. The $60 million project's design team of BJAC and Quinn Evans Architects sought to reflect the history of the town and industrial character of the waterfront site, while pioneering new ideas in sustainable building design.

"Because we retained the building's 19th century structural base, it was important that all other interior building elements fit within that structure," said Jennifer Amster, principal at BJAC. "That presented some challenges for our suppliers and contractors."

For Chicago Metallic and installing contractor Acousti Engineering Co., meeting these challenges required a custom approach to ceiling panel fabrication. A unique ceiling system with floating clouds of acoustic panels was specified to soften the noise in the history center's Great Hall and other expansive public spaces. Chicago Metallic's Planostile(TM) Snap-in perforated metal ceiling panels, Infinity(TM) Perimeter Trim, 15/16-inch Seismic 1200 Suspension System, and Monarch(TM) GE panels were chosen.

Amster continued, "We chose Chicago Metallic Planostile panels for the ceilings in many areas because they have 75 to 100 percent recycled content and are 100 percent recyclable. That contributed to our sustainability objective, and helped elevate the ceiling system from one that delivered not only beauty and acoustic performance, but environmental benefits as well." Other sustainable attributes of the center include permeable surface parking areas and constructed wetlands, as well as energy-efficient operations and maintenance.

Beyond sustainability, historic aesthetics and acoustic performance, Chicago Metallic's ceiling systems contributed to a smooth installation. "There was an enormous potential for complications with this job. We were on a tight installation schedule and this custom system required a great deal of coordination with the MEP trades," said Bill Barlow, business development manager at Acousti Engineering Co.

Further complicating the installation, the architectural team specified that there be no field cutting of panels. Chicago Metallic project manager, Dave Jahn, explained, "They wanted to use full panels to ensure a true, flat finish was achieved when installed. This meant that in addition to adapting our suspension system to the building design, we had to engineer the exact size of each panel so that it installed perfectly out of the box." Shop drawings were created, revised and refined to ensure that each panel was fabricated in the correct dimensions.

"This was one of the most complex systems I've ever seen," added Barlow. "Ceiling clouds and panel reveals had to align precisely with adjacent architectural features. There were clouds within clouds, and panels had to be cut in multiple sizes and dimensions." In all, the design required 34 different ceiling panel sizes, in four different colors.

With so many different ceiling panel sizes and colors, finding the right pieces to the puzzle on-site could have created time-consuming complications. Anticipating the installing contractor's needs, Chicago Metallic specially packaged the materials to clearly show which box was for which ceiling section. Shop drawings and fabrication schedules were enclosed with each box. "We labeled each panel with a part number that matched the drawings," noted Jahn. "We tried to eliminate every potential problem and make the ceiling system highly user-friendly for the installer."

"Chicago Metallic did a tremendous job," praised Barlow. Beyond the installing contractor's compliments, the project was honored with a 2011 Construction Excellence Silver Award in the ceilings category, east region, from the Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association (CISCA).

"It is a great accomplishment and a privilege to receive the industry's praise for these challenging and beautiful projects," said Jim Moynihan, Chicago Metallic's vice president of sales.

About Chicago Metallic Corporation

Chicago Metallic Corporation is a global provider of architectural building products and services, including metal panels and ceiling systems, suspended grid systems, and acoustical and sustainable ceiling panels. Its manufacturing facilities and distribution channels are located throughout North America, Europe, and Asia. Building on a legacy that began in 1893, the people at Chicago Metallic Corporation create enduring relationships and quality products that stand the test of time. With pride in craftsmanship, commitment to customers, and an eye on the future, the company continues to benefit from a culture where people are valued above all else. Learn more by visiting

Media Contact: Heather West, 612-724-8760,

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