Places of learning do not have to be passive or drab as they are often portrayed in film and media. In fact, they can be dynamic and informative sites like the Wolf Creek Library in suburban Atlanta. The 25,000 square foot library, which opened its doors to the public in September 2014, is located in a historic district distinguished by woods, lakes and wetlands.
Previously, without any library service, this pristine Fulton County community determined it needed a shared, central meeting place for civic dialogue, neighborly conversation, children’s activities, online access and tutoring.
Designed by the architecture and engineering firm LEO A DALY, the Wolf Creek Library artfully blends a 21st century design aesthetic of glass, metal and stone with its surrounding natural landscape that is home to a rainbow of wildlife.
The building’s innovative but cohesive design scheme is comprised of multiple curved and angular architectural elements, which are function-driven to accommodate the many components of the library, such as a reading room, administrative offices and community meeting hall.
Located in an underdeveloped neighborhood on the Southside of Fulton County, Wolf Creek is an up and coming community. Architects at LEO A DALY wanted to ensure the project provided an identity for the blossoming neighborhood, in addition to providing a space for the community to gather.
“The quantitative information was provided to us,” says Jerry Voith, AIA, VP and managing principal, LEO A DALY. “Those are the building blocks we like to use for design.”
Given the specific dimensions and requirements for the project, it was up to the architects to draw a plan that took advantage of the neighborhood research and beautifully wooded site, but also stay mindful of the lean budget.
“We went into this project with a desire to create an iconic structure and set a new standard of excellence from a design point of view for this community,” said Voith. “We attended all of the community meetings about this project and truly listened to the ideas voiced by the future patrons of the library.”
With a resounding consensus, the community requested the building to be composed of organic materials to create an earthy aesthetic. The building owner however, desired a structure constructed of metal, knowing its reputation as a durable and low-maintenance material.
Based on community input and longtime industry experience, the design team incorporated a handful of building materials to create the emblematic structure. A combination of glass, stacked stone and fiber cement wall panels would serve as the base for the building, with an accent of copper to add to the natural and earthy aesthetic.
But with budget and maintenance in mind, the architects at LEO A DALY knew copper would pose a challenge.
“Not only does copper have a cost issue, but caring for the metal is time consuming in order to maintain its appearance from forming a layer of patina,” Voith says.
In search of an alternative, Voith and team looked to the aluminum composite material (ACM) experts at ALPOLIC®. Drawn to the look of ALPOLIC’s prismatic coated panels, the team created a solution comprised of custom ACM coated in Valspar’s Valflon® in MRT Prismatic Magma, which would instill the essence of copper, but avoid the shortcomings of the original material.
“We spent a lot of time going through samples, and the magma color came out as the right choice for this project,” Voith says. “As we looked at the samples, we fell in love with the color shifting principals of the coating. When you look at the samples during the day and then again in the evening light, and depending on if it is cloudy or there is sunshine, the color can change.”
While the architects were sold on the custom MRT Prismatic Magma finish, it took time and persuasion to convince the building owner, who initially had reservations. The expertise of the architects prevailed and plans were set to start construction, with Hogan Construction Group, LLC providing construction management services.
Implementing the design
The structure features soaring floor-to-ceiling windows in the community room, which capture a tremendous amount of natural light that floods the building’s interior and offers an expansive view of nature. The placement of the window wall also ensures the Wolf Creek Library’s collection longevity over time.
“In library design, we try to take advantage of the Northern light,” Voith says. “Sunlight from the South usually has glare and heat issues, as well as that from the West. It’s really important for us to take sunlight into consideration when designing a library to ensure the longevity of its books.”
The soaring window is part of the more dramatic accent of the Library, its bold wedge-shaped design.
“The wedge shape serves as a beacon for the building,” said Voith. “It’s easily recognizable, which helps establish the library as a gathering space, as well as define the architectural character of the community.”
Constructed from an integrated system of ACM panels by ALPOLIC, the skin’s shimmering copper-red hue blends impressively with the building’s complementing materials of glass, stacked stone and fiber cement panel walls that are finished in a natural bronze tone.
The simple geometric design is bold but refined, and enhanced by Valspar’s Valflon coil coating. Valflon’s FEVE fluoropolymer-based resin creates a distinguished appearance without sacrificing performance.
Durable with excellent adhesion and flexibility properties, the FEVE resin allows each prismatic color to feature intense brightness and a high-gloss finish. Valflon is also resistant to air-borne chemicals and protects against weathering, acid rain, chalking, and fading.
Valflon’s prismatic colors project a startling visual depth that suggests the building changes colors when viewed from different vantage points. Applied in a three-coat process, Valflon’s final clear coat incorporates a specialized mica flake that creates the iridescent appearance and gives the ALPOLIC panel system its three-dimensional quality.
A job well done
Wolf Creek Library was the third library project LEO A DALY and Hogan Construction Group teamed up to complete and also the first to be built with the bond issuance that the Fulton County community approved in 2008. Now, the library is setting records for the number of new library cards it has issued.
“The community was anxious to get this first library built,” Voith says. “Every time we visit, the library is full and the people who work there absolutely love the facility. It’s been an incredible success.”
Jeff Alexander is VP Coil and Extrusion Division for Valspar.