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Building Brilliance: A Blueprint for Constructing Educational Spaces that Inspire with ALUCOBOND®

Motivating students and making school interesting for learners of all ages is a challenge for educators at every academic level. It’s because of this that the decisions made while designing a new facility or updating an existing structure are significant. Meticulous consideration of details during the planning phase holds the power to foster a positive learning environment and deliver structural support to faculty and staff who are tasked with delivering a quality education, promoting academic success and enhancing confidence in their students.

The design of educational buildings is about more than functionality, instead it’s about creating spaces that encourage curiosity and an enthusiasm for learning. By incorporating durable and sustainable ALUCOBOND with its imaginative range of brilliant, rich finishes, architects are able to generate building designs, that when implemented, promote an enthusiasm for discovery.

Here we profile a mix of educational facilities from across the country, showcasing what’s possible with ALUCOBOND.

Science IV Building,  Binghamton University

  • Location         Binghamton, NY
  • Product          ALUCOBOND® PLUS, Brushed Carbon and Anodic Satin Mica
  • Architect        Jason Evans and Sara Berg, Ashley McGraw Architects
  • Fabricator      Gitzen, Co., Inc.

The Science IV building, originally housing the University’s animal research department, was slated for a complete renovation to serve as the new home of the University’s psychology department. The building’s transformation aimed to shift its look and feel from a high-intensity lab environment to a more welcoming setting that would warmly accommodate clinical visitors and research trial participants. Science IV’s central location on campus made it a prime candidate for a high-profile makeover with visual impact.

To achieve the architect’s three primary objectives of improving thermal performance, achieving greater efficiency and enhancing the appearance, the building underwent a series of upgrades. Improvements to its envelope included installation of a layer of spray foam insulation, a rainscreen system and ALUCOBOND® PLUS panels which were chosen because they are lightweight and easily formable, making the material ideal for the retrofit.

ALUCOBOND® PLUS not only served an aesthetic purpose as the primary cladding choice, but also functioned as an accent, framing the building entrances and window banks and adding additional architectural interest. The design team also chose the 3A Composites product for its durability, which they believed would contribute to the longevity of the building’s façade. Similarly, in the event of damage, panels could be easily replaced, ensuring the building’s curb appeal would remain intact.

Fabrication of the ribbed panels was a creative and skillful process. Syracuse-based fabricator, Gitzen Co. Inc., collaborated with the project team to produce test panels that successfully achieved the intended look. The formability of ALUCOBOND® PLUS allowed Gitzen to accomplish the ribbed profile, and deliver the DNA mapping pattern. While the panels vary in size, ranging from one to three feet wide, depending on their placement on the building, a blend of alternating panels feature a “bump-out” that extends two inches and accentuate the DNA pattern.

Finally, the ALUCOBOND® PLUS finishes were selected to ideally represent the technical aspect of the work being done inside the building, though at the same time beautifully contrasting with the look of the original masonry. Specifically, Anodic Satin Mica was chosen for its vibrance and the dynamic ways in which the finish interacts with light, uniquely and brilliantly shifting between champaign and silver.

“The Science IV building has undergone a complete metamorphosis, and we are honored to have had a role in its stunning outcome,” said Jason Evans, architect and associate principal, Ashley McGraw Architects. “ALUCOBOND® PLUS made it possible for us to accomplish our unique design intent and deliver results we are proud of, and that have been recognized by our peers in the New York architect community.”

Purdue University Northwest Bioscience Innovation Building

  • Location         Hammond, IN
  • Product          ALUCOBOND® PLUS Silver Metallic, Brilliant Silver Metallic
  • Architect        CannonDesign
  • Fabricator      Shaffner Heaney Associates

The new “front door” for the Purdue University Northwest campus in Hammond, IN, is a three-story, 68,000 square-foot structure aptly named the Bioscience Innovation Building. Designed by Chicago-based CannonDesign to be a striking, forward-looking symbol of 21st century education, this state-of-the-art teaching facility houses the university’s college of nursing and department of biological sciences.

The façade’s material palette was chosen to complement the mid-century architecture of existing campus buildings — which feature red/brown brick — while at the same time it provides a refreshing contrast to the bulk of nearby structures. To accomplish this design challenge, the first floor is covered in brick and the upper two floors feature ALUCOBOND® PLUS partnered with glass.

Fabricator, Shaffner Heaney, created detailed shop drawings for the façade panels, incorporating two panel depths and alternating material between the windows. According to Mark Haab, vice president of operations, Shaffner Heaney fabricated 1,150 panels ranging in size and composition to coincide with the window frame width.

A total of 24,000 square feet of ALUCOBOND PLUS – including 5,000 square feet of Silver Metallic and 19,000 square feet of Brilliant Silver Metallic – was installed in a modular design on two planes with varying system depths that offset the windows. ALUCOBOND PLUS panels were installed in a repeating pattern mixing the two finishes within wide modules that dress the building’s façade.

Mt. San Antonio College Student Center

  • Location      Walnut, CA
  • Product       ALUCOBOND® PLUS Custom Roasted Red Pepper, Champagne Metallic, Dusty Charcoal II, Alabaster, Cadet Gray, Platinum Mica
  • Architect     HPI Architecture
  • Fabricator    Elward Systems

The 127,000 square foot Student Center on the campus of Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC), a nationally-ranked community college in Los Angeles County, is designed to be a prime meet-up spot and the heart of campus life. A destination for commuter students, the building houses a convenience store, multi-cultural center, living, dining and family rooms where students can sit, study, dine, relax and socialize, along with much-needed event spaces and conference rooms.

Visually striking, inside and out, the student center demonstrates what’s possible with ALUCOBOND PLUS. Replacing Mt. SAC’s existing center which opened in 1953, the new building adorned with ALUCOBOND PLUS in a blend of finishes, shapes and sizes, delightfully reinforces the school’s brand, generates an unmistakable energy on campus and offers an inviting and inclusive space for all students.

The University of Texas (UT) Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

  • Location         Austin, TX
  • Product          ALUCOBOND PLUS and AXCENT: Custom UT Burnt Orange, Rusted Metal, Pure White
  • Architect        Populous
  • Fabricator      Byrne Metals Corp

Ranked among the biggest and best research universities in the country, the University of Texas (UT) at Austin is recognized for its distinguished faculty and renowned “Hook ‘em Horns” chant and hand sign (proudly presented by Longhorn fans everywhere). Therefore, it is no surprise that the completed Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium includes the school’s iconic longhorn logo carved into the new seating bowl. Key to this brand visibility – and keenly noticeable in aerial images – is the Longhorn-shaped seating balcony, which reflects the team’s unique and iconic bovine brand made possible with ALUCOBOND® PLUS in the custom UT Burnt Orange finish.

ALUCOBOND PLUS metal panels were selected to match the Longhorns’ iconic team colors – burnt orange and white – throughout the south end zone while ALUCOBOND PLUS in the Rusted Metal finish clads the new towers with an almost suede-like appearance evoking the state’s Longhorn cattle industry.

The scope of stadium’s south end zone includes 48,200 square feet of 4mm ALUCOBOND PLUS in a combination of custom UT Burnt Orange, Rusted Metal and Pure White panels. The project also features 7,920 square feet of ALUCOBOND AXCENT™ – a solid gauge flat aluminum sheet installed as complementary metal trim – in a combination of .040” gauge custom UT Burnt Orange and .040” gauge Pure White.

“We spent significant time color matching the metal cladding,” said Drew Martin, executive senior associate athletics director for external affairs/intercollegiate athletics, University of Texas at Austin. “We made sure that we drilled down to the exact Pantone color, reviewing different color swatches in different lighting environments. The Burnt Orange and Pure White panels are very attractive. The university’s iconic burnt orange and white colors are so present in the facility and are exclusive to UT.”

Byrne Metals fabricated and installed approximately 900 ALUCOBOND PLUS cladding pieces and approximately 800 ALUCOBOND AXCENT trim pieces – both in a wide variety of sizes – for the project. Fabricating and installing the panels for the complex Longhorn silhouette seating bowl design — measuring 215 feet wide by 72 feet deep – left little room for error, according to Matt Hubbell, operations manager, Byrne Metals.

“Every panel on the Longhorn is tapered, so creating a perfectly straight line was crucial to make it look right. We made field modifications in that area, and installation went very quickly,” said Hubbell. “It is a highly-visible piece and everybody who sees it talks about it. When they see all the angles and tapering of the ALUCOBOND panels, they know the craftsmanship that was put into this project.”

Prairie View Middle School

  • Location         Otsego, Minnesota
  • Product          ALUCOBOND® PLUS Black Anodized, Ocean, Zinc
  • Architect        Wold
  • Fabricator      Innovative Building Concepts

A longtime partner of Elk River Public School District, Wold Architects & Engineers were tasked with designing a new school for the growing Ostego community, one that would offer students innovative settings that were future-focused. Upon approach, the strategic use of materials on the exterior of Prairie View Middle School helps to set a positive tone and introduce an environment that welcomes creativity and prioritizes innovation. The combination of bold finish choices was especially critical to the new school’s look and to helping students cultivate a sense of excitement about being part of a personalized learning community. By incorporating the vibrant and inviting hues of ALUCOBOND PLUS, which is also durable and sustainable, the design fosters an atmosphere conducive to creativity and discovery.

The school’s exterior utilizes a modern architectural style, characterized by clean lines and dynamic shapes, reflecting the forward-thinking nature of 21st-century education. It’s bright, vibrant finishes, skillfully symbolize energy and positivity, while also stimulating students’ minds and encouraging active engagement with their surroundings.

Raymond Elementary School

  • Location       Washington D.C.
  • Product        ALUCOBOND® PLUS Olivine Metallic
  • Architect      STUDIOS Architecture
  • Fabricator     Delray Contracting

Sustainability was a central theme in developing the plan to modernize and expand historic Raymond Elementary School in Washington D.C. However, updating the 1920s building – a treasured local landmark – was complex.

To achieve their goals and address unique challenges, STUDIOS Architecture collaborated with the Historic Preservation Office. Their plan was daring, yet mindful of the school’s legacy within the community. The proposed approach promised to minimize disruption, demolishing one wing and replacing it with a 50,000 square foot addition that would better meet the growing needs of the community.

The school’s new design accommodates more students and comprises a gymnasium, library and classrooms, along with an enhanced entry sequence. Clad with ALUCOBOND PLUS Olivine Metallic, which positively contributed to the project achieving LEED Gold certification, the building also ideally aligns with the historic design standards.

Raymond Elementary School expertly represents the ways in which urban education, historic preservation and sustainability can be achieved.

In Summary

3A Composites is committed to the design, production and delivery of sustainable, high-quality, beautiful materials that create educational spaces that invite and inspire students to join and contribute to thriving learning communities. With 84 ALUCOBOND PLUS standard finish options, nearly unlimited custom finishes and three convenient fastening systems, we’re helping you give shape to great ideas.

For more information about ALUCOBOND visit, call 1-800-626-3365 or email

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