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New International Spy Museum’s Design Exudes Intrigue, Features Custom Dark ALUCOBOND® Plus Cladding

Photo © Simon @santi1916

The new International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., features a total of 23,300 square feet of 4mm ALUCOBOND® Plus aluminum composite material by 3A Composites USA, including: 10,800 square feet of Custom Grey Velvet Mica and 12,500 square feet of Custom Spy Dark Grey.

Featured in Metal Architecture Magazine

The 140,000 square-foot International Spy Museum – which is scheduled to celebrate its grand opening May 12, 2019 – features a design by London-based architects Rogers, Stirk, Harbour + Partners that evokes the business of espionage – “hidden in plain sight,” according to a statement by Hickok Cole Architects, of Washington, D.C., which served as architect-of-record for the project.

“The mystery and intrigue of the exhibits are obscured behind a dark metal ‘black box’ which sits above a transparent base. With its evocative form, powerful sloped columns, folded metal panel skin, and pleated glass veil, the museum makes a vibrant architectural and urban statement in the existing concrete canyon of 10th Street,” according to the Hickok Cole statement.

The “black box” – which features unique angled projections – is clad in 10,800 square feet of ALUCOBOND® Plus in the Custom Grey Velvet Mica color. The ALUCOBOND® Plus panels were installed at the roofline coping and at its lower perimeter as well as were used to cover all horizontal and vertical beams. Beams on the first/second floor ceiling/soffit areas – both interior and exterior – also were covered with the ALUCOBOND® Plus Custom Grey Velvet Mica.

The museum’s “shell building” was clad in 12,500 square feet of ALUCOBOND® Plus in the Custom Spy Dark Grey color, including all building panels located at the first floor area below the “black box” as well the sides of the building and its penthouse area.

 (ALUCOBOND® Plus consists of two sheets of 0.020” aluminum thermobonded to a proprietary fire-resistant (FR) core and is manufactured in a standard 4mm thickness. ALUCOBOND® Plus provides extraordinary flatness and rigidity, excellent formability, low weight and outstanding weather resistance. ALUCOBOND® Plus wall panels have a flame-spread index of less than 25 and a smoke-developed index of less than 450 when tested in accordance with ASTM E 84, and have a Class A interior finish classification.)

ACM Excel, of May’s Landing, N.J., fabricated approximately 1,530 ALUCOBOND® Plus panels, which were installed by Tecta America East, of Glen Rock, Penn. Clark Construction Group, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., served as general contractor for the project.

The majority of the ALUCOBOND® Plus panels were installed with a dry-joint rainscreen system. The vertical beam covers and coping panels were installed with a wet-seal system.

Fabrication of the ALUCOBOND® Plus panels was completed in phases – one elevation at a time – through the course of a year starting in March 2017, according to Geoff Berns, president, ACM Excel, who said the sloped areas of the “black box” were the most challenging to fabricate.

“The coping area of the ‘black box’ is clad in a three-panel section that is built on a sloped angle, which proved to be very challenging – especially at the outside corner transitions,” said Berns. “A lot of bending of the ALUCOBOND® was required. There were a lot of unique profiles on the ‘black box’ that were accomplished through meticulous field measurements. … We fabricate a lot of ACM. I’ve worked with ALUCOBOND® for 20 years at various facilities. ALUCOBOND® remains the brand name selected by architects.”

Berns describes the International Spy Museum – which consists entirely of metal and glass – as “a really unique showcase project” for metal.

“The ‘black box’ feature is all metal,” said Berns. “It’s everywhere.”

Introduced in 1969, ALUCOBOND® is the original and world’s best-known aluminum composite material. ALUCOBOND® is manufactured in the United States in the Benton, Ky., plant of 3A Composites. The 3A Composites USA headquarters are based in Davidson, N.C. For more information about ALUCOBOND® ACM, call 1-800-626-3365, email or visit

About 3A Composites
3A Composites has developed, manufactured and marketed high-quality aluminum composite panels, structural composite material, plastic sheets and lightweight foam boards for architecture, visual communication and the transport and industry markets since 1969.

3A Composites is part of the international 3A Composites Group, which belongs to the listed company Schweiter Technologies headquartered in Horgen, Switzerland. 3A Composites has approximately 4,400 employees worldwide. 3A Composites’ well-known brands ALUCOBOND®, DIBOND®, FOREX®/SINTRA®, GATOR®, KAPA®, FOME-COR®,ALUCORE®,AIREX® and BALTEK® are the category leaders in the markets served.

® ALUCOBOND is a registered trademark of 3A Composites USA.

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