From the front office to the dugout, members of the Birmingham Barons Double-A baseball club will tell you their 2013 Southern League Championship title was the result of a total team effort. The same is true for the dedicated professionals behind the club’s new, award-winning ballpark, Regions Field, which features architectural metal products from CENTRIA.
The aesthetic focal point of the new ballpark is the city’s name, cut in towering letters with a unique, inside-out effect. The bold design, known as the “Birmingham façade,” quickly became one of the iconic images of Birmingham, AL after only its first season. The Barons christened their new stadium on opening day in April 2013, following just 14 months of construction.
Project designer Kevin Suter, LEED AP, with Dallas-based HKS Architects, decided early on in the design process to make a statement along the western façade, positioned just a few blocks from an elevated highway.
“We thought it was a perfect place to make a statement of civic pride - to announce the city and to encourage people to come back,” Suter noted.
The city of Birmingham imposes strict ordinances and size restrictions on signage, based on the retail developments that dominate the area. But Suter and his team from HKS presented the Birmingham letters as a façade element all along, stressing the importance of controlling the amount of daylight that enters the western façade. Suter specified CENTRIA’s EcoScreen® perforated screenwall to limit the area’s exposure to sunlight.
“One of our original objectives was to knock down the sun on that west wall,” Suter explained. “Behind that area is an open air concourse that is certainly a functional part of the ballpark.”
EcoScreen also created an unexpected aesthetic effect, drawing nothing but positive feedback from the Birmingham fan base.
“It ended up creating a really nice effect with the transition from day to night,” Suter said. “Where the façade looks solid and flush in the day, it lights up nicely and glows in the evening.”
The Birmingham façade is the result of a cumulative effort from all parties involved, beginning with CENTRIA’s experienced team of engineers, project managers, and plant personnel, who tailored a brand new design to fit the complex specifications. Chad Martin, Division Manager of installer FLC Systems, originally planned to outsource the task of letter cutting, before he had the opportunity to tour CENTRIA’s Frankfort, Ky. plant in late 2012 to review the company’s manufacturing capabilities.
“[Martin] asked the plant if they could do this type of work, and they felt that they could,” CENTRIA Senior Project Engineer Denny Koska said. “After conference calls with the architect and the plant, we agreed to draw up and cut out a sample panel to show the architect what we could do.”
As Senior Project Manager Rick Miskanic explained, the approval process included a trip to the jobsite to review shop drawings, just one of many services offered by the CENTRIA Building Envelope Solutions (CBES) team. Koska and Miskanic used their field construction knowledge and the resources of CENTRIA’s Design & Development group to work around a span issue, committing to a complete product shipment by March 18, leaving FLC Systems adequate time to install the panels before opening day.
“CENTRIA was able to step up and produce the letters within our time frame,” Suter said.
Frankfort Plant Manager Gary Brunette and his team were charged with applying the facility’s cutting technology to the complicated Birmingham signage - a first for the plant. Brunette reported no issues throughout the cutting process, thanks in part to CENTRIA’s intricate detailing.
“The most interesting thing about it was obviously the upper panels were cut to the outside parameters, while the lower panels were cut to the inside parameters, which gives it the effect that the architect was looking for,” Brunette said. “We created the panels one at a time, moving right down the line starting with the ‘B’ in Birmingham. We shipped them out in ten crates - one for each letter.”
The Frankfort plant created mark numbers for each panel, providing a detailed installation sequence and instructions for the FLC Systems team.
“That’s something that would usually be reserved for an insulated panel - never before for single-skin panels,” Brunette explained.
Not only were the panels fabricated at a record pace, they were also installed at the jobsite without a hitch, according to Martin. A veteran installer of CENTRIA’s single-skin metal panels, Martin labeled Regions Field as one of his “all-time favorite projects,” noting the build team’s ability to produce a stunning project under tight time constraints.
“The letter cutting was exceptional,” Martin said. “I think we provided a very unique look for this stadium, and I am guessing that this will be copied again very soon. It gives me a great sense of pride knowing I was part of such an innovative use of CENTRIA products.”
Besides the celebrated Birmingham façade, other design goals for Regions Field revolved around the city’s industrial heritage “as the manufacturing center of the South,” Suter said. Reflecting the design of some of the historical brick, ironwork, and steel buildings in the area, Suter showcased CENTRIA’s metal panels, creating a familiar form with all the modern amenities of a state-of-the-art ballpark. All told, Regions Field utilizes over 50,000 square feet of CENTRIA single-skin metal panels, encompassing a large portion of the ballpark’s mixed-medium exterior.
The Birmingham Barons capped off the inaugural season in their new ballpark with a championship, just a month after Regions Field was crowned Ballpark of the Year by Baseballparks.com.