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Community college features colorful shades

Exteriors, Features | November 1, 2011 | By:

An Iowa community college culinary and hotel learning center ups the ambiance and educational value by adding colorful shades

Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has built a solid reputation for high-quality training and education in an academic setting that replicates, to a surprising degree, actual business situations. The college, located on the outskirts of a Midwestern river town, has facilities that include a conference center, a restaurant connected to a hotel and classrooms and a testing center. The college’s Hospitality Arts Center portion of the learning center—a stylish Euro-chic building designed by OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids—contains The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, a working hotel with The Class Act, a high-end restaurant. The original design of the facilities called for a steel-framed shade canopy integrated into the façade that fronted the restaurant and an adjacent formal gardens and outdoor dining patio. The steel canopy was not ultimately installed, but the college still felt the need to shade the patio and went back to OPN for a working solution. OPN project architect Wesley Reynolds suggested a series of tensioned fabric canopies that would add an organic softness along with some color to the space. “The tension canopies are simple, but elegant shapes and the red color echoes the accent color used throughout the inside of the restaurant and learning center contrasting with the modern, clean grays and silvers of the facility,” says Reynolds.

Key to making the shades work, from a facilities management perspective, is that the shade sails are designed to easily be removed and re-installed seasonally by the hotel’s maintenance crew. The structure measures 8.3m by 10.7m with four individual panels made of red Soltis® 92. To absorb all the bending moments in the fabric sails, there are 10 support posts—203mm by 152.4mm steel tubes measuring 6m and 9m tall with base plates 711mm by 762mm by 38mm thick.

“Everyone involved,” says Reynolds, “agrees that adding the fabric shades was a good decision.”

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