Wall System Aligns With University’s Style

Saw-stacked stone is paired with a stucco wall assembly system from Sto Corp.

The Art Museum of West Virginia Univ. was designed to house the university’s art collection and sits in a prominent campus location.

The Art Museum of West Virginia Univ. was designed to house the university’s art collection and sits in a prominent campus location.

The Art Museum of West Virginia Univ. on the Evansdale Campus was designed to house the university’s art collection, which includes more than 3,000 objects from Africa and Asia, as well as art from West Virginia, the region, and the United States. The building is situated along the main vehicular thoroughfare in front of the campus and next to a historical building, designed by the late American architect Michael Graves, which formerly housed the alumni center and was renovated in 2009-2010 to serve as the Museum Education Center (MEC).

The university administration recently established architectural-design guidelines and material standards for the Evansdale campus that include traditional sloped roofs, stucco, and stacked stone. Together, the adjacency of the Art Museum to the Graves building and the new design guidelines presented their own set of unique challenges. The end result is a building comprised of numerous modern details combined with a semi-traditional aesthetic. One of the techniques used to visually tie the two buildings together was the continuation of the existing datum lines. These were carried over into the design of the museum allowing building elements such as joint lines, window heads, and sills to align. Architectural firm Stanley Beaman & Sears, Atlanta, intermixed building elements with vertical articulation, resulting in a composition inspired by the work of Blanche Lazzell, one of the artists featured in the museum collection.

Stanley Beaman & Sears is on the pre-selected architectural firm list at the university, has had prior museum experience, and submitted a rendering that impressed the administration. According to Godfrey Gaisie, AIA, of Stanley Beaman & Sears, the design of the project took approximately one year. Following the design decision process, they entered into discussions on the material selection. The university wanted to give the campus a more residential feel and also wanted to match the personality and pitched roof of the alumni center. With the new building connected to the MEC, it was important to look in sync with that building, and also to look progressive. The museum director wanted the outside of the building to celebrate the artwork that is inside, using a mixture of modern and traditional designs with aspects of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

The campus has modern, saw-stacked stone on one of its sports facilities, so the stacked stone design was paired with a system from Sto Corp., Atlanta. StoPowerwall DrainScreen is a stucco wall assembly with continuous air and moisture barrier and advanced cavity wall design. It combines the strength and durability of traditional stucco with StoGuard moisture protection and high-performance finishes.

The building is situated next to a historical building designed by the late American architect Michael Graves. That building formerly housed the alumni center and was renovated to serve as the Museum Education Center.

The building is situated next to a historical building designed by the late American architect Michael Graves. That building formerly housed the alumni center and was renovated to serve as the Museum Education Center.

Sto distributor, Architectural Interior Products, Fairmont, WV, delivered the system. Sharon Almond, sales representative for AIP, was the project liaison. “We were pleased to supply this system to the university,” said Almond. “You don’t see a lot of stucco in this area, so it’s very eye-catching, and I would recommend using StoPowerwall DrainScreen in every building project.”

Tom Steadman, project manager for Easley and Rivers Inc., Morgantown, WV, was a little uneasy at first, as he hadn’t worked with the system before. “With what seemed to be an unconventional way of applying a conventional type of plaster system, I was concerned about cracks showing up in the finished product. We followed the manufacturers’ guidelines to the letter with expansion-joint placement and plenty of fasteners to secure the system,” he said. “The end result was a system that was aesthetically pleasing and performed as Sto said it would. The people from Sto were very helpful and I realized that my concerns were unwarranted.”

The museum comprises approximately 30% stacked stone and 70% stucco. According to Gaisie, mortar was used to fill the joints between the stone to prevent water from penetrating. Underneath the stucco, StoDrainScreen and StoGuard were used on the 22,000-sq.-ft. building. Originally the university team had considered brick; however, if was felt the exterior system chosen better matched the nearby existing buildings and was more energy efficient.

“We describe the building as having a modern feel with traditional materials,” said Gaisie. “We used modularity to establish the grid, helping to arrange lines and window and door heights. We pulled horizontal lines over from the Graves building, but gave the new building a vertical articulation. Now, the new Art Museum of West Virginia University is the billboard for that side of the campus.”  CA


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