Prairie-Style Made Modern: Glass and Metal Combine for Pinnacle Design

By Katie Brown

Throughout their service areas of Southern Wisconsin, Summit Credit Union branches are known for their youthful style. The company recently opened a new location in Muskego, Wis., with the vibrant and unique architectural styles for which Summit is known. The Muskego branch was particularly challenging due to style guidelines required by the city planning department, which call for prairie-style architecture—a look that doesn’t first come to mind when creating a youthful and forward-looking building. So the design team came together to create a glassy aesthetic for the Muskego branch that exemplifies all of Summit’s architectural values.

Designing it Different

The building was designed by Peter Tan, executive vice president and chief
design officer at the architecture firm of Strang Inc. in Madison, Wis.

“With this building, we gave the Muskego planning department the Prairie style its community guidelines require, and the corporate branding the credit union wanted,” says Tan. “The Muskego branch is the only one within the Summit portfolio with a gable roof. Most regular gable roofs are rectangular, and if you truncate the eaves so they are not parallel to the ridge, you end up with an eave that’s sloping even though the ridge is horizontal, and you create a more dynamic roof form.”

The glass on this building helps contribute to its unique aesthetic. Since Summit maintains a philosophy of openness, and strives to foster a welcoming environment, expansive glass was installed by contract glazier H.J. Martin and Son (HJMS). Mullion-free glass corners, along with many custom horizontal angles, were used to achieve a seamless look.

“It wasn’t a very big building, but three quarters of it was glass, so the pressure was on,” says Kelley Tatroe, HJMS project manager for the glass and glazing division.

H.J. Martin installed exterior storefront windows, curtainwalls and many custom angles. The glass, supplied by Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope® was gray tempered with a SN-68 low-E coating from Guardian Glass.

These custom angles made the project unique, but also a challenge.

“We ordered all that glass at one time,” explains  Tatroe. “It took a lot of layout and double checking and triple checking, since a lot of the stuff wasn’t built when we measured, like the exterior windows, so it was a lot of cross your fingers and hope it turns out right.”

“This glazing application includes a few butt-glazed corners, where we don’t have a vertical mullion where two windows meet. The mullion-free glass corners mimic the mitered corners of the metal wall panels,” Tan adds.

Combining Glass & Metal

The metal details also add to the building’s unique aesthetic. Petersen Aluminum supplied the metal for this project, including its Snap-Clad 24 gauge, 16-inch standing seam panels on the roof, HWP 16-inch ribbed wall panels on interior and exterior walls and 12-inch Flush Panel in 22 gauge steel for soffits and interior accents. The building displays metal siding that extends through a glass wall, and wraps around parts of Summit’s interior. Petersen’s Pac-Clad metal is finished in Cool Color Silver Metallic, and the fascia trim was fabricated from Pac-Clad 24 gauge steel. All metal work was completed in roughly two months by Alois Roofing and Sheet Metal in West Allis, Wis.

Becoming a Team

Alois also worked closely with HJMS. Michael Pum, project manager with Alois, says the project was challenging at times, but overall, the different teams worked well together.

“We did quite a bit of jumping around and coordinating with others so everyone could complete their work,” Pum says. “We were all in it together so thankfully everyone did their part and worked as a team.”

The project was on such a fast track that if HJMS needed to make adjustments or changes they would have had to be done directly on the jobsite, according to Pum.

“Had there been [changes needed] it would’ve been communicated directly to our field foreman, because the project’s completion had to literally move that fast,” says Pum.

Tatroe explains that the quickly approaching winter season made the project particularly difficult, demanding an accelerated schedule. There was no room for error, so Tatroe and his team had to ensure the measurements were right the first time.

“It was pretty simple once I got everything measured up,” says Tatroe. “I always say, measure twice and cut once.”

Tatroe had done a project earlier in the year that also required a lot of custom angles. He says having already worked on that project made building the Summit Credit Union easier.

“I had done a few other slope projects earlier in the year, so it wasn’t my
first hoorah,” he says. “It helped that I had a couple of warm ups.

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