outside of building

Aluminum Curtainwall and Coatings Showcase New Ferris State University Arena

The newly constructed, LEED-certified Center for Virtual Learning (CVL) at Ferris State University’s Big Rapids campus showcases technologically advanced classrooms, fully equipped 24-hour labs and the only purpose-built esports arena in Michigan.

Opened in 2023, the CVL offers an innovative, physical learning environment to envision and realize an interconnected virtual world.

Designed by Stantec, the architectural team specified Tubelite 400TU Therml=Block High Performance Thermal Curtainwall as the basis of design for the CVL’s high-tech, three-story, 64,000-square-foot facility. Along with industry-leading thermal performance, Tubelite’s curtainwall met all the project’s requirements for sustainability, air, water, firestopping, acoustic, condensation resistance and structural criteria. The versatility of Tubelite’s system also helped achieve Stantec’s unique aesthetic design vision.

Vos Glass installed the Tubelite curtainwall’s 2.5-inch-wide by 6-inch-deep extruded aluminum framing to create the CVL’s rectangular openings in varied heights and spans. The vertical and horizontal framing joints are precisely aligned with the minimum tolerance to accommodate expansion and contraction while presenting a clean, modern appearance. The curtainwall provides outdoor views that keep students connected to the larger campus, as well as brings daylight into the collaborative learning spaces.

Physical Space, Digital Experience

2Enhancing the project’s distinctive appearance, Linetec finished Tubelite’s aluminum framing members in two colors – Arctic Ice and Grayish. Arctic Ice was selected for the majority of Tubelite curtainwall frames, such as for the first floor main entry and the third floor balcony enclosure. The Grayish color finish differentiates the curtainwall framing on the wall projections defining the second and third floors’ exteriors and adds visual interest within the overall glass and metal façade.

“Beginning on the exterior of the building and transcending through the doors are common themes, including the use of a binary materials language creating a pixelated, digital look and feel harkening to the movement and manipulation of data,” says Stantec. “Primarily consisting of black and white fixtures, pops of color are artfully displayed through classroom carpet, signage and breakout spaces, representing moments of discovery that will be realized throughout the future of this new facility.”

Thermal Performance, Interior Comfort

Supporting the building’s LEED certification, energy efficiency and campus-wide sustainability goals, Tubelite 400TU Therml=Block curtainwall is designed to meet or exceed International Energy Conservation Codes, state building codes and other performance test standards. For the CVL, Tubelite’s system features 1-inch insulating glass units, dual thermal strut framing and four-side pressure cap construction. To minimize unwanted heat transfer, the framing members’ interior and exterior surfaces are separated and insulated, helping maximize occupants’ comfort and minimize energy use.

Tubelite relies on Linetec as its single source solution for its finishing, thermal breaks and other value-added services – all under quality-assurance, factory-controlled conditions. For the CVL, Linetec applied durable two-coat, 70% PVDF resin-based architectural painted finishes. These coating systems meet the industry’s highest performance specification, AAMA 2605, published by the Fenestration and Glazing Industry Alliance.

As an environmentally responsible finisher, Linetec uses a 100% air capture system and a regenerative thermal oxidizer to safely contain and eliminate volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with solvents in liquid paint. This process is carefully managed in the Linetec facility. This prevents adverse environmental impact and alleviates concerns about VOCs at the jobsite and after the finished material is installed on the building.

A grand opening celebration was held in August 2023 where Ferris State University’s president, Bill Pink, Ph.D., recognized the contributions of Stantec, Triangle and other building team members. He described the CVL as “a building that was carefully and strategically constructed” and “focused on not only students and their advancement, but how our students advance our state and even our country.”

Community Building

LaShanda Thomas, chair of Ferris State University’s Board of Trustees, added, “The Center for Virtual Learning is designed to support building a community, economy and society that invites everyone to maximize their potential toward our collective future.”

“Realizing it is everything we hoped it would be and actually more in terms of the beauty of the space and the functionality of the space, it’s very gratifying,” noted Ferris State University’s School of Digital Media director, Glen Okonoski.

Ferris State University, Center for Virtual Learning and Esports Arena, 1009 South State St., Big Rapids, MI 49307; https://www.ferris.edu/map/center-for-virtual-learning/homepage.htm